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The Back Pleat

January 23, 2011

For the most part, we consider the craftsmanship of our shirts to fall within traditional sartorial guidelines. In other words, you won’t find much avant-garde experimentation in our designs. However, one unique aspect that our customers often have questions about is the full length box pleat. This isn’t the traditional center box pleat that most people are used to. Instead, ours continues down to the bottom of the shirt.

It’s certainly not the only way to have a pleat on the back of the shirt – there are several others. The difference between these, besides the aesthetics, mostly lies in the amount of extra give they provide when extending your arms forward.

  • Traditional box pleat: Similar to the full length box pleat, yet it doesn’t run the length of the shirt (because it’s only sewn into the top of the shirt, it fades as it runs down).
  • Inverted box pleat: Similar to the box pleat, but inside-out. It helps hide the appearance of the pleat while maintaining its usefulness.
  • Side pleats: Instead of the one box pleat in the middle of the shirt, side pleats split each single pleat and spread them out to the shoulders. This allows a similar amount of give as the box pleat, but with a different appearance; however, it’s more difficult to include darts in the shirt.
  • No pleats: Often, pleats just aren’t necessary. If the shirt is well fitting and/or includes darts, it may not need the flexibility that the pleats provide.

So, why do we choose the full length box pleat? While we pride ourselves on practical designs, this is a rare case of form before function for us. The full length pleat, in our eyes, has a slimming effect from the back, and also provides a touch of symmetry with the front placket. Because it’s sewn into the shirt all the way down, it doesn’t provide any of the give that the other pleats allow. But we’re confident that with our custom fits (aided by the side darts), this is unnecessary.

And while we personally wear our design proudly, we can’t claim to be the first to use the full length back pleat: Band of Outsiders and Ben Sherman have used it as well.

But of course, everyone has their own opinion, which we’re happy to accommodate. We know the full length box pleat isn’t for everyone (especially if you iron your own shirt), so just email us and we’ll adjust your shirt to your choice of pleat.


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