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ShirtsMyWay: Like The Sims, but for menswear

A company offers customers the choice to customize men's dress shirts via its Web interface. "Project Runway," here I come.

Jeff Sparkman in shirt
My GQ pose would be more convincing if I was wearing a watch. James Martin/CNET
Jeff Sparkman's shirt
James Martin/CNET

I've been told more than once that skills learned from video games don't really translate to the real world. To those who have told me this, I can only say: neener-neener-neener.

More and more companies are offering customers the choice to customize the products they buy. Vans, among others, allows you to create your own shoes. Heck, I've even seen a build-your-own-toy-lightsaber kit that I really wanted to buy for my son.

But this is a new wrinkle to me.

(Pause for inevitable laughter.)

The folks at ShirtsMyWay have set up a process in which for about $75 and a few minutes of your day, you can design your own men's dress shirt. Why is this thrilling, exactly? I'll tell you why. Have you ever noticed that roughly 99 percent (anecdotal research on my part) of all clothing stores are devoted to women's apparel?

Seriously, if you're a guy, you've got like maybe four colors and two styles of dress shirt to choose from. I'm not quite the average male, I suppose, but I know I would be more inclined to wear a dress shirt without the threat of death if I got to have some say about what my shirt looked like.

This is where those video game skills come in handy. The process goes roughly like this: you go to the ShirtsMyWay site, and you choose from 25 different fabrics. That's just the first part. Via the site's very user-friendly interface, you will then decide on just about every aspect of your shirt's creation.

It reminded me a lot of playing The Sims. You know, at the beginning, when you spend about three months refining your Sim and agonizing over every wallpaper choice for his or her house. Except, instead of spending so long on it that you begin to resent it and you abandon the game for a month and finally shower, you're done in just a few minutes.

The only reason it would take longer than that is because you keep fiddling around with every little setting you can change, and that's part of the fun. I had no idea the little strip down the front of the shirt where you button it up is called a placket. Then again, it usually takes me a few tries to get the front of my tie longer than the back, so you may very well be ahead of me on that point.

ShirtsMyWay gave me the opportunity to try the whole process out, and having just received the shirt I designed, I have to say I'm impressed. It looks just like the little picture I made and is quite comfortable.

To simplify matters and because I didn't have a tape measure at my desk (I know, what was I thinking, right?), I chose the standard extra-large size. But if you have your measurements, you can get the shirts made to your exact specifications.

The shirts start at $75 (a few were $85), and that includes all your customization. You know right from the start how much your shirt will cost, which is kind of handy. ShirtsMyWay offers free shipping worldwide.

You can see a short video about the process after the jump.