The classic men’s formal look with the quality dress shirt and coordinating tie is completely reliant on one thing – the collar. The collar is the element that binds everything together. It holds the tie in place and finishes the shirt. It sneaks away sweat from the body of the shirt. And it brings out the man’s best features. There are plenty of styles of collar to choose from and here we look at the cut away.

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Anatomy of a dress shirt collar

To understand the different types of collars available on dress shirts, you first need to understand the parts of the collar and what they do. There are six main elements of a collar:

  1. Collar points – these are the tips of the collar
  2. Collar point length – this is the distance between the band of the collar and those collar points
  3. Collar band – this is the length of material that goes around the neck
  4. Collar height – this is the height of the collar band in its folded position
  5. Tie space – the area between the top of the collar band, the smallest area before the collar widens to the collar points
  6. Spread – the distance between the collar points

The spread of the collar and the tie space are the two elements that dictate the type of tie knot that works best with the shirt. The style dress shirt that became popular in the early 20th century has a classic straight point collar. This is where the collar points have a relatively narrow spread, around 2 ¾ inch. The tie space is also quite narrow and accommodates a tie knot of around ¾ inch.

Dress shirt collar styles - The Cutaway collar

Two things influences the changing styles in collars. The first was the realisation that a slender face didn’t suit a small tie know. The other was that a bigger tie knot came into fashion and needed more room.
The answer was the style of collar we know today as the cutaway or (wide)spread collar. These collars have points that are spread further apart than in the classic straight point. They are cutaway to reveal more of the shirt and allow a bigger tie knot.

There are various types of cutaway styles that accommodate the different tie knots. They also work better for men with slender faces, as they don’t accent this thinness. The medium spread collar is perhaps the nearest to the straight point collar. It is a safe bet for nearly all face sizes and shapes. It also allows bigger tie knots though not perhaps the very biggest.

The classic spread or cutaway was made famous by English royalty such as the Duke of Windsor and Prince Charles as well as Hollywood stars such as Douglas Fairbanks. It has a wider spread with shorter collar point length. It is particularly favoured by thin faced or small boned men.

Finally, the widespread and curved spread collars are the more extreme of the style. These have large tie knot areas, as much as 3 ½ inches in some cases. This means they are great for knots such as the Windsor. The curved cutaway also has curved points rather than straight ones for a less severe look.

So what type of face do you have and what would be your perfect collar?