The Shirt Collar
The purpose of a shirt collar is to properly balance and frame a man’s face. It’s the most visible part of a shirt when wearing a jacket and because of it’s proximity to the face, plays a very large role in determining the formality and use of the shirt. For this article we will only talk about turndown collars and its two major variants, the point and spread.
Men’s dress shirt collars come in all different colors, sizes, and styles. The right collar on the right type of face is a sight to behold, a union of shapes and curves that bring out the best in each other. A collar’s job is to properly frame the face, accentuating a man’s facial strengths while down playing any abnormalities.
A few terms are important to understanding a shirt collar.
- Collar Points – The tips of the collar.
- Collar Point Length – The distance from the Collar Points to where they meet the Collar Band.
- Collar Band– the piece of fabric that wraps around the neck.
- Collar Height– The height of a folded collar as it fits on the neck.
- Tie Space – The distance between the top of the folded collar parts when the shirt is buttoned.
- Spread – The distance between Collar Points.
Here are the most common styles in menswear, along with a little guidance..Customizing dress shirts has many potential pitfalls: “which fabric?”, “which color?”, “which cuff?”. But none is as crucial as ensuring you’ve chosen the correct collar type. This is in fact the most visible part of a shirt when wearing a jacket and plays a very large role in determining the formality of your look.
Men’s dress shirt collars come in a variety of styles, some more classic and traditional than others. The most common difference in collars is the spread, the distance between collar points on a collar. Shirt collars go from less spread as the Italian one to more spread such as the French style.
Sometimes choosing the right collar is all about mastering creativity, such as matching an unusual club collar shirt with a v-neck sweater for a casual business look, otherwise it’s just about
Following some general etiquette rules. will provide insight into choosing the right collar for your style .
This has the narrowest spread among other collars, and has been around as long as men have been wearing jackets and ties. Classic and traditional, it’s perfect for medium to small tie knots. Better with a tie than open, its narrower points have a visually slimming effect, which works well for rounder faces or wide necks. its narrower points have a visually slimming effect, which works well for rounder faces or wide neck
The Semi Italian
The Semi Italian collar is a versatile classic particularly suitable for men who like to wear ties. Its is very similar to our Italian collar, but slightly smaller, shorter and wider. Designed to work well with both medium and large tie knots and to nicely follow the line of your suit lapels down the chest, is a better choice for tall guys with longer necks who want an office-appropriate look. The spread is relatively small, so the collar also favors men
The French is our most spread collar and is very dressy collar intended for special occasions. This collar is not for everyone, and depending on your personality and work place may not be appropriately formal or traditional. It looks great between jacket and suit lapels and when tied with a very large tie knot, you will be able to see part of the collar band beneath the tie.
The Semi French
If you don’t have strong feelings about your collar, and really just want something cool, the Semi French collar is a great choice. It’s not too large or small and has nice, wearable proportions. The Semi French is a bit narrower than our French and has slightly longer collar points. If you’ve found our French a bit too spread, you’ll love the Semi one. This is designed to work well with both medium and larger tie knots and it’s particularly good for men with longer and narrower faces
The Button-down Long
Less formal than previous collars, the Button-down comes to us from Brooks Brothers and was originally associated with playing sports. Our Button-down Long collar has a more modern and classy touch than the original and can be worn with casual suiting. It works well open collar with a blazer but looks great even with a tie. A great choice if you don’t want to stand out from the crowd.
The Button-down Short
The Button-down Short has a particularly casual look. A medium sized collar that walks the line between modern and classic stylishly. The collar points are shorter than our Long version for a more easy and fresh attire. The Short looks great on Oxford cloth shirt, and can be dressed up with a suit and tie from Monday to Friday or with denim on weekends
Also known as a “golf” or “rounded” collar, the Club is a very unique style forwarded in the mid-19th Century by an English boarding school that was looking for a way to differentiate its students from the rest. Come to be known as “club” collar to signify exclusive membership, is a more dapper look that can be surprisingly versatile. Better for guys with narrower, rather than rounder faces, it looks great paired with a jacket and slim tie or worn open more casually
Inspired (as the name might suggest) by collar styles traditional to the far East, the Korean has a very unique and characteristic shape. The design is pared-down and streamlined with a view to providing a shirt that will excel as evening and casual-wear, either beneath a jacket or without.
The Winged is our most formal collar style. The starched collar points fold out resembling “wings”, hence the name. It is designed to be worn under a tuxedo for white or black tie events. A silk bowtie is obviously the best choice here.
The new collar shapes and styles are in part due to the menswear industry's revival of looks that have long been out of fashion. For example, the club collar, with its abbreviated, rounded shape, is back.
The overall slimming down of the menswear silhouette calls for smaller collars. Designers and retailers also have been pushing clothes that fall somewhere in between work wear and casual wear, and adding more collar options along the way.
Another collar that goes well with a sport coat sans tie is the semi- or medium-spread collar as both "stand up on their own without a tie," and don't flare out.
A rule of thumb on which shirts call for ties: "The wider the spread on a shirt, the more it needs a tie Also, the wider the spread, the larger the tie knot.
Shoppers should also consider a man's physical size. "A wide collar can broaden a narrow neck and face by drawing the eye outward,
"A man wearing a slim suit or blazer with a narrow lapel to the office should opt for a narrow-point collar that is about 1 inch shorter than average to keep the lean proportions,"
That kind of collar might be too lean for a classic notch lapel sport coat, he says. A button-down would be more appropriate in that case. The proportions of a spread collar would work best with a double-breasted sport coat or one with wide peak lapels, he says.
Fans of a tweed sport coat with corduroy pants for the office should opt for the sporty feel of a button-down collar. For a dinner or drinks night, a spread collar pairs well with a sport coat or V-neck sweater and looks modern.
There was a time when the most popular collar for a man was a detachable one.
Detachable collars, were typically attached to the shirt using studs via a little button hole in the back of the shirt's band. Detachable collars also were often made of a stiffer material than the shirt so that the collar would "stand up," says menswear historian Detachable collars also signaled social class. The idea for detachable collars was born out of the drudgery of 19th Century laundering practices
Tuxedo Shirt with a Detachable Collar
Detachable collars started to fall out of favor between World War I and World War II with the introduction of washing machines as well as cloth rationing. Also, men's style traditions such as wearing white tie, which usually called for wing collars, began to loosen and events requiring starched formal collars declined.
The collar is arguably the core of the shirt as it is most visible and it can enhance the wearer’s face. While you can design a collar of your choice with bespoke shirts, even the RTW and MTM industry offers hundreds of different choices. While everyone tries to come up with a naming convention for collars a medium spread collar from one company may look very different than a medium spread collar from another. Therefore names have little meaning these days.
What used to consist of a “simple” choice of collar tip length or angle, and the desired amount of tie gap has now gotten a lot more complex due to curvy lines, button down collars with extra roll, etc.
On top of that you can now choose the stitch distance from the edge, different versions of fused and non-fused interlining, as well as the collar height, you end up with unlimited options.