Men’s shirt collars have seen a revival in shape and style over the last few years. Many designers, Tom Ford for example, have looked backwards at previous trends and have either reengineered them for today’s market or have reintroduced them completely in their original design. This means that the days of limited collar options are over. It also means that trying to determine the proper collar to fit the occasion is a bit trickier. We will look at eight collars in current use.
The cutaway is so called because it looks as if someone took a pair of scissors to the collar and removed fabric. It is a short collar, one could almost say petite, and is best worn with a wide knot tie. Using a short knot or no tie at all would create too much of a horizontal spread underneath the chin and would distract the eyes.
The English Spread
This collar is a bit on the stiff side and is intended for more formal wear. One can wear this collar with both large and small knot ties as well as unbuttoned.
The spread is better suited for men with narrower faces. The spread here means the width between the collar points. The spread collar is more modern and lends itself well to both a tie and unbuttoned. This collar tends to widen the face.
This collar flatters a round/wide face as its narrow opening draws the eyes vertically rather than horizontally across the face. The forward-point is intended to be worn with a tie and looks off if the wearer attempts a casual style.
The most mechanical of the collar styles, the snap-tab or tab collar features a tab under the collar points which connects the two together drawing the points downwards. It is meant to be worn with a tie. The tab collar is neither popular nor obscure. It is something of a niche collar which falls out of favor, returns and falls away again.
The Abbreviated Spread
An updated version of the spread collar, this loose relaxed collar is intended for casual outings. The top button is meant to remain undone and a tie is optional and little preferred. One can wear a tie with this collar but this largely defeats the purpose of its design.
The Club Collar
As the name implies this collar was designed for the country club set and finds its home with golfers. Also known as a rounder, this collar was the dress code for Eton and until recently has always signaled exclusivity. It is now more linked with leisurely pursuits such as golf and tennis. It is not meant to be worn with a tie.
This collar has its origin in sport and casual wear. The button-down was originally designed to be worn without a tie. Recent trends, however, have loosened these standards and designers are creating button-down collars in more expensive fabrics to accommodate the aesthetics of the tie.
We will finish up our discussion with a brief mention of the two standard cuffs available for men’s shirts, the Barrel cuff and the French cuff.
The Barrel Cuff
This cuff is ubiquitous in the workplace. The barrel cuff comes equipped with multiple buttons allowing the wearer to adjust its length. The fabric rolls over the button hence the name of barrel. It is pure functionality for white collar environments.
The French Cuff
Also known as the double cuff, the French cuff is a formal style of cuffing whereby extra fabric folds back on itself and is held together by a cuff link rather than a button. This style of cuff is more aristocratic in appearance and is not favorable in North America, though this trend is changing. The French Cuff makes a direct statement of style over utility.