The tab collar dress shirt has made a bit of a fashion resurgence thanks largely to our old friend James. Though it has fallen out of favor as a wardrobe mainstay, it has still managed to maintain it’s positioning as a classic essential in formal menswear. The primary reason is it looks exceptional. When worn as part of a formal ensemble, the tab collar is shirting eye-candy at the highest level.
The name tab collar dress shirt essentially explains the look. The shirt has a two part closure that is attached to the mid-bottom of the collar leaf’s. They are typically secured with a snap or button fastener that shrinks the collar spread and pinches in the collar points.
One rule of thumb with a tab collar dress shirt — IT SHOULD ALWAYS BE WORN WITH A TIE. Wearing this style without a tie will look peculiar and defeats the purpose of it’s core function.
It’s most distinctive feature is the fabric tab (with button or snap fastening), that bridges the two points together and elevates the tie knot in a rich, beautiful arch — in a similar fashion to a collar pin. The tie knot is also secured firmly within the pocket of the collar points so you won’t see any of the rear tie blade that wraps around the band.
The History of the Tab Collar Dress Shirt
Tab collars were popularized after WWI; the UK’s then Prince of Wales and future King Edward VIII (a style icon in his own era) famously wore one on his visit to the US in 1919. These shirts featured semi-soft collars, often detachable and secured with stud buttons. This style tab collar dress shirt is shown frequently in period piece television and movies, to convey the style of this era (e.g. Boardwalk Empire or the Untouchables).
Elliot Gant (a shirting brand of the early-mid 20th century) patented his version – which featured a permanently fixed button on the tab in 1963. This style by Gant is still the one you’re likely to find on the market today.
The Comeback of the Tab Collar Dress Shirt
The tab collar was resurrected due heavily to its appearance in the 2012 James Bond film Skyfall. Daniel Craig’s Bond character extensively wore various tab collar shirts which were designed by renowned fashion icon Tom Ford. Thereafter, many mainstream shirt-makers picked up on the niche and began filling storefronts with variants of the original Tom Ford shirt. In the 7 years since, the fad associated with this style has largely faded and most shirtmakers have discontinued making and selling tab collar dress shirts.
The 2020 Comeback of the Tab Collar?
As shown in recent trailers and movie posters for the upcoming 2020 film — “No Time to Die”, Daniel Craig’s James Bond character is distinctly sporting a tab collar dress shirt. As we arrive closer to the release of the film (~April 2020), we anticipate a niche craze around the style to develop and shirt makers will again begin production to fulfill the expected demand.
What to Look for in a Tab Collar Dress Shirt
If you’re a fan of the point collar, you’ll be interested to know that the tab collar IS the forefather of the modern point collar. Additionally, there are a number of factors to look for when shopping for a tab collar dress shirt.
- A high thread count (2 ply / 100s) cotton poplin fabric in (white, medium blue, or pale blue)
- A long, soft point collar with tab closure (could be a button or a snap)
- Signature James Bond Cocktail cuffs or French cuffs
- NO chest pocket
Our version is similar to the Forward Point in proportion and shape, apart from the introduction of the tab. It pairs well with smaller tie knots (four in hand) and of course should only be worn with the tab secured.
Special Offer for First Time Deo Veritas Customers
First time customers, can use the code UNFUSED20 for $20 off your first order on all custom dress shirt orders (excludes sale items). Additionally, all first time orders come with our perfect fit guarantee.