Formal Wear Style Advice

A Guide To Men’s Shirt Collars

a guide to mens shirt collars

Men’s shirt collars can be somewhat of a fashion minefield. You often see examples of men wearing the wrong collar with a misguided accessory or jacket. Learning the different styles available means you are in a better position to pick the right shirt to go with your outfit or occasion.

There are now so many variations of collars on the market, but I will break down the most well-known. The styles mentioned will be the most familiar and those that will be most apparent on the high street. I am generalising a little, as I don’t think it important for the average man to know the difference between an American or English semi-spread or full spread collar for example.

Men’s Spread Collar

This will the be the men’s shirt you see most when shopping. It is incredibly versatile and looks as good when worn with a tie as worn casually without an accessory as you hit the pub after work. Just make sure the aforementioned tie does not end up wrapped around your head or stuffed, half hanging out of your suit jacket pocket.

How to Wear: Best worn with a simple Windsor knot tie and your best formal suit.

picture of men with spread collars, a gentlemans row


Button Down Shirt Collar

I always prefer to keep a button down men’s shirt within my casual outfit offerings. Play around with materials, as the button down can look great in broadcloth, flannel, linen, denim or just a plain cotton long sleeve/short sleeved shirt. It falls perfectly into the smart casual pigeon hole for which men can use this collared shirt as the basis for his dress down Friday ensemble.

Brought to the general public’s eye by the Brooks Brothers family, the style had been a mainstay of polo players shirts which John E.Brooks witnessed while attending a match on a trip to England in 1896.

How to Wear: My suggestion would be a button down oxford shirt, worn with dark blue denim, shawl cardigan and tan brogues.

three men wearing button down collar, a gentlemans row blog

Club Collar Shirt 

This men’s shirt is a little more niche, and wouldn’t be something worn on a daily basis. But it is a good addition to any man’s wardrobe especially if you like wearing skinny ties. Those men taking sartorial notes from entertainment programmes such as Boardwalk Empire will notice the club collar as a staple of Nucky Thompson’s outfits. This inspiration brought the club collar style to the forefront of recent trends and without them you wouldn’t have seen brands such as Reiss offering so many tie bar/pin offerings.

It is said that Eton college in England created the collar by curving the original pointed dress shirt collar so that they could differentiate between the well dressed students and teachers.

How to Wear: Go for a white collar and a complimenting different foundation colour with optional tie bar and use this as the standout piece when worn below your three piece suit. 

Men’s Shirt Inspiration

men's shirt inspiration for a club collar


Wikipedia as you can expect has a lot of info on the men’s collar should you require more info

Sam Brady is a menswear expert, having worked in or around the field for the past 14 years. He has built up a keen eye for detail when it comes to the production of clothing, and is happy showcasing the craftsmanship of Savile Row and Jermyn St. But he understands the need for an interchangeable modern man’s wardrobe that mixes high street and luxury clothing.

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