Anatomy of a dress shirt

The anatomy of a dress shirt is defined by elegant simplicity: a collar, button-up front, sleeves, wrist cuffs, front piece, and back piece. Such a simple silhouette means that every design decision you make is vital. Different fabric, sizing, and style choices dictate whether your shirts belong in a formal or more casual setting. In this guide, we’ll help you breakdown each component of a dress shirt. That way you’ll be in the best position to build your own personal creation.


looCollar base (or collar stand): A stiff band at the top of a shirt that attaches to a collar. The dimensions of a base influence how well the collar frames your face.

Collar leaf: The visible outside fabric that folds over the base. It’s what first comes to mind when most people think of the word ‘collar’.

Collar point length: The distance between the top and the point of a collar leaf. Even the tiniest length difference can influence the overall k of your shirt.

Collar front band: The part on the base sitting between the collar points.

Collar point spread: The distance between the collar points. A smaller distance gives a more traditional look, while a wider spread is more modern.


Collar: A band of material around the neckline of a dress shirt with a section that folds over.
Yoke: A piece of fabric under the collar that drapes over the shoulders. If split in two, it is called a “split-yoke.”
Placket front: A narrow strip of fabric running down the front of your shirt where you push buttons through.
Plain front: A shirtfront with a hidden placket. Usually the fabric is folded inwards so that no stitching is visible on the outside. This gives a cleaner, more modern look.>
Fly front: A thin flap that runs all the way down one side of a shirt opening to conceal the buttons. A shirt with this design makes a distinct style statement and can be worn with a bow tie.
Armhole: The opening of a shirt into which the arms are sewn.
Sleeve: The part of a shirt that covers the arm. Short-sleeved dress shirts give a more casual feel.
Sleeve placket: The opening of the sleeve near the cuff where a piece of fabric is sewn.
Cuff: A fold or band at the bottom of a sleeve. French cuffs are more formal, requiring cuff links to fasten. Barrel cuffs with one or two buttons are more common.


Back collar height: The back of a collar that is folded over.

Hang loop: A small, loop-shaped fabric sewn into the yoke seam that allows the shirt to be hung.

Side pleats: Folded sections of fabric at the back of the shirt near the shoulders.

Box pleat front: Double-folded sections of fabric near the center of the back.

Darts: A tapered seam of fabric that is used to adjust the fit of a shirt.

Hem: The finished edge on the lower part of the back. More formal shirts usually have a longer hem for tucking in. More casual shirts are meant to be worn over pants and tend to have shorter hem lengths.

Tail: The part of a shirt that hangs below the waistline.