Men’s shirts have evolved over the centuries from a simple, square cut garment, to the form fitting tailored shirts we have today.

Until relatively recently shirts were considered underwear and only the collar and cuffs were shown. In high society, they were changed frequently during the day and used to protect expensive outer garments. Due to the labour intensive spinning and weaving, high-quality fine shirts were reserved for wealthy gentlemen and usually made of fine linen.
This all changed with the growth of cotton cultivation in the Caribbean and the southern states of America. In combination with the mechanisation of textile production during the Industrial Revolution good quality shirts became affordable for many more people.
Shirts, as we know them today, started to be seen at the end of the 19th century. This is when the buttoning was extended all the way to the hem. Up until then shirts has been pulled over the head and were cut very long to tuck between the legs inside the trousers.
At this time snowy, white shirts were still the epitome of style for a gentleman, whether with a stiff stand up collar, or a fold down style. Anyone seen in a coloured or striped shirt was viewed with deep suspicion as this tended to suggest less than ideal hygiene, or, heaven forbid, a physically laborious job.
As social attitudes changed after the first world war, and sports became very popular, different styles of shirts began to be emerge. Already by the mid-1920s colourful shirts in luxurious patterns could be seen, usually worn by the young wealthy high society set. F. Scott Fitzgerald, in his novel ‘The Great Gatsby’ wrote a marvellous description of Jay Gatsby’s shirts and how the heroine, Daisy, swoons at their beauty, ‘shirts, with stripes and scrolls and plaids in coral and apple green and orange and find orange, with monograms of Indian blue.’
This new style of shirts, with soft collars and attached cuffs, was pioneered by Turnbull and Asser of Jermyn street, London, and was a revolution in men’s dressing that we still feel today.
Although stiff, boiled, white shirts were still derigeur for formal events, this new relaxed style became very popular for more casual occasions.
It is in this tradition of luxury shirtmaking that we produce our own line of ready-to-wear and bespoke shirts. We use only the best quality shirtings, all made in Italy, that mean not only do Simon Skottowe shirts feel luxurious as soon as you put them on, but the keep looking perfect for much longer than the average shirt.

The cut of our shirts rigorously follows the London tank cut but modernised to today’s style. There are also a few, fundamental, details that define a high quality shirt in the London tradition, which you will find in all the shirts carrying the Simon Skottowe label.

Collar sticks.

A good shirt will have removable collar sticks, positioned where the shape of the collar requires it. This is essential to keep the shape for turned down collars, but should not be used for soft, or button styles. Most are made of plastic, but some gentleman's clothing stores also offer them in brass, silver or even pearl. Whatever material they're made of, they give the collar a proper curve and prevent the collar tips from turning up. This is especially important if the shirt is worn with a tie.

The split yoke.

The origin of the split yoke lies in traditional, bespoke, shirt making. As people's shoulders are usually of different heights and lengths, the split yoke allows the shirt to be tailored to the exact body shape of the customer. It also allows the pattern of the fabric to follow the front of the shoulder which is a small, but pleasing detail appreciated by connoisseurs. On finished shirts, the split yoke is just one detail that indicates a higher quality, as the extra work is not

Pattern matching.

Unfortunately fabric patterns are only matched accurately for very good ready-to-wear shirts, although this should always done for bespoke made shirts. For example, a striped or checked pattern should match exactly where the shoulder and sleeve meet, the centre back yoke seam should be symmetrical and check patterns should match throughout the side seams.


Natural mother-of-pearl buttons are a must-have accessory for good shirts. Mother-of-pearl buttons are so hard they can even break a sewing machine needle. The front button placket used to be an separate piece of fabric sewn onto the front of the shirt, but nowadays it is made by folding over the fabric on the edge of the shirt. While the front button placket gives some extra stability to some it looks a bit sporty so elegant dress shirts usually have a plain folded button front.


The gusset, a triangular piece of material placed at the bottom if the side seam, where the back and front meet, is added for reinforcement. This detail can be found on many good shirts. We don’t do our gussets in pink, unlike a famous London shirt maker, preferring a more discreet style.

Sleeve fullness.

On quality shirts, the sleeve fabric should be generously pleated into the cuffs. In addition, there is often a small button above the cuff on the sleeve placket to prevent the sleeve from opening out, giving the arm an unflattering look. The button can also be unbuttoned to make the sleeve easier to roll up.


A good, durable, seam on a shirt should have 7-8 stitches per cm. All the stitching should be done with a single needle lock-stitch machine and the main construction seams should be made in three separate stages. First the two layers of fabric are sewn together, then after pressing the seam the edge of the seam allowance is turned under and stitched again. Called flat felled seaming, this technique ensures the seam remains perfectly flat, even after washing, and very smooth against the body. For shirts of lesser quality, a machine with two needles is used for double stitching with a chain stitch. This allows parallel seams to be sewn in half the time but they ripple and the stitches are not smooth of the inside of the shirt.

Fit and comfort.

Luxury shirts should always allow comfortable movement without unnecessary excess fabric which would be irritating when wearing a jacket. A quality shirt should be cut long enough so that it does not slip out of the trousers at the back or sides. The back is usually cut slightly longer than the front so that it fits snugly even when the wearer is bending over, The length is right if the front and back can be joined at the crotch. Shorter shirts should be avoided to avoid awkward situations.
In recent decades, shirts have transcended their utilitarian origins to become powerful tools of
self-expression. Whether for business, formal events, sports or leisure time, wearing a high quality shirt is a
luxury that should be enjoyed every day.

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