A shirt yoke is a piece of fabric that extends across the shoulders in the back, stretching from shoulder blade to shoulder blade and reaching under the collar on the top. A well designed shirt yoke can make the shirt both more stylish and durable. This article explains everything you need to know about shirt yokes before you design your new custom dress shirt.
Shirt yoke and its function
The yoke is an area of the shirt that receives a good deal of stress, since it is the part that gets the most weight and friction from your blazer, jacket, or shoulder straps of your bag. For this reason, a shirt yoke is usually made from two layers of fabric. Just like shirt placket in the front, shirt yoke is built for durability to make sure that your shirt will look perfect for years to come. A double layer of fabric will make sure that you and your shirt are well protected from all these external strains.
Shirt yoke and stylishness
Besides having a very functional purpose, shirt yoke is a very aesthetic element too. If designed properly, it can show a good taste of the wearer, as well as communicate clearly, that the shirt is tailor made. Let’s discuss the two possible options when it comes to shirt yoke: single and split.
Single shirt yoke
A single (or plain) shirt yoke is a yoke made of one piece of fabric. It is your choice for single color shirts with no pattern, such as broadcloth, oxford, or twill. At the same time, single yoke works best with strong patterns (such as thick stripes in daring colors).
It is also a more classic, formal option for fine dress shirts. Think about where you intend to wear your new shirt, what pattern you’d like, and choose the yoke accordingly.
Split shirt yoke
For additional strength and a better fit, many yokes are “split,” meaning they have a center seam. Splitting the shirt yoke is both functional and aesthetic.
From the functional point of view, split shirt yoke allows the tailor to make the shirt fit better. Some customers have one shoulder slightly lower than the other. In that case, the tailor makes one part of the yoke smaller to account for this and achieve a perfect fit.
A split shirt yoke has also a very important aesthetic function and it is often a sign of a tailor made shirt. Matching the pattern at the center yoke seam is a delicate task that requires a skilled tailor, one that cannot be achieved in mass production. The shirt pattern is mostly matched in an inverted V pattern and works best with subtle patterns such as stripes and grids. Choose a split yoke if you want to add extra sophistication to your shirt, if you intend to wear it in business or semi-formal setting, and if your shirt has patterns that are not too bold.
Besides making your shirt durable, shirt yoke makes your shirt more comfortable. A typical dress shirt fabric stretches very little vertically and horizontally. Splitting the yoke and orienting it on the diagonal allows the fabric to stretch more comfortably across the shoulders.
In conclusion, choosing the right kind of shirt yoke is a simple decision that reflects the purpose of the shirt, its pattern and your body type. It makes your shirt more durable, more comfortable and allows you to add an extra aesthetic value to your fine custom made shirt.