How To Fix A Sloppy Dress Shirt Collar

Ed Ruiz

2 October 2017

A crisp collar that stands up straight is probably the most important part of a dress shirt.

Unfortunately, for a variety of reasons, some dress shirt collars just won’t stand up with the stiffness that is needed to properly frame your face.

Today I’m bringing you a few solutions so you can kill the sloppy collar once and for all.

How to fix a sloppy dress shirt collar

There is not a single dapper dresser out there who has not encountered flimsy, floppy collars that keep sliding down and ruining an otherwise successful tieless look.

The sad reality is that some dress shirts do come with limp collars.

But there’s good news. There is a number of things you can do to improve the way a flimsy collar looks.

I will share with you the best fixes for your collars so that they can go from floppy and limp to stiff and elegant.

But first let’s take a look at the reasons why your dress shirt collar may lack in formality.

What Causes Sloppy Collars On Dress Shirts?

The main culprit for a flimsy collar is the actual build of the shirt.

First of all, you have to keep in mind that there are casual shirts and semicasual shirts that don’t need a stiff collar to serve their purpose. The nature of these shirts just doesn’t call for the elegance of a crisp collar.

Remember to bear this in mind when shopping for dress shirts: don’t expect casual shirts to have formal collars. You’d be in for a disappointment.

Having covered that, yes, it is not uncommon for actual dress shirts to come with a rather sloppy collar. My quick tip here would be to always inspect a shirt before actually buying it. Take the time you need to try it on and study its build, this can save you lots of time and effort down the road.

Read also: The Ultimate Guide To Buying Custom Dress Shirts Online. Top 4 Brands Compared.

The main build characteristics that can cause dress shirt collars to spread out of shape or slide down when unbuttoned are the following:

  • Collar shape and weight. Have you ever worn a shirt that despite having a stiff collar, it just doesn’t seem to stand up straight? Well, it is most likely that the shape of the collar can be causing this. Point collars, just because of their actual shape, do tend do have a heavier weight and have a clear tendency to slide down more than other collar shapes would. Truth be told, point collars don’t really lend themselves for the tieless look, so better keep the collar buttoned and a tie in place.
  • Lack of collar stays. Some dress shirts come with a pair of plastic stays, one on each collar wing, that will at least give a certain level of rigidity to the body of the collar. For some reason, a few dress shirts will come with no collar stays and will also lack the underside pockets were to place your own stays.
  • Plackets. There are a few options you have when looking at front plackets for your dress shirts. Some look cleaner, but are weaker and then some are not as clean, but provide more support for your collar. Favoring standard plackets (the type that have a vertical stitching) can aid in avoiding a flimsy collar look, but for the most part, it won’t give you a very clean look for a tieless ensemble.

In my experience, these are the most common explanations for a saggy collar. If based on your personal history as an avid dress shirt wearer you feel I missed any, make sure you let me know in the comments below.

Now let’s talk about what you can actually do to improve the appearance of your limp collars.

How To Keep Sloppy Collars Standing Straight: X Best Solutions

To every problem in life, there is a solution and limp collars are not the exception.

Here are the best tips to keep that dress shirt collar tall and elegant.

Wear A Tie

Need a quick solution that doesn’t require a lot of effort? Wear a tie!

As already mentioned, some shirt collar shapes and styles do call for a tie in order to look their best, but besides that, it is just a simple way to get rid of the saggy collar look and get some extra dapper points for wearing a nice tie from your collection.

Sounds like a good deal to me!

Oh, don’t feel like wearing a tie? Okay, keep reading.

Wearing a tie is always a good idea, besides being a very practical way to fix the saggy collar look.

Put On A Jacket Or A Blazer

Having ruled out the option of wearing a tie, let’s move on.

Here’s an idea: put on a jacket or a blazer.

