Would you wear a shirt for 100 days without washing it?


May 5, 2013

The Wool & Prince shirt needs only an airing and occasional dry clean

The Wool & Prince shirt needs only an airing and occasional dry clean

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A good wool shirt is awesome, but would you wear one for 100 days straight without washing it? Wool & Prince claims that you can do exactly that with its buttondown shirts, which it handed out to 15 “wear testers” who wore them while engaging in such activities as backpacking in the Andes and dancing in "Tropical" NYC clubs. According to the makers, the shirts not only proved durable, but still looked – and smelled – fresh after over three months of straight wear.

The premise behind the Wool & Prince shirt is that it’s the buttondown equivalent to a pair of denim jeans. Jeans look good (if not worn by a middle-aged journalist), are durable, comfortable, and don’t need to be washed too often. Shirts, on the other hand, need to be washed after almost every wearing. The thinking was, why not make a buttondown shirt that worked like a pair of jeans?

Unfortunately, what works for jeans doesn't for shirts. Denim jeans are made out of cotton, which is fine for trousers, but cotton shirts, however comfy they might be, tend to wear out quickly and don’t wick away perspiration very well, so they can get clammy and smelly pretty fast. Synthetic fibers or blends can help a bit with things like durability and wrinkles, but their smooth fiber surfaces are very good breeding areas for the bacteria that turn sweat into pong.

According to Wool & Prince, the clever bit isn't some new scientific breakthrough in textiles. Instead, it’s a matter of using the highest quality Australian wool to make their proprietary “Cotton-Soft” wool fabric. Since this is a very fine Merino wool, it isn't like the coarse, scratchy stuff used in jumpers. This fine wool allows the fibers to exploit a lot of material’s natural qualities. Wool is six times more durable than cotton, wrinkle resistant and wicks the sweat away, so skin bacteria don’t have a chance to get going. The proteins are naturally antibacterial and the waxy coating of the fibers discourages staining.

Wool & Prince claims that its shirts work so well that they don’t need any attention beyond airing and the very occasional dry cleaning, though we remain skeptical about how well they stand up to the salts, oils and body musk that humans also tend to exude.

Wool & Prince is currently trying to raise money on Kickstarter through May 22 to begin production of the shirts. Kickstarter prices for the shirt range from US$98 for one to US$280 for three.

Sources: Wool & Prince, Kickstarter via Cool Material

About the Author
David Szondy David Szondy is a freelance writer based in Monroe, Washington. An award-winning playwright, he has contributed to Charged and iQ magazine and is the author of the website Tales of Future Past. All articles by David Szondy

microfibre on bare skin would have me going into paroxysms of itch in no time; wool is great with a layer or two between it and me but not as a second skin


@ash I don't think you've encountered Merino wool. It's not the fluffy, itchy stuff you make thick jumpers out of but a fine almost silk-like texture. It's been used in thermal underwear for years by the likes of Icebreaker, and just like this shirt it doesn't get smelly after extended wear like synthetics do, and it's not in the least bit itchy. I think my only concern for a shirt made out of it is that it's possibly a bit too soft and flexible and won't hold its shape.


What is the difference between this and SmartWool? The description of these shirts sound identical to this brand of wear.

Gary Richardson

@ synchro - i'm australian, i know what microfibre feels like; wool and i agree to disagree, regardless of the micron count


Ash, my understanding of 'microfibre' is that it refers to a fine sythetic fibre; completely different to fine merino wool these shirts are made from.

Anything I have bought (in Australia I might add, but I assume this would be the same internationally) as 'microfibre' is always synthetic, not wool. I agree microfibre is very itchy, and would make terrible shirts, but it does make incredibly absorbent towels!


@Ash & @ Synchro—There is a small portion of the population that is extra sensitive, even with extra fine merino. Unfortunately for him that is his lost.

@ Gary—There is not much of a difference. This guy (company did not invent or discover something new). It is still merino wool. His target audience is for people that want to wear dress shirts for extended period of time. SmartWool, Ibex, Icebreaker are more active lifestyle. However Icebreaker has already had a dress shirt out for at least a year and a half. But it is at 200g/m2. Icebreaker did come out with a short-sleeve 150g/m2 this spring and its been almost sold out.

From the W&P website: W&P claims they are made from 100% "virgin" wool(most of the time he(the founder) does not say merino wool. Virgin wool? I believe W&P adds something to their wool because their major claims is that the shirts do not stink, and do not wrinkle. Not so much the stink, but the wrinkle. All 100% merino products wrinkle and all natural fibers wrinkle, just like all natural fibers pile. But W&P claim is that its a combination of superfine worsted yarn, low micron fibers, and a soft weave structure. His 100 shirt challenge is a markting gimmick. Yes it won't stink, but his and his testimonials claim the shirt doesn't wrinkle or show any signs of wear. Even after sweating. BS. Even though it won't smell the oils(sweat) still attaches its self to the shirt. The longer and more you sweat the more it will become stiff. W&P does have something going for them, its the price, seems they undercut all the other merino brands.

Encase your wondering about the differences between SmartWool, Ibex, Icebreaker. SmartWool and Icebreaker use only New Zealand merino wool. Ibex gets its merino wool from various sources including New Zealand and the USA. Ibex is mostly air-dry, and recommends not wearing for two consecutive days. Ibex's HQ is in Vermont. SmartWool treats their wool (to prevent itch) and allows them to be tumble dry on low. SmartWool's HQ is in Colorado, and was bought by Timberland Co, then recently by VF Corporation that also owns Northface. Icebreaker does not treat their wool, they only dye it. Icebreaker is recommended air-dry only. Icebreaker WHQ is in New Zealand. The North American HQ is in Portland. Icebreaker is still owned by the original founder. They all ranges from 100% merino to merino with lycra blends and other blend combinations. SmartWool and Icebreaker do not practice mulesing, Im not sure about Ibex.

Beyond those difference, it comes down to style, fit, colors, and of course price.

Mike Gomez
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