Here’s a challenge: Without scrolling down, try to name more than five different types of shirt collar. You might get ‘spread’, possibly recall ‘cutaway’ — but after that you’ll likely start getting hot under your own.
It’s just not acceptable. And, before you start with your excuses, button it. Being well-versed in the subtle, but important variations in shirt collars is a surefire way to up your outfit game, both formally and casually. So, if you don’t know your band collars from your button-downs, it’s time you learned your shirt.
For your everyday shirting, opt for a spread collar
A spread collar is your go-to collar. The bread-and-butter button-down of your formal wardrobe. With wider points — angled outwards and slightly downwards — it’s a collar that really needs a tie to live up to its full sartorial potential. We’d recommend tying it together with a classic full or half Windsor knot.
Emma Willis hand cut this Navy Cristallo shirt in their Gloucester Factory, and the poplin weave gives it a pleasingly casual edge. Hackett’s Royal Oxford is 100 per cent cotton and includes collar bones to keep it looking crisp. Or go to Gieves & Hawkes, whose tailored fit, semi-spread collar is the ultimate versatile button-down.
Emma Willis Navy Cristallo Shirt
Hackett Royal Oxford Shirt
Gieves & Hawkes Tailored Fit Shirt
For casual weekend button-ups, button-down your collar
The button-down collar is likely the second most-common style in your wardrobe. But, whereas the spread style has a monopoly on your formalwear, the button-down design was made to ground both your collar points and your fashion — and is ideal for more casual get-ups.
Just take this Giles Oxford from Orlebar Brown. The ideal shirt to anchor any smart casual outfit, this cotton collar will stay in place at all times. Dunhill’s cotton-corduroy offering works as a perfect marriage of casual material and style. Or, if you want a more classic cut, Ralph Lauren’s navy option is ideal for layering over a T-shirt.
Orlebar Brown Giles Oxford
Dunhill Button-Down Collar Shirt
Polo Ralph Lauren Button-Down Shirt
For a contemporary twist on the traditional, go for a cutaway collar
A cutaway collar is a return to your smarter shirting. With wider points than a spread collar, it’s a modern twist on the traditional, and can — again, unlike the spread collar — be worn without a tie. It’s a design with less depth than some other options, and suits men with slim or long faces.
Emma Willis once again offers up a stellar example of this shirt, finished with real mother of pearl buttons and crafted from a luxurious 2-fold 100 White Genio Swiss Cotton. New & Lingwood’s mid-blue poplin option has an extreme cutaway collar specifically created for a more slender frame. And Turnbull & Asser’s tailored shirt was specially crafted by their expert bespoke pattern cutter.
Emma Willis White Genio Shirt
New & Lingwood Poplin Cutaway Collar Shirt
Turnbull & Asser Pink Kent Collar Shirt
To look your black tie best, button up a wing collar
The gold standard of black tie and the solid, bright white base of the smartest of suits, the wing collar shirt isn’t your everyday button-down — but it should be your best. Most men only own one or two or these, so go for the best.
New & Lingwood’s White Ritz shirt would look equally at home on a conductor or a character in a costume drama, and has a pure cotton piquet collar. Hackett’s wing tip shirt is another classic take, cast in 100 per cent cotton. And Gieves & Hawkes’ option features a formal winged collar, appropriate for both black and white tie.
New & Lingwood White Ritz Shirt
Hackett Wing Tip Pleat Front Shirt
Gieves & Hawkes Wing Collar Shirt
For lazy summer days, opt for a relaxed Cuban collar
The Cuban collar, also known as a ‘camp’ collar, is a more relaxed style, that sits flat against the body. Think Hawaiian shirts, or bowling shirts. It’s wider, its buttons sit lower down your chest and its also more comfortable than a high-collared offering — making it the ideal style for summer.
From Sir Plus, this White Pineapple Print shirt really channels the summer season, and is woven from organic cotton for an extra eco-edge. Sunspel’s cotton-pique offering is light, airy and fastens with iridescent mother-of-pearl buttons. Or, for something a little more casual again, Orlebar Brown are on hand with their stitched towelling ‘Travis’ shirt.
Sir Plus White Pineapple Print Shirt
Sunspel Cotton-Piqué Shirt
Orlebar Brown Travis Shirt
For informality with a hint of elegance, go for a Grandad collar
Once upon a time, the Grandad — or banded — collar was the height of casual dressing. Literally your shirt without its removable collar, the style was worn only behind closed doors. Today, however, it has taken on a style of its own — and offers the wearer the chance to dress down whilst maintaining an air of elegance.
No-one walks this tightrope better than Emma Willis, whose collarless Lapis shirt in linen has a flat front and a gently curved hem to wear untucked. Sir Plus, too, have perfected the cut — and offer the style in multiple materials and fits. And Luca Faloni, known for their knitwear, have created a linen band collar shirt — perfect for effortless summer style.
Emma Willis Collarless Linen Shirt
Sir Plus Navy Grandad Shirt
Luca Faloni Sand Versilia Shirt
Got your shirting sorted? Now let’s move onto your outerwear — and buy you a bespoke overcoat…