The Strong Effect of a Soft Shirt Collar

Sonya Glyn NICHOLSON

The Strong Effect of a Soft Shirt Collar

A wieldy style statement can be expressed through the type of shirt collar you choose.

Many men don’t even consider the option of a soft collar when it comes to shirting. Worn without collar stays and allowed to fall naturally, such a subtle change from a stiff to a soft shirt collar can create an effect that is more extreme than expected.

I have found it surprising how extreme cut-away collar is beginning to feel faddish, while the soft shirt collar has shown real staying power over the last few years. Blame it on the Italians for the acclaim of the soft shirt collar, because they have shown the rest of the world how something as simple as a shirt can bring an otherwise stiff and dull mood to life with the simple bend of a collar tip.

The most important thing to know about the soft shirt collar is that the collar must have enough fabric to express itself well, and if possible, have points long enough to shift around gracefully. On the contrary, a soft collar that is short and stubby cannot create a nice mood, and will only look elegant if a collar pin or tab secures the tiny collar firmly against the shirt itself.

Secondly, the interlining (the piece of fabric sandwiched between the shirt collar fabric) should be soft and unpressed, otherwise the entire natural effect can be lost. If the interlining is stiff and steam pressed against the shirt fabric, all the plies of the fabric can appear to be stuck together and create too much stiffness to carry off this look.

Don’t get too obsessed about whether the shirt collar is fused (glued) or not, but simply use your own eye to notice whether there is enough softness in the collar to get the look you want. If you are looking for an unfused collar, simply take both hands and tug at each side of the collar to make sure the collar plies ‘pull apart’ and are not glued together.

Whether a button-down collar (left unbuttoned) or a tradition soft shirt collar, such a shirt collar can become a great focal-point of any suit ensemble, since it sits directly underneath the face and cannot avoid being noticed. 

Very Italian in look and feel, such a choice communicates ease, flair and effortless style.

HOW TO WEAR IT

ronald colman

Ronald Colman, 1940s

* Choose the soft shirt collar for more ‘boring’ suits to bring the total look alive. 

* Specifically coordinate the pocket square with the shirt pattern to highlight effect of the soft shirt collar.

* Keep the necktie (if any) classic yet punchy.

* Opt for a ‘split tie’ method of tying your tie with the tie blade showing (as shown above) in order to amp up a carefree look. Or, tuck the necktie into the trousers for a similarly strong effect.

* Although not necessary, patch-pockets on a suit coat complement this type of shirt collar, creating a mood of ease-and-fortitude .

* Add one other accessory to complete the look, e.g., if you like the eyeglasses in the chest pocket as shown above, or use a subtle lapel pin with a delicate chain, or try the rarely used tie-pin.