Men's dress shirts with epaulettes as seen in Charlie Wilson's War

Is this as an unusual sartorial choice as it seems - especially with suspenders under the epaulettes? Where would a fellow even find these? I initially guessed military or whoever supplies clothing for commercial airline pilots, but he wears an assortment of these including baby blue with white pinstripes. Would these have to be bespoke items?

When my grandfather died, my mother brought home some of his unopened clothes. In the pile was a dress shirt, from Arrow I believe, that had shoulder straps. It had several other terribly unfashionable design elements as well and I believe it wound up going–still in the original plastic packing–to Goodwill.

Here ya go. Brand seems to be Korean, and rather slim fitting:

More from GQ here:

That’s perfect for those guys who like to flip their ties over their shoulders: they can tuck them under the epaulettes, and combine the affectacious “carefree English schoolboy” with “hard-charging military man.”

Not particularly helpful, but on the TV show The Mentalist there was a bit of a reboot halfway through this season that had the main character on the run for two years and hiding out on an unnamed Caribbean island.

In the episode that showed him there he was having a shirt made by a tailor and the tailor was quite emphatic that to be a properly manly shirt it absolutely must have epaulets and was so determined of this he was willing to add them for free.

I remember thinking that was an odd quirk at the time but then realized I do see them around the office on occasion.

Here’s an article from 2010 about there place in fashion then.

Huh. I always thought epaulets were for holding gloves and would therefore be an affectation in a society which no longer wears gloves. But it turns out that, as far as I can tell, epaulets have always been useless decorations with no function except maybe to hold insignia of rank.

Thanks, my googlefu found those too. The amazon ones might as well be cut for a woman, and others just look closer to business casual that dress shirts. Maybe it’s Wilson’s white buttons.

Also very good for having fringey things hang off them, if you’re going for that 19th century admiral look.

Since those fringey things were, in fact, rank insignia, you’re absolutely right. An admiral should look like an admiral.

Fair enough. Must say, though, fringey things look a little bit silly on a modern uniform.

(You will not, however, find me calling any Legionnaires “silly looking” to their face any time soon, however. :D)

I actually saw one at a Burlington this weekend. It surprised me, because it seems to be the sort of useless decoration that women’s clothing usually has. (In fact I had a shirt with them in high school.) Of course, since the shirt was at a Burlington, it seems I was not the only one who found it a bit strange. (Burlington is a clothing store that sells retail clearance stuff, along the same lines as TJ Maxx and Ross Dress For Less.)

I had a few shirts with epaulettes back in the 70’s (note: hippie, not disco).

Yes, what were called “pilot’s shirts” were middling fashionable in the 80s. I had a couple in bright colors. You can still get them from Sporty’s and other pilot suppliers.

Thanks. That search term helped. Looks like Van Heusen still makes them, but only in white.

I sometimes wore them in the late 60s and early 70s. No suspenders though.

Depending on the catalog, they might be called “aviator shirts” or “safari shirts”. The epaulettes may be useless decoration, but they often have more pockets than the standard dress shirt.

They are also good for travelling. For casual occasions, you can wear it open-collared, with a pair of jeans or khakis. With a bit of ironing and starch, you can wear it with a suit and tie. It may not be the height of fashion in either place, but it is reasonably acceptable in both places.