Napa Retailer Designs A Button-Front Shirt To Fix A Familiar Problem
Napa retailer, now fashion designer, Chelsea Cortese believes she has solved a long-time fashion faux pas of the “Boob Gap” women experience when wearing a button-front shirt.
“I have no idea where the idea came from,” said Cortese. “It was January 2, 2018, I was lying in bed with my two kids and I was thinking about another idea I wanted to invent and it was like divine intervention, the idea just popped into my head.”
Cortese said she ran downstairs and googled for a product that would solve the problem of button-front shirts pulling and revealing one’s bra, but she couldn’t find one. Astonished and amazed that no one thought of her idea, the next day she reached out to her father-in-law, Joe Cortese, who used to do upholstery.
“He was the only person I knew that I could trust and knew how to sew,” Cortese said. “I took him one of my blouses and said ‘Pops, don’t ask any questions, but here is what I need you to do’ and he said okay.”
A week later Cortese tried out her newly designed prototype and Tukked Shirts was born.
“Pops brought me the shirt, I tried it on and it was perfect,” she said. “There was nothing I had to change about it. It worked exactly how I had envisioned it.”
All Tukked Shirts are patent pending designs. The front placket of buttons is sewn shut to permanently eliminate the gap that happens at the breast-line for most women. The top three “functioning” buttons allow for the consumer’s personal style choices. The blouse easily slips over the head and zips with ease down the back with a hidden zipper. This stretch cotton blouse offers two body types, the classic straight body and a “rouched” style that is very flattering at the waist. There are three sleeve options; long sleeve, ¾ sleeve and sleeveless.
“The hidden zipper in back starts at a woman’s bra line, which makes putting on the shirt a breeze,” she added. “Most women can reach around their back to where their bra connects.”
Within a week, she reached out to a patent attorney, contacted a pattern design company that helped take her designs and put them into patterns for each size. A year later, her quiet little secret that only her husband and few close friends knew about is about to be unveiled. The first 300 test shirts are expected to arrive in her retail stores, I-Elle in Yountville and Simplicity in Sonoma, in late spring. If they match Cortese’s strict quality standards, she will begin selling the shirts direct to consumer at tukkedshirts.com.
“Tukked Shirts can be found only at my retail stores and online,” said Cortese. “By selling direct to consumer and eliminating the whole- saler, I can keep the cost of the shirts around 80-dollars.”
Cortese said every aspect of this new business has fallen into her lap. Through an acquaintance, she was introduced to a former CEO of a big fashion company, who happens to live in Napa. The two met and he told Cortese that Tukked Shirts was going to be the next biggest thing to happen to women’s fashion since Spanx.
“That was exciting to me because Sara Blakely, founder of Spanx, is an inspiration to me and I feel our stories are similar.”
“This shirt keeps a woman looking professional without worrying about adjusting her shirt all day,” said Cortese.
“Like Spanx, I want to gives a woman the immense sense of freedom in their clothing. They don’t have to look down and readjust their top, which has become second nature to most women. Every aspect of my design is methodically thought out, every little detail measured with purpose, inten- tion and it’s easy to wear.”
Born into the fashion industry, Cortese has been in the trenches since she could walk. Cortese worked side by side with her mother, absorb- ing decades-worth of industry knowl- edge. Levine passed away three years ago, and it was then that Cortese took over the family business.
“I’m connected to our customers,” said Cortese. “I hear the complaints and I hear the issues that women have. I know what kind of fabrics they like and how much they are willing to spend. I have taken my life experience and have formulated a blouse for my customer. I’m not a designer sitting in a studio somewhere completely disconnected from those I’m trying to sell my product to.”
She said every woman is a potential customer.
“There isn’t a person out there that doesn’t have a use for a button-front blouse, from people in the service industry to professional women to women who love that classic Ralph Lauren look,” she said. “The blouse is so versatile with a vest, a sweater and a jacket and you can style it however you want. The blouse will come in a variety of colors and every season we will have a limited edition of colors and prints for all styles. During fall, holiday, spring and summer we will offer new twists on the design. The body of the shirt will always stay the same, but we will switch it up with dif- ferent colors, sleeves, pleating down the front or use different fabrics. The classics will always be there. We will carry sizes XXS to 3X.”
Cortese said women just want to be confident in what they are wearing. They are moving and grooving going through life and now their blouse is perfectly in place.
“No more ‘peek-a-boo’ from the side with my shirts,” Cortese said. “I hope to potentially put this Valley on the map for fashion, in addition to wine. This is an iconic fashion piece. Everyone wears the button-front shirt, but they have never fit well, until now.”
For More Information:
Visit tukkedshirts.com. The full brand will launch on the website by the end of July where customers can purchase their entire line in all styles and multiple colors options.