Why are there so many different dress shirt collar types?
More importantly, how do you pick the “perfect” shirt collar?
Gents, it’s time to understand everything about shirt collars.
From point collars to wing collars, you will know exactly how to pick the perfect dress shirt collar and everything else you want to know.
In this article, I am going to take you through the ultimate guide to men’s dress shirt collar types and how to pick the perfect collar for you.
You’ve got questions: I’ve got the answers.
Click Here To Watch The Video – Ultimate Guide to Shirt Collars
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How to Pick the Perfect Shirt Collar – Contents
Shirt Collar History
Why Men Started To Wear Shirt Collars
The first men’s shirt collars appeared in the mid-1400’s. Before this, men wore tonics with a boat neckline or scoop neckline. These collars were very large and were able to stand. These collars were popular until the 16th-century.
Early “Neck Ruff” collars were seen as a status symbol for the elite members of society. Many portraits of this era feature this type of collar.
Around the time of the Enlightenment, these gaudy fashions went out of style as men were becoming closer to nature.
Because the collars and cuffs were the most viable parts of the shirt of this era, they were most likely to get dirty. To avoid doing laundry, detachable collars were invented.
This would allow men to just clean the armpits of their shirt as modern laundry technology was not yet invented. These collars were extremely starched and shaped in many different ways.
It was during this era of men’s shirt collars (mid to late 1800’s) that most of the dress shirt collar types we know today were invented.
Lighter Fabrics and The Polo Shirt
Detachable collars with extreme starch began to fade in popularity in the 1920s and 1930s. With the invention of central heating and other luxuries, men began to look for clothing with lighter fabrics.
Men found that soft collared shirts could be wrinkle free without the extra starch by using ironing. This would allow men to wear lighter fabrics and shirts made out of linen and light cotton became the standard.
With the advent of soft collars, the invention of the polo shirt by Rene Lacoste (yes the Lacoste) was in 1933. The name “polo shirt” was inspired by Lacoste’s polo-playing friend whom gave him the idea for the iconic shirt.
White Collar vs Blue Collar
It was around the same time of lighter fabrics coming into fashion that the vernacular of White Collar & Blue Collar began.
This distinction was originally because of laundry issues. Men at desk jobs could keep their white shirts clean, but men with manual labor jobs favored the dark fabric colors that could hide dirt more easily.
Today, this kind of distinction is still made but, men in an office can wear blue shirts. The lines have been blurred between strictly wearing a white or blue collar based on your job.
Men’s Shirt Collar Overview
What Are The Parts Of The 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.
- CollarBand – The piece of fabric that wraps around the neck.
- Collar Height – The height of a folded collar as it fits on the neck.
- Collar Tie Space – The distance between the top of the folded collar parts where the shirt is buttoned.
- Collar Spread – The angle between Collar Points.
Also called “Collar Tabs” or “Collar Stiffeners,” Collar Stays are a flat, rigid pieces of material which are inserted in special pockets on the underside of both collars points. They can be removable or sewn-in.
Collar Stays can be made out of plastic, stainless steel, brass and gold among other materials. Some even feature magnets to hold the collar in place even more.
How is a Shirt Collar Constructed?
Most shirt collar types are constructed with what is called a Collar Stand. A Collar Stand is basically what will make the collar stand up and is why most shirt collars feel thicker than the rest of the shirt.
The Collar Stand can either be separate or integrated into the collar construction. Most integrated stands are used for thin shirt collars such as polo shirts or casual button-down collar shirts.
Some shirt collars have a separate Collar Stand which sits closer to the neck than the integrated collar stand. A separate stand is found in most dress shirts and military uniforms as it gives the collar more height, thickness and lift.
Since a shirt collar is meant to frame your face, you have to make sure the proportions are correct. The key is to compliment your facial structure.
For instance, if you have a wider face, it’s important to have a wider collar such as a Cutaway Collar to balance this out. Wearing a Tab Collar would make your head look wider and out of proportion.
Style rests on two pillars: color and proportion. Once you figure out what colors suit you and what proportions flatter your physique, you’ll have an amazing foundation for your personal style.
This is a detail that your tailor can help you a lot with. You can measure and coordinate the collar proportions yourself, but it is wiser to let a tailor do this for you.
What is the Correct Shirt Collar Fit?
For the perfect shirt collar fit, two fingers should be able to slide comfortably between the neck and collar of a shirt with the top button closed.. It is important to nail the fit as it can be painful and possibly life threatening to get it wrong.
Collar Fabric & Materials
Most collars are made of the same material as the rest of the shirt. The thickness of the collar comes from the construction as previously mentioned.
Sometimes shirt collars can be made with a different fabric to add a flair such as the popular contrasting collar and cuff style which was popularized by Michael Douglas in the classic film, Wall Street.
Soft Collar Vs Stiff Collar
The softer a collar is the more casual it is. The stiffer a collar is the more formal it is. There are of course exceptions, but this is a good rule of thumb to follow when picking shirt collars.
Choosing the Best Shirt Collar for Your Face
When choosing the best shirt collar, you have to consider both the size of your face and the shape of it.
It is also important to remember that you can wear any type of shirt collar you want to; however, some shirt collar types may suit you better than other.