While this can be an easy and quick fix, it won’t necessarily be the best. Yes, wearing a jacket, a blazer or even a V-neck sweater can improve the way your collar rests on the base of your neck, but this requires your constant attention to make sure the collar doesn’t keep sliding down under your jacket, and unfortunately, some collars are stubborn like that and you’ll spend the whole day pulling your collar up every 10 minutes.

Read also: What’s The Proper Length For Jackets?

Eh, not ideal.


Button Your Collar When Hanging Your Shirt

A few men recommend to make sure you button your collarband before hanging your shirts in the closet after washing and ironing.

Keeping the collar tighly fastened when the shirt is not being worn can definitely influence how the collar will behave once it’s open.

There’s a downside to this approach and that is that this will only be a short-lived solution. After a few hours -if not minutes- the collar will go back to its floppy nature.

It does make for a quick fix if you need your collars to look nice for a couple hours at the most, so you shouldn’t outright dismiss it.

Let’s look at some permanent and semi-permanent solutions.

Keeping your dress shirt collars buttoned when not worn can be an inexpensive solution, although not as permanent as others in this guide.

Starch The Sloppiness Away

Applying starch to dress shirt collars to keep them stiff has been a solution for decades, if not hundreds of years now.

The reason why it has remained a viable fix for so long? It works!

How to do it? It’s very straightforward. While ironing your shirt, make sure you spray on some starch (you can find it at most supermarkets) on the collar, let it sit for a while, and then pass the iron to make the starch settle in.

Personally, I am not a big fan of starch because it is not really a permanent solution as it can wear off during the day when wearing your shirt and also there’s the fact that starch can damage fabrics after continuous use, so be aware that you may shorten the lifespan of your shirts if you overuse starch.

Collar Stays

Personally, I swear by collar stays when it comes to improving the look of a flimsy collar and make it stand up with the formality I like.

As already mentioned, most dress shirt collars will come with a plastic variant collar stays, before ruling them out, please consider that the fact that they’re plastic doesn’t necessarily mean they won’t get the job done as some plastic collar stays are sturdy enough to give collars enough rigidity.

Then there are those plastic collar stays that are super flimsy and weak, so you’re better off staying away from those.

There’s also a second variant of collar stays, which is the one I prefer, made out of metal. These metal collar stays are stronger and provide a much better support to shirt collars, helping you fight the limp collar for as long as you wear them.

I find metal collar stays to be the best semi-permanent solution that won’t cause any damage to your dress shirts.

But wait, there is an even better collar stays alternative: magnetic collar stays.

They are, as the name implies, magnetic collar stays that you place inside the pocket of your collar wing and then, with the help of a small circular magnet placed inside your shirt (between your skin and your shirt), you can place your collar in almost any position you can imagine, including of course, a tall and elegant stance. I use these and you can believe me when I say once you go magnetic you will never look back!

Würkin Stiffs are my personal choice to keep my open collars crisp at all times. These magnetic collar stays are truly life savers for any dapper man with a fixation on elegant collars. You can get them here.

Stand Up Straight

As it turns out, our parents were not trying to make our teenage years miserable, they had a very valid point all those occasions when they kept telling us to stand up straight.

Not only can it avoid painful problems when we’re older, it can actually have a positive effect on our self-esteem and confidence (just like wearing a nice suit does).

And of course, it can also affect how clothes look on us and shirt collars can either look great or lack in formality depending on your posture. Even a rather stiff collar will have a loss in elegance if your neck and face are always poorly postured and hunched over.

So yeah, stand up straight, man!

No More Excuses For Characterless Collars

So there you have it, friends.

The best aces up my sleeves for getting rid of the awful sloppy collar look.

Honestly, this is one of my major pet peeves when it comes to men’s formal style and I just can’t stand to be wearing a flimsy collar myself.

But what about you? Can you accept these collars on your dress shirts or are they an absolute no for you too? Leave your comment cause it is with your input that this turns into an interesting and more enriching discussion.

Stay classy!


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