What are Shirt Darts? Darts vs. Side Seams

We all want to look good; to feel good...

The clothes we wear are a pivotal part of one's overall confidence. As time passes, our bodies change. This means that clothes will not fit the same over time. In a bid to tackle this problem, fashion invented shirt darts to address this problem.

What Are Darts?

Darts are used in a sewing technique used to make clothes fit better.

Do you have a shirt that feels baggy and old? Darts may be able to fix that.

There are different types of darts; some can be found at the side seam of a shirt while the others go on the back. Fundamentally, they are alike. But technically, there are a few discrepancies. To understand this, we'll start by understanding a few terms.

Dart Legs

These are the lines that mark where the sewing will be done. In the case of a side seam dart, two dart legs meet at a point. The point is called a dart apex.

Shirt Darts explained

Side seams

These have two dart legs and one dart apex.

Contour darts

Contour darts, or back darts, have four dart legs and two dart apex points. Another term that needs to be understood is the dart volume. It refers to the volume of the shirt that lies between the dart legs; the part of the shirt that will be folded to make it fit better. When done properly, the shirt leaves a 3D effect that is specific to the individual's body shape.

Finally, making the shirt a better fit. In technical terms, this space is called the burst apex. It should be a point perpendicular to the back and the side seam's dart apex.

If you don't have both, don't worry about measuring it. If the measurements were taken correctly, it should be an automatic effect

Why Do I need Back Darts?

Also known as double-ended darts, their effect is mostly noticed at the waist area in dresses. However, in shirts it results in a much better fit irrespective of body type.

As mentioned earlier how we look affects a lot of who we are. Who would feel good in a baggy shirt? We don't need a study to tell us that most people would prefer being in one that fits well.

The pattern at the back of the shirt will be in the shape of a diamond; hence the four dart legs and two dart apex points. Measure with pins while the individual is wearing the shirt. Doing this assures us that the measurements are correct. To get a good result one needs to ensure the shapes on the pattern are a mirror of each other.

How does a Back Dart differ from a Side Seam?

When defining the dart legs and dart apex we compared them. And now we know that there is a clear difference even in shape. While the back dart takes a diamond-like shape, the side seam is triangular.

The effects the two darts have on clothes is also different. If you notice that your shirt is hanging irregularly on the side, it may be time for that side seam. It corrects the slanting and gives the shirt a more firm look on your body.

If you notice that you can't see any sign of your waist when you wear that shirt, time for a back dart. The dart will ensure that the shirt hugs your body like it was elastic. This all is assuming that the measurements are taken perfectly.

What are the Pros and Cons of the Dart?

As much as we have praised darts as a problem-solver, everything has its flaws. However, we will start with the advantages.


  1. The fact that it helps clothes fit better is a huge plus for darts. Being forced to buy new clothes just because yours have become loose is expensive and unnecessary. Whoever came up with the idea of darts saved a lot of people time and money. Although most clothing shops likely weren't so pleased at the time.
  2. Darts leave behind very little proof of what was done *if* the fabric is a solid color. Some clothes are sold with back darts and the like already done. This is mostly to achieve that firm look everyone is looking for. For Gingham and other patterns you need to ensure you find a tailor that knows what they're doing!
  3. Sometimes clothes get old and they start to show diagonal pull lines and top hangs. Darts are known to remove these ugly marks on clothes. Go for it; have a tailor try sewing darts into an old shirt and see the transformation.
  4. Also if you loose weight, just in case you gain back the weight you have lost, the darts can be removed. This means the shirt will go back to being slightly oversized; giving way to your new physic. This presents a very dynamic way of styling your body. 


  1. We all have that shirt with the fancy pattern that everyone notices. As mentioned above shirt darts have been known to disrupt some of these patterns. When in the extreme, it leaves the shirt looking ugly; making the individual question the decision to do it.
  2. Ironing shirts is hard enough as it is. When you out darts in the equation, it becomes even worse. Once sewed, the dart volume is often visible. The folding on the inside presents a problem to a novice in ironing shirts.
  3. The general population prefers a more subtle means of making a shirt fit well again. Back darted shirts are viewed as an extreme measure and hence avoided until it is completely unavoidable.
  4. There are a lot of men that believe darts make dress shirts look like blouses. Thanks to the fact that back darts sometimes leave a saggy look at the back. However, some people choose to dismiss this con for the good There are a lot of men that believe darts make dress shirts look like blouses. 

When is it best to have a shirt darts?

Irrespective of whether you are heavyset or skinny, you may need to use a dart sooner or later. This is because a lot of variables count. Is the shirt big or is it you that's oversized? Does the shirt have darts already?

In the case of a skinny individual, having a big shirt may warrant having shirt darts. The dart would help the shirt fit perfectly and effectively raise the individual's confidence.

On the other hand, having a shirt that fits tightly and you are oversized may present a problem. This is because shirt darts are not known to produce the opposite effect.

However, if the shirt had darts already then there is hope. Removing the darts will make it bigger and a better fit. Measurements can be taken to establish if a small adjustment might be enough. 

Shirt darts can be a solution to a lot of your fashion problems. From the above explanation, you can see that weight is not a hindering factor.

As fashion continues to grow, more of such inventions continue to surface. If we all had a penny for every time we had to buy a new shirt simply because the old ones don't fit any more, we would probably be rich. So, as the world keeps presenting solutions to old problems, embrace them.


No idea can truly be perfect. Even though shirt darts solve huge fashion problems, there is still skepticism.

Thanks to social media we have trends that expire after it has looked bad on just one celebrity. Making months worth of investments from clothing lines go down the drain. To survive, you must adapt. Refrain from always buying new clothes and try this new way of staying relevant. Scan through your whole wardrobe and see what can be salvaged. We all have those clothes that we keep saying we'll give to charity; charity begins at home.

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