A brief article on the benefits and drawbacks of men’s dress shirt stays
Introduction to the Men’s Shirt Stay
Most of us men do not wear custom tailored dress shirts (myself included) and as a result, we have what looks like deflated tires above our belts. This is a result of having 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.
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.
What is a Shirt Stay for Dress Shirts
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. There are about 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.
Julius’ 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 my 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.
Julius’ Opinion: Do not buy. I was very close to saying that this is a buy, but reviews are leaning negative. The more parts there are, the more parts there are to fail. 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, however you are getting the same low quality shirt stay.
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.
Julius’ 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, so the shirt stay belt and your trousers and belt would not overlap).
Julius’ 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.
A closing on the shirt stay
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. Lastly, I have been told that the shirt stays do itch because they rub against the legs.
As you can see, 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. Lets wait until someone produces a high quality and dependable shirt stay. When that happens, I will be amongst the first to use their better-than-before product make me look sharp and slim.