Function or fashion?
January 11, 2007 8:34 AM   Subscribe

Expensive dress shirts share some common features. Function or fashion?

While browsing my closet this morning for a shirt to wear, I’ve notice that all of my more expensive shirts share some common characteristics. First of all, I’ve noticed that the cuffs of these shirts, where the fabric overlaps, are cut in an angle. Also, the last (lower) button opening is cut horizontally instead of vertically like the rest of the button openings. Any reasons for these features?
posted by racingjs to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (9 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I'm not sure about what you're describing about the cuff, but the lower horizontal button hole I've always taken to be something that facilitates having a flat shirtfront where the shirt gets tucked into the pants.
posted by OmieWise at 8:36 AM on January 11, 2007

I've only got one shirt where the corner on the outside folded-back part of the cuff is cut away - and coincidentally, this is the only shirt that has a different patterned fabric "inside" the cuff (once folded back).
None of my other shirts with fold-back cuffs have the cut away, and they're all one consistent fabric.

The horizontal buttonhole? No idea - I've wondered about this myself... :)
posted by Chunder at 9:03 AM on January 11, 2007

The cuff you describe is called a mitered cuff, and it seems to be purely a style thing.
posted by jjg at 9:05 AM on January 11, 2007

Re: horizontal buttonhole. Not sure how that works, though.
posted by sonofslim at 9:10 AM on January 11, 2007

If you go to a tailor to have shirts made, you will have options as to what type of cuff you want. It is purely a matter of personal preference. Most "cheaper" shirts have straight cuffs, I've always assumed because it was less expensive to produce that way. You can also get them with a rounded corner (instead of an angle cuff), or with two sets of buttons, etc.

The horizontal buttonhole I've wondered about. I don't know if this is the reason or not, but I use to help make sure I'm not misbuttoning the shirt, since you can easily tell which is the last buttonhole.
posted by GregW at 9:11 AM on January 11, 2007

Best answer: Why are neckline/collar buttonholes on shirts are always horizontal (as are almost all center-front buttonholes on outerwear)? Because horizontal buttonholes take horizontal stress with less deformation of the buttonhole shape and offer much less likelihood of the button pulling out from such stress than do vertical ones. But this results in the button being pulled to the end of the hole rather than staying centered. Since a well fitted shirt shouldn’t naturally have any fitting stress across its width above the waist, the custom is to prefer vertical holes with centered buttons above the tuck-in level; they look better, especially on a vertically striped fabric. Below the belt or at the waist, where there might be more stress, you can revert to the stronger position...and demonstrate that you (the maker) are willing to take the time to shift the shirt to change the placement of the hole, further proof that your expensive shirt is worth the money.

The same logic doesn’t apply to cuff shaping. Curved shapes stitch more slowly and require more skill to stitch accurately and consistently than do shapes made up of all straight lines. But since the standard on dress shirts is rounded-edge cuffs, the easier-to-make diagonal corner looks like (and is) a distinguishing feature while also being a cost- and time-saving expedient that less-experienced sewers can make easily.
posted by dpcoffin at 10:43 AM on January 11, 2007 [3 favorites]

pleats are considered more classy, when it comes to pants anyway...i would image the same would go for a cuff...but who really notices that?
posted by goldism at 12:35 PM on January 11, 2007

Gosh I'm not a fan of the two vertical button cuff, especially on dress shirts. It's rather inelegant.
posted by oxford blue at 2:22 PM on January 11, 2007

pleats are considered more classy, when it comes to pants anyway...

Whoa, goldism, not in here in AskMe. References: 1, 2 and 3, for a sample.
posted by Rash at 9:38 PM on January 11, 2007

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