13 July 2011

On Spread Collars

For as long as I can remember I have excluded from my shirt collection anything betraying even the minutest hint of a forward point, club, or tab collar. This means, I suspect, some imperfectly angled spread collared shirts have been avoided. If so, so be it. I simply can not tolerate anything but genuine spread or button-down styles. I mostly wear the former during the balance of the week, and the latter only on Fridays and weekends. For me there is no alternative. It is the collar style that most suits my neck and face. Above is pictured one of my custom-made Hemrajani dress shirts with a wide spread collar, referred to as an English cut-away collar. I recommend Hemrajani, although, unlike certain Interweb columnists, I have no commercial intere$t in doing so. This specific shirt is in the colour cream, which, according to Jeremy Hackett, "has almost disappeared off the radar as far as men's shirts are concerned." Not in my wardrobe it hasn't!

The spread collar (often called an English collar since it was first popularised in England in the 1930s by the Duke of Windsor to accommodate the larger knotted kneckties he favoured--and that bear his name) is at the opposite end of the spectrum from the button-downs. If the button-down is consciously casual and cavalier, the spread collar is purposefully elegant and dressy. It is happiest with the larger knot of the full- or half-Windsor with which it was originally paired and with suits of impeccable shape and cut. It is meant to be serious and perhaps a bit autocratic, and its sangfroid is completely destroyed by a bow tie.

Elegance, G. Bruce Boyer (1985)

7 comments:

Patrick said...

I like 'em but I can't wear 'em. I have a fat head, and the spread collar takes it from giving the general impression of, say, Missouri, to a more horizontally vigorous Montana. No good.

Bourbon&Pearls said...

Interesting, I had never heard of the term before. Before finding AC I had no idea of the nuances of a man's wardrobe.

A.E.F. said...

Admiral, anything but those rather tiresome, somewhat infantile club collars worn by precious dandies and nursery renegades....

White Horse said...

LBF - Good choice sir! Above all, having a custom fit makes a big difference.

Yankee-Whisky-Papa said...

At the cafe I attend most mornings walking to the office, a TV plays Italian or Portuguese news early everyday. I have noticed that every single shot of anything governmental is fully batched with spread collars, and on all types of physiques and sizes of tie-knots. The spread or cutaway collar is under represented in the US, which is too bad. It looks trim, sleek, intentional, and good.

Osbert II said...

Point collar shirts, preferably in grey or burgundy, are the choice of those who attend seminars at their local Holiday Inn about how to buy real estate with no money down.

Pure Gold said...

I don't 'collect' shirts myself; I wear them, but your views are instructive as ever.