Do what the military does: Y-style shirt stays
Updated: May 6
By typing "shirt stays" on Google, the Y-style models are probably what you saw first. These are also the models that are coming back, thanks to the effort of brands like KK&Jay and Sharp&Dapper.
After the secret belt, these may also be the second shirt stays device you’ve considered trying. At least I did. They are legion on the internet. That must mean they are the best solution, right ?
To that I would respond: Yes ! But ! Let me explain.
How does it work
How these shirt stays work is very intuitive. One long elastic band with 3 extremities. The bottom part is supposed to be fixed onto your socks. The Y extremities (the upper part) are to be clipped onto your shirt, front and back.
In a standing position, the elastic will create a tension that stretch your shirt. But if with the garter-style shirt stays, the basis that exerted the pulling force was your tights, for this model, that basis is now your socks. And you can believe it or not (I didn’t), but that changed everything!
The fact that the basis of the pulling force was my socks made the whole experience imperceptible. Our feet are used to support so much weight that exerting an extra pulling force to stretch out the shirt is done effortlessly. Even better: because pulling up socks is also another regular issue in menswear, putting on these shirt stays also solve that issue brilliantly!
I personally thought that these devices would be much less comfortable, just be looking at pictures on the internet. Well, I was dead wrong!
An ode to "bad" elastics
I've tried two Y-style shirt stays as of today. One with a better elastic and quality overall, and the second one with a loose one (both were generic brands though). And as much as it pains me to admit it, the best comfort experience I had came from the loose elastic. Both worked well. But the better elastic was more effective at pulling your shirt down, which meant that my shirt was perfectly neat all the time, but with that unnatural neatness I wanted to avoid. That also meant that every time I got up, I could feel my shirt being pulled down, which was uncomfortable fast. However, there was still no specific issue on your feet/socks.
The looser elastic though was a wonderful experience. My shirt was the perfect amount of neat (sleek, like your shirt was fitted for you), and the elastic, by being looser, was forgotten after few seconds, even when I was running. I often wondered if it was still attached. But it was.
To be fair, the stiffness depends on the type of elastic used and not really on its quality. But people also tend to believe that looser elastic are just bad compared to those that resist stretching better. It is not the case. Each stiffness has its specific use. And I wanted to point out that my experience was much better with a looser elasticity.
The results are pretty good. Much better than with a secret belt, and the same results as with the garter-style shirt stays. Which leads me to think that a pulling system works best for keeping your shirt tucked in. My shirt was perfectly neat, front and back, and as stated earlier, the right amount to my taste: neat and natural. Of course, if you wanted a straighter shirt, it’s possible to tighten the length of the elastic, but this is how I like mine.
As with the garter-style shirt stays, I like the fact that I still feel something, not an overwhelming presence, when I walk. It was the discreet sign that these shirt stays worked, and my shirt looked nice. It resulted in a nice boost of confidence all day long.
When you sit
If the Y-style shirt stays managed to convince me until now, this is where my main issue from this specific device comes from. They still work great for tucking your shirt into your trousers as displayed in the pictures. But the sitting position is where everything is sort of ruined.
First of all, depending on the tension you set up, you can feel your shirt being pulled down much more to the point it becomes unbearable or just a bit more and it still feels ok. It was the case with the model with better/stiffer elastics. I literally tried to avoid sitting as much as I could for half a day. And increasing its length was not enough to liberate me from this discomfort. Fortunately, it was not the case with the looser model. It managed to stay decently comfortable, which is another good point.
Second, due to how elastic physics work, as you bend your knees, the elastic, looking for the shortest path to loosen up, will form a triangle with your legs.
Without trousers, this is the very visible results.
With trousers on, as they limit the elastics space, the results in a sitting position are much better, but they are still very visible, especially on trousers with larger leg rooms and also on trousers with a softer or thinner fabric, including my suit’s trousers… Ouch.
As a result, I only wear these shirt stays with thicker trousers like Jeans, Twills or Chinos.
You can still guess it under those fabrics, but because of how they behave as a thick piece of clothes, it is less visible. That is a personal taste however. Nothing stops you from wearing them with suit trousers. For me though, looking for discretion, it is a big no.
Can you run a 50m with it
Wandering around on Reddit, it came to my attention that policemen and military forces tend to favour this style of shirt stays above the other ones on duty days. These gentlemen being one of the (if not the) most regular users of shirt stays, that says a lot about their efficiency.
So I tried to do 10 push-ups, 10 squats and 10 full and fast burpees with these. And here are the results.
