Friday, July 22, 2011

How to Make Button Shirts Tznius

One thing that annoys me endlessly is when women wear button-down shirts and there are obvious gaps between the buttons, exposing the woman's bra or undershirt. In the Jewish context, this is untznius. In the everyday world, it's sloppy. I, too, was once a victim of this scourge on fashion. (I didn't know better. But at least I had the good sense to wear an undershirt.)

Worse, if you work in a professional environment, it looks unprofessional and can be distracting to others.

If you are a chesty woman with a similar problem, it's easy to fix. Please do so. 

There are several solutions:
  • At a minimum, at least wear a shirt under it so that we don't have to see your bra. Or worse.
  • Also a minimum requirement: wear a properly fitting bra. Get a professional fitting at least once a year because your body can and will change over time. There should be no obligation to buy. For instance, Nordstrom offers fittings for free.
  • Get your shirts tailored. Yeah, I'll get on that as soon as I win the lottery. And as fate would have it, you'll still manage to move in a way that will make the shirt gap at least some of the time.
  • Double-sided clothing tape placed on the fabric between the buttons (available even in your grocery store in the household aisle, near the sewing kits). It's also called "fashion tape." I recommend owning some for emergency use regardless.
  • Use safety pins instead of fabric tape. Button up the shirt, turn it inside out, safety pin together the fabric between the buttons, then turn it right side out. You can only do this on shirts you can pull over your head, which is more possible than you think. Surprisingly, you can wash the shirt like this, and I recommend doing that. You can also pin the fabric while you are wearing it, but that is more difficult. Similarly, once you're comfortable with this, you could sew the gap shut as a more permanent fix.
  • Sew a snap closure or two in the middle between the buttons. This will take some trial and error, or you might just make smaller gaps.
For more fashionable and/or tznius uses for fashion tape, see 1,001 Uses for Fashion Tape.


  1. oooh I think it's gross when men wear shirts like that also. Which obviously isn't such an issue in the frum world... but it's an issue for my dad! just ick!!

  2. I've actually ended up tailoring a few pieces of clothing myself! It's actually a lot easier than it looks, and you get a professional looking result.

    1. Buy a shirt that fits your chest, even if it's way too big around your waist.
    2. Put it on inside out and "Pinch and pin" it until it's the shape you want. Make sure there are no sharp corners in the seams and pin-lines - they should be smooth, gradual curves.
    4. Make sure the excess fabric is symmetric.
    5. Find someone with a sewing machine, and sew down your pin-lines (you can mark these these with chalk or pencil so they're easier to follow).
    6. Try it on, right-side out. If it fits the way you want it to, cut off the excess fabric.
    7. Voila! Perfectly tailored shirt.

    Here's a video showing how to tailor a guy's shirt. It's exactly the same for a girl's shirt, except you start the pinning a little lower on the torso :).

  3. Probably defeats the purpose of actually having the buttons and all but I usually just sew it shut where the gaps are (e.g it won't gape under my chest but it might gape on the top so the top 3 or something buttons get stitches in between them). But that's just me :)