The $7 Dickey That’s Racked Up Over 2,000 Amazon Reviews

Super Sale Alert: The Kalkehay dickey shirt featured in this viral Amazon product story is on sale for Amazon Prime members during Prime Day. It was already pretty stinkin' cheap but if you scoop it up today, you can knock 20% off its original price.

This story was originally published on April 6, 2021
There’s a scene in the classic novel A Tree Grows in Brooklyn where Francie, the book’s teenage heroine, takes seven cents to the dry-goods store and buys a dickey (aka a “shirt front made of stiffly starched muslin worn once and then thrown away”) for her father to wear to his job as a singing waiter — “His linen was immaculate, if temporary,” the narrator explains. Over 100 years later, this abbreviated layer is enjoying one of many resurgences thanks to TikTok (an app favored by teenagers around Francie’s age) and Amazon (the digital iteration of a dry-goods store). Recently, in our reader-sourced roundup of the endlessly inventoried site's Hidden Gems, one social-media-savvy reader pointed us in the direction of a glowingly-reviewed dickey that had somehow accrued a 4.5-star rating across over 2,300 reviews. When a $9 accessory of unknown origin surfaces on Amazon boasting such stellar customer accolades, you know that the Refinery29 Shopping team is going to be the first in line to find out why this seemingly simple garment scrap is garnering such viral buzz.
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I love that it gives the illusion I have a collared shirt under without the hassle of wearing an actual collared shirt!!

Amazon Reviewer
Photo: courtesy of Amazon user subinur.
The minimal neck-ccessory in question is the work of a brand called Kalkehay. It's equipped with a standard spread collar, four functional buttons adorning the front, and adjustable elastic side ties that help it stay anchored beneath the armpits. A quick scan of the reviews reveals collar-wearers of all kinds endorsing the layer — and for the most part, it was social media that sent them. “I saw someone get this off of TikTok and I totally loved it. It does exactly what you’d want it to do,” wrote customer Danny, who called the dickey a “must-have life hack” in the title of her review. “The shirt can unbutton if you need it too, it’s super easy to put on. I love that it gives the illusion I have a collared shirt under without the hassle of wearing an actual collared shirt!!” A customer named Cielo called the piece “perfect.” (Specifically, she wrote: “Perfect perfect perfect perfect perfect, adjustable straps perfect perfect perfect.”) Customer, um, HappyCustomer wrote: “I saw this product on TikTok and I just knew I had to buy it. I’m not a fan of wearing a whole long sleeve collared shirt under a sweatshirt so this product was perfect! I got [it] within two days of ordering it. And, it looks great!” The collar’s popularity isn’t relegated to TikTok, either — reviewer Angecimi explained that she “bought [it] because I’m trying desperately to be a Pinterest girl, and it’s PERFECT. It looks like a normal shirt and it’s pretty comfortable. 9.9/10 would recommend.”
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Really upgrades every outfit from nay to yay.

amazon reviewer
The micro-top isn’t without its detractors — on Refinery29’s previous coverage of the trend, readers have decried the solo-dolo neckwear as a “non-starter,” “utterly ridiculous,” and “crazy.” However, when this particular collar appeared in our most recent round-up of top-shopped items, one commenter on our site vouched for the non-shirt’s functionality. “I’ve gotta admit, I just ordered the [dickey] right off of this list,” they wrote. “BUT only because my uniform is a button-down and I’m hoping I can trick my boss into thinking I have one on under my sweater. It’s been so difficult to find a plain button-down that isn’t weird in the shoulders or tight in the arms or doesn’t have gaping buttons. I've already bought 5 shirts and none work! Why!?” Clearly, this item isn’t just for fashion peacocks — plenty of customers simply want the look of a crisp collared shirt without any of the added bulk. As a customer named Adi wrote succinctly in her Amazon review: “Really upgrades every outfit from nay to yay.”

Fashion is funny. Comes in full circle. Had one of these in my days and now my little person wants one.

AMAZON REVIEWER
Courtesy of Fiberloid & Co NY, public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.
This isn’t the dickey’s first moment in the fashion spotlight. A February 1943 issue of Vogue features advertisements for ladies bibs, which claimed to “enliven your new suit or rejuvenate your old” and retailed between $2 and $3. The winterized turtleneck version — which, not surprisingly, resurfaced in the same publication last year — arrived in the street-style-o-sphere in 2019 and kicked off a spate of iterations from fashion brands both slow and fast, with retailers from Zara to Tory Burch to COS jumping on the collarbone-covering bandwagon. A quick search of the Met’s costume collection yields women’s dickeys of all sizes and fabrications, from delicate, French-made lace collars dating from the turn of the century to a knitted button-front version designed by Jean-Paul Gaultier in 1997.
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Amazon reviewer ChristieL put it best: “Fashion is funny. Comes in full circle. Had one of these in my days and now my little person wants one. She loves it! The shirt length is long enough to stay tucked under her sweater and the straps under the arms keep the front and back panels stay put. I adjusted the shoulders a bit to keep them from looking frumpy because she is skinny. Other than that, an inexpensive purchase that makes her happy.” While the cost has gone up from the seven cents that Francie Nolan paid for it in the early decades of the 20th century — and from the $3 that a Vogue reader might have parted with in the 1940s — $9 is still a reasonable price to pay for a small item that provides a practical and streamlined dose of style.
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