From Squalor to Baller: It’s All in the Collar

All foolish rhymes aside, I think that one of the most important aspects of   wearing tailored clothing well is the space right below the neck, where jacket, shirt, and tie all come together. This magical zone is the pedestal for the face (which is really where you want people looking, right?), and for that reason it is of critical importance.

In my opinion, a well-balanced collar/lapel zone involves shirt collar points that are neatly tucked under the lapels of a jacket. This creates smooth, clean lines around the the base of your neck and draws attention upwards towards the face rather than to the garment itself. There is more than one parameter involved when achieving this cohesive look, though. Finding the right collar is one, but finding a well-fitting jacket is another.

When a jacket collar is too large it will often result in “collar gap,” a dire circumstance that occurs when the jacket fails to sufficiently hug the neck. This unfortunate circumstance can be seen all over the place, and it’s something that is difficult for a tailor to alter. Any jacket that causes this issue is best avoided.

The second variable involved in creating collar/lapel harmony is the size and shape of the shirt collar. In my opinion, the collar looks best when it is wide enough to meet the jacket lapel, thus achieving that sleek and simple look (usually 3 or more inches in point length). The most common problem I see is when men wear collar points that are much too small (a trend that has been holding on for far too long and I hope will disappear soon). The result is an awkward “W” shape at the bottom of the neck rather than sweeping lines. To circumvent this, then, a shirt collar needs adequate width and spread.

Of course, this can be achieved with more than just extreme cutaways and spread collars who’s collar points don’t even make it past the (aptly named) collar bone; semi-spread and point collars can create this look too, but their points will need to be a bit longer (it’s just some simple trigonometry).

I like the look achieved when collar, lapel and tie are all roughly the same size, but I wouldn’t go as far as to say that it is an imperative. Nonetheless, it probably is the safest route.

Once this zone is in harmony, the rest falls in to place. Well, not really, but it’s definitely a step in the right direction. Realizing the importance of this area was one of the biggest sartorial steps I have taken to date. It’s one of those things that will probably never be noticed but will help make your tailored clothing look sharp and cohesive.