Diagram of a Dress Shirt

A dress shirt is the workhorse of a man’s wardrobe. It sets the stage for everything that comes after it, which is why proper understanding of its construction is critical. Here are the crucial components you should know.

The Front

1. Collar:
The fold of fabric that makes up the neckline of the shirt. There are numerous variations of the dress shirt collar, but the three most common are the point, the spread, and the button-down. As a rule of thumb, your choice of collar should balance out the shape of your face. More round than rigid? Opt for a point collar to give you the semblance of length. Angular types will want a spread collar to help add width.

2. Placket:
The panel of fabric that runs down the middle of the shirt where the buttons are sewn. There are three types: standard, seamless, and concealed.

3. Cuff:
Band of fabric that finishes the bottom of the sleeve. Like collars, cuffs come in an array of styles, but the two to know are barrel (closed with buttons) and French (closed with cufflinks).

The Back

4. Yoke:
The shaped piece of fabric that runs from the neck to the shoulders. For greater ease of movement, the fabric can be divided into two pieces, called a “split-yoke.”

5. Box pleats:
A double fabric fold where the yoke meets the back of the shirt, designed to add fullness and comfort for the wearer. More modern dress shirts forego box pleats in order to achieve a slimmer fit.

6. Darts:
Popular with European men, darts are tapered seams of fabric that create a tighter fit. An earnest look at one’s physique is recommended before crossing this threshold.

7. Tail:
The part of the shirt that falls before the waistline. Some shirts, like those from Jack Robie, feature a shorter tail that can be worn tucked in or out. Many don’t, however, so check carefully before going untucked in order to avoid the dreaded “nightgown” look.

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