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Dress Shirt Stays – Hidden Wrinkle Protection

Most of us men do not wear custom tailored dress shirts and as a result, we have what looks like deflated tires above our belts. This is because we have extra shirt fabric riding up and out of our trousers. A common cure of the northerly migrating dress shirt is just to tuck it back in.

Constantly tucking in the dress shirt becomes a hassle and distracting especially during social events; It’s not inappropriate to zipper up your fly nevertheless tuck in your shirt while in the presence of others? I am a little hesitant to tuck my shirt in while around people whom I do not know (however, should I somehow find my shirt completely untucked, then a brisk tuck is excusable).

If a gentleman wants to look sharp with a snugly tucked in shirt and rid excusing oneself to the bathroom for re-tucking, then a gentleman should consider using shirt stays.

This article will explain to you the different styles of shirt stays.  We also went ahead and gave you our honest opinion on each of the shirt stay styles.  Our goal is to give you no-nonsense information on how you can look sharp.

At the end of the article is the overall opinion on the shirt stay systems available to all of us.

What is a Shirt Stay

A shirt stay is a device that uses elastic tension to keep your dress shirt tucked in and tight against your body.

The shirt stay attaches to your socks or around your foot and then is attached to the bottom of your dress shirt; the elastic will pull both ends and will pull any extra shirt fabric inside your pants.

The shirt stay is rarely found in civilian life, but commonly found in the military when soldiers have to look their best in full dress uniform or if a soldier must stand at guard for long periods of time (the ceremonial guards at the Tomb of the Unknowns at Arlington National Cemetery, for example). There are four shirt stay varieties. Each variation does the same job, but in a slightly different manner.

Below is an outline for each of the four kind:.

Straight Shirt Stays for Dress Shirts

The straight shirt stay is the cheapest shirt stay construction available and often come in packs of four. They are the most basic and this allows for ease of use. The straight shirt stay is a single ribbon of elastic material with clips at both ends.

The straight shirt stay is worn on the outside of the legs. While the simple construction will avoid any frustration when you put them on, the two clips are often poorly constructed. More often than not, the clips will lose their grip of your shirt or they will break.

mens straight shirt stays

Our opinion: Do not buy. Reviews of the straight shirt stays are mixed, but why chance it? Why waste $12 plus shipping for something that could work or could break within two weeks? If the result is not certain, then our opinion is to pass on the straight shirt stay.

Y-Clip Dress Shirt Stays

This shirt stay is an improvement on the straight shirt stay construction. While not a great advancement of keeping your shirt snug, the Y-clips offer more anchor points on your shirt and in theory more holding power.

The two clips can be seen as an advantage over single clip construction, but again, the quality of construction is often not much better than the straight shirt stay. Now, instead of having to worry about two clips coming undone or breaking, you now have three per leg.

mens Y-clip dress shirt stays

Our Opinion: Buy at your own discretion. These will do the job for a time, but over straining a cheap pair will cause them to fail within a few months of wear. The Y-Clip shirt stay is more expensive than its predecessor, but material quality is still the same. You are paying a few more dollars for an extra clip and an extra few inches of elastic.

Stirrup Dress Shirt Stays

This variation of shirt stay can be seen as the third generation of keeping your shirt tight to your body. Someone probably had a very bad experience with a straight shirt stay coming undone and probably received a shot to the groin from a renegade clip; with this new, painful experience, this someone probably had the idea to get rid of the clips on the socks and introduce a more reliable design.

As the name implies, the stirrup shirt stay no longer has the sock clips. Instead, the bottom portion of the shirt stay is worn around the foot like a stirrup of a saddle. It is certainly an improvement and reduces the risk of injury to the groin, but quality of construction and material are not much better than the straight and Y-clip shirt stay.

mens stirrup dress shirt stay

Our Opinion: Buy at your own discretion. The stirrup shirt stay is certainly better than the previous two models, but the quality of build is not any better. Reviews of the stirrup shirt stay are mixed, but leaning negative. The most common complaint is that the clips break or do not hold; other complaints include visibility when seated and slightly changing how one walks due to the stirrup inside the shoe. The most common cheer is the design of the stirrup and no longer needing to attach the stay to the socks.

Shirt Stay Belt

This shirt stay does not keep in the tradition of the previous three, but is claimed to be better. The shirt stay belt (also called “shirt locks” or “sticky belt”) entirely replaces the principle of vertical tension with horizontal tension. After you put on your shirt, the belt is worn around the hips and tightened.

