If you’re trying to delve more deeply into the world of men’s fashion, part of knowing what you’re talking about is understanding what all the terminology means. Some terms are universally recognized – sleeve, collar, and so forth – but others, not so much. Here is a quick rundown of a few less-obvious terms you may have heard for different parts of a men’s shirt, and what their respective functions are.
A placket is the strip of fabric that runs vertically down the front of the shirt and contains the buttons and buttonholes. You’l find some variations depending on what sort of shirt it is – you can have a standard placket with both visible buttons and stitching; a French placket, which has visible buttons but shows no seams; or even a hidden placket, where the buttons are completely covered with another strip of fabric, creating a uninterrupted line down the front of the shirt.
A gusset is a small, triangular piece of fabric added on the side of the shirt at the bottom, connecting the front and back panels at the place where the seam meets the hem. The practical function of a gusset is to help reinforce the seam and create greater durability, but a gusset can have a cosmetic purpose, as well. If the shirt is likely to be worn untucked, often the gusset will be in a contrasting colour, or will even have an eye-catching pattern. This is especially common on casual, short sleeve summer shirts, where the gusset will often match the collar, placket or some other contrasting detail.
A yoke is the panel of fabric that sits across the back of the shoulders, connecting the collar to the back panel of the shirt. Yokes can have a straight horizontal seam across the back, which is the standard look, or sometimes specialty shirts (like western wear, for example) may have a seam that comes to a point in the middle. or some other stylised line.
As the name suggests, a sleeve placket is very similar to a main placket, except located near the cuff of the sleeve. As with the main placket, the sleeve placket can have any combination of hidden or visible buttons and seams, often but not always matching the style of the main placket.
An essential part of any true dress shirt, collar stays help lend structure to the collar, giving it the right amount of weight and stabilizing the points. Collar stays can be made from various materials, but plastic and metal are most common. Most high quality dress shirts will automatically come with stays; they keep the collar from collapsing and give the shirt a clean, sharp look.
Knowing these terms can really help you understand what you’re looking at when you’re out shopping for new shirts, and in turn you can make informed choices that will help you refine your personal style.