Choosing
a collar and cuff
for your dress shirt
Marol Academy 3

Sonya Glyn NICHOLSON

Choosing a Collar and Cuff for your Dress Shirt : Marol Academy 3

Today, we turn our attention to how to choose a collar for your face shape and a cuff design for your shirt.

While a good shirt collar should complement the shape of your face, there are hardly any guidelines for selecting a cuff style–other than considering whether the cuff design should be formal, less formal or casual.

Before getting into the nuts and bolts of choosing cuffs and collars, we explore the great shift of today, away from mandatory dress codes and toward more voluntary dress codes…

Is it obligatory to own a dress shirt ?

A buttoned shirt with a collar was once obligatory to wear to work, a great restaurant, a nice party, a marriage, a funeral, a theatre performance, or even inside a hotel lobby.

Yet today, it seems odd to imagine that the once-mandatory dress shirt has now become an optional wardrobe item.

Tee shirts, pullovers, and hoodies are now acceptable to wear for most any occasion. Who could have predicted that the man wearing a dress shirt with buttons would become “a rebel of style”?

As dress code mandates fade more quickly than dreams from the night before, all this sartorial progress is touted as “emancipation from the dreary demands of an old corporate daddy”.

Yet there exists a paradox in this dress-down story. As written in our article Executive Power to Dress Down, Really ? , actively pushing the directive that clothes aren’t important, relays the opposite message–simply because such effort is being put forth to express concern for what people are wearing.

As the tech industry mushrooms, our attention is caught, and sartorial notes are taken on the  merits of the “Silicon Valley” style, often reminiscent of the style preferences of a hungover frat boy.

Still, there is a beam of light behind the eclipse of ‘required-dressing’, as today’s men are no longer policed into wearing dress clothes. Today, the reward of choosing our clothing without restriction has given us the freedom to wear what we want, when we want to wear it.

Put simply, dressing up has become enjoyable because we choose to do it.

We now turn to some fundamentals of the dress shirt and how to wear it well–making it easier than ever for a good shirt to set you apart from the crowd.

The collar and the cuff

Few things on a shirt express your personality as much as your choice of a collar and cuff.

The collar sits directly beneath your face and is in constant view to others, while the cuff remains within your own constant view.

Choose your collar based on the shape of your face and choose your cuff based on your aesthetic preferences and according to the formality of the occasion.

THE COLLAR 

To select your collar, first define your face shape. Generally, your face shape should fall within one of seven categories:

Once you know your face shape, take the chosen shape and mentally transfer it onto the shirt collar selection below. By practicing this exercise, you should naturally perceive which combinations work and which do not.

To compare what works and what doesn’t, notice how Leonardo DiCaprio’s head is large and squarish, and how selecting a long and narrow shirt collar balances his wider proportions and results in a correct overall look:

On the other hand, notice how Tobey McGuire has a weaker result by choosing a similar long and narrow collar. His head is slender and more triangular, and so one can quickly spot the fault of his shirt collar dominating an otherwise nice ensemble, as his head appears too small for the length and mass of the collar. A better choice would be a more wide spread collar to offset the longer, thinner face.

Once this “formula” is understood, choosing the correct shirt collar which complements the proportions of the head/face can be a great piece of arsenal in fine-tuning the overall look and feel of a gentleman’s ensemble.

THE CUFF

Even with a suit coat, the shirt cuff is always visible and deserves some contemplation to get the desired overall look, not to mention that a great cuff gives you the chance to express your personality.

Below are eight examples of cuff styles, but there are several more variations to consider. When it comes to choosing a cuff, select the style you love. Of course you probably wouldn’t choose a French cuff with cuff links for an outdoor BBQ, nor would you choose a one-button cuff to attend a white tie affair. Other than formality considerations, simply choose the cuff that appeals to you the most.

Being in the field of men’s style for close to a decade, it’s safe to say that one of the main inspirations to cuff selection has been that of various James Bond characters. Note a few examples :

The French cuff and the turnback cuff : While the French cuff is easy to identify, the turnback cuff has been called various names such as the Milanese, Neapolitan, Portofino, Flowback and Casino.

007 Connery with French cuffs007 Connery with turn back cuffs007 Craig with French cuffsAn original “tab cuff” on a dinner shirt by Marol

The Standard cuff:

007 Moore, one-button, rounded cuff

 007 Brosnan, three-button cuff

Standard cuffs are easier to fold up for a more casual look

Hopefully you are armed with enough knowledge to design your next made-to-order or bespoke shirt, with a collar and cuff that complement your morphology and personality. Most of all, we hope you have fun and appreciate the artisanal know-how that goes into crafting a meaningful and beautiful garment.

Other MAROL Academy Articles :

All pictures © Marol with model Lyle Roblin, except 007’s pictures (http://www.bondsuits.com ), De Caprio and McGuire (Luhrmann’s Great Gastby).

REFERENCES :

“The Suits of James Bond” at www.bondsuits.com

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