Mens Dress Shirts - Shirt Style Details Collars

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					Men's Dress Shirts - Shirt Style Details (Collars, Cuffs, Pockets, Etc)
Over the past half-century, the dress shirt has gone from being an
undergarment to holding a prominent place in many outfits. This is one
reason why it is today available in so many styles, colors, and patterns.
Whether one's style is chinos or suit-and-tie, shirts are an essential
means of expanding one's wardrobe.
A shirt's style signals quite a bit about the wearer's intentions. A
dress shirt with a button-down collar, left breast pocket, plain front,
and single-button cuffs signals leisure while a dress shirt with a
turned-down point collar, no breast pocket, placket front, and French
cuffs signals formality. The beauty of adjusting a shirt's style is that
you can design it for not only for the occasion but also to compliment
your unique features.
Shirt Collars
The men's dress shirt collar is the most important style detail, both in
determining the garment's level of formality and in how it flatters the
wearer's face. Button-down collars are the least formal and extremely
versatile; they look great without a tie but can just as well support a
tie and sweater, blazer, or sport coat combination. The wing collar, on
the other hand, is reserved for formal wear and should always be worn
with its companion parts. It is the least versatile collar, whose sole
purpose is to signal the highest level of dress.
Most men's dress shirts sport some sort of pointed collar, but there is
huge room for variety here. While the standard point collar looks good on
most men, those with narrower faces do better with slightly shorter ones,
while round faces carry well above long collar points. As a general rule,
the greater the angle between the short sides of the collar points, the
more formal the presentation. Spread collars, which leave a wide opening
between them, take large tie knots especially well. The edges of the cut-
away collar nearly form a straight line above the tie knot; this is the
most formal collar arrangement. An exception to the parallelism of spread
and formality is the tab collar: here little tabs of fabric extending
from each side connect behind the tie knot, holding the collar close
together and projecting the knot outward for a precise, no-nonsense look.
The white contrast collar, in any style, with or without matching white
French cuffs, is a favorite of power-dressers. While it certainly raises
a suit-and-tie above the masses, let the wearer be warned against it if
he cannot equal its eminence.
On most decent dress shirts, the collar's points are kept straight by
collar stays. These 2- to 3-inch pointed splints are inserted into slots
on the underside of the collar after ironing, and later removed for
washing. Besides the plastic ones that come with most shirts, you can buy
them in brass, silver, and even ivory, but their material has negligible
effect on their function.
Shirt Cuffs
Barrel cuffs, standard on most dress shirts, come in a variety of styles
and except for the most formal of occasions are never a bad choice. The
common variety has a single button; cuffs with two or even three buttons
are somewhat more artful. French cuffs are de rigeur for formal wear;
they look good with a suit but are always optional. A button in the
sleeve placket helps the sleeve to stay closed during wear and can be
opened to iron the cuffs; it is optional but nearly ubiquitous.
Shirt Pockets
The traditional left breast pocket adds a little depth to a dress shirt,
especially if worn without jacket and tie, and can be useful for holding
pens, tickets, and the like. A shirt with no pockets can look slightly
cleaner with a coat and tie, but since the coat covers the pocket the
difference is minimal when wearing a suit. As with most things,
simplicity equals formality, so the pocket-less shirt is the dressiest.
Shirt Front & The Placket
The standard placket is a strip of fabric raised off the men's dress
shirt front with stitches down each side; this is what most casual shirts
and many dress shirts have. In the more modern French placket, the edge
of the shirt front is folded over, creased, and held together only by the
button holes. This cleaner front sharpens more formal dress shirts; it
should not, however, be combined with a button-down collar. There are
also hidden button plackets, and as the name suggests hide the front
buttons under a sheath of fabric.
Shirt Back
Men's backs are not flat; thus we use pleats on the back panel of a shirt
so that the fabric may hang from the yoke (the piece covering the
shoulder blades) and better conform to the body. There are two common
varieties of pleated shirt back styles: the box pleat consists of two
pleats spaced one-and-a-half inches apart at the center, while side
pleats lie halfway between each edge and the center of the back. While
the former are more common on ready-to-wear shirts, the latter better
align with the actual shape of the back, and thus fit most men better. A
well-made custom shirt can be cut and sewn to fit its wearer perfectly
without pleats, and this makes it cleaner and easier to iron.
Nonetheless, many men prefer to have pleats even on their bespoke dress
A man may elect to have his shirt monogrammed, usually on the edge of the
breast pocket or on the shirt's cuff. Monogramming originated as a way to
identify one's shirts in a commercial laundry, akin to writing a child's
name on the tag of their jacket. More recently, as the shirt has taken a
more prominent role in men's dress, the monogram has emerged as a way to
subtly communicate the care a man has taken in obtaining his clothes.
While large, garish monograms certainly do more harm than good, many men
enjoy the quiet display of their initials, usually in a color similar to
the shirt's own.
Antonio Centeno is president of A Tailored Suit, an online American
boutique fine-clothing merchant specializing in bespoke men's suits,
shirts, jackets, and overcoats. He and his partners launched the company
with the mission of helping men create the clothing that best enhances
their individual style. Antonio has studied men's clothing design in
London, Hong Kong, and Bangkok. He is a former Marine Corps Officer and
holds an MBA from the University of Texas at Austin and a BA from Cornell
To read more articles about classic men's style, please visit and visit the company's style guide.

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