Shirt Collar Styles for Men: A Complete Guide – Point, Spread, Cutaway & More

Shirt Collar Styles for Men: A Complete Guide – Point, Spread, Cutaway & More


Welcome back to the Gentleman’s Gazette!
Today’s video is all about shirt collars, the various different styles, how you can
wear them, and what they mean for your outfits. Just like the various other
aspects of a dress shirt, whether that be its overall fit, its cuff
style, its buttons, and so on, the collar of the shirt also comes in many
variations. Speaking of those other aspects of a shirt, if you’d like a
broader overview, you can consult our shirt style guide, here. The general
popularity of different kinds of shirt collar styles can vary to some extent by
region. If you’re in the United States, for example, or elsewhere in North
America, the majority of the dress shirts you own probably have point collars.
Meanwhile if you’re in the UK, the fashion lately has been for spread
collars. In either case, you might not have actually paid much attention to the
collar style, after all, it’s just one aspect of the dress shirt. But when you
begin to dig deeper into the nuances of classic menswear, you’ll find that, indeed,
there are a wide variety of different styles of shirt collar and they each
have their own best uses. So today’s video will serve as an overview to all
of those different kinds of collar styles and how best to wear them. Before
we get into the specific individual styles, however, let’s cover a few broad
parameters. There are four items to cover here; stiffness, height, size, and spread.
We’ll start here with stiffness. From about the 1820s to the 1930s or so, stiff
shirt collars made via the liberal application of starch were the norm. In
an era where effective detergents and other laundering techniques were not
widely available to the masses, most of these collars were detachable
from the body of the shirt so that they could be replaced more easily. Reminders
of these detachable styles still do exist, particularly with two-tone shirts
like the Winchester, which also serve as a reminder to the origins
of the white collar for upper-class jobs and blue collar for labor jobs dichotomy
that existed in those centuries. Today though, collar stiffness is usually
determined not so much by the amount of starch on the collar but rather the
thickness of the fused or glued interlining present in many collars but
not all. Influential figures in menswear history like the Duke of Windsor and
overall style movements like the Neapolitan style more broadly, have meant
that soft collars have become more of the norm today. If you prefer sport coats
that have natural and unpadded shoulders, for example, these softer collars help to
harmonize with that style detail and continue this overall
Neapolitan feel. Overall, soft collars are more casual as well so they work well in
warm weather and more relaxed situations. Conversely, if you are wearing a formal
business suit, a stiffer collar is probably going to give you a more
professional appearance. And of course, something in between those two with more
of a medium stiffness is going to be your most versatile option. You won’t be
able to select your own collar stiffness when buying shirts off the rack but if
you go the made-to-measure or indeed the full bespoke route, choosing your collar
stiffness is usually something you’ll be able to do. Next, we’ll cover collar
height which is the measure of how high the collar sits on your neck. This is
measured from the fold of the collar down to the point. When choosing a shirt,
especially for the workplace, be aware of the impression that collar height can
make. For example, a higher collar is more assertive overall and gives the idea
that you’re in a position of power. By the way, if you’d like to know more about
dressing well for various work environments, you can find our video on
that subject here. Higher collars, generally, are more typical of Italian
style and if they’re exceptionally high, they can sometimes even require two
collar buttons to support that added height. Also, be aware that they may take
some getting used to as to how they feel on your neck. If you’re interested in
trying a taller than average collar, you can look to some brands like Proper Cloth and Eton.
Related to collar height then is overall size. Some collars can be quite
large and command attention, whereas others can be more small and minimalist.
Collars at either of these two size extremes are more rakish and
nonconformist so something in the middle would, again, be more appropriate for
business. Outside of the office though, if you would like to experiment a little
bit more, one way that you can determine what your ideal collar size would be is
by looking at your face shape. For example, if you happen to have a large
