Collars might seem like a minor detail in your daily wear, with work shirts often looking the same to an untrained eye, but the shape of a dress shirt collar can significantly influence overall style. Collars are so much more than just the fold to hold your favorite ties. Knowing the right style of collar is a necessary sartorial skill. But don’t fret, in this detailed guide, dress shirt collar types for men, we are going to teach you 14 different collar styles, and a thorough glossary of everything you’ll need to know.
From what style to pair with to the right form for your face- read on if you’re ready to advance your sartorial style.
A gentleman’s style is shaped by the cut and color of his wardrobe, every little detail comes together to create a personal and perfect look. The collar of your shirt is a vital visual for your style. Starting from the top, it forms your fashion, fastens your tie, and frames your face. Maybe you prefer the classic cut away collar with a simple sport coat, or perhaps you like to stand out from the crowd with a modern and minimal standing collar instead.
Collars come in dozens of variations, from the vintage exaggerations of the 70s flared tip, to the quirky round silhouettes of the 1930s. Whether you know it or not, you probably have a few different styles in your closet already.
Courtesy of shop.edwardsexton.co.uk
Before we dive into styling, let's start with the basics. Well stitched and suited fashion extends to all details of what you adorn yourself with; you might think that a collar is such a small detail that those miniature measurements are negligible, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. With all corners and seams of tailoring, it’s important to get the perfect fit. Collars are no different, so let's cut into the anatomy of a collar.
Anatomy Of A Dress Shirt Collar
When looking at different types of collars there’s a lot more than meets the eye. Color, cut, shape - absolutely. Points? Bands? Spread? Collars are a lot more complex than you might think. Here’s a glossary of all the terms you need to know:
Courtesy of www.bespokeunit.com
Collar Leaf- The leaf is the flare of the collar, the fabric that folds down to create the recognizable form of most men’s dress shirts.
Point Length- These are the angled lines of the collar. Points range in length and can be bold or subdued. The spear point collar has longer points; though some collars, like the band collar, don’t have points at all.
Points or Tips- The tip is the corner of the collar, found at the end of the point. Tips can be sharp angles or even curved, as often seen in club collar shirts.
Spread- This is the distance between points, this is a key detail to notice when pairing ties and suit jackets, as collars with more dramatic spreads can make a statement, such as the spear point collar.
Tie Space - This is a small measurement, but nonetheless important. This is the distance between the space where the shirt is buttons and the top of the folded collar. Tie space can dictate the style of knot you create for your look, collars with a greater allotment of space can provide better opportunities for grandeur knot types. For the daring, pair a bold knot with something like a cutaway collar or a spread collar.
Band or Base- This is the circumference of the collar itself, making up the element that structures the standing part of collars, wrapping around the neck. In the next section, you can read on to learn how to take your measurements for the ideal fit.
Finding the perfect collar fit
Just like the flatlay of a well fitted jacket, and the hem of your tuxedo trousers, a collar has to be the perfect size to do you and your event justice. Too loose? You’ll end up looking young and skinny, and your tie will have to be tighter, causing wrinkles. Too tight? With an ill fitting collar you’ll end up with a puckered collar that looks as unprofessional as it is uncomfortable.
For shirts already in your closet, the collar should fit comfortably, without being too loose. The general rule of thumb for a baseline assessment is two fingers of space between your collar and neck. To know your collar size for future purchases, measure around your neck, starting from the widest part- just below your Adam's apple, going around. This number will be the measurement for the band of the collar.
Courtesy of www.realmenrealstyle.com
This only scratches the surface. Measurements and fit don’t stop with the band. The height and spread of the collar can also alter or accentuate your physical features. Next, we will dig deeper into what collar styles can elevate your features from standard to stand out.
Choosing The Right Collar Type Based On Body
For those tall and broad
If you have a strong build and are over 6ft tall, we advise making sure your collar is the right fit, it should have some space to fit one or two fingers in between the collar and your neck when buttoned. Wider collar spreads will also help balance your proportions and over all look.
