A guide to dress shirts: The Collar

There are a lot of choices when it comes to dress shirt collar styles. In this guide we explain the most common shirt collar styles, what they do for you face and whether they can be worn without a tie.

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The straight point collar

The straight point collar dress shirt is the most traditional shirt, having its origins in the military uniforms of the 20th century. The straight point collar shirt is your everyday, basic, work shirt. Every person should have one. The straight point collar works best for people with round facial features due to its elongating effect and should be worn with a tie.

The spread collar

The spread collar is today’s most important dress shirt collar, because of the spread’s elegant bearing. The spread refers to the distance between the collar points. As spread collars vary greatly in height, point length and openness, there are usually several models that will flatter any person’s head shape or profile. If only for the variety, some version of the spread collar should be a permanent fixture in anyone’ wardrobe. The spread collar can be worn without a tie, making it a great shirt for informal occassions where you would still like to look elegant.

The cutaway collar

The cutaway collar can be seen as an extreme version of the spread collar and is designed to be worn with a large tie knot. This collar style is also referred to as a Windsor collar, because of its origin as a means to fit Windsor tie knots. Its name comes from the fact that, due to the big angle between the collar points, it looks like someone ‘cut away’ part of the fabric. The cutaway collar will accentuate wider figures, while creating a more fully proportioned look on thin people. 

The button-down collar

The button-down collar has small buttonholes at the tip of each point, corresponding to a small button on each side of the shirt front. This collar choice is the most casual and it can be worn with or without a tie. The buttons on the collar, however, should always be fastened. The button-down shirt is, like the straight point collar and the spread collar, a wardrobe essential and can be tailored to fit any facial shape.

The club collar

The club collar emerged as a way for students at Eton college to distinguish themselves and their uniforms from that of other schools. They took the standard collar points and merely rounded them off. The collar is known as the club collar in reference to that ‘special club membership’ it signified. The club collar can be worn without a tie and due to its round form looks best on people with a thin face. The club collar has a nicely old-fashioned look and gives you a laid-back appearance of stylishness.

The tab collar

The tab collar has a small tab extending from the middle of each point, which is fixed together - with a button or a hook-and-loop closure - behind the tie. The tab collar should always be worn with a tie. The tab thrusts the shirt collar and necktie knot higher up under the wearer’s chin. Long-necked people welcome the tab’s higher positioning, while the round or square shaped visage appreciates its longitudinal symmetry.

The pin collar

Functioning much like the tab, the pin collar raises the tie knot up on the neck, shortening the long neck. The pin collar has small holes in each point, allowing for the insertion of a decorative pin or bar behind the tie knot. The pin or bar elegantly lifts the tie knot, creating a luxurious arch below the tie knot while also holding the knot firmly in place.

As a bespoke tailor we can make a dress shirt in any way you would like and with every possible size and style of collar, fitted to perfection to your individual wishes. Next to the collar we can help you out with choosing the right fit, style, fabric and shirt cuffs. To learn more about these options, please read our other articles in A guide to dress shirts.