A big theme of my platform is functional style. Looking fly is a by product of nuances that make up the outfit that may not be outwardly visible to the eye. In fact, comfort comes way before how you look, especially for us fit guys. A previous blog post I spoke about The Split Yoke on a shirt and how beneficial it is to men with a broad back and sloping shoulders. For added comfort there is something else we can add to the back of a shirt so that you don’t feel wrapped like a mummy. That is, pleats. Pleats have had a bad rap over the years for being old fashion but we have seen a resurgence of them in the style community in recent years, more commonly on pants, I did a video on them, you can check it out here and here. They are a functional piece on your pants and are just as functional on your shirts. Let’s take a look at how pleats on shirts works out for Fit Men.
Simple enough, this shirt has no pleats in the back. Some of them do come with a split yoke, some don’t. But even with a split yoke, though it may help the shirt stretch on the shoulders and upper back, for the fit guys with a cobra back, right behind the armpits may be a bit tight with these shirts.
Center Box Pleats
If you think of back pleats, these are probably ones you’re thinking about because they are the most common. Right in the center of the shirt you’ll find a rectangular fold made from excess fabric creating pleats to the left and right of that fold. With these pleats it gives you more range of motion with your arms moving forward than the no pleats back. Typically center pleat can be found on more casual shirt, shirts that are considered conservative and classic will also have these type of pleats.
As the name suggests , unlike the center box pleats, these are found on the side right below the yoke. Excess fabric is folded, creating the pleat that give just as much range of motion as the the center pleats. These types of back pleats are formal in nature and gives the shirt a much smoother aesthetic as they tend to be more discreet than the center pleats.
All these types of backs can come with or without a split yoke but for optimal movement and comfort ability, why not have both? Shirts usually come with one or the other but have found that my Charles Tyrwhitt and Tailor Lamb shirts come with both (side pleats to be exact). So you see how functional a shirt can be, which leads to your comfort and peace of mind and if you're worried about the pleats making your shirt baggy (it shouldn't), a local tailor can put darts in there to take it in more.