head or a particularly round face, wearing a larger collar to balance this
out would be a good choice. If you were to wear an exceptionally small collar
here, it would only make your head look larger in comparison. Other than the
overall size of one’s head, there are a variety of specific face shapes. If you’d
like to learn more about these, you can find the second part in our eye glasses
guide for that information that video is available here. Our fourth and final
overall parameter to cover here is collar spread. Essentially, the distance
between the two points of the collar. In general, the wider the spread of a collar,
the more aggressive the feel of the overall look. Face shape can again come
into play here. If you’ve got a particularly thin or narrow face, wearing
a collar with just a bit of spread may be helpful as wearing something with an
exceptionally long point might just make your face look thinner. Conversely, for
wide and round faces, wearing something with a bit more of an elongated point to
it will help to slim down your face. In general then, it will be a safe bet if
your overall collar size is working similarly to the width of your face
whereas the collar spread can work somewhat in opposition to it. So with our
broad parameters out of the way, let’s now get into covering these specific
different styles of collar you’re going to encounter on dress shirts. We’ll start
with the point collar which is also sometimes known as the classic collar.
Especially in North America, the default or standard collar type for
most dress shirts is likely the point collar.
It’s called such because the ends of the collar have a slight point to them. The
spread between the collar points is generally fairly small in the range of
about one and a half to three and a half inches. So if you happen to be wearing a
smaller tie knot like the four-in-hand, for example, the part of the tie that
loops around your neck will not be exposed. By the way, we’ve previously done
a video on specifically pairing different kinds of shirt collars and tie
knots together. You can find that one here. Also, in the case of most point
collars, the points will not be covered by the lapel or collar of the jacket as
the collar won’t have enough length to it. Given that this collar style usually
lies in the middle of each of the four parameters we’ve outlined above, it’s
flattering to a wide variety of face shapes. In particular, men with wider
faces benefit well from a point collar. In terms of stiffness, something in the
middle does work best for a point collar as if it’s too stiff, the collar points
may stand away from the body of the shirt somewhat, especially when a tie is
worn. A variation on the point collar is the so-called spear collar which
features essentially the same styling except for the fact that the points of
the collar are much longer. This style of collar was popular in the early to mid
20th century, particularly the 1940s, but it’s also experienced a bit of a
comeback lately. This is because it can be worn in most of the same situations
as a standard point collar but the visual difference is just enough that
there’s an element of uniqueness there. Retailers with more vintage inspired
offerings are often good places to find spear collars. For example, Eduard Sexton
sells a range of shirts whose point collars are narrow enough that they do
become spears. Another more vintage option in the same spread range as the
point collar but also with its own unique look is the tab collar. This style
features fabric tabs that are sewn onto the under sides of each collar leaf and
that attach to the top button of the shirt.
This will pull the tips of the collar closer together while also pushing the
tie knot out of it. Essentially, it’s doing the work of a collar bar but more on
that in a moment. A word of caution that this collar style can really only be
worn with a necktie as otherwise, the tabs would be openly visible and
probably just wouldn’t look quite right. Continuing on with vintage inspired
collars with relatively narrow spreads, next up is the club collar. This style
originated at Eton College which was an incubator of these stylistic innovations
made famous by dandy, Beau Brummell. The young men attending Eton were looking
for a way to distinguish themselves from men of other schools and hit upon
rounding off the points of their shirt collars. This is the defining
characteristic of the club collar and given that their defining features are
not mutually exclusive, it’s possible to find club collars that are also tab
collars. Any collar style with a relatively narrow distance between its
points lends itself to the use of a collar clip, bar, or pin. These are
accessories designed to bring the collar closer together and elevate the tie knot.
If the shirt’s collar is designed with special holes in is leaves, it can be