A wider spread collar helps balance proportions for taller and broader men! Courtesy of www.bldvier.com
For those tall and lean
If you’re over 6 feet tall and feel your neck is leaner than most, a taller collar, around an inch and a quarter in height, will define your proportions and help your suit appear well fitted from head to toe.
Taller collars complement taller men with a leaner frame! Courtesy of www.hawkinsandshepherd.com
On the shorter and broader side
Have a shorter stature and a strong neck? A lower height collar, around one inch of height, can elongate your features. It might seem slight, but the difference a quarter inch can make is far from negligible.
On the shorter and slimmer side
If you’re slim, we advise sporting collars that compliment slimmer ties. Wearing a bulky knot or a wider tie can lead your accessories to overpower your features. Try a slimmer silk tie with a moderate knot, like a half windsor, that suits your suit and style.
Narrow or medium spread collars work best with shorter and slimmer men! Courtesy of www.themodestman.com
Choosing The Right Collar Type Based On Face Shape
Courtesy of www.pinterest.com
Round Shape: Button down or pointed shirt collars with narrow spreads are best for these face shapes. These will help the face appear more narrow, avoid collars with wide spreads that will exaggerate the width of your face shape.
Square or Diamond Shape: Go for sharp collar points, they will accentuate your bone structure with cutting edge style.
Oval Shape: If your face is neither round nor angled, go for larger tie knots and spread collars. With a balanced complexion, a striking knot like a full windsor won’t alter your appearance, so you can sport wider points.
Unsure about your shape? If you aren’t sure your shape, you can never go wrong with a cutaway collar. This collar type is tried and true for all shapes and sizes.
The Dark Knot Tip: For more expert advice, visit our articles for style tips for Thin & Skinny men or How to Dress for your Body type.
Height And Point Length
As alluded to above, collar height and point length are of paramount importance when trying to ascertain an appropriate shirt collar for your body type and facial shape. Whilst in contemporary sartorial land, narrower collars with shorter points may appear more prevalent given the prominent of narrower lapel suits, the reality is that these collar types do not flatter most men.
A shorter collar with shorter points flatters a man with a shorter neck and smaller head (helping to keep overall proportions in check). However, on most men, a shorter collar will make most men’s necks appear awkwardly long, with their head looking too large in proportion to the rest of their body.
Conversely, a collar that is too tall with long points will make a shorter neck virtually disappear, while it will make taller men appear too tall. Therefore, striking a balance between accentuating body type / features while also providing a semblance of neutrality is of critical importance.
Before we dive into the details of this style guide, it's important to introduce the different characteristics that can alter the degree of formality for different collars. Collar design goes even further than the basic seams and sizes: to the stiffness, the texture, the material itself.
Interestingly, collars used to be detachable and starched heavily to provide their proper posture. In the modern realm of style - stiffness varies depending on designer and brand, as well as the degree of formality in the style itself. Even the use of things like collar stays or pins can drastically change the appearance and formality of your overall look.
Firstly- the fabric of the material is the foundation. Canvas, flannel, and blended fabrics are more resistant to wrinkles due to their heavier weaves. Other materials, such as silk, linen, and cotton are finely woven materials that combine strength and breathability. This allows them to have a strong shape without being heavy.
Stiffness is also a key component in collars. Stiffer collars offer more structure and support for large ties. Larger ties mean more complex and astute knots, allowing you to stand out from the crowd at your next formal event.
With that, let’s unpack our Formal collars.
Formal Collar Types
A shirt and tie might seem like routine formal wear, but fashion is a nuanced spectrum. Different knots and collar styles vary in formality, and we are here to help you train your eye. Collar spacing is a gradient: going from extra wide, to wide, medium, and narrow spreads.
Wider collars are more formal, and allow for larger and more elegant knots. On the less formal end, you will encounter narrower collars. Due to smaller spreads, narrower collars will require slimmer and more simple knots, and will appear as less formal, while still stylish.
