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Consumer Reports tests reveal that expensive wrinkle-free shirts aren't always better

Posted Monday, February 26, 2007

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Three of top five — Lands’ End Pinpoint, L.L. Bean Pinpoint Oxford and Stafford Executive Cotton Pinpoint (JCPenney) were CR Best Buys at $40

Yonkers, NY — Consumer Reports’ tested no-iron—or wrinkle-free—men’s shirts to see if they really could stay smooth after repeated washes and found three shirts costing $40 each that scored among the top five.

Topping the list of nine brands of 100 percent cotton men’s shirts tested was the Jos. A. Bank Traveler Pinpoint All Cotton at $75. The Brooks Brothers 100 percent Pinpoint Cotton 80’s 2 ply, scored the same as the Stafford shirt from JCPenney, but at $75 cost $35 more. The lowest-priced shirt in the study, Merona (Target) at $25, scored the poorest.

“You can spend $75 on a Brooks Brothers or Jos. A. Bank shirt and it will look good and you probably won’t have to iron it, or you could spend $40 on a Lands’ End, L.L. Bean or Stafford shirt and it will also look good and you probably won’t have to iron it,” said Pat Slaven, Consumer Reports Senior Project Leader and a textile expert.

None of the shirts tested showed excessive wear after 10 washes. Some panelists reported that they wouldn’t buy the Kenneth Cole or Merona shirts tested whatever the cost. They had such flaws as loose threads or a middling fit.

Consumers should note one caveat—all but the Jos. A. Bank shirt say they should be removed immediately from the dryer.

How Consumer Reports Tested Shirts

CR corralled 13 male employees who were spied wearing long-sleeve dress shirts on scorching days in July and gave each man two to four of the test shirts to wear. Each man wore a test shirt for a day, then filled out a questionnaire. They followed that procedure two or three times per shirt. CR also had trained testers look for wrinkles and seam puckers after 10 washes. Scores are based on their assessment.

Shirts from Lands’ End, L.L. Bean, Stafford, Brooks Brothers and Jos. A. Bank stayed wrinkle-free throughout the day, kept sharp creases, “breathed” well, and were often called soft or supple. The first three, all $40, are CR Best Buys. All come in white, at least one shade of blue, and at least one other pastel color. Jos. A. Bank, L.L. Bean, and Stafford have somewhat thicker fabric than the others. Jos. A. Bank, $75, offers the most colors: nine.

Consumer Reports recommends that consumers consider one of the CR Best Buys. Whichever shirt you choose, look for “no iron,” “wrinkle resistant” or a similar claim on the label; some tested shirts have wrinkly siblings.

To read more about the results of the Wrinkle-Free Shirt Study, the March 2007 issue of Consumer Reports is available wherever magazines are sold. The report will also be available to subscribers of

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