Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Review: American Living Dress Shirts

Ralph Lauren has licensed his name to a line of merchandise at J.C. Penney called "American Living."

The ties are probably the nicest, most conservative ties one can buy new in a store for $15-20. (Penney's follows a business model where pretty much everything is on sale all of the time, and the sale prices are the real retail prices.)

I purchased a pink American Living dress shirt with a white spread collar and white French cuffs probably a year ago, at a real sale price of about $16. (Retailers with a business model like Penney's do have real sales at times, especially when they need to clear out discontinued merchandise. This shirt "retailed" for about $45; the real, perpetual "sale" price was about $25.)

I found the tails a little short, but I was satisfied with it besides that, especially for what I paid.

Last week, I came across another American Living shirt on clearance for $16 and decided to take the plunge again.

Recalling my problem with the previous shirt, I tried this one on after getting it home, before washing it. The tails on this one were even worse; the indent on the sides literally came about an inch past my waistband, and I'm about average height.

So I took it back the next day (and exchanged it for some cotton handkerchiefs). To their credit, they gladly offered a refund or exchange with no questions asked.

At this point, I have to assume that all American Living dress shirts suffer from tails that are dramatically too short. It's too bad, because they seem otherwise to be pretty good for their usual "sale" price of about $25. So, while they look nice folded up on a display, I'll be passing on them at any price, and I suggest you do the same.

(Penney's house brand of dress shirts, Stafford, are probably the best value in retail for anyone on a limited budget, given their usual $15-20 price. I'll review them another time.)

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