When we published our recent article on the types and styles of shirt collars, a reader requested a follow-up piece on the precise dimensions of what I wear.
In fact, this has come up a few times over the years, particularly as we’ve talked about the increasing importance of shirt collars, as ties and jackets are worn less.
So in this article, I will spell out and illustrate my collar styles and their measurements. Including why I think they fit my physique and my style – and therefore in which ways they perhaps should, or should not, be copied.
Today, I wear pretty much just two collars: one spread and one button-down.
In general, it’s worth having as few collar styles as you can. It avoids a shirt collection getting too big, as you’re likely to want at least some colours or materials in multiple styles.
That goes for other design factors too, such as cuffs. If you start having your spread-collar shirts in both single and double cuffs, everything can become unwieldy – and expensive.
Having just two collar styles is fine, as long as they can cover every level of formality you want, from the smartest to the most casual. And there, it helps if the collars both work with and without a tie.
I’ve zeroed in on these two collar styles because they do that, a result of the way they’re shaped and their lightweight fused construction.
In the image of the spread collar above, for example, you can see how the front edge curves outwards from the opening, before curling back under the jacket lapel. This ‘S’ shape is most obvious when the jacket is removed (below).
A floating lining on a collar is harder to curve this way, and most significantly doesn’t retain that curve once it has been shaped.
As regards the collar’s shape, the most important factors in making it sit proud of the jacket like this – and not collapse beneath it – are the height at the back and the front.
The height at the back is fairly easy to measure: with my spread collar, the height is 4.4cm, with the collar stand underneath it 4.2cm. This collar stand (the band that runs around the neck) is the more usual measure of collar height, but the collar itself is always 2mm or so higher.
The height at the front, however, depends far more on how high the collar sits on the body of the shirt, than it does on the height of the collar itself.
Collars normally get a little smaller as they curve round towards the front, and my spread one measures 3.8cm at the front. But it is that position on the body – how close it is to the chin, and indeed the angle of the curve at the front – that make the biggest difference.
In fact, I’d say that is the single most important thing for making a non-button down collar sit well unbuttoned, under a jacket.
This is a pretty tall collar.
It’s important with collar height for it to be proportionate to the neck of the wearer, but even given my relatively long neck, this is big.
The reason is that it has to go with every style of jacket. These vary substantially in my wardrobe, from the fairly low WW Chan collar pictured here, to the my high ones from Anderson & Sheppard.
I don’t want to start having different heights of shirt collar – another variable that would hugely increase the number of shirts – and so there is always some compromise. The shirt collar looks tall here, but if anything looks short with those A&S suits.
Things would be a lot easier, of course, if everyone only had one tailor and one shirtmaker: one style of everything. But most of us need a little variation.
My second collar style should be more familiar to readers, as it was the basis for the design of the ready-to-wear shirts we now sell on the PS shop.
This button-down collar was developed by myself and shirtmaker Luca Avitabile. (Luca made the shirt pictured above – in our exclusive Lighter Everyday Denim fabric. Simone Abbarchi made the other, in a herringbone brushed cotton.)
The aim of that design was for the collar to form the pleasing ‘S’ shape both when it was buttoned and unbuttoned, in the same way as the spread collar. And you can see how it does that above (without a tie) and below (with).
In fact, if anything I think these images rather undersell that S curve, as I’d just put on this shirt, and the collar hasn’t quite moulded yet. (This is something that happens naturally with wear, as it’s pushed around by both your neck and by the jacket lapel.)
This kind of shape is much easier to achieve with a button down, however.
That’s because it has buttons, which force it into a particular shape by anchoring the tip.
So while it is relevant, when describing this collar, that the points are 9cm long, and that they’re 11cm apart when resting on the body, the position of the buttons is probably more important.
The buttons are (centre to centre) 9cm apart, so the tips are being dragged inwards by 1cm on either side. And they’re being pushed upwards too, the combination of which causes that pleasing curl.
I’ve listed these and all the other measurements at the bottom of this piece, for easy reference.
I wouldn’t say anyone should just copy them though. Just like trouser widths or cuff heights, they need to be in proportion to your body.
However, they do help establish ratios and ideas of proportion. And we’ve already covered in this post how collars should reflect the proportions of your body or face, in order to drive attention towards it.
If your neck is shorter than mine, you might have a lower collar; if your face is smaller, you might want smaller points. But this article puts numbers to what you are playing with.
The button-down collar, by the way, is a little shorter than the spread one. Its collar stand measures 4cm at the back, and the collar itself 4.2cm.
This is partly because the button-downs are more casual, and need to work more easily without a jacket. And partly because the spread collar particularly benefits from height, in terms of helping it stand up unbuttoned.
I think the only measurement left is tie gap: the space left between the two sides of the collar, when fastened, above the collar button. For the tie to nestle into.
I like this to be minimal, with the aim that those two sides of the collar should appear to just meet – rather than be set apart or start to overlap. A gap of 2mm or 3mm seems to achieve that.
If you have any questions about these shirt collar proportions that I haven’t mentioned, please let me know.
The measurements in summary, are:
- Collar stand height, at back: 4.2cm
- Collar height, at back: 4.4cm
- Collar stand height, at front: 3.8cm
- Point length: 9cm
- Distance between points (when worn): 16cm
- Distance between points (when laid flat): Infinite, a straight line
- Collar stand height, at back: 4cm
- Collar height, at back: 4.2cm
- Collar stand height, at front: 3.7cm
- Point length: 9cm
- Distance between points (when worn): 10cm
- Distance between points (when laid flat): 11cm
- Distance between buttons: 9cm
Other clothes shown:
- Tweed jacket, bespoke by WW Chan in W Bill cloth, reviewed here
- Shibumi green silk tie
- Grey flannel trousers, Fox cloth by Whitcomb & Shaftesbury
Photography: Alex Natt @adnatt