Here are the 8 types of shirt collars you should know about.
Unless you regularly wear different kinds of dress shirts, you probably don’t think all that much about collars. This is largely because most casual shirts have one of two collar types, so the choice is often effectively made for you.
However, less common collar types have rebounded over the last several years. This resurgence has served as an important reminder that the humble collar is actually pretty integral to the overall look of a shirt.
For one, the collar effectively frames your face, making it one of the shirt’s most noticeable parts. You may not be able to put your finger on it, but change the collar and the shirt looks completely different.
The collar can also decide how formal or casual a shirt is — generally, sharper and stiffer collars are more formal, while softer, less angular collars are more casual.
The 8 Collar Types Every Guy Should Know
There are quite a few collar types out there, but not all of them are equally common today (I’m betting you don’t own an OCBD with a pilgrim collar!) so here are eight of the most common collar types found in menswear.
The point collar (also called the straight or classic collar) is by far the most common collar type among both formal and casual shirts. What charecterizes this collar is its pointed tips, usually no more than a couple of inches apart.
Even though point collars are about as basic as it gets, they’re not all the same. You’ll see variations in the height of the collar and the exact angle created by the points. The taller the collar, the more traditional it is, generally speaking. For that reason, I wouldn’t go with a short collar for, say, a dress shirt for a wedding.
The button-down collar is the other major collar type you’ll encounter in casual menswear. This collar’s points are anchored to the shirt by buttons, which creates a billowing effect known as a collar roll.
Originally designed to help English polo players keep their collars out of their faces during games, the button-down collar has long been a staple of preppy style. It’s synonymous with the kinds of OCBDs offered by brands like Brooks Brothers, Ralph Lauren, and GANT.
Since it has sporting roots, the button-down collar has historically been considered casual, though that’s changed somewhat in recent years. Still, it’s generally best to avoid wearing one with a formal business suit.
It’s hard to find a button-down collar on more relaxed shirts inspired by workwear or streetwear.
The spread collar has much more space between the points, allowing for thicker ties made of fabrics like wool and larger tie knots like the Windsor. This is a common type of collar for dress shirts to have.
Some spread collars are only slightly wider than point collars, while others create much larger angles. The rule that taller collars are more formal also holds true for spread collars.
The spread collar is closely associated with British tailoring, often referred to as an English spread collar. As with the point collar, the spread collar has no defined length, and you’ll come across variations like the semi-spread (which is narrower than a standard spread collar).
Found almost exclusively among dress shirts, the cutaway collar is basically a wider version of the spread collar. This results in a pronounced spread that can accommodate large tie knots (though you can make a bold statement with a smaller knot).
A typical cutaway collar will create a dramatic angle, and extreme cutaway collars can get all the way up to 180 degrees.
One oft-cited advantage of the cutaway collar is that the points can hide behind the lapels of a jacket, a look that many men prefer when dressing formally.
The club collar, also called the Eton collar, is a uniquely distinct collar characterized by rounded points that create a more flap-like look.
Club collars are smart yet casual (though, confusingly, they’re not smart casual) and can be easily dressed up or down. It’s decidedly more vintage than the other collars on this list, so it’s a good match for Ivy and trad styles.
Grandad or Band Collar
The family of band-type collars is the most confusing collar category. These collars go by all kinds of names and often get lumped together as “collarless,” which isn’t technically true.
Thankfully, figuring out what’s what is easier than it seems. In short, most of these collars only have the collar band and lack any collar leaves or points. This collar type is commonly referred to as a band or grandad collar, two terms typically used interchangeably.
The grandad collar is closely associated with workwear, so it’s purely casual. In fact, it can be traced back to the 1800s, when collars were manufactured separately and designed to be attached to shirts.
This collar often gets conflated with the Mandarin collar, which is actually a specific kind of band collar that stands up and doesn’t button. In other words, all Mandarin collars are band collars but not vice versa.
The camp or Cuban collar is a casual collar defined by its flat leaf and prominent notches. Because it’s so open and lies flat, the camp collar provides more ventilation than other collars, which means it’s almost always on a summery shirt.
Camp collar shirts tend to be made from more flowy fabrics like linen and have relaxed fits that allow the wearer to keep cool. Basically, these tropically-inspired but well-designed shirts are everything Hawaiian shirts want to be.
Designed for tie wearers, the tab collar is only found on dress shirts.
Tab collars have either button or snap tabs that fasten behind the tie, bringing the collar points downward and closer together while also lifting the knot of your tie.
The tab collar offers a practical way to keep things looking extra structured and tidy, so it’s a good choice for dressier occasions. (And in case it wasn’t obvious, never wear a tab collar without a tie).
However, in some conservative circles (think lawyers, businessmen, politicians) choosing a tab collar could be bemoaned as too individualistic.
Conclusion: A Collar for Every Situation
Now that you know these eight major collar types, you can be even more confident when shopping for shirts. You can avoid choosing the wrong collar for formal situations, and you can experiment with different collars for casual wear.
When it comes to how a shirt looks, the collar can have just as much of an impact as the fit, so it’s always good to be aware of.
What’s your go-to collar type? Let me know below!