Men’s dress shirt collars come in all different colors, sizes, and styles. The marriage of the shirt collar and the necktie is crucial to a well-tailored look. While it may seem like overkill, we must discuss the tie and everything that goes with it and- unless you are Magic Mike and crew – a shirt will always accompany your tie. We will do an in-depth piece on shirts later on in the year, but for now, Cribbs On Style with the help of Real Men, Real Style, will let you know what shirt collar styles go best with the image you are trying to exude.
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.
Our discussion here centers around turn-down collars. To facilitate this discussion, let us define a few terms important to understanding a shirt collar.
1. Collar Points – The tips of the collar.
2. Collar Point Length – The distance from the Collar Points to where they meet the Collar Band.
3. Collar Band– the piece of fabric that wraps around the neck.
4. Collar Height– The height of a folded collar as it fits on the neck.
5. Tie Space – The distance between the top of the folded collar parts when the shirt is buttoned.
6. Spread – The distance between Collar Points.
The Point Collar
The point collar is the most common turn-down collar style, found on approximately 90% of men’s dress shirts. The variations of the point collar have established themselves as the de facto collars of the world due to their ability to remain neutral — an important characteristic for manufacturers looking for a collar type that will appease the majority of wearers. Over the years, many variations have become popular.
Here is a Classic Straight Point Collar, clearly distinguishable by the small spread between the collar points. On this particular example, we see a 3/4 inch tie space and a collar point length of about 2 3/4 inches. All of a collar’s parts can be adjusted to ensure proportion for the individual; however, you need to ensure when accommodating your wishes the collar maker does not compromise the integrity of the collar type you wish to see framing your face.
Narrow Straight Point Collar – Here we see another version of the straight point collar, however in this version notice the even smaller spread between the collar points accentuated by the lack of a tie space altogether. The collar point length here is closer to 3 1/2 inches, a clear indicator that this collar is meant to help a round faced man look less plump.
Button Down Point Collars – The button-down point collar style is most often seen on more casual shirts. These collars have small buttonholes at the very tip of each point, corresponding to a small button on each side of the shirtfront. While this collar can be worn successfully with a tie, it is the least formal of all the collar choices and is an excellent choice for the man looking to leave the tie behind. The buttons on the collar, however, are always fastened; to appear with undone collar buttons would be a faux pas.
Spread or Cutaway Collars
The second popular style is the Cutaway, or Spread Collar. These collars reveal more of the upper shirt area and leaving additional room for larger knots such as the Windsor. Like the point, spread collars come in a variety of widths, with more moderate ones resembling slightly flared point collars, while more extreme versions can be nearly horizontal.
The Medium Spread Collar is a close cousin to the point collar, separated only by the interpretation of the size of its spread. Although this collar point length may be a bit shorter as well, it’s primarily designed for the man whose face falls between the extremes. A safe choice, it is a great introductory collar for those looking to slowly explore the benefits of this collar family.
The Classic Spread Collar – The spread of this collar leaves no doubt as to its heritage. A classic in bespoke circles for almost 100 years, this collar was made famous by the likes English royalty and Hollywood’s A-list Actors. The Duke of Windsor, Prince Charles, and Douglas Fairbanks are just a few of its advocates. Pair this collar with a thin face or small boned man, and you have a match made in heaven.
The Wide Spread and Curved Spread Collars – two variations of the classic spread; the spread has been increased by the collar point’s length (in this case to 3 1/2 inches). Found only in bespoke circles, the wearer must not only have a firm grasp of the collar style that looks good on him but must be willing to display this grasp of sartorial excellence for all to see. Not for the faint of heart!
Other Collars that Break the Mold
Tab Collars – The Tab collar employs a small tab extending from the middle of each point, which is fixed together – usually with a hook-and-loop closure – behind the tie. This forces the tie forward and up, creating the “standing” look of more elaborate knots. This collar should never be worn without a tie, and can be used to hide a abnormally long neck.
Pin Collars – This collar has small holes in each point, allowing for a decorative pin or bar behind the knot which thrusts the tie up and forward. This collar should always be worn with a tie; the empty holes and flapping tabs present an untidy appearance.
Wing Tip Collars –Exclusively found on tuxedo shirts. This type of collar allows more of your bowtie to be exposed. Suitable for weddings and special “black tie” occasions. You didn’t think we would leave out the bow tie, did you?
Where to find these Collars?
To find these collars a man should explore the world of custom clothing. It is here that a man can not only specify the type of collar he wants, but he has control over every aspect of a shirt’s design and dimensions. Finer department stores will carry them as will quality men’s clothing stores. In doubt, see a man with a collar you like and politely ask him where he go it. Along with the types of collars, there are different features that are available. Here’s a quick visual review:
Shirt Collars And Facial Shape
If your face is neither excessively round nor extraordinarily angular, ask the salesman for a classic collar. Its medium height works for most everyone.
Say you’re tall, wiry, or have a triangular face, you want a swept collar with a low, wide stance. It’ll soften your hard edges and balance things out.
For the round-faced or short-necked, try a point collar. The vertical slant will give your face the semblance of length and definition.
Creating a look or choosing which collar/knot combination isn’t solely predicated of your face, but this is good information for men of color to consider in pulling off the look that you desire.
I don’t want to overwhelm you with too much at one time. Go get a snack, a glass of water and take a breather. Then come back and find us with What Knot? What Collar?