Men pay attention to detail. When you pay attention to detail you look good. Each part of an outfit plays an important role to bringing an entire piece together and collars are a crucial aspect you can’t overlook. Luckily we’ve put together a little Field Guide here at Life, Tailored so you can traverse the vast Land of Collar-dom with ease. A quality collar takes your look to the next level, distinguishes you from the pack and show clients and strangers you know your way around a closet. Floppy, unkempt collars on the other hand, send a message you’d rather leave on vibrate. Collars have been around for a long time in many forms and after lots of trial, error and natural selection, four remain. We’ll explain them later, first it would behoove you to know how collars are structured.
Collar Anatomy 101
Collars have more than one moving part and you should understand them all before you go buying expensive ones all willy-nilly. Remember, an informed man is a smart man. Collars are broken down into six areas: Collar Points, Collar Point Length, the Collar Bands, Collar Height, Tie Space, and Spread. When you hunt for a quality shirt two areas of the collar should be at the front of your mind, Collar Spread (No. 6) and Points (No. 1). Shirt connoisseurs will pay attention to each detail but the normal man need worry only about Spread and Points.
Common Collar Species
Shirt collars come in tons of shapes and sizes, but four types are the bread and butter of any wardrobe. They are Point, Spread, Semi-Spread, and Button Collars. With a healthy mix of each you will be sartorially set for every occasion. In a fittingly parallel fashion four retailers are the definitive voice of men’s shirting and we love the way go after collars. See each describe their style in unique ways here:
- Bonobos – The New Dress Code
- Ledbury – Anatomy of a Shirt
- Proper Cloth – Story and Shirts; Review PC’s extensive collar selection here.
- Hugh & Crye – Anatomy of a Dress Shirt; To see H&C’s lucid collar breakdown look here.
The Point Collar: The traditional collar, a patriarch of shirting if you will. This collar always looks great and won’t leave style any time soon. Perfect for conservative, formal affairs; this is a collar you can’t afford to miss. When tailoring your neck wear to the Point Collar use medium to large knots like the Half-Windsor or Full-Windsor as the pointed collar will frame the tie well.
The Semi-Spread Collar: Meant to be worn anywhere from boardrooms to bars, weddings to wine tastings, a Semi-Spread Collar is a classic. Excellent for classy affairs and perfect for casual shindigs, the Semi-Spread is the bread and butter collar for a discerning man today. Semi-Spreads call for slightly smaller knots than the Point Collar as more of the tie will be exposed, go for the Half-Windsor, Four-In-Hand, or something adventurous like the Eldredge Knot (you’ll make waves at the water cooler with this one).
Button Collar: Button Collars are easily one of my favorites, they are as versatile as a screwdriver and sharper than a two-edged sword. Button collars employ two small buttons at the collar points (No. 1) to fasten the collar to the shirt in one perfect, immovable place. Your options with a button collar are vast –
- Wear one wide open to the beach, preferably with board shorts.
- Throw on a solid color BC shirt with some shorts/chinos/denim/whatever, unbutton the top two buttons for a laid back look.
- Snag some nice pants like chinos or dress pants and tuck ‘er in to snazz things up. Throw on a tie or bow-tie for added panache.
Remember though, if your event calls for anything more formal than business casual you’ll have to trade the Button Collar for a different variety. As good as they look they won’t cut it in formal settings. Lots of tie knots work well with the Button Collars so take your pick from any that you know, whether or knot the tie looks good will depend on the shirt you’re wearing.
Spread Collars: Spread Collars are rapidly gaining steam in men’s fashion, and not without good reason. They are mean, clean, a bit daring, and distinctly different without over doing it. Use the Four-in-Hand or Prince Albert knot with a Spread Collar as almost all of the knot will be exposed. You don’t want massive knots staring your friends in the face as you talk, it’s off-putting. Leave the power knots to the CEO’s and upper management. If you are a CEO, try a Four-in-Hand and you’ll look so good fourth quarter numbers will have no choice but to soar. Spread Collars are Ledbury’s wheelhouse. If you want a Spread collar done right, look no further. The shirts featured in this guide are part of Ledbury’s “Short Run Shirting” collection, Short Run Shirts are a Ledbury collection that releases a new set of five shirts every week in limited quantities and only sells them for four weeks. Truly one of a kind.
Ledbury Short Run Shirting – The Bristol Linen, $155 (Only 27 days left at the publishing of this article!)
Ledbury Short Run Shirting – The Green Armour Check, $165 (Only 27 days left at the publishing of this article!)
Ledbury Short Run Shirting – The Yellow and Blue Carter Check, $145 (Only 13 days left at the publishing of this article!)
You’ll see these collar types far less than the other four. Some have their place around our necks, others don’t… Wing Collar: At home on tuxedos and dinner jackets the wing collar, or wingtip, is meant only for Black-Tie and White-Tie events.
Jabot Collar: Should your spirit animal be a peacock this is your collar. Don’t spend to long trying to ruffle the feathers just right, go for a perfect imperfection look.
Poet Collar: Interested in rhyme schemes and iambic pentameter? The Lord Byron endorsed poet collar might be yours; how romantic.
Final Thoughts on Shirt Collars
While we’ve given you some guidelines please remember that there are no hard and fast rules on how to wear shirt collars (except the Jabot, please don’t put that on). If you like the way you look, wear it. Life, Tailored is here to show you the tools and let you use them. We trust you.