used with either a collar pin which somewhat resembles a large safety pin or
a collar bar which essentially looks like a barbell with one end that
unscrews. Retailers like Eton and Edward Sexton will sell these special types of
pin collars and they’re almost never going to have a widespread because this
way, the implement can more easily do the job of drawing the collar together and
elevating the tie knot. So long as the spread of the collar is relatively
narrow, other styles can also simulate this look via the use of a collar clip.
This style of accessory will typically just use tension or hinged joints to
hold the collar together so that you don’t have to puncture a hole in it with
a pin or have holes sewn in for use with a barbell style. Similarly to cufflinks,
collar pins are a bit of man jewelry that was popular in the 20th
century but has faded a bit today. If you wear a collar pin, clip, or bar, you will
stand out a little bit and command more attention. And as you might have guessed,
Fort Belvedere offers collar clips, pins, and bars in silver, gold, and rose gold
finishes. For you to take a look at, you can do so in our shop here. Next up is a
bit of an obscure collar, the square collar. These are typically smaller
collars with the points nearly at right angles so they do seem squared off. They
were popular as a detachable style in the late 19th and early 20th centuries
but they’re particularly hard to find today. From an obscure collar, we move to
an especially popular one, the button-down collar. Although it
originated on the polo fields of England, this collar style became an American
favorite after it was introduced by Brooks Brothers. Oxford cloth button-down
shirts are staples of Ivy, trad, and prep styles and we’ve done videos on all of
these which you can find here. Most often, these collars will be styled similarly
to a standard point with the exception, of course, that the points of the collar
button down to the shirt itself. It’s an inherently more casual style than a
standard point collar would be but in today’s casual world, you’ll still look
smart if you wear one, especially with a more casual style of jacket
perhaps in something like a tweed. Fans of Italian Sprezzatura will even leave
one or both of the buttons unfastened for an especially casual appearance.
You’ve got to be especially confident in your own personal style to pull this off,
however, otherwise, it may just look sloppy, careless, or contrived. Collar
stiffness can vary here with some button-down collars being longer and
softer to create more of a collar roll and others being shorter and firmer to
create less of a roll. A more recent variant on the button-down
collar essentially contains two layers on each collar point; the bottom layer
will fasten to the body of the shirt with buttons
and the top layer will look like a standard point collar to hide those
buttons. Next up, let’s widen the distance between the points of the collar and
talk about the spread collar style. As we noted previously, this has become
something of the default style for British and European business wear and
it’s typically worn with slightly wider tie knots like a half windsor, however,
there are some spread collars where the spread is minimized to an extent so
smaller knots like the four-in-hand can still be worn without exposing the part
of the tie that loops around the neck. Spread collars are also good for
accommodating thicker ties such as ones made from wool or cashmere. A distance of
four inches or so will often be considered semi spread and something in
the five to six inch range would be more along the lines of a full spread collar.
Looking at it in terms of angles created by the collar points, typically, a spread
collar will feature points of 45 degrees or wider. If a spread collar features
particularly obtuse angles or a distance of over six inches, it becomes a sub
style known as the cutaway collar. And going even further than this is the
so-called extreme cutaway style where the points of the collar actually angled
backward toward the neck band. This style of collar is favored in Italian and
particularly Neapolitan dressing and it can be an especially aggressive look. If
you’re wearing a cutaway or extreme cutaway, having a particularly wide tie
knot to complement it is essential. In fact, extreme cutaway collars are often
best worn tieless as the accompanying knot would have to be so large as to
almost look clownish. If we were to take the idea of the cutaway collar to its
furthest extreme, this would mean that the collar points would go so far back
as to disappear altogether. This style then is known as the band collar. Band
collars will typically stand about one to two inches high and they can also be
known as a mandarin collar, given their origins in Chinese
