Sunday, April 5, 2009

Men's Fashion: Dress Shirt Collar

In the last edition of Men's Fashion, we discussed how to choose a dress shirt that fits properly. In this issue, we're going to look at picking an appropriate collar.

The goal of dressing well is to draw the eye towards the face. To accomplish this, we rely on appropriate colour and proportion. This is different for everyone. Today, I'm going to focus on the dress shirt, and what dress shirt to choose in order to emphasize one's face.


The collar is the most important aspect of the shirt. Choosing a correct collar is mostly common sense -- a smaller man will require a smaller collar, while larger men will require larger collars.

Collars should balance the structure of the face by softening its dominant aspects and strengthening its weak ones. For example, a long neck demands a higher-sitting collar.

Let's take a look at the different collar types in detail.


This is the most neutral collar type and can be worn with any suit jacket. It has a fairly narrow opening between its points and so flatters a round, oval-shaped face rather than a narrow one.


The spread collar is the most popular collar and comes in a variety of lengths, widths, and styles.

The spread collar works especially well for people with narrow or triangular faces and should be worn with a half-windsor or windsor knot. A four-in-hand will look insubstantial.

Above, Mayor Bloomberg sports a spread collar. Whether or not this suits him is another matter, but it's a good example of what a spread collar looks like.


The rounded collar, also called the club collar, is a good choice for those with a square, chiseled jaw. While not very popular anymore, it is still a stylish choice for someone with the right face, and goes well with a four-in-hand knot.

Chuck Bass, the television character pictured above, lacks the chiseled jaw that would make the rounded collar an appropriate choice, but gives a good idea of what it actually looks like.


The tab collar looks great on people with long necks as it offers a higher collar. Tabs fasten to each other, hidden behind the tie's knot, to hold the collar points in place. This forces the tie and collar to thrust upwards under the chin.

Donald Rumsfeld, above, was known for his tab collars. They balance well what appears to be his long-ish neck.


The button down collar is an Ivy League stapble that looks fantastic when paired with a casual outfit. Never wear this collar with a formal suit or to, say, a wedding, but coupled with a tweed jacket and brown loafers, the button down can be found in enough styles to suit most people. If you have a very wide face, however, avoid this collar.

As you can see in the picture above, the buttons which fasten the collar to the shirt are visible.

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