Parts of a Shirt – The fundamentals of Button up Dress Shirts

Pointed, banded collar, patch pocket on left chest, back yoke, and button up fully opening reversed self placket – this is our idea of a dress shirt. And that about says it but that is not all there is to a shirt. Here is a breakdown of the different parts of a shirt that makes it what it is.

Different important Parts of a Shirt

partsof a shirt


parts of a shirt

This is one of the distinguishing features of a shirt and as it frames the face, has a very important role to play when you decide on a particular shirt that suits you. Most of the shirts you find in retail stores have a pointed collar. The other main option is the cutaway (spread ) collar. Button down collar is  very popular though they are slightly informal ( read casual). Other favourite options include band-collar, Italian collar. You can learn about the popular 15 types of shirt collars here.

shirts collars

When you buy shirts you must have noticed the plastic shaped stays on collars. They have a function – the collar is kept straight and firm by these collar stays. The collar stays are  2- to 3-inch pointed splints inserted into slots on the underside of the collar after ironing. They are removed for washing.There are some shirts with permenant stays on the collar, though that is very very rare.


shirt pockets

You cannot imagine a shirt without the classic left patch pocket. It is usually square in shape though rounded pockets are also seen.

But in some very formal shirts, you will find no pockets. Those will be worn inside jackets/suits. In some shirts just the opening (welt opening) will be seen and the outline stitching of the pocket – the pocket will be on the back of the fabric. 

Pocket on the right chest as well as the left chest is usually seen in more casual shirts ( Double pockets) – like the western shirts. 

Check out this post on different types of pockets.


Can be Full sleeve, 3/4 sleeve, Short sleeve or even Sleeveless


Barrel cuffs are the most commonly seen cuffs in men’s button down shirts. They usually have a single button fastening them, though two or three are also seen.

Sleeve Placket


The sleeve placket helps to give ease in opening and closing of the sleeve cuff.

Shirt length

Shirt length can vary a great deal.

The casual shirt is shorter than a formal shirt because it has to be worn outside the pants. Short length refers to when on an average Front and Back of the shirt is 3-6 cm down hipline. This looks better untucked.

Medium length for a shirt refers to the front of the  shirt  5-8cm down hipline and the back 7-10cm down hipline. This length can be tucked into the waist of the pants

Long length for a shirt refers to the front of the  shirt  8-13cm down hipline and the back 10-15 cm down hipline

Button Placket

The vertically full opening placket in mens shirt is a strip of fabric  folded off the edge of the left and right front panels. The left panel has  the button holes on it and the right one has the buttons. A French placket has the edge of the shirt front  folded over, creased, and held together only by the button holes.


Other than the buttons down the button placket and one on the collar stand, the shirt may have buttons to fasten the collar points (button-down collar).

The difference in the way buttons are placed on a man’s and woman’s shirts can be seen in the picture below.

shirt parts

Some Hidden buttons are found inside the shirt which serves as the replacement when the original buttons are lost.

Back yoke

This is an extra piece of fabric on the top of the back panel of the shirt covering the shoulder blades

Pleats on the back panel of the shirt

This is optional as some shirts have no pleats at all. But Usually there will be pleats under the yoke on ready to wear shirts- this is given so that the shirt hangs comfortably on the body.

The two common types of pleats are the single center box pleat and the two side pleats on either side of the center. Sometimes they are combined. The center box pleat is the most commonly seen type of pleats on men’s  shirts.The box pleat is usually 1 1/2 inch wide. 

Tail & Hem

The Straight tail or shaped tail or straight tail with slits are the usual shapes of the bottom part of shirts on the back. The back is curved slightly for a casual look on informal shirts


This term refers to the width across the bottom of the shirt

Monograms or Embroidery

Monograms are usually embroidered on the edge of the breast pocket. The initials of the name is embroidered as a way of customization and personalization. It is usually done in the same colour as the shirt for a subtle effect

what is a monogram

Some other features of the shirt which are not common

Under Arm gusset

This is given on the joint of the sleeve and the bodice at the armscye so that there is no tightness there

Torso darts

make shirt smaller

These waistline darts are given on the front or back of the shirt to give a more slim silhouette. The tapered darts can make you look leaner and these are something that you can add to your shirts to make them more fitting. Check out this post on making a shirt smaller in size 

Forearm darts

These darts are custom fitted depending on the difference in the forearm size of the person for whom the shirt is being made

Related Posts : 20 Different types of shirts ; Best fabric for shirts.


Comments 2

  1. i really a appreciate this helpful information,however measuring and preparing a shirt collar seems tasky to me.

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