Marcella Fronted Dress Shirt

Mess dress is still regularly worn by officers in all the branches of British military service. An essential part of this order of dress is a dress shirt, very similar in style to a civilian shirt worn with a dinner jacket or tuxedo. Tonight we have an example of one of those military issue shirts to look at:imageFrom the label we can see that this shirt is for men of all three services to use, there are no specialist variants for the army etc:imageThis shirt is specifically referred to as having a ‘Marcella’ front:image‘Marcella’ is a type of piqué weaving that gives a distinctive waffle effect to fabric and it is ideally suited to evening wear as it holds starch much better than regular cotton so allowing the fronts of shirts to be heavily stiffened. Other areas typically stiffened are also made of the same fabric, here the collars:imageAnd cuffs:imageThe collar of this shirt is interesting in having a rise and fall collar, rather than the wing collars of previous generations:imageThe shirts are available in a range of sizes, as indicated by the stores catalogue:CaptureAs well as formal mess dress, the shirts are also worn in a variety of semi-formal orders of dress. For the Royal Navy this is known as ‘Red Sea’ Rig and consists of smart trousers, dress shirt, cummerbund with the ship’s badge on it and no bowtie. In the Army this is often referred to as ‘planters’ and replicates the evening wear worn in the tropics by tea planters- mess dress but without the jacket and either with or without bowtie. These forms of dress are not official and are not listed in any military order of dress, however they are very common and the exact nature of them is set by the mess itself: these orders of dress being much more comfortable for a night of enjoyment than full mess dress.

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