A good women’s shirt is hard to find. Just ask Renee Bassetti and her daughter, Sarah McKinney, who’ve made it their business to outfit women in this essential garment. Tucked inside the Fairmont Olympic Hotel (downtown, 411 University St.; 206.467.6549; reneebassetti.com) is Bassetti’s shop, where she’s been selling her custom-made, eponymous shirts—the woman’s equivalent to a man’s classic button down—since 1989.
“I felt women’s shirts were the least well done thing in the marketplace,” says Bassetti, who also carries her daughter’s more recent ready-to-wear brand, Sarah Alexandra. That brand can also be found at McKinney’s own showroom in Madison Park (2700 E Madison St.; 206.258.3537).
Bassetti’s custom shirts are available in fabrics ranging from Italian and Swiss cottons to linen to silk charmeuse, and others. Every shirt ($680–$780) is cut and sewn by hand at Bassetti’s shop. Sarah Alexandra shirts, on the other hand, come in two styles: The Signature and a more casual cut, The Weekend ($295–$395). Both are available primarily in Italian broadcloth and twill cotton.
But the classic white piqué shirt is Bassetti’s favorite. She wears one of her own shirts, a Verdura gold cuff and a Cartier watch every day—occasionally adding an Hermès scarf from her collection. Alternatively, McKinney advises spicing up her shirts with distressed jeans or leather leggings. She favors her own solid broadcloth and striped piqué shirts, and likes to wear them with her self-proclaimed obsession: a nice pair of shoes from designers like Gianvito Rossi.
“[Mom] has certainly had a huge influence on the things I purchase and wear,” says McKinney, whose style leans timeless over trendy. McKinney invests in pieces made from beautiful fabrics, which she hopes to pass down to her 8-year-old daughter, Helen, someday.
McKinney’s Fall/Winter 2017–2018 line features exquisitely soft cashmere/cotton blend button downs in a range of colors. She’s also planning to expand nationally and hopes to create a plus size collection. Bassetti, however, is happy to continue serving customers who are drawn to the custom experience. While fast fashion and trends come and go, the perfect button down shirt is forever.