A yoke is a shaped pattern piece which forms part
of a garment, usually fitting around the neck and shoulders, or around
the hips to provide support for looser parts of the garment, such as a
gathered skirt or the body of a shirt. Yoke construction was first seen
in the 19th century. Bodice yokes were first seen in the 1880s, whilst
the yoke skirt, a skirt suspended from a fitted hip yoke, was first seen
The yoke of a dress shirt is the area under the
collar, that drapes over the shoulder and holds the shirt’s backing over
the body. It is essentially the piece of the garment that behaves as a
hanger, and creates the crisp lines of the shirt’s backside.
Dress shirts have different types of yokes.
The primary methods are a single yoke or a split yoke.
What is the difference between a “one piece yoke"
and a “split yoke"? A one piece yoke is made from a single piece of
fabric. A split yoke is split down the middle and sewn together in
The benefit to wearing a split yoke shirt is that
it provides more stretch. The fabric of most high quality
woven cottons will not stretch very much at all if you try to
stretch it vertically or horizontally. However, if you try to
stretch it diagonally it stretches a bit. The benefit of the split
yoke is that by rotating the fabrics to the angled orientation, the
design is essentially adding stretch to the yoke across it’s width.
This added stretch will provide comfort to the wearer.
How to Measure a Shirt: Yoke Width
Button up the shirt and spread the shirt out on its
front. Measure for the point where the yoke meets the sleeve, straight
across, to the same point on the other side. When taking this
measurement, pull the two ends of the yoke tight but don’t stretch the
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If you are very interested in shirt construction,
you may also want to learn about gussets.