When you buy a shirt, you probably pay attention to the color, pattern and fit. However, have you ever looked closely at dress shirt collar styles? Take a gander through your closet. If you purchase shirts of different styles from different brands, it’s likely you have a few different types of collars in your closet without even realizing it.
Shirt Collar Styles
Now that spring is here, you have a chance to update your wardrobe and introduce dress shirts with different collar types you have never worn before. Now is the perfect time to explore collars more closely because the menswear industry is successfully reviving looks that, until now, were long out of style. Use this guide as a way to lock down the most stylish shirt collar styles for summer 2014.
Medium Spread Collar
Prince Edward VIII of Wales is credited as the person who popularized this style back in the early to mid 1900’s. Also called the Ainsley, it’s the safest collar style out there and looks particularly flattering if you have a narrow face. It was once the ruler of the dress shirt world because it works whether you’re dressing for a special occasion or a regular day at the office.
The word “spread” refers to the width between the collar points, and a collar with a medium spread wonderfully accommodates a Windsor knotted tie for formal occasions, but you can also conveniently wear it sans tie with the top button undone. You can stop right here and stick with a tie you know is safe, but consider mixing it up a bit by trying out other collar styles, too.
English Spread Collar
This is one of many shirt collar styles which is considered a traditional English look. The English spread is extra wide, with 5 inches between the points of the collar. Like the medium spread, this style also goes perfectly with a Windsor knot.
Widen the spread even further with the Londoner, which is 6 inches from point to point. As you might expect by its name and appearance, this style originated in the dressy enclaves of the UK. It’s the ideal look if you’re hoping to make an elegant cosmopolitan statement.
Abbreviated Spread Collar
This smaller, sportier version of the medium spread collar is a modern alternative to a traditional look. It’s specifically designed to be worn without a tie. In general, the top button is left undone and the shirt is worn with a sport coat or sweater. However, you can always do up that top button and don a tie to dress up the look.
This is another less obvious version of the spread collar, this time a little narrower, which leaves little room for a tie. For that reason, this collar type is most often found on casual shirts when it’s more likely you’ll skip the tie.
Other common names for this style include a straight-point or narrow-point collar. In general, this style should always be worn with a tie because it tends to appear oddly long and pointy with the top button undone. A four-in-hand knot is ideal because of the narrow spread, a quality that is particularly flattering for round or wide faces
The forward-point collar is considered one of the most conservative collar types, making it especially appropriate for professional business gatherings. It has been the most common type of collar found on military-issue dress shirts since World War I.
This beefier version of the forward-point collar has a somewhat traditional look appropriate for formal settings. It was a staple in every man’s closet back in the 1920s. The name stems from a time when collars were designated by the sport the wearer played. Pair a tennis collar with a jacket featuring a classically styled lapel for the most coherent look.
This less formal collar style features buttons at the points to keep the collar down. It’s considered a sportier, more casual collar and is traditionally worn with slacks and a sport coat or under a crew neck sweater – but no tie.
However, some brands today are introducing dressier versions meant to be worn in more formal settings. These days, you’ll spot plenty of men wearing suits and ties with this collar style on the runaway. Just make sure you choose one in a dressy material, such as high thread count Italian-woven fabric, if you decide to pair it with a suit and tie.
If you’re familiar with the button-down collar, you’ll feel right at home with the Clifford, which is simply a shorter version. This look originated in the 50’s. Today’s version has been updated slightly. If you choose to don a tie, be sure it’s a skinnier variety.
The name comes from the presence of collar tabs that fasten behind the tie’s knot and hold the collar points in place. It’s perfect if you’re wearing a tie with a pattern that you really want to pop. This style was most popular back in the 1920’s and 30’s, though periodic revivals since then have kept the snap-tab collar on the docket for designers looking to bring particular styles back. Today’s snap-tab collars are sportier than their formal predecessors.
Also known as a rounded or golf collar, this style was required of boys attending Eton College, a boarding school in England, in the mid-19th century. The style earned the name “club collar” because, through the years, it came to signify exclusive membership in a club.
It’s a fun collar type for the more adventurous, since the rounded points set it apart from all other collar types. Just be sure not to pair it with a V-neck sweater or crew neck shirt because the collar is too short for either of these to accomplish a desirable balance.
Of all the shirt collar styles, this has the widest spread of any collar. The points are literally cut away, making the collar appear very short. The cutaway collar is currently very popular in London. It’s meant to be worn with a wide-knotted tie and a slim-lined suit jacket. In general, the wider a collar’s spread, the more it needs a tie to look complete.
Also known as the banker’s collar, this style is identified by its contrasting color. For example, the rest of the shirt may be blue but the collar is white. Traditionally, the contrasting collar has been considered ultra-professional, though in recent years it has been seen on more casual shirts. This style refers to color alone; the collar’s cut can be any of the above types mentioned here.
With so many fashionable shirt collar styles to choose from this summer, you will no longer want to settle for the medium spread collar in every instance. Fill up your closet with the looks that match your personal tastes and lifestyle the best. It’s a proven way to ensure you’re the best dressed man at every event you attend.