5 reasons to wear shirt stays
Let’s face it. For those who’ve just heard about them, shirt stays may seem excessive. I have already written that, given the dozens of products specifically created to keep shirts tucked in, it confirms that it is a concern shared by everyone.
But when a person is introduced to shirt stays for the first time, they usually have the same reaction: “why?”.
And the same “why” actually hides 2 realities.
The first would be “why care so much about your outfit”.
Such question may comes from a lack of experience to understand the relevance of a proper suit. It is often the case with younger folks.
Or they get it but despise suits for what they embody according to their beliefs. So, they embrace the opposite behavior. These people adhere to the idea behind Zuckerberg’s grey shirt or Steve Jobs’s black turtleneck and jeans. They would advocate the uselessness of suits for “success”.
In that case, their issue is not your effort to dress up, it is the fact that you have chosen the shirt rather than the T-shirt, city shoes rather than sneakers. This attitude is sometimes called “virtue signaling”, which I would translate as: “my choices are morally superior, yours are dumb and/or arrogant.”
I am not going to criticize that line of thinking because, after all, our moral choices are personal and are closely related to our own experience.
But in any case, to those people, shirt stays will never seem useful. They are an accessory to an outfit they despise.
The second would be “why go so far for a suit?”
This interpretation is more interesting. It is the “why” from those who enjoy wearing suits and wear them on a regular basis, but do not understand yet why shirt stays are a great addition if not a staple in their wardrobe.
And it is for this category of people that I would like to formulate the following 5 arguments.
Because the best suit isn't enough
Whether your suit is worth $100 or $5000, the untucked shirt is a concern shared by everyone.
It pollutes the thoughts the savviest gentlemen. We can learn from the experience of a person of renown in this field: Hugo Jacomet of Parisian Gentleman. He wrote an article on the matter.
Don’t believe me, believe him.
‘’To have your shirt looking impeccable all day long, you’ll have to perform a ‘manual tuck’ two or three times a day at the very least, even if the inside belt of your bespoke trousers are tricked-out with a silicon band’’
Before finally agreeing to the following comment from his readers:
“Maybe it is better to embrace the nonchalance of a non-perfect shirt rather than the stuffiness of constriction?”
I kindly disagree on this standpoint (even if people would argue that it can be part of the sprezzatura mindset). But my point is made.
The best bespoke pants aren’t enough to keep shirts tucked in. And the best bespoke suit does not prevent this almost animal need to retuck our shirt. Multiple time throughout the day.
Because you're focused
I’m going to make a dubious analogy.
Some people are a 4-wheel drive at work. They start in a flash, are at ease on all kinds of trails, but they take some time and are a bit messy.
Others (and I humbly include myself) a sort of Formula 1. Fast, efficient, powerful, but which requires a very strict preparation and ideal conditions.
I follow rituals when I get up, I need my coffee first before starting anything. Otherwise I don’t feel comfortable. But once I’m on the track, it’s a tornado show: fast, rough, focused.
And easily irritated by little things… like my shirt getting untucked.
Wearing a shirt stay really solved that issue. I felt genuinely free to do whatever sudden move I wanted to, without having to isolate myself afterwards to retuck. I could stay focused, without any more polluting thoughts.
A feeling of freedom that is priceless.
Because you’re making a statement
Some people wear suits because it’s a workwear. Others wear them because they like it. And for those people, wearing suit is a statement.
It’s following an old tradition. Properly wearing a suit requires learning its hidden rules. Someone who knows how properly wear them is someone who follows that tradition and displays it in a delicate fashion.
Those who wear a shirt stay go a little further in their statement. They know its history, its pedigree as a male accessory, the values it can embody. Some veterans for example still wear them on special occasions, perhaps as a tribute, perhaps as a reminder of their past.
Talking about values may seem a bit of an exaggeration for a pair of elastics. But after all, a suit is never more than a patchwork of fabrics. Medals are just small metal plates.
Most people don’t see much value in these. But for those who get it, it is a statement. And a beautiful one.
Because it is a tool for accomplished professionals.
It would be wrong to believe that shirt stays are tools for shallow people, who solely focus on their appearance. On the contrary.
I’ve raised shirt stays’ military origin several times already. But we cannot forget their daily usage by law enforcement officers. I’ve come across several discussions in this community on the shirt stays they recommend. Here for example. There’s a sort of dichotomy – these impressive big guys and girls talking about such a private thing – that’s kind of amusing to watch.
Now let’s go for a different, if not opposite, universe: the world of entertainment.
Do you think that actors, singers or dancers wearing shirts for their play or on set are naturally stylish? Even when the car has just exploded in the background after a tough chase?
Not a chance. This level of shirt crispness is achievable only with tricks. The actors wear either shirt stays or put on a special shirt designated for this purpose.
I’ve already published these photos on Louis & James’ social medias. The first one is clearly intended for dancers, but the second and the third – a pettegola shirt – are also a very specific piece of clothing. Often gala or stage pieces when the wearer wishes to be perfectly neat throughout the evening. Imagine an opera singer or an actor for the Oscar ceremony.
Far from being a prop for vain people, it is first and foremost a prop for people who want to focus on the moment and do not want to be distracted.
Because you actually care but opted for a wrong solution.
If I had to keep one reason only to wear shirt stay, it would be this one.
Everybody cares about an untucked shirt. Otherwise they wouldn’t regularly take a few minutes to put it back in their trousers. And that’s normal.
Every piece of clothing has rules of use (more or less strict). Even T-shirts. Try wearing them tucked in woolen trousers and you’ll get astonished looks on the street.
We all follow these rules instinctively. We learn them through our environment, our group of friends, other people, movies, books, advertising.
The most classic rule for shirts is that they are worn tucked in trousers and as neat as possible – except for punk rockers, in which case the rule is reversed.
So when the gentlemen put on a shirt and it starts to come out, this animal part of our brain tells us to do something about it immediately.
The most obvious solution for most people is retucking. The solution I have chosen is the shirt stays.
Retucking is a viable solution for those who wear shirt from time to time.
But for those who wear them daily, and realize the recurring headache it involves, using shirt stays are so much better and easier.