What would a shirt be without the collar and cuffs? The backbone of any shirt, they help keep its structure and make sure you look sharp with or without a jacket.
Not all collars and cuffs are the same though, and different styles are designed to suit different occasions. Have a read of these quick tips to arm yourself with the need-to-know facts for the next time you’re on the hunt for a new shirt to wear.
Let’s start with something easy: most smart shirts have regular collars (sometimes called classic collars). They’re the ones with the sharpest points that sit close together.
Pair your regular collar with a silk tie to look the part when business is the order of the day. If you have a wider face and neck, these will probably look the best on you.
Next up: the button collar. Basically, imagine a regular collar but with the points buttoned down on the shirt. When you want to wear a jumper over your shirt, these can help everything look smoother.
They’re just as good on their own, though, either with the top button of your shirt undone or fastened all the way up. The fabric of these collars is usually a bit softer, which lends them to casual dressing.
As the name suggests, this collar has two layers of material usually in contrasting colours. It’s a bit more attention-grabbing, so definitely for the bolder dresser, especially if you combine it with a pattern in your shirt.
If you want to make a statement at work, spread (or cutaway) collars will do the trick. The points are set much wider apart than regular collars, and if you choose an extreme cutaway they’re even further apart. It’s all thanks to the Duke of Windsor who wore them to make room for his large tie knots.
Today you can wear spread collars with or without a tie – just make sure you have a sharp suit, preferably a three-piece if you’ve got a smart event but want to ditch the tie. As a rule of thumb, they suit slim faces the most.
Made for white-tie events, these dressed-up collars have small points that stand up away from the shirt. The idea is to tuck the two points down behind your bow tie.
You’ll only see them on dress shirts and they’re the partner in crime to a tux, and only a tux.
These are the ones you tend to see on more casual shirts. They’re shorter so you don’t need to fold them back, and they have buttons you can undo when you want to roll your sleeves up.
It’s likely you’ll wear these most of the time because they’re less formal, making them ideal for normal days in the office and drinks later on. Some of them have the corner cut off to match cutaway collars – we’ll come onto those a bit later.
These are more formal. You’ll sometimes hear these called French cuffs, but it’s just a dressed-up name for the same thing. They’re designed to be worn folded in half and fastened with cufflinks.
Wear them to weddings, black-tie dos and anywhere you want to look your smartest. And while we’re on the subject, now’s as good a time as any to update your cufflinks collection.