10 shirt terms you should know if you’re obsessed with style – words Al Woods
Imagine the scene where, James Bond, arguably the epitome of suiting perfection, stands at the bar. His suit is sharp, and his Martini perfectly chilled.
However, you look closer and see that he’s wearing a greying, crumpled shirt. Illusion ruined. It would never happen, 007 wouldn’t be seen dead in an ensemble that’s anything less than stylishly perfect.
We all know that the suit ‘maketh’ the man, yet rarely do we stop to look at the shirt in that equation. Arguably these days the shirt is where you can really shine. With the proliferation of jacketless occasions now, a shirt (and possibly a waist coat) can make or break your entire appearance.
Allowing yourself to delve into the nitty gritty of shirt structure means you can separate yourself from the schlepping salesmen of yesteryear and step your game up to literary and silver screen secret service standards.
Here are 10 shirt terms you really should know if you’re obsessed with style.
The placket is one of the key elements of the shirt’s front, for its central position automatically draws attention. The placket serves dual purposes: it reinforces the button hole area so that natural pull and stretch doesn’t end in wear and tear but also it finishes the look of men’s formal shirts in a crisp and clean way.
This tiny strip of fabric can finish the front of any shirt beautifully and lay the ground work for a sharp tie and lapel juxtaposition. Also known as the “American placket” due to the strong influence and representation of American style, this is the most conventional style of all. It can either be folded or stitched, and it is a popular option for everyday business shirts.
The French placket is a more polished alternative to the traditional placket, which makes it the perfect choice for evening shirts. This is the shirt you wear when you want to impress in an evening suit.
It is a very elegant and simplistic style that is achieved by folding the fabric over itself inwards. This technique results in a clean shirt front without any stitching.
This placket, as you would expect, reaches ¾ of the way down the front of the shirt. As such, you have to pull it over your head, and therefore it is only seen on more relaxed shirts or popover shirts. Not seen as often as it should, this makes it for a great alternative to a t-shirt or polo shirt when the occasion requires a stylish mid-point.
Originally, the fly front placket was a modern take on an evening shirt placket without any shirt studs. It features an extra flap of fabric which conceals the buttons thus providing a cleaner looking shirt. The fly front placket means you can achieve an ultra-minimalist and clean look.
There are two varieties of shirt yoke – a single continuous piece that spans the shoulders and a split piece that consists of two separate pieces, shoulder to spine and vice versa.
Today, most ready to-wear shirts have a one-piece yoke because it is less expensive than a split piece yoke to produce and tailor. The latter can help to align patterns on the shoulder sleeve seam and on a bespoke shirt.
This is the sewn in fabric or chain loop on the inside of the shirt collar, or under the yoke and above the central pleat on the outside back of the shirt. Often denoting a trademark of Americana style when found on the outside of a shirt, it is commonly found on casual oxford button downs, and adds an element of interest to an otherwise casual plain look.
Traditionally, French cuffs are dressier and more formal. French cuffs have become quite popular in recent years and are not just reserved for formal shirts. They require cufflinks to properly fasten them and finish a suit. The use of a cufflink allows for a further element of personalisation and can sometimes leave room for a small amount of whimsy in your outfit.
Choose cufflinks wisely – they can say a lot about you.
Barrel cuffs, on the other hand, are the everyday choice for most men and the most commonly found alternative.
With a variety of shapes and designs ranging from; faceted, rounded, straight, etc. up to the number of buttons. Barrel cuffs provide a wide range of choices to the wearer, with a much more practical approach than their French counterparts.
One critical aspect to bear in mind when considering the type of cuff is its height: traditional cuffs usually sit between 7.5/8cm, whereas contemporary classic cuffs are about 6 cm and anything less is on the more fashionable side.
Also known as; Casino cuff, flowback cuff, Neapolitan cuff, Milanese cuff, Portofino cuff. Some even call it the James Bond cuff. You might know it as any of these names, but it is formally known as the two-button turnback cuff
This cuff doesn’t mess around, it’s not widely used and will definitely make a statement about your sartorial intentions. The cuff for a shirt connoisseur.
Hem gussets are small fabric patches that bind the front and back of the shirttails to reinforce the junction. No longer only found on made-to-measure and bespoke shirts, hem gussets are now seen on some ready-to-wear, particularly on superior quality products, yet are not always exclusive to high end shirts. They add a certain amount of durability and give one a small sense of class, a nice addition that only you and a chosen few will ever see.