So yes, like the garters, the pulling system works great and you still look neat-ish after all these exercises. No major need to put everything back into your trousers (although I would need to tidy my shirt up a bit).
Regarding comfort, I could feel the elastic moving a lot around my leg. It was not annoying, nor disturbing to my movements. But it was nevertheless noticeable.
And what if you have a restroom emergency?
Can you see the issue? Can you see it? Theoretically, you don’t even have to remove the shirt stays when sitting on the throne. But let’s face it. You do not feel entirely free of your movements. And I personally like to have my space while being paid doing my duties in the office.
So you’re going to have to remove one extremity. But which one ? The easiest one would be the clips on the socks. But because mine were hidden under my trousers, I didn’t have to courage to look for them. It was way easier to remove the clips on my shirt, which was fast enough.
It was another story when everything was finished. Certainly, it is in my head, but I don’t like the idea of touching my immaculate white shirt just after duty. I need to wash my hands first, even though I am certain they are clean. And it is not always possible. Most of the time, the sink is outside the toilet. So there’s a dilemma.
If I can, like I’m at home or the toilet is in the bathroom, I usually crawl to the sink to wash my hands before putting everything back on. Otherwise, I take it upon myself and feel bad for a few minutes afterwards.
So not a great experience there. I know some models have thought about a clipping system to solve that issue. I’ll make a test about them later, but this particular model was not satisfying in this regard.
When you score
Can you look into the eyes of your new partner for the night, pull down your trousers, unveil your superb shirt stays and say: “my heart is aching for you. Let me possess you for the night”. No, of course. Nobody says such thing. What a strange idea.
As with the Y-style shirt stays, well, I don’t think they help much either. My partner - again - told me that she would be fine with it, especially as it looks less like sexual that the garters-style shirt stays, but I am not entirely comfortable with the idea.
So it is another device that would require a trip to the restroom I would say. But that’s only me, and I believe some of you are more comfortable with your sex-appeal with a shirt stays on.
At the end of the day
This part was fairly simple to test: was I relieved to remove the shirt stays at the end of the day. Or was I actively looking for it. My impression is: no, I didn’t feel a great sense of relief upon removing these shirt stays. Which is good as that means that they were effective, without trading too much on comfort. Good point there.
BUT, there was a catch where I didn’t expect it: my leg hairs.
As I walked, the elastic was moving a bit back and forth, dragging with it the metal clip on the socks. It is not really noticeable as it moves just a bit, and you won’t feel it at the beginning… UNTIL one of your leg hairs gets caught in the nooks and crannies of the metal clip.
If that happens, you can trust me when I say you’ll only think about it from now on and will actively look for a place to put everything back in place.
It doesn’t happen all the time thankfully. But keep in mind that it might.
I think that this particular situation will not be an issue with models that doesn’t use metal clips, but the leather-mixed one. I haven’t tested such a model yet and will definitely do. I’ll keep you posted on these.
I usually support that impressions about the quality of a product are subjective. But these don’t objectively give off a good impression. The elastics are loose. The adjuster part is not to my liking and doesn’t feel nor look robust. And the metallic clips sometimes pluck my leg hairs. And I like my leg hairs.
But, again, the loose elastic was what convinced me to wear this model regularly. It just feels very good and works well. So, I don’t think it will stay effective for more than a year, but I’m going to enjoy every time I wear it and it doesn’t pluck my leg hair.
Still an unexpectedly very good product for what it costs.
Usage: Moderate to intensive (but would need 2 or 3 pairs to let them rest between each use). Preferably for casual wear, with thicker trousers, but you can wear them with suits.
+++ Great results
+++ This model is almost imperceptible, even in a sitting position if loosen enough
++ You can catch a thief like a badass
- - - There are one too many big BUTs
- - - Not that discrete, especially in a sitting position
- You must have socks, and long ones
- - Free unwanted leg hair removal
- Not that duty friendly
My second favourite shirt stays. Especially as they were unexpected. They felt like a hidden unknown treasure. They feel great, and provide great results, which was my main priorities anyway.
They are not perfect though. The main issue is the unwanted hair plucking. However, it doesn’t ruin the experience, as you can simply step aside and readjust everything.
Otherwise, I don’t think they would make it in the long run. But they are cheap, and I would certainly buy another pair later.
To summarize, it’s a catch! But there is room for improvement here.
A quick temporary/semi-permanent tip to solve the leg hair plucking issue?
Stick a plaster/adhesive bandage underneath the clip. If necessary, with a light glue. It will prevent the direct friction of the metallic clip with your skin, and, it will block out any nooks and crannies where one of your leg hairs might get lodged.