It’s interesting to note that although collars have run the gamut from longer to shorter, more spread or less, we have always come back to the basics. It seems that collar fashions have become a small microcosm of our lives... we always return to the tried and true, the comfortable, the familiar.
The Button-Down Collar
In this most comfortable of all the collar styles, the two collar points are held in place by small buttons. It is made with a soft lining and no collar stays. Usually it is styled with a soft roll and a 1/2" tie space to accommodate a tie easily. The collar is usually quarter stitched (the classic collar finishing), and is usually done with button cuffs rather than the dressier French cuffs.
It is usually found on more casual body patterns, with pleated backs or sleeves, rather than the split yoke of the non-button-down styles. In many cases it is worn open for casual wear. It also looks great with a bow tie.
Although it is acceptable business garb, it should not be worn with dressy suits or double-breasted styled jackets.
It should, however, be part of the “Basic Dozen” in every man’s wardrobe (page 76).
The Straight Collar
Also called the “classic collar,” this usually has a point length of about 3", stay pockets and quarter-stitching. The tie space is currently about 1/4" because today ties are tapered in shape, so the knots are not too wide. As in all non-button-down shirts, a heavier lining is preferred in this collar to help it maintain its shape.
This is the tried-and-true collar style.It is perfect for the job interview, the workplace, or most social occasions —and it looks good on most men.
This collar style can also be worn with a tie bar that slides on the collar and holds the points down around the tie. It looks great with a bow tie, as well as open at the neck without a tie.In short, it is the one indispensable collar style. It is definitely part of the “Basic Dozen” in every man’s wardrobe (page 76).
The Modified-Spread Collar
The collar has become increasingly popular as men have added variety to their collection of collar styles. It is easy to wear, simply because of its spread.It is comfortable on the big or small man — it will not fight the chest of the big man, nor is the spread so wide that it would be unflattering to a small man. It is the most comfortable of the non-button down collars. Adding to its popularity, it can
also be worn open at the neck without a tie.Usually the point length is 3", has stay pockets and the collar is quarter stitched. The tie space is currently about 1/4"
because today ties are tapered in shape, making for a narrower knot.
The spread is such that the tie knot hides the band of the collar (similar to the straight collar) and thus even the most conservative of men can feel comfortable.
It is definitely part of the “Basic Dozen” in every man’s wardrobe (page 76).
The Spread Collar
Both large and small knots are fine with the spread collar.Remember, the band of the collar is designed to show around the knot. You don’t have to hide the band and use a Full-Windsor knot. It is usually done with a higher band than the modified-spread, which makes it great for men with average or long necks, but the shorter-necked man should avoid this style — he’ll look uncomfortable wearing it, even if he feels fine. Usually the point length is 3", has stay pockets and the collar is quarter-stitched. The tie space is currently no wider than 1 /4", and because the spread is so wide, most knots have no difficulty in fitting.
It is considered “fashion-forward” even though the style has been around for a long time. This is probably because it is not found in the conservative dresser’s wardrobe. This collar can also be worn without a tie for the casual look.
The Tab Collar
The tab collar has once again returned to the forefront of men’s fashion and is being worn by the conservative button down wearer, as well as the fashion-for-
ward spread collar consumer.
The reason for the tab collar’s appeal is simple. It gives the wearer a clean,classic look which is designed to focus attention on the tie.
It fits high on the neck with a small loop attached to both points which is fastened across under the tie to hold the points down. It is featured with many types of closures — buttons, snaps and studs. We make ours with the stud closure because it pushes the tie knot forward and arches it, while the loops keep it in place throughout the day.
Because it is made with a higher band, the shorter necked man will look and feel uncomfortable in this style.
We prefer the point length at 21/2", so that it does not bend up at the tips when worn. The collar is quarter stitched, and the tie space should be 1/2" to 3/4" to accommodate the tie knot.
Stay pockets are put in the collar so that it can be worn with collar stays to give it a stiffer look, or with them removed for a soft touch.
The proper choice of fabric will make the “tab” appropriate with either a business suit or sport jacket. For the ultimate in elegance, a broadcloth fabric with a French cuff is unsurpassed. This collar must be worn with a tie.
The Shirt Store’s Own Contributions
The “A” Collar
A take-off on the straight collar but more fashion-forward.Named for its shape, it is styled with no tie space, 3+" points,stay pockets, and edge-stitching.
The collar is made with a low band so that it sits low on the neck and frames the tie. It is a comfortable collar because it is low, and has lasted in popularity for
over five years, making it a staple in The Shirt Store line.
This collar is comfortable dressed up or down, depending on the fabric chosen
or cuff style used.
This collar style can also we worn with a tie bar that slides on the collar and holds the collar points down around the tie. With its collar stays removed, and worn open, it has a comfortable, casual look.
The “Riley” Collar
Inspired by the basketball coach of the same name, the “Riley” is a comfortable low-rise collar that sits into the chest and frames the tie with spread, curved
3" points, stay pockets, and classic styling with quarter-stitching.
It is a comfortable collar because it is low. It has lasted in popularity for over
five years, making it another staple in The Shirt Store line.
This collar is considered dressy and is usually made with French cuffs, and under no circumstances should it be worn open without a tie.
The Still Popular Contrasting White Collars
The contrasting white collar is an English style that has gained increased acceptance in the United States during the 90’s. It has also become very popular in continental Europe.
Last year, 25% of the non-white shirts we sold had contrasting white collars and cuffs. The three most popular collar styles were modified-spread, classic (straight) and tab. They have increased in popularity as office dress codes have loosened and have given the man in the office an almost infinite variety of choices.
We see more and more white collars on television, both on our media stars and politicians. Once a popular anchor-man wears a white collar (or any other style), it seems to give it legitimacy and wide acceptance in the marketplace.
Some men wear white collars because they feel that they always look fresh and smart. Others wear them because they can add more color to their wardrobe while still being perceived as conservative dressers, since the first thing you
see is the white collar.
I like them in my shirt line because it gives me an opportunity to introduce bold and exciting new fabrics which,without the white collar, might be too much for my relatively conservative customer base. These shirts are usually perceived as dressy and most often made with a white French cuff.
The collarless shirt is, for the most part, unacceptable in most offices, even on casual days. This accounts for the popularity of dress shirts that can be worn with or without a tie,with traditional business suits, as well as casual slacks and loafers. For our purposes, we will concentrate on the shirts that can be worn with a suit and tie.
It should be noted that this collarless look, if desired, can be achieved by removing the collar leaf from any of the collar styles mentioned.
Which Collar is Right For You?
When deciding on a collar style, don’t start with what you like. Start with the length of your neck. (Remember, the most important thing about a shirt is how it looks to other people when you’re wearing it.)
The man with an average neck can wear any of the collar styles, choosing the ones he is most comfortable with.
If your neck is very short, you must make sure that the height of the collar is not too high for your neck or you will crunch the sides of the collar, making yourself very uncomfortable in the process. The modified-spread, the “A” and the “Riley” are the lowest sloped of the collars. They are also scooped on the sides, which will help eliminate the crunched collar. The tab and the full-spread collar with
higher bands should not be a choice for the short-necked man. An exception to this rule is the older man with a very wrinkled neck. He might choose the high collar to hide the wrinkles and improve his overall appearance.
If your neck is very long, you will look best in the spreads and tabs. Classics and button-downs will also serve you well.
It has been said that the short man must not wear spreads because they will make him appear shorter, and the very tall man must not wear straight collars because they will make him look longer. I don’t agree. The collar style will not change your height. If it looks good on your neck, you can wear it!