Saturday, August 7, 2010

Back Darts

It seems like back darts are a pretty polarizing thing - I know just as many guys who love them as guys who would never even consider a shirt with that particular detail.  A darted shirt, for those unaware, features two stitched down folds of fabric on the back of a shirt giving it a fitted appearance.  The argument here is more or less focused on how slim you prefer your shirts.  Lots of brands are selling off the rack shirts that feature a predominantly slimmer fit, but often these shirts can be fairly expensive or not slim enough depending on your body type.  In most cases slim fit sport shirts come in standard small, medium or large sizing so it's not uncommon to size up for your neck or arm measurement, thus negating the slimmer fitting body.  In this case it might make sense to take the shirt to your tailor or seamstress and have it darted.  It's a fairly simple and cheap process costing around 15 or 20 bucks.  For those of us on an even tighter budget the process of darting a shirt can help take an inexpensive shirt that fits traditionally (i.e. poorly for some people) and make it look much "better" - some sartorialists believe a darted shirt can visually take off 15 pounds or so.  I'm kinda split on the idea of back darts myself.  I have a few in my wardrobe and all of them happen to be broadcloth, spread collar dress shirts.  In my eyes, back darts work better with specific types of shirts.  I don't think I would ever have any of my OCBD's darted, but when it comes to broadcloth numbers (sans box pleats of course) I am not opposed to it whatsoever.  It's a much more European feature and often looks best with shirts that fall into that stylistic category to begin with.  If you really love the idea of back darts you can always buy shirts off the rack that come pre-darted.  More upscale brands like Michael Bastian and Ralph Lauren Black Label dart a lot of their shirts so a trip to your tailor is unnecessary.  Like everything else in this life it's a purely personal call that some people feel much more strongly about than others.  Just remember, if I can see your nips, your shirt is probably too tight.


[Pictures courtesy of The Sartorialist.]

-L.A.S

26 comments:

  1. Yeah so I clicked on that nip-link...and to my surprise my photo is on there as an example of what not to do (lol). Who authors that site?

    If if my nipples ever show, please proceed to pinch them as hard as you possibly can and twist.

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  2. Back darts are a great, and inexpensive way, to make your shirt look like you paid $100+. I prefer a slim fit shirt because for one I'm tired of shirts ballooning at the bottom. It's a pain in the ass especially when you have to tuck in your shirt every 2 minutes. There is some ballooning at the bottom with a slim fit shirt such as pictured here but not as severe as one would get in a traditional shirt. Plus a dart, as stated here, makes you look slimmer and more of a man with style.

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  3. I tend to prefer a box pleat.

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  4. Fred- The piece on GTBT is talking about you in a sarcastic manner as if you shirt doesn't fit right i.e. too big. But it is written sarcastically, thus using you as an example of how a shirt SHOULD fit and not like the dude the Sartorialist who is obviously wearing a tight that many would deem as too tight.

    That's how I took it at least.

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  5. LOL—I just spend 15 minutes of my life reading that blog...pretty hilarious!

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  6. It's all about the voice. The pieces range from dead serious to... dead not serious. I try to use silly things like caps lock to indicate that I'm not serious, but it's a bit subtle since so many people use caps lock seriously. If I were more obvious, I don't think the piece would be as funny.

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  7. darts are for man-whores

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  8. darts make a shirt into a blouse..a wonderful way to explore your feminine side

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  9. Can't help but think "on duty" and "official department supplier" when I see back darts.

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  10. Lawrence—Could you post a photo of yourself wearing the new BB striped oxford. I'm really curious about the fit, but I'm not close to a retail location to try it on. Can it be worn untucked without looking goofy?

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  11. Back darts are so great. If you don't like back darts you probably just don't have a toned lower back like I do.

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  12. Patrick KicklighterAugust 8, 2010 at 10:24 AM

    Mike sounds like he has a little chub for L.A.S.! Do you really need your hero modeling shirt to buy it? I call bullshit on that.

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  13. You caught me! God forbid I inquire on how something relatively new to the marketplace fits. Brooks Brothers is a fickle brand—shirting-wise.

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  14. $15 to $20 bucks a shirt is expensive if you plan on having several shirts darted. However, I appreciate the post and just wish more stores/brands, etc. would make slimmer, fitter shirts...now I usually buy a size down to get the proper fit...baggy isn't cool.

