Saturday, July 21, 2007

What to wear: The Shirt (Part 2)

What to Wear: The Shirt (Part 2)

To start with style, there are a variety of collars available to the shirt-shopping man.

Straight: Possibly the most standard of men’s collars these days. This collar aims in varying degrees of “down.” There are a number of “spreads” available in straight collars, the “spread” being the amount of space visible between the collars, at the neck, where a tie might live. Choose too-narrow a spread and you could be on the GoodFellas poster.

Spread: A straight collar that’s been spread to the point of not being considered straight anymore. This collar is also sometimes referred to as the “cutaway” collar, for the large amount of visible space between collar tips; it’s also called the “British Spread,” because it’s popular there and Americans love wearing anything that smells European. Due to their construction, spread collars are typically slightly less-wide than straight collars. This collar, too, is available in a variety of spread distances.

Button-Down: The collar that’s affixed to the shirt, popular with Mormons, prep schools, mod parties, and consulting firms. I.e., either hip or square, depending on how you wear it. Never wear the collar unbuttoned. And don’t snip off the buttons to make it a non-button-down shirt: you’ll still be left with buttonholes in the collar, and people will notice. And we don’t want that.

Curved: A straight collar that has a slight curve outwards from the face. It’s a different look, for a different type of man. Yes, just different. And sometimes preferred by Steve Martin. No comment.

Tab: A collar that has a small snap-tab connecting the two collar sides together. No real idea what this tab is for. Must be a reason. Maybe it’s an added security feature.

Banded: Quite simply, no collar—just a button at the neck. Preferred by Michael Stipe circa-1990 and Robin Williams at any formal event. Come to think of it, Steve Martin’s also worn it on occasion. Good for wooing women with the I-used-to-be-a-Yoga-instructor-but-now-I-study-African-drumming look.

The point in having so many collars is that you get to choose one that suits you. It’s often said that men with narrow faces should choose collars that are wider, to help broaden their faces; conversely, men with wider faces should choose collars that are narrower, to help lengthen their faces. Personal style is really the best route, though: don’t choose a collar that isn’t you. And don’t blame your face for keeping you from wearing what you want. Only Hugh Grant is Hugh Grant, and anyway, we suspect he’s a doofus.

1 comment:

TypicalFashion said...

The tab in the collar is to be snapped under the tie, pushing the tie knot outward. It's a slick look.