Popular Dress Shirt Collars
Point Collar / Narrow Point Collar
Of all the dress shirt collar types, the classic point collar is by far the most prevalent, accounting for approximately 90% of shirts in the marketplace. Comprising of an average collar spread of approximately 1 to 3 inches, at an angle of 50 – 70 degrees, the point collar is highly versatile, and can thus work both with or without neckties.
It is important to note that when worn with a jacket, the points of the collar will not be concealed by your jacket’s lapels. Additionally, when wearing a necktie, the narrow spread of these collars results in a firm focus on the tie knot, without much else of tie fabric being seen in the collar area. Point collars work best with a four in hand knot, given the minimal amount of space that the tie knot occupies.
Point Collars look particularly attractive on men with rounder faces, as the narrow spread helps to balance wider face proportions, increasing perceived vertical lines. In general, point collars tend to complement most facial shapes.
Semi Spread Collar
The Semi Spread Collar. Perfect For That Half Windsor Knot!
The highly versatile semi spread collar is a moderate collar that is wider than a narrow point collar, but narrower than a more formal spread collar (discussed below). Given that the spread between collar points sits on a fairly neutral ground, the semi spread collar complements virtually all facial shape profiles. The semi spread collar comprises of a 45 degree angled shirt, lending itself as appropriate wear across all functions, irrespective of geography.
While a semi spread collar can complement all facial profiles, it typically works best with an oval face. Semi spread collars are best strutted with a half or full windsor knot, given adequate spacing between collar points, and most importantly, the formality that a semi spread collar connotes.
Wide Spread Collar
A widespread collar is perfectly complemented by a full windsor knot! Courtesy of www.bespokeunit.com
A wide spread collar, as the name implies, comprises of a collar with wider spread collar points, typically spaced 4 to 6 inches apart, at an angle of approximately 45 to 60 degrees. This larger collar spread spacing makes wider spread collars a particularly popular option amongst men looking to strut a half or full windsor knot, given the larger space that these symmetrical knots occupy.
A wider spread collar also allows you to wear ties constructed of thicker material, such as wool.
Wider spread collars are ideally suited to men with a more angular facial structure, helping to balance out facial proportions and increase perceived horizontal lines. Men with a rounder face are advised to stay away from spread collars, as they will serve to make one’s face look even rounder!
Spread Collar vs Cut Away Collar (US vs UK)
Few laymen know the minute differences in style between the US and UK. Sure the 70’s brought us the British take over of punk and plaid, but the Brits also brought the spread collar, while the gents of the US often style the point collar. At first glance they may look the same, with similar lengths. However- the spacing of the spread collar is closer and comes in a variety of spreads, compared to the six inch or fifteen centimeter space of the cutaway collar.
By taking note of this slim shift in structure, you can be known as an expert in men’s style. These are two of the most popular shirt collar styles, with the cut away collar being the more traditional of these two staples.
This wide style allows for bold knots and ties and is popular due to how it allows the wear of heavier ties like cashmere and wool. Often, the angle of the points are 45 degrees or more, creating an eye-catching frame for bold ties and a widening effect for narrower faces. If you’re someone who keeps statement ties in stock, go ahead and cinch up a knot with a patterned silk tie.
A cutaway shirt collar is perfect for that dapper tie knot! Courtesy of www.dandyandson.com
Spread collars come in different spacings, if you recall: extra wide, wide, medium, and narrow. Spread collars have a reputation for being less traditional than the cut away for this reason, as the variation offers diversity in your wardrobe.
Remember: the wider the spread the more formal. Spread collars aren’t committed to casual though, and other factors - such as tie material and knots can influence your overall style.
The three most popular spread collars! Courtesy of www.bondsuits.com
Courtesy of www.alessandroveneto.com
This collar is often reserved for more formal affairs. The distance between the collar tips is often slight due to their use of collar clips, pins, or bars. These shirts will have small stitched holes for the pin to pass through, and stiffer structure for support, so you won’t damage your daywear.
Pair this collar with a silk tie for events like weddings or drinks in the Manhattan skyline. The simple inclusion of a pin can take your suit jacket from standard to sophisticated. The pinned collar is for a gentleman looking for formality with his standard suit.
