Most men don’t think twice about their dress shirt collar, but there’s a whole world of fashion involved in that small strip of fabric.
Minor differences between shirt styles can mean major differences in formality. To understand the minute changes between shirt collar styles, it helps to first understand the language of the collar.
When we talk about the collar point, we refer to the very tips of your collar. This is the most prominent feature of your collar.
Collar spread measures the distance between the two points, and the length is how much fabric extends from the top to the tip of the collar.
This is a very traditional collar that has been around forever. Straight-point collars are a fan favorite and are a typical collar style for dress shirts.
They’re characterized by their long, narrow points and close spread. Men with full, round faces will find that this style flatters their face shape well because the long points have a slimming nature.
They’re also effective at making short necks look longer, too. However, this style doesn’t discriminate and looks good on everybody.
The spread between the collar points isn’t significant, so this collar is well-suited to narrow ties. Use medium and small knots for a perfect fit.
A double knot or even a small simple Oriental knot are good-sized knots for a straight-point collar.
You’ll find a spread collar on most business dress shirts. They lend a shirt a professional feel without being overly formal.
Spread collars have a middle-sized spread, so they work for any tie style and knot, regardless of size.
However, play it conservatively safe with a medium-range tie knot such as a half-Windsor, since the size and shape of the knot nicely complement the form of the collar.
It’s also great for bow ties! But you aren’t obligated to wear a tie with a spread collar. It looks just as good with no tie.
Spread collars suit most faces but are exceptionally great for long, oval faces. The only face shape that may want to consider a different style is a round face shape.
A close cousin of the spread collar is the semi-spread collar. It’s like the spread collar in every sense, except it has a narrower space between the two collar tips.
It’s even more informal than a standard spread collar. Notice that this style has shorter points than a point collar, and its tips have a wider angle.
This makes it feel less stiff yet more flexible for dressing options. Most knots work well with semi-spread collars, so feel free to experiment with medium and large tie knots.
You can also feel comfortable wearing a thick tie with this collar.
If you are a tall man or have a longer neck than most, this is a flattering dress shirt collar for you. The shorter points balance out your length.
Are you ready for a very attention-grabbing collar? Cutaway collars are super fashion-forward and are a bit too bold for a professional dress code.
Consider this collar The Super Spread. The cutaway collar has the widest point spread available, up to 8.5″! It also has very short point tips.
Because of the vast collar spread, no tie knot will be large enough to obscure the tie loop around your neck completely, so don’t wear this for formal occasions.
A Windsor knot will, of course, be a good call for knotting your tie, but this is also a great chance to play with Balthus or Trinity knots.
On the other hand, don’t feel obligated to throw on a tie with a cutaway collar dress shirt. Instead, embrace all that openness and leave that space free.
Because of the incredibly open space between collar points, this collar can be deadly for broad faces.
Therefore, this type of collar is most flattering on narrow and thin-shaped faces; tall men can also pull this off well.
A button-down collar isn’t so much about the collar spread, the width of the points, or the collar’s angle. Instead, all that’s really unique with this collar is that it buttons down to the shirt.
You secure the points to tiny buttons at the top of your dress shirt, which helps hold your collar in place.
It was created for sporty purposes but coopted by professionals looking for a way to keep their collars upright.
Button-down collars are naturally casual, but that isn’t a strict rule. They are frequently paired with a tie under a suit jacket.
Use a small knot, like the four-in-hand knot, to keep your look from becoming too fussy if adding a tie. The buttons and a large knot together may feel too busy.
Everybody can look good with a button-down collar. Since the collar points vary, there’s an appropriate button-down for each face shape.
One version of this type of collar is the long button-down. The collar is slightly longer than it would be on the average dress shirt.
It’s an old-fashioned way of styling a button-down and is considered extra casual today. Wear these collars without a tie, but pair them with a blazer to keep a smart aesthetic.
Whether you add a tie or not, always keep the buttons secured for all button-down dress shirts. Empty button holes on your collar look out of place.
Hidden Button-Down Collar
This uncommon variation of the button-down collar adds a deceptive twist. The buttons are sewn on the undersides of the collar points, so the shirt looks like a standard button-up dress shirt.
This gives you all the benefits of a button-down, helping your collar stand up straighter while providing the look of a regular point or spread collar.
