Collar Styles

Shirt collars come in a wide range of shapes and sizes. Perhaps the most varied range of collars I’ve seen is at T M Lewin, who offer shirts in no fewer than 8 different collar styles.

TML Roma Collar

At one end of the range is the Roma collar which is long and pointed with the collar tips very close together. At the other end of the range is the St James, an extreme cut away with the collar tips very far apart and nearly horizontal.

TML St James Collar

TML offer 5 other collars styles which fall between these two extremes.  Their 8th style is the button collar shirt. My own preference falls somewhere in the middle of the range. The Prince of Wales, Windsor & Milan each offer a cut away collar that is less extreme than the St James.

TML Windsor Collar

A number of Jermyn Street shirtmakers use similar names to describe their shirt collar styles. Confusingly, they may use the same name to describe different collars.

Cut Away Collar

For example, Hawes & Curtis, who claim to have invented the cut away collar in the 1930s for their most famous client, the Duke of Windsor, describe their most cutaway collar as the Windsor. The same collar shape is used on their slim fit shirt, the St James Cutaway. However H&C also have a less cut away collar which they call St James which is equivalent to TML’s Duke of Windsor.

H&C Windsor Cutaway

Fittingly for a company which claims to have invented the cutaway collar all H&C formal shirts have a cut away collar.  In contrast, Hilditch & Key keep it simple with their collar range, comprising only two: classic & cutaway.

Different collar shapes frame our faces in different ways. Collars should not be too small.  My aversion to skinny lapels applies equally to skinny collars. A  collar with a leading edge of at least 3 inches gives a classic look.

If a tie or jacket is worn they will each interact in different ways with different collar shapes and different tie knots may be required. A four in hand knot is pretty versatile and would work with most collars but a Windsor knot  looks best with a cut away collar.

Button Down Collar

When going without a tie I prefer a button down collar.  It means that the collar stays folded in place and does not lift.

If you’ve ever wondered how Simon Cowell manages to keep his collar in place whilst not wearing a tie, so have I.  I suspect that he has press studs sewn in place discreetly on the underside of his collar to keep it in place.  The picture below suggests as much. If I ever find out for sure I’ll let you know.

In the mean time, since I don’t have Cowell’s budget, button down collar shirts, in both short sleeves and long, are great for summer and less formal wear, with or without a jacket. BTW never wear a button down collar shirt with a tie, if you can avoid it.  There are far better collar options out there.

Winchester Collar

The Winchester collar is a white contrast collar, often matched by white cuffs, on a coloured shirt.  it works well in a very formal setting increasingly it is common to see Winchester shirts being worn open necked in more informal settings.

The Winchester with its contrasting collar frames the face and accentuates the cuffs, particularly when being worn with a jacket.  The tie is also accentuated because it bridges the sharp white of the collar and the coloured or patterned fabric of the rest of the shirt.

Needles to say Winchester shirts look at their best when the collars and cuff are pristine white and, ideally, starched.

Amstrong Stripe Winchester, Thomas Pink

Whichever collar shape or style you go for make sure that it is in your correct size. Finding the perfect collar shape but wearing it in a size too large will undermine your hard work.

A properly fitted collar when buttoned up should have just enough space to be able to insert two fingers between your neck and collar.  If it is a shirt you will wear without a tie you could go half a size smaller if preferred.

So what’s your preferred collar shape?


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