Anatomy of a Shirt

Anatomy of a Shirt


Men’s dress and sport shirts feature many different collar styles including button-down, point, eyelet, wing-tip, medium/semi-spread and wide spread. The button-down collar is casual by nature and is best worn open collar or with a sport coat or a blazer. The wide spread, eyelet and wing-tip are more formal. Point and semi- spread collars offer the most versatility as they work with a tie, as well as open collar.

Anatomy of a Shirt - Front


Usually, a higher armhole offers a better range of motion. The shape and size of an armhole and the sleeves affects how a shirt fits and looks on a person. Too much excess fabric hanging under the arm looks sloppy and too little ends up being uncomfortable and may even cut into the armpits. An ideal shirt, although it varies from person to person, has the top of the armhole on the natural shoulder line (directly above the armpit) with the bottom of the armhole slightly below the armpit.


The sleeve should have a tapered structure and follow the shape of the arms. When buttoned, the sleeve cuff should fall right at the top of the wrist.

Shirt Front Styles

There are three main styles:

Placket Front (#3) – one of the most common styles found on both dress and sport shirts. An extra piece of fabric is folded over or attached as a separate piece, which adds symmetry to the shirt.
Plain or French Front (#4) – this is another popular style and offers a “cleaner” look and works well with both sport and dress shirts. The fabric is folded inwards and no stitches are visible on the front of the shirt.
Fly or Hidden Front (#5) – this is not as common as the other two and is generally considered more formal. An extra piece of fabric is used to conceal the buttons on the front of the shirt. This is commonly reserved for tuxedo shirts as it tends to draw attention away from the buttons and to the bow tie.

Shirt Pocket

Pockets on a shirt are a matter of personal preference. Dress or tuxedo shirts do not come with a pocket. Sport and casual work shirts are more functional and sometimes feature a shirt pocket.


Just like the shirt collar, there are several types of cuffs – one-button, two-button, convertible and French, and may vary by length and corner detail (rounded, mitered etc.). These can add great design details to a shirt. The one-button cuff is the most common dress and sport shirt cuff style. The French cuff is the most formal and requires cuff-links to be worn.

Anatomy of a Shirt - Back


This is the area under the collar that drapes over the shoulder and holds the shirt backing together. There are two major styles of yokes – split (more formal) and one-piece (more common of the two). As the name suggests, a split-yoke is made with two pieces of fabric that are sewn together in the middle. A split yoke uses more fabric than a one-piece and takes longer to make. Shirts with split yokes may provide an advantage over a one-piece yoke as the fabrics are attached at an angle (also known as the fabric-bias), which provides a little stretch in the fabric when extending the arms forward.

Hang Loop

Besides serving as a nice decorative design element on the back of the shirt, the hang loop provides a functional and practical solution for hanging shirts on a hook when a hanger is not readily available.

Back Pleats

Men’s shirts come with three back pleat options – no pleats, center box pleats and side pleats (sometimes known as knife-pleats), and are a matter of personal preference.

No Pleats – this makes for a "clean" and minimal look and is usually considered the most-formal. This is rarely found on off-the-rack shirts since a shirt without pleats usually needs to be tailored to fit an individual.
Center Box Pleats (#11) – usually found on sports shirts, it is the most common for off-the-rack shirts as it provides the most movement. It is considered the least-formal of the three options as it creates a rectangular fold down the middle of the shirt.
Side Pleats (#12) – are two pleats just under the yoke close to the shoulders. They provide a cleaner symmetrical look in the back and are a great option for increasing the range of motion when reaching forward.


Darts are two seams sewn into the back of the shirt to remove extra fabric from the lower back. They give a more tapered look to a shirt. They usually start just below the armpit and end a few inches above the shirt bottom. They can be quite tricky on shirts with patterns as the patterns may not match-up. They also make ironing shirts slightly difficult. Darts are a matter of personal preference and are more common on slim fit shirts and are popular in Europe.

Hem Gusset

A hem gusset is a small piece of triangular or rhombus shaped fabric that is sewn where the side seam meets the hem of the shirt. This is an area that experiences a lot of stress and the gusset adds reinforcement to this area.

Shirt Tail

A shirt tail should be long enough so it can be worn with the shirt tucked or untucked. A common trend in sports shirts is to wear them untucked. Here's a good way to gauge the length of the tail:

Untucked – the tail should fall just past the back pockets.

Tucked – raise your arms over your head. If the tail pops out of the pants, the shirt tail is not long enough.


We have crafted our shirts with the above details in mind. They provide the best in aesthetics, comfort and style. You can read more about our shirt details here.


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  • Drew M.Bowser

    Good to see that Anatomy of a shirt. Thanks for sharing such a useful post!

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