Welcome to the eleventh installment of Sliding Scale, a series in which we bring you a single product for every budget. This month we’re rounding up responsibly-made CPO Shirts. Check out our thirteen favorites after the jump.
There are two sides to the Fidelity label – the fashion-forward Gerald & Stewart side, and the former military contractor, still built to mil-spec mainline side. The CPO pictured above comes from the latter. It’s made in Massachusetts out of super burly 22 oz. melton wool (composed of 75% reprocessed wool, 20% nylon and 5% other fibers) and has plastic anchor buttons on the placket and pockets. As these are made to mil-spec, they run a bit large, so you might want to size down. Fatigues Army Navy has them in S – XXL for $79. Armerican-ArmyNavy has those same sizes as well as XS for $84.99.
Bemidji Woolen Mills
The CPO-inspired Heavy Weight Hunter Shirts from Bemidji Woolen Mills are cut and sewn in Bemidji, MN out of a hefty 18 oz. wool / nylon blend, come in three colors, and cost $124. One note about the fit: these are made with extra-long shirt tails to provide more coverage, so if you’re looking for something on the shorter side, these aren’t for you.
The CPO Jackets from Gustin are made in the USA using various American-loomed Woolrich fabrics, and have brass snap buttons, side gussets, and an extra pocket on the left sleeve. They’ve also got a nice, modern slim fit. Prices range from $149 – $175, depending on the fabric.
You can’t see them too well in the image, but in addition to the single pleated pocket on the chest, this slim-fit, Japanese-made Heavyweight CPO Shirt Jacket from Samurai also has two hand-warmer pockets on the hips. Both wool-cotton and all-wool versions are available, and while the shirts can cost as much as $325 at American stockists, if you order direct from Japan via Rakuten you can pick one up for between $150 and $220.
Another CPO-inspired option – and probably the most luxe on the list – the Jens Melton Shirts from Norse Projects are made in the EU out of a 70% Lana Merino / 10% cashmere / 20% nylon blend, and have hidden buttons on the chest pockets, tonal buttons on the placket, and a trim yet relaxed fit. Three colors are available, and each’ll cost you $176.
Johnson Woolen Mills
Also CPO-inspired are the $180 Flannel Lined Wool Shirts from Johnsson Woolen Mills, which are made in Vermont and have a wool exterior and soft cotton flannel interior. There are five colors to choose from, and like the Fidelty mainline and Bemidji shirts, they run big, so you’re gonna want to size down for a slim(mer) fit.
While most contemporary CPOs have two chest pockets, the original military-issue ones from the 1930s only had one, and that’s what this Japanese-made U.S. Navy 1st-Model CPO Shirt from Buzz Rickson’s is based on. The shirt has a slew of other period-correct details too, including urea anchor buttons, cotton twill backing on the front placket, a replica U.S. Naval Clothing Factory contract label, and, it’s made out of a heavy-weight wool-flannel that’s produced on vintage looms, and is nearly identical to the fabric used to make the originals. These range in price, depending on the stockist, but the cheapest I’ve been able to find them for is $180 at History Preservation Associates.
Fidelity (Gerald & Stewart)
As mentioned earlier, in addition to their mainline, Fidelity also has their Gerald & Stewart collection, which offers the same high-quality construction and materials, but with slimmer, more modern fits. Like the mainline CPO, the Gerald & Stewart CPO Jacket is made out of burly 22 oz. Melton wool (although this one’s composed from 78% new wool, 19% nylon and 3% acrylic). It also has two chest pockets and anchor buttons. Differences include nylon trims, a removable metal button on the collar, and a much, much slimmer (and shorter) fit. So slim, in fact, that you’ll probably want to size up. The G&S CPO is available at East dane for $189.
The Made in America Buffalo Wool Shirts from Woolrich are made in – you guessed it – America, and cost $195. Like some of the other shirts on the list, these are more CPO-inspired than actual CPO, but we we made an exception, if only because they’re machine washable.
The Japanese-designed and -made CPO Shirt Jackets from Pherrow’s feature a mix of vintage-inspired details (heavy wool fabric, single-button cuffs, replica Naval Clothing Factory label) and modern ones (Pherrow’s-branded buttons, nylon trim on the interior, shrunken fit). Like most of the other Japanese-made options on the list, these can be very pricey if you buy one from a domestic stockist, but you can get one from Rakuten for around $205.
The $224 Wool CPO Jacket from Apolis is made in Portugal out of a not-too-heavy 60% wool, 25% polyester, 15% recycled wool blend. This is another one with a very trim fit, so make sure to check measurements.
The Real McCoy’s
Like the Buzz Rickson’s CPO, the Japanese-made CPO Shirt from The Real McCoy’s is also modeled after the original, one-pocket military issue, and boasts a number of period correct details like anchor buttons and a replica U.S. Naval Clothing Factory contract label. Unlike almost every other shirt on the list, this one is made from 100% wool (as opposed to a blend), and is described as having a “velvety” feel that’s soft enough to wear directly against your skin. Lowest Price I’ve been able to find is $285 at Superdenim.
And finally, priced at a whopping $525 is the CPO Shirt from Engineered Garments. It’s made in NYC out of a medium-weight 85% wool / 20% nylon blend and has asymmetrical chest pockets, a third pocket on the left sleeve, tab closure on the throat, press stud buttons throughout, and a shrunken, slim fit. Does all of that warrant the astronomical price? I’ll leave it up to you to decide.