A recent Wall Street Journal article discussed the finer details of a quality handmade dress shirt. Today we would like to give our readers a primer on the man's dress shirt from collar to tail and in between. The dress shirt is a staple of man's wardrobe. He should have several options with various collar and cuff combinations, colors, and patterns. No matter how different each shirt, they should all be made of the same quality components and constructed in manner that will last longer than you and your ex-girlfriend.
1. Collar - The most important and visible piece of the shirt. It frames the face and should enhance the man's facial structure. Whether a straight, spread, club, or button-down collar it should be made in single-needle stitching as close to the edge of the collar as possible. One can debate over fused or unfused collar construction but we believe it depends on the man and his personality first and foremost, and his environment second. It should stand high out of a jacket or sweater and should always be clean and pressed.
Button Down Collar w/ 2 Button Barrel Cuff2. Yoke - The piece of material found across the upper back and shoulder of the shirt. The single yoke is constructed of one piece of fabric while a split yoke is joined in the center with two pieces of fabric. A split yoke is often the best option is it provides more shoulder and back room for the man and will mold to his body over time. A split yoke pattern should join together in symmetry at the seams and the center.
Split Yoke3. Placket - The piece of fabric which the button holes are sewn into. It should also be constructed in single-needle stitching and should not be overlooked in terms of quality. Although the buttons of the placket are mostly hidden with a tie they can also be hidden under a fold of fabric giving the shirt a cleaner look. However, this look is a modern look and may be frowned upon in classic environments. The placket button holes are hand sewn in hand end shirtings.
4. Cuff - The second most important part of the shit following the collar. Cuffs come in three major styles including the one or two button barrel and the French or "turn back" cuff. One can combine the two to create the James Bond cuff but this is only found in custom shirting. Barrel cuffs are round and resemble a barrel for the wrist. Cuffs should be made of two pieces of cloth sewn together with an interlining between for strength and resiliency. One button cuffs offer a sleek and modern alternative to the classic two buttons. The French cuff is recognized by turning an elongated cuff back onto itself and then being fastened with cuff links. This is the ultimate in high class style and sophistication.
5. Tail - The tail of a dress shirt is constructed in a curved line and contrary to the throngs of men who wear unkempt dress shirts to the club or house parties it should always be tucked in. Flat bottomed collared shirts and T- shirts are for casual wear and are the only shirts meant to be worn untucked. The tail should be long enough not to come out of the pants during regular movement. A sign of a high quality shirt is the gusset found at the joining of the seams of the tail. This extra piece of cloth gives the shirt more strength and prevents tearing and is also called a "butterfly gusset" for the resemblance to the insect.
Buy a well-made dress shirt.
Grant Harris is Owner & Chief Style Consultant at Image Granted, LLC, a Washington, DC based Image Consulting company dedicated to solving the complex image, style & fashion issues of today's professional man.