A guide to dress shirts: the pocket, the placket, the back and the hem

After discussing the collar and the cuffs of a dress shirt, in this article of our guide to dress shirts we will feature some further details to choose from when selecting your perfect dress shirt.


Some men like to have a shirt pocket; others don’t. A dress shirt without pockets is the most formal choice. A gentleman would wear a jacket and therefore he would never use his shirt pocket. On the other hand, someone engaged in physical labor used the pocket to store things while working. Nowadays no one would put items in a pocket, but there are some people who, as a stylistic choice, would like to add a pocket to a dress shirt. Dandies would use it to combine a pocket square with their dress shirt. A chest pocket on both sides is very casual and usually reserved for very informal shirts.


The placket is one of the main elements of the shirt’s front, because it automatically draws attention to itself due its central position. The traditional placket, also known as the ‘American placket’ is the most common style. It adds symmetry to a dress shirt, and it is basically, a separate piece of fabric attached to the shirt front. It can either by be folded or stitched, and it is a popular option for everyday business shirts. The French placket (no front placket) is a very simplistic style that is achieved by folding the fabric over itself inwards. This technique results in a clean shirt front without any stitching. The French placket works well on both business and casual shirts. The fly front placket,or covered placket, features an extra flap of fabric which conceals the buttons thus providing a very dressed-up look.      

The back

When it comes to the back of a dress shirt you have the option to choose pleats and/or darts. Shoulder or center back pleats help to guarantee a large range of movement in your arms, but some men also like them for the looks. Back darts, however, depending on their width, can produce a pronounced cinched effect on the waist that makes it slimmer and more contemporary. Darts are popular for removing excess fabric from the lower back of a shirt. Many guys will have lower backs that curve inward, so removing fabric from this portion of the shirt can help the shirt follow the lines of their body more closely.

The hem

A classic dress shirt is worn tucked in. Therefore the tail and front hems are longer than the sides, so it doesn’t come untucked during the day. If you are looking for a casual shirt that you can wear untucked on a more relaxed occasion, straight hems are the way to go.


As with most details on the shirt, it all comes down to personal taste. We can give you advice on every little aspect of the dress shirt, but in the end you decide what fits your own individual style best.

Pictures of plackets and pleats: www.propercloth.com