Placket or no placket? That is the question. For myself, I prefer a placket.
But first, let’s address another question: What is a placket? The placket is a strip of fabric sewn onto the front of a dress shirt where the buttonholes live. Some shirts have them, some don’t. The option without the sewn-on placket is often called a French placket or French front, where the fabric is just folded over.
My preference for a placket has to do with aesthetics and versatility. Aesthetically, I just like the look. Plackets aren’t ornate or over-the-top flourishes, but they do add a little textural interest to an otherwise plain garment. To me, shirts without a placket look unfinished, like they’re not done. With a placket, it’s not so blank, especially when wearing a dress shirt without a tie.
And speaking of wearing a dress shirt without a tie… Technically, dress shirts are designed to be worn with a tie. But when you’re wearing a shirt without one, whether you leave one or two buttons undone (or three if you’re Tom Ford), the front of the shirt needs a little support to hold up the collar, giving it a nice shape and height that doesn’t fall flat. It frames the neck and throat better. The placket provides that support, giving a dress shirt more versatility with or without a tie. Without a tie, French placket shirts fall flat in the front and look… well… limp. And who wants limp?
I do have a few French placket shirts that I purchased, quite honestly, by mistake. They were custom shirts, and I wasn’t paying attention to the options when I customized them, which meant a return wasn’t an option. I keep them in case of emergencies because they’re fine with a tie. But if I ever had to really pare down my closet even more, the shirts without plackets would be the first to go.
So if you’re in the market for dress shirts, I strongly recommend demanding shirts with a placket. They look great with or without a tie and – practical bonus – they are, for some reason, easier to button.
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