A tab collar is an ideal way of keeping your tie knot looking sharp & dapper! Courtesy of www.deoveritas.com
Versatile and vintage, the tab collar has a secret up its sleeve. There is a tab running the length of the collar’s closure, between the button and points of the shirt. This is functional fashion at its finest, keeping your tie knot laid flush against the collar.
This style is formal due to its structure and stiffness. The tab collar is an homage to gentlemen of the past. For perfection, we recommend pairing the tab collar with the tasteful Full Windsor Knot.
Courtesy of www.hawkinsandshepherd.com
The Dark Knot Tip: Learn to tie and style a Full Windsor on our blog.
Courtesy of www.gentlemansgazette.com
This vintage collar is seldom seen in the streets. Hard to find, but easy to style, the square collar is recognizable due to its unique square collar points. Popularized in the 1920’s, the square collar is a sturdy yet smaller type of collar with a minimal spread.
It is usually detachable, and worn in a contrasting color to the rest of the shirt. The square collar speaks for itself and can look smart without a tie. Should you elect for a more dignified formal look, consider a pin or bar for added detail.
Spear point collar
A spear point collar with a slim spread is perfectly complement by a collar bar here, allowing this stunning brown silk tie to really pop off! Courtesy of www.thechap.co.uk
Eye catching and bold, the spear point collar pays homage to several eras of vintage fashion. First popularized in the 30s, with a well loved revival in the 70s, this collar never falls out of fashion. Narrow in the back and coming forward to exaggerated front points, there’s a reason James Bond can be seen sporting the spear point. Many have a curve or teardrop shape, but there are countless variations.
With a slim spread, this style is perfect for a pin- adding further flair to the statement style. Tread lightly, as it can come off as casual if not worn appropriately. The Spear point is ideal for creative gents looking for something versatile: collar bars with slim ties for the dinner date, or unbuttoned poolside: the choice is yours.
Spear Point Collars. Courtesy of www.adamoflondon.com
A wingtip pulled off to perfection, in black tie attire
Aside from grooms at the end of the isle, this style is not often seen on the modern man. Today, the wing tip collar is an homage to the antiquity and class of the past, and is reserved for only the most formal of affairs. This style of collar is noteworthy for its delicate points and is a must have for any gentleman with stand-out taste.
This style is formal and arguably the best for highlighting ties and other accessories. The minimal shape allows your knot to speak for itself. If you’re daring: be sure to try an equally daring knot- like the Eldredge Knot, or even with a timeless bowtie.
Casual Collar Types
Casual collars can still keep it classy. Not every meeting is a white-tie affair, and these next collars offer a variety of styles to suit your next day out. Did you know asymmetric knots are less formal? If you are looking to fuse formal with flair, try an asymmetrical knot like the Four in Hand Knot.
Button down collar
Button down collars are ideal for making that casual dapper statement! Courtesy of www.permanentstyle.com
The button down is a design from a more rough and tumble era of menswear, with buttons at the tips to ensure the collar remained laid in position, and not loose, turned, or wrinkled. The modern man might be doing a lot less horseback riding and train hopping, but this casual collar style is as relevant as ever. It can be a challenge to fuse function with formal, but this shape collar is flexible - it all depends what you pair it with.
A versatile piece, the button down collar allows you to forgo a tie all together. You might recognize this style more with collared shirts in softer fabrics like flannel or canvas.
Buttoned down collars, given the point spacing (similar to a narrow spread collar), are highly versatile, and hence work with all facial shapes.
Hidden Button down collar
Courtesy of www.pickashirt.com
If you’re interested in the poise guaranteed by the button down collar, but a tie is part of your signature style, then we suggest the hidden button alternative. Exactly how the name suggests, this fuses the functionality with formality.
The buttons are fastened on the inverse side of the collar, concealing the newest tool in your fashion arsenal: an impeccable collar to frame your face, and your favorite knot.