clothing. They can, however, also be seen as part of a particularly rustic
American style; related styles would include the high stand collar of the
Neru jacket and the tightly pointed Mao collar of the Zhongshan suit. As you
might imagine, these styles are almost always worn tieless as the part of the
tie looping around the neck would be permanently exposed. Also, among these
minimalist collars is the one reserved for only the most formal of events, the
winged collar. This style is characterized by a particularly high
stand and small points that stick out somewhat resembling the wings of a bird.
It’s most typically worn only with the White Tie dress code these days, although,
men who are going for a more distinctly early 20th century style could also wear
it with Black Tie. By the way, if you’d like to know more about all of the
detailed elements of the white tie and black tie dress codes, you can find that
information as part of our comprehensive black tie guide on the website here. Two
more types of specialty collars to discuss today, the first of these being
the one-piece collar. This style is also sometimes known as the Hollywood or
Cooper collar because it was famously worn by actor Gary Cooper. The one-piece
collar is exceptionally rare in ready-to-wear shirts. Usually, a collar is
constructed from a separate piece of fabric from the rest of the shirt and
then sewn on, however, in the case of the one-piece collar, the collar is actually
the exact same piece of fabric as the body of the shirt. This reinforces the
collar and enables it to stand up in an especially pleasing way but as you might
suspect, it requires a great degree of tailoring skill to construct properly.
Because of its structure, the one-piece collar is typically quite
tall and features an especially pleasing collar roll. One potential shortcoming
though, if the one-piece collared shirt is worn tieless with the top button
undone, the points of the collar can sometimes
float up and escape from underneath the collar and lapels of a jacket. If you’re
wearing a tie, however, there really shouldn’t be any issue here. Finally
today, we’ll cover the pajama collar, also known as a Cuban collar or bowling
collar. This collar is divided into two parts and lies flat against the body
somewhat resembling the notched lapel of a jacket. This style of collar is
exceptionally casual and as such, it’s most commonly seen on garments like
pajamas, bowling shirts, or Hawaiian shirts. We mentioned the style here for
the sake of completeness and also because it has started to make more of
an appearance on long sleeved shirts worn with tailored clothing. Keep in mind
also, that various different menswear brands may sometimes have proprietary
names for their different collar styles. For example, Paul Fredrick markets its
varsity collar, Proper Cloth has the Roma spread collar and you could also
see the martus collar from the now-defunct retailer Welch and Margetson. Whatever a proprietary name may be, know that by examining the details of
the collar, you will be able to determine which of the types we’ve laid out here
today said collar falls into. As far as choosing a collar is concerned, be aware
that something that lies in the middle of the broad parameters we discussed at
the beginning will probably be most appropriate for office wear, however,
there are also other considerations such as what tie knot you may be wearing and
your face shape. As such, here’s one more reminder to take a look at our videos on
pairing tie knots and shirt collars and our overall shirt style guide here. In
today’s video I’m wearing a blue and white striped shirt from Charles Tyrwhitt
that has a point collar which they refer to as a classic collar
I’ve accented it with a gold collar clip from Fort Belvedere which is also
serving to accentuate the knot of my tie the tie in question is a cashmere wool
model in a grenadine weave featuring wide stripes in orange and gray accented
by a thin stripe in white I’ve echoed these orange
tones as well as the blue of my blazer with its gold buttons by the use of one
of our newer pocket square models from Fort Belvedere
it’s principal color is sapphire blue and it features an Art Deco Egyptian
scarab design with other colors being burnt orange yellow madder blue and a
teal contrast edge also from Fort Belvedere today are my red exotic
Caribbean boutonniere my gold-plated sterling silver Eagle
Claw cufflinks with tiger’s eye as the stone and my shadow striped socks in
grey and light blue you can find all of these accessories as well as a wide
variety of others in the Fort Belvedere shop here
rounding out my outfit today are my trousers which are in plain charcoal
grey to harmonize with one of the stripe colors in the tie and my shoes which are
dark chocolate brown suede penny loafers

