A Guide to Shirt Collar Styles

Posted by Rishi Chullani on

So you have decided to buck the off the rack trend of yesteryear and adopt the phenomena known as bespoke tailoring.  You want a fitted shirt, and a fitted suit.  You know the feeling. It’s like you’ve been poured into it. The perfect piece of clothing. But without the perfect shirt, the suit won’t matter. For all of the attention that is paid to darts, pleats, buttons, cuff sleeve length and all the other details that make a bespoke shirt, more attention needs to be paid to the collar. 

Remember, with bespoke, start at the top and work your way down.  Your foundation rests higher up, and the rest can drape accordingly.  So how do we assess different collar styles and ascertain what suits us?  What is functional for us, and what is just downright wrong for us?  Here is our Collar Primer, 'A Guide to Shirt Collar Styles' to get you fully initiated into the world of bespoke.

Before delving into the topic of men’s collar variations, lets break down details of a collar that are worth paying attention to.  I know, it’s ridiculous how much detail goes into the construct of anything when we actually pay attention to it!

What to Look for in a Collar

Collar Points – The tip of the collar

  1. Collar Point Length – The distance from the Collar Points to where they meet the collar band
  2. Collar Band – the piece of fabric that wraps around the neck
  3. Collar Height – The height of a folded collar as it fits around the neck
  4. Tie Space – The distance between the top of the folded collar parts when the shirt is buttoned.
  5. Spread – The distance between the collar points

Point Collar

The point collar is arguably the most conventional.  Made with a narrow to medium spread, it is a versatile shirt. The point shirt collar is the most common turn-down style collar, found on approximately 90% of men’s shirts. 

The prevalence of the point collar largely boils down to the construct being a neutral for most men, and hence the most readily wearable by the marketplace.  Key details of the construct are that the collar is cut so that points of the collar are close to each other, sometimes to the extent that they can hide a portion of the tie.  In more extreme pointed collars, the collar detracts from the face and neck.

Hence, based on the above, the pointed collar suits men with a rounder face as it detracts from horizontal lines and strengthens perceived vertical lines.  As such, a four in hand knot is preferable.  If you absolutely feel like you need to strut a Windsor knot with the pointed collar, opt for a Half Windsor!

pointed collar

Medium Spread

The Medium Spread collar is ideal for the man whose facial structure is in between the extremes.  A conservative option for the discerning gentleman who has just started to dabble with variations in collar width, the medium spread knot is best worn with a Half Windsor or Full Windsor Knot.

Medium Spread collar

Wide Spread

The original spread collar is a British Classic.  More formal than the pointed or medium spread collar, the wide spread collar is best reserved for the office or formal events. 

With the consequence of increased horizontal lines and reduced vertical lines, a wide spread collar is best suited for men with an angular face and a slim neck.  As such, it is best worn with a half or full Windsor knot, preferably a Full Windsor!

wide spread collar

Collar Variations

Buttoned down collars

This type of collar is most often seen on casual shirts.  Such collars are accompanied by small buttonholes , corresponding to a small button on each side of the shirt front.  General consensus is that these shirts are best reserved for more casual, semi-formal wear, and that the tie should be avoided.  The buttons should, however, must always be fastened!

Buttoned down collars

Pin Collar

The pin collar surfaced at the start of the previous century as a way to ensure that softer fabric collars such as silk were kept in place.  Today, they are a measure of sophistication and in addition to holding the shirt collars in place, they slide behind the tie and help propel it forward and up, thereby providing an air of sophistication and elegance.  Absolutely perfect!

Pin Collar

Tab Collar

The tab collar employs a small tab extending from the middle of each point, which is fixed together usually from a hook and loop closure.  Similar to the consequence of a pin collar, the necktie knot gets pushed up and propelled forward, emphasizing elegance and sophistication.

Tab Collar

Necktie considerations

As stated prior in this article, the benefit of selecting the appropriate type of shirt collar is the accentuation of a look that you want to highlight.  Hence, narrower spread collars suit men with rounder faces and vice versa for wider spread collars.  As such, necktie considerations should be made in this light. 

Narrower spread collars are best suited with a four in hand knot, which also helps to accentuate perceived vertical lines, detract from the face and neck and help to ‘slim’ the man down.  Conversely, wider spread collars are best suited with a Half or full Windsor knot, which helps to accentuate perceived horizontal lines and help broaden the man.

widespread collar with windsor knot

The Dark Knot's Simsbury Squares Blue Tie worn with a Windsor Knot on a widespread collar!

And that’s a wrap for this one. What are your favorite shirt collar styles? We would love to hear your comments below!

Check out our Entire Collection of Ties, Pocket Squares and Lapel Flowers here at The Dark Knot!

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