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.)
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!