If you're wearing a shirt right now, there's a good chance it has a collar.
You may think it's an innocuous detail. It's not. A man should know what works for him, and therefore, what he prefers.
One half of it comes down to taste. The other half: knowing what shapes and styles are out there, what they do to your silhouette and what they can reveal your personal style.
Three rules of thumb to keep top of mind: the smaller you are, the smaller your collar. Collar height depends on the length of neck. And in terms of the actual size: narrow collars complement round faces, while long faces do better with a spread.
There's also the matter of construction. Is it soft and slouchy, or sharp and crisp? Unless we're talking casual versus formal, neither is better than the other. Just different.
It's something worth paying attention to, as it could be the difference between a shirt that works and one that doesn't.
Below, we rounded up seven must-know collar styles, along with prime examples of each.
The timeless American standard. What “boyfriend shirts” are made of. Invented by Brooks Brothers in 1896, imitated by everyone since. There’s a reason for that: it’s laid back and approachable whether dressed up or down. No matter the collar shape, size or style, any shirt falls under this category once buttons are added to neatly fasten down the collar.
The collarless look has made a comeback of late. Once the choice of the rough and tumble, now the go-to for carefree gents who take the style beneath a blazer or on its own like a henley. With sobriquets like the “grandad collar,” it’s an appearance that can look costume-y if not carefully considered. Look to break up the heritage feel with sporty, minimalist basics.
This vintage topper is having a moment. Coming straight out of the ‘50s, this iconic silhouette comes with a relaxed demeanor and vintage appeal for young hipsters and old beatniks alike. While it’s comfortably the look for the man on summer holiday, the style pairs well with backyard BBQs, summer festivals or whatever your leisure come the dog days.
The rounded club speaks to a more rakish semblance, typically more narrow and dashing than its counterparts on this list. It’s been commonly associated with both prep-school uniforms and private-membership clubs, which not only explains its name, but why a starchy round collar looks natural when paired with a tie. But the club collar also has its casual advantages, particularly giving any undone look a high-minded edge.
If we’re talking dress shirts, this is the absolute safest bet for business. It’s as clean as they come. Simple and literally to the point. For the casual wearer, many men have taken a liking to experimenting with the "air tie": that is, buttoning the shirt all the way to the top-button sans neck tie.
A cousin to the ubiquitous point collar, the spread collar is simply a point collar angled slightly out. Also known as the “English collar” because of its origins, it’s a style that’s traditionally been reserved for a big-knotted tie.
A close cousin to the spread collar that once channeled all things formal, but is now acceptable in casual environs. Here, the collar points run perpendicular to the neck. It's ideal for men who wish to widen the face. Like the 1950s cut, the cutaway collar may well be sported on vacation. But it also works as a dressier option when paired with a tie and a more mannered occasion.