The widespread collar is one of the most popular collar styles. The collar of a dress shirt is a hard working piece of material. It needs to keep the tie in place if you are wearing one. It works at sweat reduction to make the man feel comfortable. It also highlights the best features of a man’s face while helping to lessen the impact of the less desirable elements.  Collars work hard and therefore getting the right collar for the occasion is important to get the best from it. Here we look at another classic style, the widespread collar.

dress shirt collar style widespread

History of the collar on dress shirts

Collars on dress shirts are such a common part of life that we don’t give them much attention. But the collar in its modern form has been with us since around the turn of the 20th century. Back then, the collar was created for military uniforms and quickly spread to the civilian population. Their neutral nature meant they were picked up by all the main dress shirt manufacturers around the world.

As popularity in the collar spread, people came to realise how useful these lengths of material were.  When a collar has points, these work like arrows, directing the eye away from the face and down the length of the tie. It can have the effect of making a face appear elongated, though this isn’t great if you have a thin face to start with.

Collar evolution - new styles of collars

As styles changes and new types of tie knots became popular, the shirt collar changed with it. The classic point collar has a space ideal for around ¾ inch in the tie knot area. But as the trend for larger knots came along, such as the Windsor, they needed more room.

The answer was a range of collars known as cutaway or spread collars. These have a larger space for the tie knot and also make for a wider upper shirt area. While accenting a wider face a little, they were also ideal for the slender faced man.

Perhaps the most extreme version of this style is the widespread collar. This takes the classic spread collar and opens it to the widest point, usually around 3 ½ inches. While it isn’t the collar for everyone, it quickly gained a dedicated following.

dress shirt collar styles

Dress shirt collar styles - the widespread

The widespread collar is defined as having collar points that extend to an angle greater than 90 degrees. This means that when wearing this type of collar, a particular type of knot is needed in the tie to look right. A larger and more triangular shaped necktie knot works best with the look.  One example of this is the Windsor knot, also called a Full Windsor or a Double Windsor. It does take a little more practise than other knots but works best with widespread collars.

If the widespread is a little too wide for your tastes, there is a middle ground. Called the semi widespread, this collar is between the classic and the widespread. It works with more styles of tie not and is considered a versatile style for formal occasion. It is more flattering to wider face shapes while balancing slender faces.  Does this sound like the perfect collar for you?