November 17, 2011

Quick Tip: Dressing Up Your Collars

When it comes to dress shirts, there are four basic types of collars, each with varying degrees of formality. There is no set formula to tell you which style will suit you best. It all comes down to personal preference and experimenting with different collars to see which looks best with your facial structure and body type.

1. Button-Down Collar
Shirt by Nautica.
This is the most casual of the four and is usually found on softer cotton or oxford shirts. Modeled after shirts worn by polo players at the end of the 19th century, it gets its name because the points of the collar literally ‘button down’ to the shirt to prevent them from flying up. Due to its sporting heritage, outside of the United States it is rarely worn with a suit.

2. Point Collar
Shirt by Ben Sherman ( 3" Spread).
This is probably one of the most common collars and is perfectly appropriate for everyday office wear. It comes in different spreads (the distance between the two points), but is generally considered to measure between 2.5” and 3.25”.

3. Semi-Spread Collar
Shirt by Hawes & Curtis ( 5" Spread).
This is a slightly more formal collar, though still completely acceptable for your business attire. While technically a Spread Collar, the Semi-Spread is distinguished by a smaller point to point measurement, usually in the 3.5” - 5”range. You will usually want to pair this collar with a thicker tie and a wider knot.

4. Spread Collar
Shirt by Brooks Brothers ( 6 1/4" Spread).
The Spread Collar, also known as the Cutaway, is the most formal of the four collars I am featuring. However, with the right shirt, suit, and tie it can make a confident and bold statement when integrated into a business ensemble. To pull off this collar, I recommend using a Full-Windsor Knot with a medium or heavyweight tie as the spread can get pretty wide (I’ve seen collars with an 8” spread!).

There are other styles that you may encounter such as the club, wing, and tab collars but these are less common, and in the case of the wing collar reserved for formal attire. Whichever collar you choose, make sure you tie an appropriately sized knot. I’ll have more on that in a future post.

Stay stylish,
- JJ

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