Most of us associate ruffles on an evening (aka, tuxedo) shirt with prom pictures from the 1970s. These were offered in your favorite pastel color. Even Roger Moore’s James Bond got in on the act. Most consider it a design well left behind with leisure suits.
Imagine my surprise a few weeks ago when I walked into the legendary London shirtmaker Budd of Piccadilly, and hanging prominently behind the counter was the most beautiful version of the ruffled evening shirt one likely is ever to see. Quizzing the chatty salesman about it, he claimed that it had essentially been a test shirt to demonstrate that the shirtmakers did have the necessary skill to create such a thing. Shirt ruffles, apparently, are hard.
They hoped to sell it, he explained, and the closest they had come was a visiting African potentate. The good sir had tried the shirt on, and while it fit him, he was insistent that the shirt ought to be taken in. Budd’s salesman indicated that he feared the man’s girth would certainly not allow for such a thing. So, the shirt was still hanging there for sale.
As it happens, I came across a beautiful Budd shirt a couple of years ago that was my beau ideal of an evening shirt. With turn down collar, marcella (piqué) front, and voile body, my only regret was that it was too small (or I too large). I finally sold it off for a pittance.
I suppose a few could pull off the ruffled evening shirt, perhaps the young and (very) fit or the old and stylish…or an African potentate, although even he walked away. For me, I’ll take marcella with my dinner jacket.
And I will always associate Budd of Piccadilly with those ruffles.