Note: The initial idea I had for this post was to make it an epic, awesomely long guide on all things that important about shirt collars. As I started drafting all the content and topics I wanted to cover in this guide I found that it was turning into an extremely lengthy post, so I figured it would a better idea to separate it into more easily digestible chunks as to not to turn this into a mind-boggling experience for all of you. I will, however, eventually put it all together into an amazingly detailed guide after publishing all these separate “chapters”, if you will. So let’s call this part 1.
Update: You can now read part 2: The 9 Shirt Collar Types You Need To Know
The collar is doubtlessly the most important part of any dress shirt. No matter what type of outfit you will be wearing with your shirt, your collar will always be noticeable.
And it’s true, a collar can either make a look or kill it entirely.
The shirt collar is not only the most distinguishable component and the most prominent feature of any shirt, it also dictates, to a certain extent, what type of tie and what knot the wearer must pick for an outstanding outfit – critical stuff every tie enthusiast should be aware of.
That is, of course, if you know how to effectively pair collars with ties (which we will be covering soon here on My Dapper Self).
In a few words, it is crucial to get familiar with shirt collars, the different types that are available and which of all the possible options is the most flattering for your neck and the shape of your face.
For the first part of these series of post that will cover everything you need to know about dress shirt collars, I have decided to focus on the most elemental piece of the puzzle: the anatomy of a shirt collar.
The Anatomy Of A Shirt Collar
They say humans are visual learners, so allow me to start with a simple diagram explaining what all the different parts of collar are, followed by a more detailed description for each of them.
1. Collar Leaf – Collar leafs are the most visible part of a collar. When most people think of a shirt collar, what they have in mind is actually the collar leafs. Unless you are wearing a band collar, your shirt will have collar leafs.
2. Collar Point Length – The collar point length is the distance that goes from the collar band down to the collar points. The point length of a collar can vary from quite short to very long collar points. Do note that 3″ makes for a very average lenght and while there are a few typical standards you can consider (shorter collars for short men and longer collars for tall men), my most honest advice when getting a shirt is to make sure you go for whatever length may be required to compliment the shape of your face and features and not let such simple rules of thumb dictate your final decision.
3. Collar Band – The name is very self-explanatory. The collar band is the band of fabric that goes around the neck and to which the collar is attached to. This is also where your collar button(s) are sewn into. Again, collar bands can be taller or shorter depending on the type of collar. For instance, the quite popular two-button collars require a collar band a bit taller than usual, and it makes for a very cool, interesting look.
4. Collar Spread – Collar spread is the distance between the two collar points. This distance is without a doubt, the most critical characteristic that will determine a collar’s style as well as inform which tie knot will be the best fit for your shirt. Have you heard about point collars, spread collars, cutaways, etc.? Well, this is what those names are all about.
5. Collar Height – Another main part of what the final appearance of a shirt collar. In simple terms this is the height of a collar around your neck (not to be confused with 2. Collar Point Length or 3. Collar Band). Think of it as the length that goes from a folded collar (from where it’s attached to the collar band) to the point where it sits on the base of your neck. If it’s still a bit confusing, refer back to the diagram above.
6. Tie Space – As the name suggests, this is the gap between the two folded collar leafs where the knotted tie usually sits. Mostly overlooked, but essential when pairing a collar style with a certain tie knot. Just to illustrate how important the tie space is, a very narrow tie space will not give enough space to wear a nice double windsor knot without curling your collar or making your knot slip down. You have options like no space (most common in point collars), and a very generous space that will comfortably accomodate the aforementioned double windsor knot (most common in spread and cutaway collars).
More To Come
So that’s it for the shirt collar anatomy, folks. Now you know exactly what all the different parts of a shirt collar are, but I’m afraid (or is excited the right word here?) there is still a lot more left to learn to completely master all the knowledge we need in this topic.
Do you have any specific questions you would like me to addres in these shirt collar series? Please reach out to me via the comments below and feel free to add to the discussion – I will take all comments and related questions into consideration to make these guides even more robust and timeless.
In the meantime I’d like to invite you to read some recent articles from the blog: