Chokers, a king in a hair shirt, and the birth of the breast pocket

For a long time, the shirt played only a small role in the world of fashion, which is too bad, because in some ways, it can be considered the prototype of today’s clothing. We have encountered it over the course of time in different forms and even in sayings. “To lose one’s shirt…” as a sign of having lost everything or “To keep one’s shirt on …” are only two examples of this.   There is no question, however, about our passion for shirts, more than 4,000 different patterns per year.  Geztner Textil AG is one of the world’s most creative fashion fabric manufacturers for shirts and blouses, which is why internationally renowned designers and fashion manufacturers trust our fabrics and dessins .


Chokers, a king in a hair shirt, and the birth of the breast pocket

Originally, the shirt had the function of an undershirt. It made the wearing of rough woollen clothing or armour more comfortable. It was not until the Middle Ages that tailors started placing cuffs at the neck and the arm cut-outs that could be tied together, so that eventually a collar was created. Until then, the shirt had been a slip-on. The shirt does not show up as an outer garment in its own right until the end of the 19th century. Important improvements were added during that time: A yoke on the upper part of the back or buttons at the front or the back that made it much easier to get into the shirt.

Starting in the Middle Ages, the shirt played a central role in historic events as well. Most noteworthy event: King Henry IV’s famous walk from Speyer to Canossa in 1077 in order to convince Pope Gregory VII to revoke his excommunication.  According to accounts by Mathilde von Tuszien and Abbot Hugo von Cluny, Henry IV had to spend several days in front of the castle clothed in a hair shirt.

In the middle of the 19th century, starch as a way to provide a shape became increasingly important, and stiff collars and/or cuffs were indispensable in fine circles. Less affluent men were able to make do with a multi-part shirt made from simple fabric, to whose front, if necessary, a raised collar, sleeves, or cuffs could be attached. It was already customary in the 18th century to wrap a strip of cloth around the raised collar. Later, the tips of the collar were arched downward like butterfly wings, and the originally wide necktie was reduced to a symbolic strip of cloth, the bowtie. These collar tips were often so sharp that they would tear into the skin when its wearer turned his head, which is why these models were called “chokers”.

The latest innovation on the way to the modern shirt was the breast pocket, which is still not permitted on a classic shirt. Chest pockets started becoming fashionable, when the men’s vest became an integral component of the suit, around the time when the button-down collar became respectable, and which originated from the sport of polo. The idea to affix the tips of the collar with the help of a small button arose from the need to prevent collar tips from flapping in the wind while riding fast on a horse. Meanwhile, even more elegant shirts were created with this type of collar.

What all good shirts have in common, however, has nothing to do with the changes in fashion: It is the passion with which the fabrics are manufactured and how the fabric cuts are turned into shirts. For more information, please visit


Getzner Textil respects your privacy

We use cookies for statistical purposes and to improve your browsing experience on our website. By continuing to use our website, you are consenting to the use of cookies. You will find further information about cookies and about ways in which you can revoke your consent to the use of cookies in our legal notices.