There are many variations and permutations of dress shirts. We will focus mostly on dress shirts that one might wear with a lounge suit in a business setting starting from the collars. There is a plethora of collars for one to choose from when ordering a dress shirt.
The point of the collar is to frame the face of the individual. As a result of this not every type of collar will look best on every type of face. This is something that one ought to consider while shopping for dress shirts. When selecting a collar one should be aware of one’s body shape. The rule of thumb is that your colour, particularly the gap between it should possess attributes that your face does not. If you have a long thin face, then you would be best suited to a wide gap within your collar. Conversely a man with a round larger face would be well served by a collar with a smaller spread.
Collars should be well ironed and crisp. One should make a point of buying shirts with stiff collar stays. The main advantage of metal stays is that they are more rigid and stiff, that also happens to be the main disadvantage of them. They keep the shirt collar looking straight, but sometimes their weight is noticeable and gives the shirt a very unnatural look as you can notice their shape in some shirts. Additionally when they are the exact size of the pocket in which they are placed it is sometimes hard to fold the shirt over.
The point collar is the classic style of collar. This is the collar that most people wear and it is the type of collar that you are most likely to find on a mass produced shirt. This is the type of collar that is found on 90% of all shirts.
The club collar is a collar with rounded edges instead of points. This club first appeared in the mid-1800s when Eton College, an exclusive boys boarding school in England decided to update their uniform. The story goes something like this. Eton wanted something to distinguish their uniform and their then 400 year history from all of the other school and show them as truly exclusive and elite. As a result of this they came up with the idea of rounding the edges on the dress shirts of their uniform. The name club collar arose from other individuals who wanted to appear to be part of the elite club of individuals who attended Eton College. Consequently this collar became known as the club collar. As it entered mainstream fashion it became more and more common peaking in popularity during the thirties when it was accompanied by a collar pin, an also equally popular fashion accessory of the time. As the collar pin became less popular, so did the club collar and it was rarely seen until recently when it has enjoyed a resurgence in fame due to shows like mad men.
Men with round faces should avoid wearing this style of collar as it does not flatter the shape of the face and draws more attentions to the roundness of the face. Anyone who wants to be noticed even more with this type of collar should consider adding a collar pin. Nowadays, like many other accents men’s business wear, this type of collar lets one be loud and unique in a subtle fashion.
The cutaway collar has the points spreading back parallel to the ground rather than more vertical or perpendicular. This collar is reported to have been popularized by the Duke of Kent. Two things that everyone says about this collar is that it is rapidly growing in popularity and it seems to be the “collar of choice in Britain and Italy”. This collar is well suited for wider lapels, wider ties, and a more substantial tie knot. As usual the wide spread should be avoided by individuals with round chubby faces. Like many rarer styles this is a choice for a gentleman that would like to accent his dressing in a distinct yet subtle manner.
Button Down Collar
This collar is the type that has buttons that hold down that collar and a visible to the observer. These type of collars are usually just regular classic point collars. Their history can traced to polo player in the late 1890s that would attach buttons to their shirts to prevent their collars from turning up in the wind and obstructing their face. While watching a polo match John Brooks (of Brooks Brothers) took notice of this and introduced it to mainstream fashion.
These collars tend to be more blue collar and less formal. While they can be worn with a tie, we think this is ill advised and the work best with jeans and no tie. It is again an option for a gentlemen looking for a trademark (of poor taste). Lastly, because of the history of these collars, they are to always be buttoned.
I have never actually seen anyone wear this type of collar. This is a collar with a pin that sits underneath the tie to pop up the tie and make it more pronounced. It is almost always worn with a club collar and makes one look distinct, slightly old fashioned, but deliberate about his dressing.
This collar was birthed at the beginning of the 20th century. It came about as a remedy for silk collars that were too delicate to be starched, but needed to be kept in place. It then became a fashion accessory for well-dressed trendsetters with how it elevated the tie of the wearer. Throughout the reset of century it experienced various surges in popularity and has been unseen until its recent resurgence as a result of shows like mad men.
Straight Point Collar
Don Cherry has popularized a very wide version of this collar. This collar however is defined by its extremely narrow gap and not the width as is seen on Don Cherry’s shirts. This is the go to collar if you have a rounder bigger face as it frames it to look narrower. This is also a collar that is fairly popular in its moderate forms and more rarely seen in its extreme forms. It is a safe bet to wear without calling too much attention to oneself in which case one can always purchase the Don Cherry Version and never get a date.
All other collars tend to be variations or combinations of the ones that I have examined. You will hear terms that mean various things to various people. Often you will heart nationalities used as adjectives to describe them. Particularly there is the English Spread, The Italian Collar, and The French Spread. I really do not know what constitutes any of these. Indeed they mean various things to various people and companies. The rule of thumb however is to remember that the wider and rounder the face, the thinner and sharper the spread, and the thinner and sharper the face the rounder and wider the collar.
What Collar are you?