Marcella Shirt: The Ultimate Guide to a Timeless Piece



Published July 24, 2023

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Learn more about Marcella shirts. Photo: Shutterstock

The Marcella shirt is a timeless and classic piece of clothing. Alternatively known as Piqué today, this shirt has been worn for hundreds of years. This style of formal shirt is known for the texture on the front. It gives any outfit a sense of sophistication. 

Let’s start our journey on the Marcella shirt with an ultimate guide for this timeless piece. You will learn about this iconic shirt’s history, unique features about how to wear it, and how to take care of it.

About the Marcella Shirt

The Marcella is a classic black-tie shirt for men. The distinctive feature of a Marcella shirt is the use of Marcella, or pique cotton, on the bib front of the shirt, the collar, and the cuffs. The Marcella fabric has a unique woven pattern that gives it a slightly raised, textured feel.

Its pattern serves aesthetic and functional purposes, offering a visually appealing contrast with the smoother, shiny finish of a dinner jacket or tailcoat and helping maintain a crisp, structured appearance throughout the wear.

There are sites like Man Blog where you can learn more about formal dressing for men. You will find that these types of shirts are must-haves for men who frequently attend formal gatherings requiring black tie attire.

The History of the Marcella Shirt

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The Marcella shirt is an elegant addition to formal ensembles. Photo: Shutterstock

The Marcella shirt has its roots in Britain and offers a perfect balance between formal and casual wear. It provides a comfortable option between full-dress and American black-tie shirts, making it an ideal choice for various occasions.

The term has its roots in Marseilles, France, and pertains to the creation of quilts that feature distinct raised designs. This practice first emerged in the city during the early 1700s.

In the latter half of the century, textile mills in Lancashire utilized mechanical means to duplicate the appearance of a quilted cotton cloth. At about the same time, the name of the fabric was changed to Marcella.

Due to its greater thickness, the fabric was naturally more rigid than plain cloth, and it became even more rigid after being wet with starch.

When the dinner suit became popular between 1910 and 1920, men started swapping out their full-dress accouterments for less formal counterparts. There was initially little demand for variations on the traditional dress shirt that omitted starch.  

In 1930s London, shirtmakers created a variation of the Marcella-front shirt using the same fabric for the collar and cuffs. This style was commonly seen in turndown-collar shirts, more so than wing collars.

Features of the Shirt

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It’s all about the fine details regarding the Marcella shirt. Photo: Shutterstock

Marcella shirts are versatile and suitable for any occasion or taste. This timeless piece is always in style and has been popular for centuries. The main features of Marcella shirts include:

Wing Collar

The wing collar is a signature design element of Marcella shirts; its elongated, pointed extremities provide a stylish frame for a bow tie or cravat. This collar design is timeless and refined, making it the ideal complement to the shirt’s refined aesthetic. 

Bib Front

Its most distinguishing characteristic is the bib front, or chest panel, that covers the front of the Marcella shirt and extends down the front. The bib typically has a raised diamond or waffle pattern from the fabric’s dense structure.

French Handcuffs

Double cuffs of French cuffs are standard on Marcella shirts and are fastened with cufflinks. This makes the shirt look more put together and may be customized with numerous cufflink designs.

Well Tailored 

The standard Marcella shirt is cut to hug the body snugly without being too constrictive so that the wearer always looks put together.

Styling Tips

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The Marcella shirt is perfect for formal occasions. Photo: Shutterstock

The Marcella shirt is best for black-tie parties and other formal occasions. 

Black Tie Events: Pair a Marcella shirt with a well-tailored black tuxedo, a satin or silk bow tie, and a cummerbund. Add high-shine black leather shoes and a white pocket square for a polished, timeless black-tie ensemble.

White Tie Events: For white-tie events, combine a Marcella shirt with a black tailcoat, matching trousers with a satin stripe, a white vest, and a white bow tie. Complete the look with patent leather shoes for traditional elegance.

Accessorize It: The Marcella shirt is an excellent canvas to display various bold accents. Put on some bright accessories with your white button-down shirt. Try some fine cufflinks, a formal dress watch, and a pocket square that is neatly folded.

Wear Basic Colors: Wear a Marcella shirt with a well-tailored suit for a dapper business formal look. Keep the shirt’s colors simple, like white, light blue, or light pink.

Dress It Up: If the sleeves are long enough, dress up your Marcella shirt with men’s dress slacks, a jacket, and cufflinks. Add some flair by wearing a bold tie with the outfit.

Pick the Right Cut: Several different cuts are available for Marcella shirts. The cuts include super slim, slim, contemporary, and classic. Each cut results in a distinctively different silhouette since it is progressively less form-fitting than the one before it. Pick the one that suits you best and pairs well with your look.

Care & Maintenance of Your Marcella Shirt 

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Read to learn tips about how to maintain Marcella shirts. Photo: Shutterstock

To ensure your Marcella shirt lasts for many years, it’s essential to take good care of it. Properly maintaining your shirt will keep it in good shape and prolong its lifespan.

  • Marcella shirts are typically created from soft fabrics that can’t be washed in a washing machine. 
  • To keep the shirt in good condition, it is recommended that you dry clean it as directed.
  • Shirts should be stored correctly on a hanger to avoid creasing and keep their original shape.
  • Remove your cufflinks before cleaning or storing your shirt to protect the fabric and the hardware.
  • Use a low-heat iron and a pressing cloth to iron the shirt, if necessary, carefully. If you care about the look of the textured front of the bib, you should not iron it immediately.

Final Words

The Marcella shirt is a classic menswear piece. A well-known fashion piece, it’s a perfect option for formal events. Now that you have a deeper understanding of this design and how to accessorize and style it, you can easily wear it at your next party, black-tie, or white-tie event. 

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