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About the Author: Oren Garnes

42 Comments

  1. Would be useful if used some other models to display the garments on this channel. You are both a pretty unique body shape in different ways 😁

  2. Great video that I will definitely need to reference in the future. I hate it when you find a dress shirt pattern and cut thatyou love but the collar doesn't match what you are looking for.

  3. Is this site still promoting Daniel Wellington watches? Tough to take anything you say seriously when you hype up poorly made fashion watches. Shows you lack substance.

  4. I hanker for the day wing collars come back into everyday use…. to me they are so perfect and beautiful….. giving of a distinguished projection of being a confident gentleman to be take seriously in business.

  5. I really appreciate these videos. Preston, you know your stuff. I am wondering if (and perhaps you have done so already) you could show us a video of classic menswear from the 1930's? I am very fond of that particular era but do not know how to go about creating a wardrobe dedicated to that theme. Thank you Preston.

  6. You've failed to cover one of the most important utilities of men's dress shirts: how they look on your girlfriend when that's all she's wearing while bringing you coffee in bed as a thank you for the previous evening. I believe such a delineation would also encompass all four of your parameters: stiffness, height, size and spread–at least if you're doing it right. You're welcome. 🎉😉

  7. When the history of the decline and fall of Western Civilization is written, the first chapter will be about the disappearance of the open winged collar in favor of the attached turn down collar.

  8. Respected Sir,

    I, Kushan Singh, am an undergraduate medical student. Like all medical colleges, my college too requires me to wear a white coat. The problem I am facing is that I can't tolerate the heat during the summer, when I wear the poly cotton blend white coat provided by our college.

        I was lucky enough to go over your video about summer suits. I learnt that a Fresco fabric coat is an amazing alternative for the ill-fitting white coat I have been wearing. After all this, I am not able to find myself the Fresco fabric in WHITE. 

        Kindly help me find WHITE FRESCO fabric for this project.

    Thanking you.

    Yours sincerely,

    KUSHAN SINGH

    1st Prof. MBBS

    SLBSGMCH

    Ner Chowk,

    Mandi,

    Himachal Pradesh

    175008

    India

  9. IF there is any vendor, whom sells a ready to wear longpoint collar (late 1940's style), i would appreciate a link.
    Other than a custom shirt maker, IDK where else to go. The suits, shirts & ties that Tom Selleck wears are perfect on "BLUEBLOODS"

  10. My issue has always been the girth if my neck… as a college football player, I spent a lot of time in the weight room and post college I competed in both powerlifting and other strength competitions… my neck was at one point 24” in circumference, whist now, in my mid-50s, I’ve slimmed down to “only” 20” lol… suffice it to say that my only options for appropriately fitted biz attire has been to go the bespoken route…. of which I can now take advantage of digital commerce and outsource my needs to far-east based tailor operations…. definitely 1st world problems lol

  11. I am disappointed that the GG didn't show Square Collars on historical figures just to show them in context of history. I for one am familiar with the collar but never knew what it was, really, and yet saw them on historical images of early Canadian Prime Minister Wilfred Laurier who is, if I'm not mistaken immortalized on versions and denomination of our currency wearing a Square Collar.
    Other than that little omission (omitting any examples from history, old Fred or not) this was a fascinating video!

  12. spread collars, for whatever the reason have become a thing here in canada too. And I hate them.

    Another good vid preston.

  13. What about Brioni, I often see their shirts on President Trump and the collar always seems to sit and look very studious and strong, what type of collar is that?

  14. Thank you Preston. I've recently become a big fan of Winchester point collars with a hidden button loop, but it's good to see the vast options there are in collar styles.

  15. This is a one of the most concise and comprehensive video about shirt collars I have ever seen so well done.

    A collar style you forgot to mention Preston is a Roman collar (aka Priest/Clerical) collar which is similar a mix of the regular collar, square collar and band collar but has a small opening for a piece of cloth or plastic is inserted to form a priestly/clerical appearance. Not to mention the full roman collar which is a round collar that is attached to a shirt to give a more formal priest appearance. Otherwise great video (though I understand that both Roman collars are typically reserved for clergymen)

  16. Interesting. The part about the collar bar got me thinking. The popular belief in Europe among many "initiated" men, is that the use of a collar pin or clip is a sign of poor taste. It's considered to be a brief Hollywood gimmick of the 90-ies and the use of such clearly indicates ones lack of knowledge in proper dress codes. The same goes for shirt stays, tie clasps and those springy shirt-arm-holders-whateverthenameis-things.
    With that said I really love your videos and the accessories on your site is awesome! Excellent!

  17. I've seen the pajama/Cuban/bowling collar called a "camp collar" before. Is this a proprietary name for it, or just one that y'all missed?

  18. Long ago, a mentor suggested the length of collar points should coincide approximately with the notches in a jacket lapel. Still a valid guideline? BTW: This was enjoyable (thank you)!

  19. I want a fitted point collar shirt with cuffs and tie bar

    No shop sells them in my size
    And I can’t afford bespoke 😡

  20. Thanks guys! Really needed that in depth video on shirt collars. I look at dress shirts so often and now I know some great tips for buying

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