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  15. I had one back darted shirt a few months ago until a girl that I madly liked asked me if I have been working out. She has been all over me since and now I own about 10 back darted shirts.

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  16. Darts are completely unnecessary. A competent tailor will take in the shirt at the side seams. If your tailor balks and instead recommends back darts, he is either lazy or incompetent. Find a better alterationist or go to a real tailor.

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  17. Anon 12:44 - Take a look at the construction of a sport coat you like. Whether its hook center-vented, side-vented or unvented I'm willing to bet it has two seams on the back. Guess what? Those are basically back darts and they help the garment follow the curve of your back. Good back darts on a shirt should do the same thing. Its not sloppy or lazy tailoring. In fact, a proper back dart is much more difficult to execute than altering a side seam, which is very forgiving as the end of it run directly into the arm hole. Anyway, Schuman's overly tight first photo above is an example of what not to do. Its not about slimming. A well-executed dart gives your torso a more athletic "v" shape that slimmed up sideseams just can't achieve.

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  18. Enzo,
    It's true that back darts are a cheap way to create waist suppression on a RTW shirt. It takes less time to sew back darts (two straight seams) than it does to take in fabric through the side seams (rip out two felled seams, recut the both sides of the back piece, and re-sew the felled side seams). But you'll never see back darts on a men's bespoke shirt simply because it's inelegant, feminine, and the same shaping can be achieved by adjusting the side seams.

    I have never seen darts on the back of a tailored jacket. I think you're confusing darts with side pieces. However, darts are often used on the fronts of tailored jackets to create shape for large chests (breasts).

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  19. Anon 9:45

    "But you'll never see back darts on a men's bespoke shirt simply because it's inelegant, feminine, and the same shaping can be achieved by adjusting the side seams."

    This depends on where you are getting your bespoke shirts made. You probably favor english tailors and shirtmakers. I like Italian. The most beautiful bespoke shirts I have ever seen have been darted. I'm guessing you think that a slightly trumpeted and ruffled sleevecap looks inelegant and feminine as well. I see beauty in how it cascades down the sleeve. We have two different schools of thought and that's okay. Mine just happens to produce a better fitting shirt.

    As for the tailored jacket example, I can recognize the difference between darts and side panels. My point was to say that they serve the same purpose if you actually think about it. Imagine how poorly a jacket would fit if it was constructed similarly to a modern day shirt, with only a single seam under each arm to allow for shaping.

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  20. I get my shirts taken in at the side seams as well. Count me as another who believes that darts look effeminate. They also complicate ironing.

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  21. Enzo's point is well taken. Clearly what we have here is not a better/worse argument, but two different points of view. Personally, I feel very strongly that a center back pleat is a necessity on a shirt. It facilitates movement and allows the center of the back panel to move with the shoulder blades. Some very well tailored shirts can do without the pleat, but most just feel constricting to me. In my mind, my preference for a back pleat negates the possibility of darts -- it would just make the back of the shirt much to busy, and seems like two tailoring worlds colliding, one adding fabric and the other taking it away.

    All that said, I think that it's important to consider the virtues of both. A properly tailored shirt will make a man look good. If one's tailor prefers darts or to use the side seam isn't really relevant -- the most important thing is that the shirt looks good.

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  22. I always have my bespoke shirts darted. I do not see anything feminine about it, and it gives the shirt shape... perfect for someone who works out. As for the comment that reads "But you'll never see back darts on a men's bespoke shirt simply because it's inelegant, feminine, and the same shaping can be achieved by adjusting the side seams," well, I could not disagree more. Pick up a good Italian made men's shirt and you may find front darts AS WELL as back darts- and no, the same effect cannot be achieved by simply taking in the side seams.

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  23. i know this shirt as a self print shirt. And i have this type of shirt in red. This onne looks amazing.

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  24. As we say to all our customers about darts, "There are no rule left anymore, just preferences SIr." But something to note - when asking for an alteration - don't be led by the tailor a non-darted shirt should suddenly have darts...it is a lazy approach to slimming a shirt.

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  25. A bespoke shirt is well worth the trouble for those who are interested in fashion and looking their best at whatever point they are seen in broad daylight. Business professionals, big officials and figures will presumably have the most need for specially tailored garments as they are always in society eye and being judged just as much on their presence as they are their talents and skills.

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