When it comes to mens formalwear and shirts, we would argue that the shirt collar is one of the most important features. It frames the face, is still visible when wearing a suit and can completely change the style and formality of an outfit.
There are many different kinds of collars on mens shirts and each of them has its own unique look and feel. In this article, we will take a look at the 'must know' options and explain how and when they should be worn so you are always looking your best.
But before we go in to the different types of shirt collars, let's quickly cover some basics about the anatomy of a shirt collar so we're all on the same page.
The collar band, also know as collar base or collar stand is the band of the collar that is against your neck from which the leaves of the collar are attached and folded over from.
Collar leaf is the outside part of the collar that folds over the band of the collar. When it comes to the design of a collar, most varieties and difference is seen on the collar leaves.
The two bottom ends of the collar leaves are called "points." The length, sharpness and spread between the points are what give a collar its distinctive shape.
Collar stays are stiffeners of plastic or metal that are inserted into the collar of a dress shirt to keep the collar stiff and in place. Without collar stays, dress shirt collars can become wrinkled and misshapen easily.
A collar pin, also know as a collar bar, is a small pin that is used to hold the two sides of a shirt collar together. A collar pin / collar bar is used to give an elevated look to your tie as they lift it up and separate the tie from your chest.
OK, now that we've got that out of the way we can move into our top list of collar variations that you should be aware of.
1) Classic Shirt Collar
Let's start this article with the most common and standard of all shirt collars, the classic and universal straight collar.
No doubt most of us have at least one, or perhaps many of these in our wardrobe. It is a safe option and relatively versatile as it can be both dressed up as part of a formal wear outfit, or opened up and worn in a more relaxed way.
Image below: White Shirt With a Classic Straight Collar
2) Button Down Collar
The button down collar is another common type of shirt collar and is typically seen on a men's dress shirt. The button down collar has button holes on the points of the collar that attach to the body of the shirt with buttons.
The button down collar is a versatile classic collar that can be worn in a variety of settings, from a night out with friends and family to more formal occasions. The button down collar is also relatively easy to care for and depending on the shirt fabric, it does not require much ironing. A good option for anyone that hates doing the laundry!
To dress this up, it's best to pair with a narrow tie and knot given there isn't a huge amount of room to work with.
Image below: Shirt With a Button Down Collar
3) Point Collar
A point shirt collar is a shirt collar style that is fairly similar to the classic straight collar. But in this case, the point collar has points (as the name suggests) that for a sharper tip at the end of the collar. These points can vary in length, but they are typically shorter than the points on a classic straight or spread collar.
Just like the classic button down collar, the point collar is a versatile shirt collar that can be worn in a variety of settings and comes in a huge amount of colours, patterns and textiles. They are certainly less common however so can add a suble point of difference (sorry, no pun intended!).
Again, point collars also generally require less ironing than spread collars for example due to the way they are shaped.
Due to the vertical nature of the collar, it you are wearing with a tie you will need to select a thin tie and choose a narrow knot to complete the look.
Image below: Various Shirt in Natural Colours With a Point Collar
4) Spread Collar
A spread shirt collar is a type of shirt collar that has a wider distance between the two collar points. This type of collar is typically seen on a dress shirt worn at more formal occasions and meetings.
There are different types of spread collar, it all depends on the actual distance and spread between the collar points. Today one can find both standard spread collar, semi spread collar as well as wider spread collar.
The distance between the two collar point on a spread collar shirt will vary from shirt to shirt. But one thing that is sure, is that the collar spread is wider compared to your standard straight / classic collar shirt or button down collars shirt.
This collar is well suited to a larger knot like a full windsor seeing as it opens up much more at the front, providing the platform to show off a more bulky tie.
Just like the name says, there is a type of collar which is basically just a combination of the button down collar and spread collar. It has a wider spread between the collar leaves and can be buttoned down too.
6) Club Collar
The club collar is a shirt with rounded collar points. These types of shirt collars became popular in the early 1900s, mainly among modern and fashionable men during the 1920's. This type of collar could be described as more of a 'vintage' collar. However, club collar shirts can still be found in many shops and seen on the streets today.
Compared to other collars seen on a modern dress shirt, the club collar styles are a more relaxing type of collar and does not come with collar bar for example. Suitable for less formal events or matching with more flamboyant suit options like plaid.
Image below: Shirt With a Club Collar from Ratio Clothing
7) Mandarin Collar
A mandarin collar, also known as a band collar, is a type of shirt collar that in fact does not have any collar leaves at all, only a collar band / collar stand.
The collar is called a mandarin collar because of its origin in Chinese fashion and clothing. A standard mandarin band collar is 1-2" high and due to the fact that the mandarin collar does not have a collar, it is worn without a tie or bow tie.
One could say that a mandarin collar/band collar is the concept of the cutaway collar taken to its farthest extreme, leading the collar leaves to disappear completely, leaving just the band!
This collar type is somewhat similar to the grandad collar.
Leave unbuttoned for a more casual look.
Image below: Man Wearing a Shirt With a Mandarin Collar
8) Wingtip Collar
The Wingtip collar, similar to a wing collar, is a type of shirt collar that has a wide spread, shorter collar leaves and collar points that come to a sharp point. The wingtip collar is typically seen on tuxedo shirts and is most often worn with a tuxedo (or dinner jacket) and black tie.
A wingtip collar / wing collar is considered to be one of the most formal shirt collar options and therefore is not something you would want to wear down at your local pub.
The wingtip collar gets its name from the fact that the points of the collars resemble the wings of a bird.
Image: Wing Collar Shirt as Part of a Tuxedo Outfit
9) Extreme Cutaway Collar
The extreme cutaway shirt collar is a very unique and exciting type of shirt collar. This type of collar has a very wide spread and the points of the collars are longer. Based on the cutaway collar, it creates modern look of sophistication sure to capture the eye of everyone in the room. The collar style originated in the 1930's and due to the width is well suited to the the windsor Knot.
Extreme cutaway collar shirts look good on all face shapes and are perfect with ties of all variations, so this is a shirt that we think every man should have in their wardrobe!
A cutaway collar is similar to the Extreme Cutaway Collar we just talked about. The only difference is that the actual 'cutaway' of the collar leaves aren't as large and extreme. A good option if you want to create the same effect but in a slightly safer option.
A cuban collar is shirt collar that was popularised in the 1950s and 1960s. This type of shirt collar is typically worn without a tie and gives off a more relaxed vibe. A shirt with this type of collar is perfect for those hot summer days or when you're on vacation! As a result you'll most likely see these collars on shirts made from lighter weight materials.
Image: Cuban Collar Shirt Scott Fraser Collection
12) The Square Collar
The square collar is a collar style with a much smaller and narrow spread between the two collar points, you could say it is the opposite to the wider spread collar or extreme cutaway collar. The collar style is called square collar because the collar points are squared off.
The square collar was popular and often worn in the twentieth century. What is special with this shirt collar is that traditionally it is a detachable collar, and not actually attached to the shirt. Unfortunately these collars can be quite hard to find today, but they can be seen in movies such as on Sherlock Holmes in 'Elementary' from 2012.
Image: Jonny Lee Miller as Sherlock Holmes in Elementary (2012) Wearing a Shirt with a Contrasting Square Collar
As you can tell from this article, there are many different types shirt collar styles (and we have only talked about some of the different collar styles, there are many more to discover!)
When it comes to experimenting and developing your own personal style we suggest that you try out different collar styles to see what works best for you. What looks good on one person, might not look so great on another person. It is all about finding the right shirt collar style that fits your own individual style.
Thank you for reading and we hope you enjoyed this article and found it helpful!
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