Up Close: Pleasing Pleats

I find that pleated shirt fronts often look better on the shelf than they do on the body because pleats only lie perfectly flat when the shirt lies perfectly flat. When the shirt is curving to your body shape and bunching with your body movements then the pleats have a tendency to stand up and interfere with what should be a neat, streamlined look.  They’re also not the easiest thing to press properly.

However, there are a couple of variations that provide a similar look without the shortcomings.  One is called a swiss pleat or a tuck.  These are simply pleats that have been sewn in place along the folded edge.  Very narrow versions are sometimes known as pin tucks.

Simpson & Ruxton swiss pleat dinner shirt

Another option is an effect called plissé which is French for “crinkled” or “pleated”.  Similar in appearance to seersucker, the texture is created by using a chemical treatment to shrink vertical stripes of fabric causing the untreated fabric between them to pucker.

Hugo Boss plissé tuxedo shirt.

If you plan to shop for these variations don’t worry too much about their proper names as shirtmakers often use their own terminology.

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