Shirt Darts

20
From-Russia-With-Love-Shirt-Back
Darted Turnbull & Asser shirt in From Russia With Love

Darts on the back of a shirt are currently more popular than ever now that people like wearing their clothes tighter. When darts are used, two are typically placed at the back towards the sides. They start above the waist and may extend down to the bottom of the shirt or as far as needed. Most often shirts are shaped as much as possible with the side seams and back darts are used when needed. Traditionally darts are not used on men’s shirts, but can often be found in both the backs and fronts of women’s shirts. But it’s completely acceptable for men to have darts on the back of their shirt for a more shapely and less blousy look. Darts are rarely found on ready-to-wear shirts because the closer fit they provide is very specific to the person wearing the shirt. However, they can easily be added to the shirt if taking in the side seams is not enough.

Turnbull & Asser put darts on Sean Connery’s shirts because of his large drop rather than for a close fit. Without darts, a shirt on someone as athletic as Connery would be much too large around the waist. Connery’s shirt also shows that pleats and darts on the back can work well together. Pleats curves the shirt over the shoulder blades whilst darts fit the shirt through the small of the back.

Octopussy-Shirt-Back
Darted Frank Foster shirt in Octopussy

Frank Foster used darts for George Lazenby and Roger Moore’s shirts to achieve a closer fit. Foster fits his shirts much closer than most English shirtmakers, but the clean, streamlined look is perfect for James Bond. The back is shirred under the yoke for fullness across the shoulder blades, and the darts take in the fullness at the waist. Daniel Craig’s dress shirt in Casino Royale is darted, and his Tom Ford shirts in Quantum of Solace and Skyfall are also darted.

Darted Tom Ford shirt in Quantum of Solace
Darted Tom Ford shirt in Quantum of Solace

20 COMMENTS

  1. Huh. Never knew Connery’s shirts sometimes had back pleats as well.

    You’re pretty much subscribing to the same theory I am about them being used because of his large drop. I used to not like darts, but have found since trying Ledbury that they give a slightly nicer taper than just the side seams alone.

    Moore’s shirt… that is just a perfect fit right there and looks good whether you’re 25 or 50. I’m continuing to become a bigger Frank Foster fan as time goes on.

    • I am not a large man, but I have a 9″ drop and favor darted shirts for that reason. Even my slimmer-fitting shirts that lack darts tend to blouse in a way that is unflattering.

      Jovan–As and aside, I am fond of Ledbury shirts. Fitted, but not tight. And the quality seems pretty good as well.

      • Some traditional-minded people would have everyone wearing shirts as loose as Connery’s, which is fine if that’s your taste, but seem to forget that fitted shirts existed long before today, even further back past the ’60s. In fact, I remember Orson Welles wearing a shirt (probably bespoke, given the character) about as fitted as Roger Moore’s in “Citizen Kane”. Full cut and fitted are simply a matter of taste. Since last fall I’ve begun to find that something like the Ledbury or Frank Foster fit is more comfortable to wear, does away with just enough “excess” fabric, and flatters an athletic/slender person better than the ultra-slim fits being pushed now (which do nothing but wrinkle and crinkle and look like a mess after a few hours).

        Ledbury are quite nice for the price. Some think the “made in Poland” tag makes them cheap, but I disagree given that there is fair labour over there. They could make them in the U.S., but the fact that they only use European fabrics, mostly Italian, probably figures into it. It may be less expensive to import those to Poland rather than the U.S. I do wish they had better sizing options. I fit into their shirts by the skin of my knee, but guys who are, say, a 16-36 are out of luck since they offer sleeve shortening but not lengthening. Something like a special order program would be nice. Or just expanding their sizing into sleeve lengths… but it would be nice to be able to choose collar and cuff styles in addition to sleeve lengths with whichever fabric one wants.

      • I would imagine that Ledbury saves a significant amount of money by having the shirts made in Poland as opposed to the U.S. In any event, I have no complaints about the quality. As I’m sure you know, most people (outside of blogs like this one, of course) would find $135 to be an extravagant sum of money to spend on an OTR dress shirt. But I think Ledbury has good value. I suspect many designers market what amounts to the same shirt for upwards of $200.

  2. Matt, are you absolutely sure those are darts on Connery’s shirt and not a ruffle? I have never noticed darts on his shirts before. I had some bespoke shirts done at T&A which were considerably waisted but with no darts (which I do not like). I think the shirts look superb and natural fitting – I feel sure that Connery must have had something similar done for the films.

  3. Yes, spotted it, Matt, you are absolutely right and I don’t think he wore those shirts in Dr No. Agree with Jovan that many of the modern darted shirts are simply exaggerated and look a mess after a couple of hours. The same I find with straight front trousers which look great first thing in the morning standing up but are a crinkled mess by midday in the office once you have sat down.

    • You are right Steve. His Dr No shirts were even fuller, with the width at the torso being the same as the widht at the waist. Maybe it was done on purpose, allowing our secret agent to breathe more easily under Jamaica’s sun 🙂

  4. Connery’s shirts, even with their darts, have a really full… full cut. And the back pleats, even if giving some ease to the back, only reinforce the fullness I guess. They look almost like T&A ‘s standard shirts to me. Funny thing : Craig’s shirt is the only one which really needs some ironing at the back… The costume designers didn’t forget these details at Moore’s or Connery’s period ! The Frank Foster shirt with a shirred back is also superb. It’s not as full as Grant’s shirt in North by Northwest, and that’s maybe even better. Do you think that (“business”) shirts with shirred back are available in ready-to-wear, Matt ?

  5. As a matter of interest is Frank Foster still around? Website and number don’t appear to be working at all.

    • Yes, Frank Foster is still around. He works only afternoons, and I find that calling about 3-4 pm GMT is the best time to get through. They are often busy working or with clients so they aren’t able to pick up the phone. Keep trying every half hour and you’ll get through eventually. Answering the phone is the only thing they aren’t good at there.

  6. What some of you are calling full cut shirts are born simply out of economics. Pillow cases can fit over a wider variety of body types. Just because men wore polyester suits in the seventies does not make it right. That was a sign of the technology and business models of the time. I’m 6’1 with a 10 inch shoulder to waist drop….”Full fitted”shirts make me look like I’m trying to grown into my big brothers clothes

  7. Matt, do you know if Brosnan’s T&A shirts had darts? I’m having a hard time determining this based on the movies, particularly as he spends most of his time with a jacket on. They are present in TWINE on the blue shirt when the stuntman makes the dive off the ledge to the submarine, although I’m not sure if that was just a modification specific for the stuntman’s shirt.

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