Although threading a tie through the buttoned collar may be tricky, you can get away with a tie better with this type of collar. They’re more appropriate here than with a button-down.
The key to choosing a hidden button-down collar is to pick which style suits your face shape best.
Then you can select your tie knot based on your collar style. In most cases, you can feel safe choosing a medium-sized tie knot.
This collar type is quite a change-up from most other dress shirt collar types. It has no points, only curved edges and a short width.
A club collar is rounded and can come in a spread or point collar style. I know, I know…calling it a point collar when there’s no point may feel confusing.
But we’re referring to how far apart the edges are, not their shape.
Because of their soft edges, club collars may be too rounded for rounded faces. Instead, men with long faces or square faces do very well wearing a club collar.
A Simple knot or Small knot works best for this casual, old-school fashion.
This collar will really throw your dress shirts for a curve ball because there is no collar! Instead, this style is defined by a strip of fabric around the neck, secured with a button at the throat.
Influenced by Asian styles, it’s more exotic than traditional collars. A band collar is very simple, not at all showy or fancy.
Therefore, it’s also an informal shirt style. No dressing up this shirt since you can’t add a tie. (There’s no collar to put it under!)
The band collar doesn’t sit very high on your neck; it’s only about 3 centimeters tall. So, this fashion might accentuate the length if you have a long neck.
You may want to skip this trend. However, it’s suitable for most other body types.
You’ve seen this collar style hundreds of times and may not even have realized it. A wingtip collar is that iconic tuxedo shirt collar.
It’s the most formal collar and is never suitable for daily apparel. The wingtip collar has short, tiny collar points that fold out and resemble small wings.
They point out in front since they are designed just for wearing with a bow tie. This dress shirt collar is appropriate for all face shapes, so you can feel confident when you slip into a tuxedo.
Well, at least about your dress shirt; now you just need to get all the tuxedo rules down!
This unusual, little-seen feature on shirt collars can make a tremendous difference. This is more of a functional style, not about how it looks.
Tab collars have small loops on either side of the dress shirt collar that button together under the neck.
The tab sits under your tie and acts similarly to a tie bar; it holds your tie knot slightly higher, accentuating your knot.
Because the two collar sides are being pulled together, it results in a very narrow spread. Because of that, stick to very small tie knots.
Of course, you must wear a tie with a tab collar to hide the button.
This collar is very formal. Because it’s such a rare feature, you aren’t likely to find this on off-the-rack styles; instead, try a made-to-measure dress shirt for a tab collar.
The narrow spread on this collar makes it flattering for men with long necks.
Here’s a twist on the classic upper-crust club collar. Instead of curved edges, the square collar has corners at a straight angle (consider most other collars are triangles).
This style is hardly ever seen today and was originally found on detachable collars. Square collars don’t require a tie, so they can go either way on this point.
If you decide to wear one, choose a thin tie with a small knot. This collar has a small spread, so it doesn’t allow much room for your tie.
The severe edges act as a nice counterbalance to round face shapes, making them appear less full.
A pinned collar is precisely like a tab collar; only it exchanges the tab for a pin accessory. The collar points have tiny pin holes on either side to accommodate a decorative pin.
The pin sits under your tie knot to boost it and draw attention to your tie. So, yes, you must wear a tie with a pinned collar.
It’s pretty formal and can make your tie seem very impressive. Also, the height of the tie knot makes this an excellent collar for men with long necks, helping distract from some of the length.
Because this pin is an accessory, it’s meant to be seen, unlike the tab version.
The pin posts are visible on the outside of the collar, so be mindful that the metal on your pin matches any other metal in your outfit, such as your belt buckle.
Not all shirt collars need to sit upright and feel stuffy. Instead, go for a totally relaxed and casual shirt style with a camp collar.
This style lays flat and open against your shirt, involving no stiffness or height. Picture your favorite bowling shirt, and you’ll get the idea.
Because this is a very informal and fun look, leave your top button open. Heck, leave the top two open if you’re inclined. And it should go without saying, leave the tie in your closet.
All men can pull this look off. Because this style sits closer to your chest than your face, you don’t need to worry about whether it suits your shape.
Hi, I’m Alex, and I’ve studied and specialized in styling in Rome. Through my writing, I want to help men dress well and learn the purpose and significance of suits and other formal attire. My final goal is to make men more confident in their wardrobe choice and life in general.