Then you put on your trousers as you would normally. (Remember that trousers are worn higher around the waist; the shirt stay belt and your trousers and belt do not overlap).

mens shirt stay belt

Our Opinion: Buy at your own discretion. This style of shirt stay is certainly better than the other three. Reviews are leaning positive. You do not have to worry about wasting time to attach clips to your shirt and socks. But with time and continual use, this product is bound to fail.

The price is considerably higher than the other style shirt stays. You can probably get many years out of this product. If you want to spend near $20 plus shipping, then go ahead and buy this product. You certainly will not have to worry about clips snapping your “manhood”.

How to Wear a Clip Style Shirt Stay

Shirt stays are fastened to your shirt and socks (or if you have the stirrup version, then you wear them around your feet). Put on your socks, underwear, undershirt, and dress shirt as you would normally do. Make sure you wear socks to at least mid-calf. Clip the shirt stays to your socks and then to the bottom of your shirt.

If you have never worn shirt stays before, do not be alarmed at the slight pull you will feel; the tension is supposed to be there. After fastening shirt stays on both legs, put on your trousers. Lastly, stand in front of the mirror and look at the difference in appearance that shirt stays make.

Shirt Stays – In Conclusion

A shirt stay is a cheap way of keeping your shirt tucked and snug against your body. If a man should choose to wear them, he can count on looking slim and put together. Surprisingly, most of us wear clothes one or two sizes too big and this results in extra fabric hanging around our waists. A shirt stay will make the shirt look as if it was custom tailored by pulling down the extra fabric inside the trousers.

However, running the risk of having a metal or plastic clip shooting up the trousers into the groin makes me think twice before purchasing and using a shirt stay. When using shirt stays, please keep in mind that using the toilet will require an extra step because you will have to unclip the shirt stay before sitting down.

Markedly visible should a man cross his legs when seated, a shirt stay will most certainly gain attention. A shirt stay does vaguely resemble a women’s garter belt and could receive the brunt of jokes inside the locker room. I have been told that the shirt stays do itch because they rub against the legs.

Also, sitting down will be a new sensation for a shirt stay-clad gentleman; there will always be tension and when seated, the tension could become unbearable.

Frankly, the reviews of shirt stays are leaning negative. This is not because the principle is flawed. No. The reason why the shirt stay receives a negative review is because the quality of construction and material are just not worth the hassle. We can wait until a better design comes along, but given the popularity of shirt says, we could be waiting for a while.A simple way of looking great and to avoid using shirt stays is to wear properly-fitting dress shirts.  Remember that “fitted” does not mean “restrictive”.

Are you looking for shirt stays keep the front of the shirt looking smooth and flat all day long? Try Sharp and Dapper

Love them? Hate them? What is your opinion about shirt stays?  Share your thoughts with us and the community by leaving your comments in the comment box.

 

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About Antonio

Antonio Centeno is President of ATailoredSuit.com and the founder of RealMenRealStyle.com. He has created over 700 articles & videos on men's style, blogs over at the Art of Manliness, and is the creator of the internet's best selling personal presentation course - A Man's Guide To Timeless Style. Antonio has studied clothing design in London, Hong Kong, and Bangkok. He is a former US Marine with an MBA from UT Austin and a BA from Cornell College. He loves to hear from old friends and make new ones.

  • Franamblerfrances

    My son has to wear dress pants and shirts for Irish dance.  Of course he has to jump and bend his legs thus his shirt comes out of his pants and can be seen coming out of his vest.  Would any of these shirt stays hold up to the jumping up and down ?

  • Tlwilson59

    first of all, they aren’t shirt stay.  The stay goes in the collar.  The proper name for these devices is a shirt garter.  They should hold through all types of movement :)

  • Victor

    I love shirt-stays! I’ve been using them since I left for a 2-year religious mission 4 years ago. After my Navy brother bought me my first pair, I never wear any tucked-in shirt without them! Everyday use wears out Stirrup Dress Shirt Stays in 6 months. Nowadays, wearing a suit 1-3 times per week keep them in good shape for a lot longer. The stretchy material will wear out before the clasps do, so you would need to continually check the quality of the material. I’ve never had it snap my groin. (That fear leaves after a couple weeks, and getting used to it only takes a few hours.)

