WORDS BY JOSEPH FURNESS
There's an art to choosing the right shirt collar – for some, it’s a form of good manners. There’s a specific collar for formal occasions; a collar suitable for summer vacays; a collar made for bow ties; there’s even a collar to suit those with a more slender face. If you’re new to these traditional codes of dressing, it can be a lot to digest.
To help formalwear freshmen navigate the realm of shirt collars, we’ve created a guide for every shirt style imaginable. Below, Dean Alexander, our in-house Private Client Stylist, explains the purpose, the quirks and the history of the different collars – from the Club to the Classic and the Cuban.
The Classic Collar – also known as the Point Collar or the Straight Collar – is the most common style of shirting collar. Shirts that feature this collar are adaptable, making them a great transitional garment for day-to-night wear. Ergo, it’s easily styled with a classic suit (with or without a tie) or a pair of jeans and a blazer.
Top Tip: If you like your collar points to be hidden by a blazer’s lapels, this type of shirt isn’t for you as the collar is simply not long enough.
The Club Collar, which was born at Eton College, is just a little different from the Classic Collar. The collar points have been rounded off and are less specific in shape, making it ideal for easy-yet-smart dress codes. Personally, I like to wear this type of collar with a contrasting tie – I feel like it gives off a playful ‘The Wolf of Wall Street’ vibe. Saying that, I also enjoy smartening-up a Club Collar shirt with a double-breasted blazer.
The Button-Down Collar was initially designed for polo players: the intricate detail provided them with more comfort than a Classic Collar. Now, the shirt silhouette is considered preppy. Usually subtle, a Button-Down is paired best with casual garms.
Top Tip: I would suggest seeking inspiration from American designer Thom Browne – the brand's Button-Down shirts are pure perfection.
Long Point Collar
The Long Point Collar is not one you’re likely to spot on an everyday shirt. With its extravagant length (of approximately 70mm-90mm) and narrow collar spread, this type of collar lends itself to dressy occasions. Accordingly, it looks great with a traditional tie and blazer.
Top Tip: Add a tie or collar pin to your Long Point Collar shirt to elevate your look.
Spread and Semi-Spread Collars are of a unique aesthetic, associated with formal dress codes. The collar works well with wide tie knots, which means they have room to accommodate thick textured ties (think wool and cashmere). Traditional Italian brands, such as Lardini and Brunello Cucinelli, are renowned for their Spread Collar shirts, which look just as dapper with a sports jacket as they do with a blazer.
Top Tip: This type of collar flatters those with a more slender face.
The Cutaway Collar is essentially an extra-wide version of the Spread Collar, angling towards the shoulder instead of downwards. It has a masculine appearance thanks to its linear design and provides enough room to accommodate a Windsor knot. Canali has some fantastic Cutaway Collar shirts that look great with a blazer or a knitted cardigan. I particularly love how the collar point hides behind a blazer’s lapel, offering a modern twist on a traditional look.
Top Tip: Don’t be afraid to leave the top two buttons loose.
The Cuban Collar is my favourite type of collar. Accordingly, Cuban Collar shirts are one of my wardrobe essentials – especially those made by Orlebar Brown. The shape of the collar spread is the perfect fit for my frame – I have broad shoulders and a prominent chest – plus, the shirts work with all wardrobe staples. I like to wear mine with a pair of cropped trousers.
Top Tip: Layered underneath a sports jacket, a Cuban Collar looks relaxed and ultra-modern.
The Wing Collar is a heavily starched, short shirt collar: the tips stand up and point horizontally. Traditionally worn at formal affairs (e.g. black tie events), the shirt allows you to channel your inner Bond, especially when worn with a tux. I like Wing Collar shirts as they stand out – therefore, they’re most suitable for a confident wearer who likes to lead, not follow.
Top Tip: A Wing Collar should only ever be worn with a bow tie, never a necktie.
Striking the perfect balance between tailoring and casualwear, the Grandad Collar is a foolproof look that works with most styles. In my opinion, a Grandad Collar shirt pairs best with tailored trousers and fresh-out-the-box white minimalist sneakers. However, it also looks great layered under a jacket and jeans ensemble.
Top Tip: Pinstripe Grandad Collar shirts add character to day-to-evening outfits.
The Mandarin Collar is said to derive from the bureaucrats of Qing-era China, it was a staple part of their uniform. It’s a similar shape to the Grandad Collar, but it doesn’t feature a button closure or meet at the top of the neck. I like how designers interpret this ancient style in a contemporary fashion, especially Haider Ackermann.
Top Tip: I would recommend a Mandarin Collar shirt for a ‘going out’ look.