Many details go into the construction of a men’s custom dress shirt and the more attention one pays to these the better results one can achieve in purchasing and wearing one. Retail stores have men’s shirts sized by collar circumference and sleeve length. Usually the cuts are to fit the most corpulent members of each size and thus look blousy on most men. Even the simplest alterations can add 25 to50% to the price of a dress shirt which is often more costly than to have shirts made to one’s exact measurements. However, aside from fabric and fit a man has a few matters of construction to consider when picking out or ordering a custom dress shirt: cuffs, collar, pocket, pleats and placket.
Barrel cuffs standard on most dress shirts come in a variety of styles.The common variety have a single cuff with two or even three buttons. French cuffs are for formal wear; they look good with a suit but are always optional.
The men’s custom dress shirt collar is the most important thing in determining the garment’s level of formality and in flattering the wearer’s unique face. Wearing a button-down collar is least formal and is the best to wear without a tie. It can also go well with a tie and sweater, sport coat or blazer. The wing collar that does not cover the band of the tie around the neck is reserved for formal wear.
A standard point collar looks good on most men and those with narrower faces do better with slightly shorter ones while round faces carry well above long collar points. Spread collars which leave a wide opening between them take large tie knots especially well. An exception to the parallelism of spread and formality is the tab collar: 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 appearance. The white contrast collar in any style with or without matching white French cuffs is a favorite of power-dressers.
In most decent dress shirts the collar’s points are kept straight by collar stays. They are 2 to 3inch pointed splints which are inserted into slots on the underside of the collar after ironing and later removed for washing.
The traditional left breast pocket adds a little depth to a dress shirt especially if worn without jacket and ties or can be useful for holding pens and tickets etc. 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.
A man’s back is not flat so we use pleats on the back panel of a shirt so that the fabric may hang from the yoke. There are two common varieties of pleated shirt back styles; a 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. The former are common on ready-to-wear shirts the latter with the actual shape of the back fit most men better.
The placket is the edge of the left front panel with the button holes on it. A standard placket is a strip of fabric raised off the men’s dress shirt front with stitches down each side; basically what most casual shirts and many dress shirts have. The modern French placket has the edge of the shirt front folded over with crease and held together only by the button holes.