  • Victor

    Additionally, the secret to making it not bulge out awkwardly behind your knee when you sit is to wrap it once around your leg helix style! Also more comfortable, in my opinion.
    library.thinkquest.org/C0116084/Helix.GIF (but, just once…)

  • Jerrywesol

    Overall I like the the article, however, the white rubber belt shown in your article is the Hidden Tailor solution-and should not be confused with the Shirt Lock. The rubber belt works by friction only while the Shirt Lock made of a nylon molded hook on hook material that grips the material of your shirt and your pants keeping your shirt locked in place. Sticky Belt was the original version of the now improved version Shirt Lock. check it out at http://www.stickybelt.com or http://www.shirtlock.com

  • http://www.sharpanddapper.com sharpanddapper

    Hi all
    My business partner and I are the only UK manufacturers of Shirt Stays here in London. Everything is Hand made in Notting Hill and we use premium quality English Elastic so its softer on the skin as you walk in your stride. If you have a brief moment check out our website http://www.sharpanddapper.com
     
    Durham

  • JohanEkelund

    We manufacture these in England and they sell pretty good. Check out our website for an instructional video. http://www.sharpanddapper.com

  • http://www.timelessproductions.us randelsmith

    The best answer is an unpopular one I’m afraid.  I am a specialist in historical period clothing and uniforms, so here it is in brief.  The recent, late 20th century idea of trying to wear just a shirt and pants and tie and looking neat and fitted is the problem.  What we wore for centuries in one version or another is this.  You need to wear pants pulled up to your true waist, your navel or ‘military waist, i.e. where the sword belt sits.  You need hard to find high waisted pants for this.  They must be held up by suspenders or braces, as the rest of the world calls them.  NOT elastic ones, the nicer solid ribbon ones with elastic in the back.  The shirt can be fairly loose, just fitting correctly at the throat and sleeve length.  You wear a shorter tie, and as narrow as you can find, BECAUSE you are supposed to wear a waistcoat or vest.  A true suit has a vest.  You don’t wear a belt, and nicer trousers have no belt loops.  You have a smoother neater fit.  Never wear a belt under your vest.  It sticks out and shows.  The vest comes down below the waist and hides the shirt even if you reach up.  And of course you have a coat.  The coat may come off in your office of course.  So holding s shirt tail in becomes irrelevant.  See?  Years ago when you bought good high waisted pants the fitting tailor would take up the area of your pants between the waistband and the hips so your pants should stay up without a belt.  Of course tailor made pants are the best because a bespoke tailor will cut your pattern to fit your hips and the small of your back just right, allowing you to bend over easily but the pants not to slip down.  I have this problem because I have such a small flat butt.  It is very hard to take up ready made pants too.  Look at candid photos of ww2 guys in their khaki pants.  The army took them in when they were issued.  You can’t wear suspenders with any shirt and pants uniform, only under a coat.  I wear that uniform a lot and am opting for the rubber or hook belt.  I also took up my cotton pants, but it is never perfect.  I hope this helps, and, encourages more guys to get suits with a vest and  use good button on suspenders.  Oh yes, don’t forget your snap brim dress hat or homburg to finish off the outfit.  A man just isn’t really dressed with his hat (and a nice short army hair cut under it – long hair looks really bad and sticks out around the sides) LOL.
    Randel Smith @
    Timeless Productions
    Texas

  • http://www.timelessproductions.us randelsmith

    The best answer is an unpopular one I’m afraid.  I am a specialist in historical period clothing and uniforms, so here it is in brief.  The recent, late 20th century idea of trying to wear just a shirt and pants and tie and looking neat and fitted is the problem.  What we wore for centuries in one version or another is this.  You need to wear pants pulled up to your true waist, your navel or ‘military waist, i.e. where the sword belt sits.  You need hard to find high waisted pants for this.  They must be held up by suspenders or braces, as the rest of the world calls them.  NOT elastic ones, the nicer solid ribbon ones with elastic in the back.  The shirt can be fairly loose, just fitting correctly at the throat and sleeve length.  You wear a shorter tie, and as narrow as you can find, BECAUSE you are supposed to wear a waistcoat or vest.  A true suit has a vest.  You don’t wear a belt, and nicer trousers have no belt loops.  You have a smoother neater fit.  Never wear a belt under your vest.  It sticks out and shows.  The vest comes down below the waist and hides the shirt even if you reach up.  And of course you have a coat.  The coat may come off in your office of course.  So holding s shirt tail in becomes irrelevant.  See?  Years ago when you bought good high waisted pants the fitting tailor would take up the area of your pants between the waistband and the hips so your pants should stay up without a belt.  Of course tailor made pants are the best because a bespoke tailor will cut your pattern to fit your hips and the small of your back just right, allowing you to bend over easily but the pants not to slip down.  I have this problem because I have such a small flat butt.  It is very hard to take up ready made pants too.  Look at candid photos of ww2 guys in their khaki pants.  The army took them in when they were issued.  You can’t wear suspenders with any shirt and pants uniform, only under a coat.  I wear that uniform a lot and am opting for the rubber or hook belt.  I also took up my cotton pants, but it is never perfect.  I hope this helps, and, encourages more guys to get suits with a vest and  use good button on suspenders.  Oh yes, don’t forget your snap brim dress hat or homburg to finish off the outfit.  A man just isn’t really dressed without his hat (and a nice short army hair cut under it – long hair looks really bad and sticks out around the sides) LOL.
    Randel Smith @
    Timeless Productions
    Texas
     

