When we buy a dress or button-up shirt, we tend to focus on the fit and the color. Most of the time, we just go with whatever collar the shirt comes with. Which is a shame: collars have so much to do with how a shirt frames your face and fits your body.
So which will it be: Forward Point, Button-Down, Spread, Wide Spread, Tab, Cutaway, Band, Club, Pin? Not all collars were made equal (some even emerged from some pretty ingenious circumstances) and the amount of choice can be dizzying. So how do you choose one that not compliments the shape of your face and your build, but achieves the right look, too?
To make the choice a little easier on you, we thought we’d highlight 4 styles of shirt collar every guy should have in their wardrobe:
1. The Wide Spread (a.k.a. “Fly Away”) Shirt Collar
There’s a reason why this shirt collar has become increasingly popular as of late. However, although it’s thought of as a relatively modern invention, the wide spread collar has been around for at least the last century. It owes its origins to the classic medium spread collar that was adopted by European royalty in the early 20th century.
Greatest asset: its versatility - it can easily transition from casual to formal, with the addition of a few essential accessories.
Suitable face shape or body type: because the wideness accentuates both wider and thinner frames, this type of collar is best suited for men who have an athletic build or are in the “Goldilocks Zone” (not too thin, not too wide).
Dandy & Sons favorite:The Wide Spread Light Blue Shirt (available in both barrel and french cuffs). If you could only own one shirt, this would be it!
2. The Contrast Collar
This style was born a long time ago back when shirt collars and cuffs were detachable. It made sense at the time, because those were the parts of the shirt that tended to fray and wear fastest and it was expensive to buy a whole new shirt. Nowadays, it’s become a fashion symbol of wealth popularized by many financial moguls of the 80s and 90s. If you know how to wear it right, it sends a pretty clear signal that you have all your ducks in a row.
Greatest asset: very formal, timeless and elegant.
Suitable face shape or body type: all shapes and sizes of face and body can wear a contrast collar, but make note that it sends a sign of confidence and self-assurance so be prepared to walk the walk.
This style was invented in jolly ole England by polo players. Back in those days, the players were required to wear collared shirts to play, but due to the riding-around-on-a-horse thing the collars would flap up and get in their field of vision. So players started having buttons sewn to the collars to hold them in place and voilà! - a new collar style was born! The debate is still out regarding whether this type of collar is acceptable at formal events. In the US, this shirt is acceptable at a casual Saturday gathering just as much as an important meeting presentation whereas across the pond, the Brits keep their button-downs far away from formal events.
Greatest asset: it can be the backbone of any wardrobe for casual occasions and generally not suggested for formal affairs.
Suitable face shape or body type: everybody - this is literally the most wearable collar.
Dandy & Sons favorite:The Button Down Denim Shirt. Casual or formal existential question aside, a denim button-down short is a basic staple every guy needs in his wardrobe and is sure to know who to wear.
4. The Extreme Cutaway Collar
This is the collar with the widest spread available and a very unique style. Just like the wide spread collar, it also owes its origins to royalty but was popularized in the 60s and 70s by famous Hollywood actors. While this style nods at a more retro style, today, it’s seen as slick and contemporary. If you’re the kind of guy who likes to make fashion statements, here’s one on a platter.
Greatest asset: the cutaway look makes it perfect to be work with or without a tie.
Suitable face shape or body type: it requires a similar build as required for the wide spread collar, but is also not advised for shorter men who want to avoid emphasizes their height with horizontal lines..
Dandy & Sons favorite:The Extreme Cutaway Pinstripe Shirt. The vertical lines on the shirt help balance out the lines of the collar so it makes it easier to wear for shorter guys. And bonus: it creates a nice, casual look without a tie or you can dress it up with a nice vest, thin tie and pocket square.
Whatever your preferred style, these 4 versatile shirt collars can compliment any guy’s wardrobe. Of course, the collar is just the tip of the iceberg so feel free to go nuts with different colors, patterns, cuffs not to mention accessories like ties or pocket squares. At least, with one of each of these, you’ll be covered for any and all occasions.