Introducing the boxtop, a new menswear garment!


Men’s fashion doesn’t change very quickly, so every once in a while I like to give it a little push.

The idea of combining a dress shirt with boxers isn’t original to me. Back in the 1920’s, Arrow offered something similar.  (Notice how the Arrow shirt buttons up the right leg.)

arrow shirt suit

More recently, a French company has begun marketing a shirt/boxer combo called the calchemise, which I wrote about earlier this month on my blog.  My readers were ambivalent and, initially, I was too.  So I decided to make one and see for myself.


For my version, I used a gorgeous blue cotton chambray from Mood Fabrics in New York City.  Chambray is like lightweight denim, except instead of being a twill it’s a plain weave.  My chambray was a pleasure to sew with and almost as soft as flannel.  (You can see Mood’s online chambray selection here.)

I have dubbed my garment the boxtop (boxers + a top).  To design it, I combined a favorite vintage shirt pattern, Butterick 4575, and a favorite undershorts pattern, McCalls 3438.  Fit was vitally important since I needed to be able to sit and move comfortably in my boxtop: it could be neither too tight nor too loose.  I think the boxtop would be a difficult garment to produce commercially for just this reason.  It has to fit in so many places and the fabric isn’t stretchy.


Inspired by the calchemise, the boxtop is meant to be worn with or without pants.  Unlike the calchemise, however, the boxtop doesn’t have snaps or buttons on the underside.  If nature calls, you have to slip your boxtop off, which doesn’t seem like too much of an inconvenience.  Anything with snaps below the crotch feels too much like a onesie.



With pants, the boxtop looks like a classic, slim-fitting dress shirt.  Mine has a contrast inner collar stand  made in a Liberty-like floral cotton from my stash, and has mother-of-pearl buttons straight down to the fly.  Two narrow fish-eye darts give shape to the back above the waist.




The best thing about the boxtop is that if the temperature outside suddenly rises  — as it does so often these days — you can slip your pants off and enjoy warm breezes on your bare legs.




Will the boxtop become the sensation it’s apparently become in Southern Europe?  We’ll see.

Would any of the men you know wear one?




Until next month!




  • Cheryl
    April 18, 2016

    NOOOOO,!!!!! Says husband. No, say I. For one thing, it makes no sense to bare your legs to the breeze if your arms are covered to the wrists. I can wear long pants in the summer with comfort but I usually want to cool the upper regions. You need to develop a short or sleeveless version .

    • A
      May 1, 2016

      Ha – I’m the opposite, I wear shorts and long-sleeve button downs + wide-brim-hat here in 100 degree Texas summers to keep from getting skin damage. If I’m vertical – my arms always get too much sun but my legs not as much, so it’s my general outfit for summer. If I’m going to be outside for an activity I layer on the sunscreen.

  • Jennifer
    April 18, 2016

    No more plumber’s butt! This is a great thing for the world. But I’m not sure I know anyone who would wear one regularly.

  • Sewgirl66
    April 18, 2016

    Looks great with the pants….not so great without them. Kinda looks like you forgot something!

  • pia
    April 18, 2016

    Ha Love it! Wish more men are brave enough to wear one. Men’s clothing have become so bland.

  • Sueann walter
    April 18, 2016

    You are stuck with dress shoes and socks with shorts and that is just a bad look. As for men I know….they all said absolutely not.

    Of course this levels the playing field for ease of going to the bathroom, it would be just as difficult for men as it is for women!

  • Serenity
    April 18, 2016

    So….. Do you wear underpants with that?

    • Peter
      April 18, 2016

      If you’re wearing it alone, I suggest underwear, but then I’m old fashioned.

  • Theresa in Tucson
    April 18, 2016

    Snicker, snerk, snerk, Serenity asked my question already. And how does one wear the romper modestly if undies are not worn.

    • Peter
      April 18, 2016

      How about over a flesh-colored body stocking? LOL

  • Liliana
    April 18, 2016

    I think it’s fantastic! Fun and new, but I doubt many men would wear it (and even less without trousers).

  • Rosanna
    April 18, 2016

    I love it! Why not. I’d love to see men wearing something so daring! (Although if it was my husband I’d probably pretend not to know him…) Good for you for pushing the boundaries!!

  • Charlotte
    April 18, 2016

    I’ve got to say that I prefer it with trousers, but you haven’t told us what you think – is it going into regular rotation??

  • touteclaire
    April 18, 2016

    BRAVO!! superbe !!

  • Dorothy
    April 18, 2016

    Peter please show us a Boxtop with full length legs (slim at the ankle) worn under your slightly (to my mind) short trou. Have the hem showing as if you shot the cuffs. Beautiful work by the way.

    • A
      May 1, 2016

      I am intrigued. I would love to see it with a waist band, longer shorts, and color blocking to make it look like shorts and shirt; like some women’s dress patterns can look like a blouse tucked into a skirt.