  • http://www.sharpanddapper.com sharpanddapper

    Yes franamblerfrances they would. As long as he gets used to wearing them after a few tries there should be no issues. My business partner wears shirt stays whilst cycling. Be sure to check out our website http://www.sharpanddapper.com as we use good quality English elastic and super fast clips (so it won’t come undone.)
     

  • JohanEkelund

    It definitely would.

  • http://www.timelessproductions.us randelsmith

    Just used the hook and hook black waist belt system for a week while in a training class in Nevada.  I was in khaki uniform shirt and pants, both wool and cotton versions.  The shirt garter worked fine, only adjusting it once in a day.  However, on me, being small and skinny, I found that the ridged, sharp edged hook belt did start to cut into my hips after a couple of days of wearing it virtually all day and evening.  Especially noticable when sitting down with my waist bent, as it were.  A bigger man may not notice this.  I was also sick with a fever, which no doubt affected my comfort.  I will continue to evaluate the product.  I have not tried the white rubber type shirt garter but may get one to compare.  It looks thicker and bulkier.  Some pants have a rubbery sticky panel in the waistband to help with holding your shirt in and the pants up.  Sometimes you can find rubber panels that are gum backed to stick in your waistband.  Fabric stores used to carry them.  You still have to reach in and tug your shirt tail down, like when you go to the restroom, but it is better then strapping yourself up in elastic garters.  But like I said before, to wax historical, the best thing all of you can do to help yourselves with this problem is to find LONG tailed shirts, like replica ww2 shirts, and high waisted pants, have them taken up snug just BELOW the true waist and wear suspenders.  You can find genuine high waisted pants in both wool and cotton khaki with button and zipper flies at what price glory dot com, who make replica ww2 american and british uniforms.  You can wear these pants with anything, of course.  Wool $125, cotton $45.  All the shirts by the way come down to your knees like they are supposed to.  They even have real all leather oxford dress shoes (in brown) which you can dye black if you want.  So, guys, if you want traditional fitting clothes you will have to get them from historical period clothing suppliers.  Now over in England, at the very expensive and exclusive clothiers you can find a few things made like this.  but for that cost you can go to a real bespoke tailor and have all your stuff made.  It is just a shame that modern cheap pants are cut down on your hips with a super short fly and most modern shirts are rather short in length to save the cost of the fabric.  I ought to start a blog on this stuff I guess.  A group of us reenactor types discuss these things on a facebook page @ called the Gentleman’s Sartorial Consortium Ltd.  

  • eskayo

    Actually, these are also called shirt stays.  What you are referring are more often called collar stays.

  • acowboysway

    I was introduced to straight shirt stays in the Air Force back in 1989. I now never wear a dress shirt without them. I’ve heard of men being snapped when one comes undone, but if you’re careful about putting the rubber peg all the way down the steel keyhole, that shouldn’t be a problem. The only thing I might add is that I don’t adjust mine so tight I could use them to bow hunt with. Just enough to keep a little tension on them when I stand up straight.

  • Nox

    I tried shirt stays recently cause i am a very active person, i sit, i stand up, i take my motorbike, etc & i found it really useful. I can’t even think now of not wearing one. But you’re right talking about the poor quality that causes sometimes the stays to fall (can be embarrassing…).
    I found a way to enhance that by buying some “combi clips” for suspenders. I just cut the original clips & replaced it with these ones. A good point is it clips on the shirt & on the elastic so you can get it back when the elastic is dead & place it on a brand new shirt-stay.