Sometimes, you start from the top.
And the men’s dress shirt is no different.
The shirt collar determines the overall style for a dress shirt, dictating its appearance and formality. It also serves as an extension of the face so there needs to be a balance between the collar and the wearer. And finally, the collar determines the type of tie and knot that should be worn.
The button down, straight point and spread collar are the most common types of collars.
A button down collar is found on casual dress shirts, with buttons fastening the corners of the collar to the shirt. Laid back, it doesn’t need to be worn with a tie, working well with sweaters and sports coats.
The forward point, or straight point collar, is the most versatile and common style found on dress shirts. It has the collars pointing downward in a smaller spread for a smaller tie knot, such as the four-in-hand. It works best with a rounder face, helping to make it appear leaner.
The spread collar is also popular, with the points spread apart, away from each other, a style best suited for formal occasions. The space between the collar points should be filled with a larger knot, such as a half Windsor or full Windsor. Those with leaner faces match well with the spread collar, such as below.
Those are the basic collars, but overall, it’s best to go with the point collar for most of your dress shirts. It’s a versatile choice for any suit, blending in for all occasions. Keeping the collar simple allows you the freedom of more options with the rest of your outfits.
Less common collars are the wing, rounded and pin collar. Each are best worn with formal attire.
Wing collars are the most formal of collars, usually worn with a tuxedo and bow tie. It’s a short shirt collar that has two small wings at the front. I wouldn’t include this in your wardrobe unless you frequent formal events.
The club collar or rounded collar is like a point collar except the corners are slightly rounded, a style popular in the 1920’s. It looks best with a four-in-hand and a collar pin.
The pin collar also has a historic tradition, dating back to the 19th century. There are two holes in each collar point so a pin can be inserted and connected to each corner. The tie knot is above the pin so it slightly elevates it, bringing it to prominence. It’s a very formal style and also best suited with a four-in-hand.
Another consideration is how the collar should be constructed. We talked about the differences between a fused and non fused collar previously, so take a look for more details. Also, we explained how to match your collar with the correct tie knot. As for the fit, make sure you have about 1 to 2 inches of space between your neck and the collar. This allows for enough comfort when buttoned to the top when wearing a tie.
Men’s dress shirt collars come in a variety of styles so understanding the basics is essential. Keep it simple with straight point collars but also know when and how to where something formal.