When it comes to size if you have a larger face, you want to lean more towards larger collars as a smaller collar such as a Club Collar will only make your face look huge and out of place.
Popular Men’s Collars
Classic Point Collar
Of all of the dress shirt collar types, the Point Collar is probably the collar you are most familiar with as it makes up around 90% of the dress shirt collar types in the world. With an average collar spread of 1 inch to 3 inches or 50-70 degrees, the Point Collar works well with a neck tie or without.
This style also typically has a Collar Height of 1-2 inches and a collar point of 2-3 inches in length. Manufacturers use this collar type for most shirts because it will appease the majority of wearers.
The Point Collar is best for men with a wide or round face — however, most facial shapes and sizes are flattered with this collar style.
When worn with a jacket, the points of the collar will not be covered by the lapels. This collar also won’t show any part of your tie other than the knot as the spread is so small.
Wide Spread Collar
Just as the name states, The Wide Spread Collar is a collar that has a wider collar spread.
Typically, the spread is anywhere from 4 inches to 6 inches between the collar points with an average point of angle between 45 degrees and 60 degrees.
This collar is popular option to use when wearing wider tie knots like the Windsor and Half-Windsor. A Wide Spread Collar will also allow you to wear ties made with thicker material such as wool.
This type of collar is best suited for a man with thin or long facial features — the collar’s widening effect helps to even out the look of the face. Men with a round face should try to stay away from these kind of collars as they will make your face look even more round.
The Cutaway Collar is a spread collar with an extremely wide distance between the Collar Points.
A distance over six inches between Collar Points qualify as a Cutaway Collar. Sometimes this collar can even have a complete 180 degree angle which will form a straight horizontal line.
Cutaway Collars are a favorite in Italian tailoring and requires a large tie knot if you were to wear a tie. However, this style works best without a tie with the top button or two open.
Button-Down Point Collar
A much more casual option, the Button-Down Point Collar has a rich history in menswear.
Originally worn by English polo players, Brooks Brothers brought this European style to the United States and it quickly became a favorite.
This style features buttonholes at the very tip of each Collar Point, corresponding to a small button on each side of the shirt front. This shirt can be worn with or without a tie and is the least formal collar choice.
Even though some European fans of Sprezzatura wear this collar with the collar point buttons open to project confidence and nonchalance, I would recommend to always have the collar point buttons fastened.
The nice thing about the Button-Down Point Collar is that it is really suitable for any face shape making it extremely versatile.
The Pin Collar has small holes in each point which allows the insertion of a pin or bar to place behind the tie know which thrust the tie forward putting more emphasis on your tie knot.
Pin Collars have to be worn with a tie as the empty holes and flapping tabs would present an untidy appearance.
Today, Dandies favor this collar and most have the confidence to pull off. Pins, Bars and Clips can all be used for the holes in the Pin Collar. These should be matched to any other metals you are wearing such as a wrist watch or metal band.
It has fallen out of popularity due to the “fussy” nature of the collar which most men do not want to deal with.
A cousin to the Pin Collar, Tab Collars are a vintage collar option and one that has been having a but of a resurgence in recent times.
This unique collar features a tab going across the middle which attaches to top button with a hook-and-look closure which sits behind your tie. This forces the tie forward and up creating a “standing” look for the tie.
Because of the tab, this collar cannot be worn without a tie. Tab Collars flatter men with longer necks the most. The higher stance of the tie knot helps to diminish a long neck.
Tab Collars have been popping up more and more today with the most notable wearer being Daniel Craig as James Bond in both Skyfall and No Time To Die.
Reserved for only extremely formal events, the Wing Collar is a minimalist collar that was very popular in the early 20th century.
“Wingtip” or “Winged” are alternative names for a Wing Collar. This is because the small tips resemble the open wings of a bird.
A Wing Collar can be own with a normal neck tie or bow tie, but the latter is more common. Most men wear this collar for a vintage look with black-tie or white-tie.
Worn mostly in the service industry (butlers/valets/waiters, this collar flatters a narrow face the most.
The Club Collar has a narrow spread and vintage appearance.
Students at Eton College created this collar for their uniforms as young students were looking for a way to stand out and show that they attended Eton.
The round nature of this collar makes it perfect for a smaller face. If worn with a larger head, a Club Collar will make your head look much larger than it is.
Closely related to the Club Collar, the Square Collar is another collar from the early 20th century.
A Square Collar has a very minimal spread. The title of “Square” comes from the squared-off collar points.
These were typically worn in detachable form but are hard to find. Most of the time you will find private school children in England wearing this collar type.
Found in many Eastern Cultures, the Band Collar is a bold choice for any man.
The Band Collar is the most unique dress shirt collar type as some do not even consider it a shirt collar! This collar must be worn tieless and is difficult to pull off, but should be worn by a man with a shorter neck.
If worn by a man with a long next, the Band Collar would look extremely strange and out of place. Mandarin jackets also feature this collar style.
Doctor Evil wore this collar famously in the spy spoof series Austin Powers. A lot of contemporary musical conductors and maestros wear this style jacket with a standard point collar underneath.
Now that you know what dress shirt type is right for you, click here to check out my guide on matching your tie to your suit and shirt or check out more related posts below.