History of the Shirt

The shirt was initially classified as underwear worn close to the skin and without buttons on the front, to be pulled on over the head. The first button through shirt was registered by Brown Davis & Co in 1871.

The collarless shirt was first used in 1822 as underwear. A separate collar could be attached at the neck with studs and this form was used widely until about 1950. White was the colour of choice which indicated status amongst employees working in the City of London. The main body of the shirt was made in various fabrics e.g. Cotton, linen or silk in plain colours, stripes and checks. As waistcoats and jackets were buttoned to the neck, the collar was the only part of the shirt which could be seen.Cuffs were also replaceable by unbuttoning the cuffs from the sleeves and attaching a fresh pair. This was prominent during the 1st and 2nd World Wars when air raid shelters were located below ground in the City and Whitehall. When staff were unable to get home and change their clothing , they could still wear clean cuffs and collars.

Qualities of shirting fabric  vary from the dreadful to the superlative. Two fold fabrics are far superior to single fold, not only because they feel good on the skin but the wash and wearability is much better. Laundering of good quality fabric helps towards making life that much more comfortable, the better the fabric  and the more often the fabric is washed, the softer it becomes and is a pleasure to wear. You could say like an old friend! There are many different fabrics such as cotton, silk, batiste, flannel, cashmere etc . As for designs there are too many to mention. For example a checked design is more often worn in leisure or sporting circumstances whereas a stripe is probably worn on more formal occasions . Batiste or voile would normally be worn in very warm climates while Marcella or silk could be made into evening dress shirts. There are so many different permutations that buying and wearing a good quality  shirt, makes selection an interesting interlude in this modern life.

At Rhodes & Beckett all shirts are made in the time honoured manner. Four piece collars are the norm whereas the majority of mass produced retail shirts are two piece. Soft linings are mostly used in high quality shirts. The front placket is folded rather than laid on and the buttons are mother of pearl. A spare button is often included. It is imperative that the yoke that covers the shoulders is well cut and precise. The yoke is considered to be the most important part of the shirt and is made in four pieces in order to maximise fit and comfort. Cuffs are made with a light lining.

Enjoy the experience of Rhodes & Beckett shirts.