Camp collar shirts. The perfect vacation shirt! Courtesy of www.lifestyleasia.com
Often found on shirts as casual as the name, camp collars typically are crafted with two points. This divergent two point style is meant to be worn open and spread flat, furthering their classification as vacation wear. You’ll notice they routinely have a small loop and button for closure, allowing the option of a structured look, but we would recommend you skip the tie and go for bracelets or a thin necklace.
The materials for these shirts are often lighter and not starched or pressed; so customarily, you only see this style with a coconut in your hand and hibiscus on your shirt - but don’t shy away from challenging tradition with a mix of fabrics or tailored clothing.
Please feel free to view The Dark Knot’s Bracelets here.
Nehru Collar Dress Shirt. The ultimate in sophistication. Courtesy of www.thestiffcollar.com
This fashion has been lost for the modern man, but street stylists have resurrected the nehru for a variety of looks. The name comes from the clothing of Jawaharlal Nehru, a former prime minister of India. This style stands lifted from your shirt or jacket, and has a soft curve or rounded edges.
Commonly, this style has spacing when fastened together and can also be found in vests too. Skip the tie and opt for a collar that can add something striking to your daily casual wear.
Band, Standing, or Mandarin collar
Courtesy of www.ninesparis.com
A daring choice for men who want to stand out. Modern and minimal, this striking style is for the gentleman who wants to skip a tie all together, and let his fashion speak for itself. A band collar is often called mandarin collar - due to its roots in Chinese menswear; interestingly, this style also has a rustic heritage in American fashion.
This design throws tradition and caution to the wind, allowing the wearer to step to the beat of his own drum. The band collar lets you call the casual shots.
Accessories for Your Shirt Collars
It’s fairly common to think that a suit is just a suit, that your shirt merely has buttons, and that accessories are best left to the ladies- here at The Dark Knot, we believe that fashion and style comes from the details. Sure, you have plenty of ties, maybe even a few different shades of shoes, but you can elevate your style from basic to bold, with only a few minor touches. The category of jewelry for men is expansive and intricate, and with a little help from our style guides, rest assured The Dark Knot can help find something that suits your style.
Courtesy of www.bespokeunit.com
A piece of rigid material, with rounded and pointed ends, often in silver, or another metal, like our brass collar stays. Many formal or designer quality shirts will be crafted with a pocket on the rear of the collar point, to stabilize and straighten the collar leaves. Collar stays can contribute additional structure to your collar, and guarantee immunity to the trepidations of wrinkles and limp points.
The Dark Knot’s Brass Collar Stay Gift Set!
Collar Pins, Collar Bars
A collar bar strutted to perfection, allowing this knit tie to truly pop off!
These elevate your tie and bridge the points of your shirt collar, an elegant and purposeful accessory. These are one of our favorite pieces of exceptional men’s jewelry, adding an element of refined glamour and that is surely recognized. Not to be confused with the tie bar, which positions your tie to your underlying shirt front.
Now that you’re equipped with knowledge beyond the basics of collars, its time to wind down after a long day at the office. Below are more Dark Knot Tips for you and your wardrobe.
Button up. Keeping collars closed maintains their desired shape. Folding or hanging shirts without proper closure can lead collars to become malformed and creased.
Skip the plastic! Your clothes might come from the cleaners in plastic sleeves, but plastic can trap moisture and encourage mildew. Plus the chemicals can affect the fabric of your collars over time. We suggest fabric storage bags or even plain cotton sheets to help preserve your shirts.
Don’t just toss your shirt in the laundry. It is important to let your shirts air out for at least 30 minutes before storing them; this will keep them fresher, wrinkle free, and will help prevent over washing- all things that can damage your collars.
Hang Safely. The closet is the typical go to for collared shirts, and we think its worth splurge for wide wooden or padded hangers. Wire and plastic hangers can be hard on formal fabrics, and cause wear on shoulders and collars.
Prefer the dresser drawer? That’s fine too, but be sure to button the collar and never stack more than a couple shirts on top of each other. Too many shirts in a stack can apply pressure to collars and leave them crinkled and creased. You can even shop for drawer dividers to keep them neat and tidy over time.
And that’s a wrap for this one! We hope that you have enjoyed reading this as much as we did writing it!