  • Curt Jensen
    April 18, 2016

    This is just too funny. While I find it kind of sexy with the shorts, dark socks and dress socks, in a weird way, I can’t really imagine too many people wearing this.

    Thanks for the giggles!

  • Susan
    April 18, 2016

    Omg. You’re a crazy man and I absolutely love this outfit. It’s awesome to see men willing to take fashion chances too! Men usually don’t get to play with silhouettes like women do and this outfit is so fun and whimsical. I applaud you for making and wearing it whether it’s practical or not!

  • Sandra
    April 18, 2016

    While I applaud you for not putting an unsightly seam around your middle, I have to say that at a glance, it sort of looks like your shirt is too long & you forgot your pants. 🙂

  • Frank Fotheringham
    April 18, 2016

    (Put your lips together and suck in air to make a slurping sound, smack the lips, looks sideways and say): Dude, your hip!

  • M.
    April 18, 2016

    I’m so happy you made this. Amazing. I hope all the guys start wearing them.

    I’m going to make some for husband only shorter. hee hee!

  • Jotham Bailey
    April 19, 2016

    I would be more inclined to a “Boxtop” if it had short sleeves, band color, some elastic gathering at the waist in back, and onesie crotch. The sleeplessness and band color for informality; the stretch to add some shape and controlled easee, the snaps for convenience. You are AMAZING Peter!

  • BC
    April 19, 2016

    I was immediately concerned, since I live in the southern French part of “Southern Europe” … I mean… how could I have missed such an important clothing trend that could be dubbed a “sensation”. I quickly phoned my financial advisor, but “helas” he suggested that I refrain from immediately investing. However, he noted that if my masochistic nature extended beyond private investments to immediate public ridicule, then I should quickly fill up my wardrobe and get out there. After all, somebody out there has to stretch the limits of our imagination.

  • oonaballoona
    April 19, 2016

    all i can say is, THEM BIKER GAMS. HEY BABY!!

  • julie dickover
    April 19, 2016

    holy smokes, this is more than amazing.

  • Tacomapat
    April 19, 2016

    I prefer the boxtop with sandals and I would prefer it with short or no sleeves. It would look cool with a pair of Birkenstocks. Peter, can you see yourself at Provincetown wearing your boxtop this summer?

  • Annie
    April 19, 2016

    I think this is a fashion that most straight men would shun. And I would not want to see my husband wearing it either. I don’t mean this in an unkind way at all. It just looks too feminine somehow. But why should that bother men who aren’t straight? Nice work, as always. You’re an inspiration to us all.

  • barbara
    April 21, 2016

    peter, sometimes you scare me. what did your mother feed you?
    it? they? look like onesies anyway and short sleeves won’t change that. i agree with curt: long legged version might be better – definitely more masculine. although i also agree with oona – great legs! (i’m curious too. what’s under the unders? tell, tell.)

  • Wouter
    April 22, 2016

    Peter, thank you so much for making this. It turned out much better than I expected. I like the contrast with the dress shoes.

    Would I wear one? Yes, definitely if the fit were right. My girlfriend might give me some looks, although I’d probably like that too.

    • A
      May 1, 2016

      I agree, It turned out better than I imagined. I like yours better than any of the examples you showed us. I really love the fabric. I would also love to see it with sandals as someone else mentioned.

      • A
        May 1, 2016

        Whoops – you did model with sandals – I noticed when I went back through the photos. Looks nice!

  • Michelle
    April 24, 2016

    OMG LOL I can’t even handle how amazing this is!!! I think I could actually get my husband on board, best ever!

  • Jessica Malcolm
    April 24, 2016

    My husband says no way, and I think I’d have to agree, although it looks nice with pants

  • Gail
    April 25, 2016

    I laughed out loud when I saw these but there is a grain of sense in the idea!

  • Tor
    April 25, 2016

    AMAZING!!! Beyond love this!

  • Amy
    April 26, 2016

    Peter, I’d give anything for half of your creativity right now! Enjoy your boxtop! I’ll be looking out for them here in Seattle!

  • Elizabeth
    April 26, 2016

    You made me smile looking at this!

  • Elizabeth
    April 26, 2016

    You made me smile looking at this! Scottish men say no way, and as you know they are happy to wear the kilt! But you know what, you are a handsome man, you looked good in it! And you did a fabulous job.

  • Khai
    April 29, 2016

    Yes, would very much like to wear (at least try) it.

  • A
    May 1, 2016

    ***Hi Peter – if you look at this pattern it has three piece sleeves. This summer I want to make the under part of the sleeves in mesh or lace or something that lets the breeze in, and the upper part in a opaque sun protecting fabric. It would be so cool if you made a shirt or your box top like this!! Reply if you will consider trying it, – I would love to compare notes.

  • Alli
    May 6, 2016

    That’s amazing! You’re just awesome! 😀