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Shirty little secret

Everyone laughed when I said I was bringing dickeys back.

My blue dickey has turtles on it

Then they were all, hey, nice shirt! and I was like, WHAT SHIRT, BITCHES?


Dickeys. Cost effective. Space saving. Easy to make. Cute.



(I had just asked my mom if the pictures she was taking were going to highlight my dickey. You would giggle too.)

But wait, no! Dickeys are great! What’s the problem, man? Let’s come at it academically. Other than the name, what’s so funny about a dickey?

Dickeys in history

  • Exhibit a. Judge Harry T Stone from Night Court wore a dickey under his robe because he was a hopeless-but-lovable nerd. Comedy!
  • Exhibit b. Cousin Eddie from Christmas Vacation wore a dickey because everything he did was wrong. Comedy!
  • Exhibit c. The Harriet Carter catalog. Yikes.
  • Exhibit d. Steve Urkel. He didn’t wear a dickey as far as I know, but wouldn’t he just?

History has definitely taught us that dickeys are ridiculous. (I bet that’s even where the word “ridiculous” comes from!) Mind you, historically, history tends to be wrong about stuff like that (remember when sushi was OMG SO SUPER GROSS? Thanks, 80s TV). That’s why, when dickeys eventually reenter the fashion stratosphere, I’m pretty sure they won’t be called dickeys. I’m not sure what they’ll be called, other than hey, nice shirt!

My green dickey gives dresses a new look.

Kidding aside, I can’t think of a cheaper way to update the hell out of your wardrobe. Hideous shirts in cool prints are about a dollar at the thrift store, in abundance. They’re even cheaper at garage sales. And since only the neck has to fit, you’re not limited by size, style or cut. It doesn’t even have to be a ladies’ shirt. For every buck you drop on an ugly shirt, plus two minutes (five if you’re fancy) spent turning it into a dickey, you’ve just enhanced a bunch of outfits in your closet like crazy. And you’ll be able to layer, even when it’s not quite chilly enough for it—or when the thing you want to wear on top is too thin to hide a whole bulky shirt, like my blue dress.

And if you’re still too ashamed to wear a dickey, you don’t have to tell anybody! As long as you don’t do that pulling-your-dickey-out-of-the-top-of-your-shirt-to-surprise-people thing that I sometimes do (hopeless-but-lovable nerd exhibit a.2), no one will be the wiser.

How to make a dickey out of a shirt that doesn't work

How to turn an unsuspecting shirt into a dickey in practically no time at all

  1. Try it on and decide how long you want it to be. Mark the spot (or just remember which button it’s near.)
  2. Lay the shirt flat, then fold it in half with the front side out. Cut a curve, starting at the spot you decided on, all the way up to about half an inch in from the shoulder seam.
  3. You can be done now if you want, as long as your shirt was made from a fabric that isn’t going to unravel. But if you want to get fancy, turn the edges over, press or pin, and sew a little hem all the way around. Or use a serger to finish the edges. Or paint on some of that no-fray stuff they sell at the sewing store. Your dickey will last longer if you complete this step; plus, if your dickey should ever happen to peek out through an arm hole, people may be less likely to get suspicious if it’s at least got a finished edge.

Three awesome dickeys

These are my three favorite dickeys. The white one was a thrift store find in a print I love, but a size I couldn’t wear. The green one was from a garage sale, but was designed so strangely that it couldn’t accommodate boobs unless you had them in the back also. And the blue one has little turtles on it! (There’s a chance it might have been pajamas at one time. Don’t tell anybody.)


Laugh all you want, but guess how many of these suckers I can fit in my dresser, you guys.


Thanks to Donna for photographing my finished dickeys!

Kristina Ackerman

Kristina Ackerman is a busy freelance web designer, living and DIYing with her fella and their little fella in a cute old house in Atlanta, GA, USA.