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:

Spread collar:

  • 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

Button-down collar:

  • 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

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JB

While I’ve only tried Luca via the friday polos, that spread collar is already better than most, and that’s OTR. Given the opportunity, I’d love to have him make me some shirts with personalized collars too.

Anonymous

Thanks Simon. Definitely a bit surprised at how big your collars are, do you think this is noticeable vs what bespoke makers typically make?

How much of this collar size is what suits your face vs your personal preference (I know hard to split out)

Rafael

Beautiful pictures, I think you have nailed the collars in these shirts. I also love the jacket, I think one of the best ones you’ve reviewed recently.
Out of curiosity, do you know what cloth is the brushed cotton you mention?

Stephen

Hi Simon
Very useful article. It’s something I hadn’t really thought about in detail but makes perfect sense. Just one question. Do the straight collars have ‘bones’?
I find removing them helps with the S shape but they curl sometimes during wear. What I have definitely learnt here is to buy slightly bigger straight collars. That said long point button downs are my preferred unless for very formal wear.
Thanks.

AVI

Hi Simon – I’m not sure I understand the comment about floating construction.

You say
“… a result of the way they’re shaped and their lightweight floating construction.”

and go on to say
“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.”

If the curve is a result of the floating construction, how is it good that the floating construction doesn’t retain the curve? I’m confused!

Vadil

Thanks Simon, interesting article as always.
I look at the photo with a tie and I realize that the space between the neck and the shirt is not big. What distance do you think is comfortable for long time wearing?

Charles

Hi Simon, the point length is a topic I find interesting as it can have a quite an effect. In your article “how wide should my jacket lapels be?” you mention that the jackets are fairly consistent in lapel width. Are there similar ranges for collar point lengths?

Charles

Hi Simon, I was referring to collars in general. Spearpoint vs a tiny point collar. At 3 inches mine now seem to be on the small side so having your sizes is useful as a reference.

Paul

Hi Simon, is there still a place for double cuffs in the current sartorial environment ? I have some bespoke shirts from Luca that I haven’t even worn yet – is it possible to have the double cuffs turned into single ?

Ben

Do you have any thoughts on keeping unbuttoned collars upright when worn without a jacket? In my observation, this primarily occurs as the fabric of the body of the shirt under the collar band loses integrity with wear and relates to the collar itself only insofar as a higher, more heavily lined collar is heavier and more disposed to collapse. The lighter the body fabric, then, the lighter must the collar be (i.e. less lining, smaller) to retain stature. Counterintuitively, collar stays actually makes the collar more prone to collapse.

Also, typo: “I’ve zeroed in on these two collar styles because do that”

Peter K

I use aluminum collar stays sometimes. I’ve bent them to a curve, which helps the collar stay up with a jacket.

Jai Kharbanda

Fantastic article as always, Simon. On the subject of collars, and collar stays in particular, are there any advantages to having removable vs permanent ones? I’ve seen some RTW shirts have permanent ones but can’t see why one way would be any better than the other.

Nick

Hello Simon, perhaps the only thing missing from this article is the weight (or thickness) of the fusing you have the tailor use, spread collar versus button down – and for spread collars, whether you use a lighter weight for shirts intended to be worn more casually, usually sans tie?

Cheers,

N.

Matthew V

Very useful article, thank you.

Jonny

Have you any more thoughts on one piece collars for spring/summer shirts to be worn without a tie? I’m sure I’ve seen pictures of you wearing them, but not enough to think it’s something you particularly favour?

Anonymous

Any chance of offering your spread collars shirts on PS Simon?

Jim S.

For work I usually wear straight collar dress shirts with an odd jacket. To prevent the collar from collapsing, I use metal collar stays which are held in place with a small, very strong rare earth magnet on the inside of the collar. They work great and keep my collars standing up all day. Highly recommended.

Josh

This happens to be the two styles of collar that Anglo-Italian offer, and which I am hoping to commission via their M2M service later in the year. I appreciate that much of the refinement discussed here would only be possible via bespoke, but do you think there is scope for any kind of adjustments to the collar dimensions via M2M? Or is it more important that, like for RTW, the general construction follows these principles and the fit works for the individual? One more question if I may: I remember you tried AI’s RTW shirts briefly along with a jacket commission; do you have any thoughts to share on their shirt construction and style with respect to the points discussed here? Cheers!

Josh

Super, thanks for the thoughtful response, Simon. I also have a long neck and would definitely benefit from the higher collar and other proportions that you have refined for your shirts with your makers. But a key problem I have with RTW shirts is sleeve length! The high street collar-sleeve measurement system is sorely lacking among the craft makers we revere. I previously extolled the virtues of the Berg &Berg collars – they are great, high, and well structured but the dreaded oxford shrinkage got me in the sleeves. Beyond those, I have some old Brooks Brothers OCBDS which are actually long enough but suffer from the short unlined Ivy collar issues when it comes to tailoring, and their UK pricing now is higher even than Drakes RTW. All of which is to say, I’m looking for a collar approaching those of yours, at a length to accommodate my uncompromisingly long limbs, at a price that ensures the minimum level of quality that we would expect here at PS but also allows me to wear the shirts without the acute anxiety of spoiling them 😄

Alexander

My RTW everyday denim shirt measures 4,1cm at the band and 4,6 total. Which makes it taller than your bespoke ones.
I have considered your collars very high some while ago. But the other well known neapolitan RTW shirts that I own are also made with a collar band at 4cm. So it has become rather standard.
I would argue that a high collar does not have to look bad on average or a bit shorter necks, as long as it is open necked. Because at least from the front it is open enough. Maybe that is why Mr. Migliarotti looks good with his high collars. Still trying to figure it out.

Dave

I read your articles with great interest and they are most informative. So…I’m 95 % a fan. I would like to make a comment if I may. You’ve mentioned a few times about neckties being “phased out.” I disagree strenuously. A TRUE gentleman does not leave the house without a necktie. In fact, in my firm,,,no one would dare appear without a tie. I wanted simple to offer a different perspective. So…please…stop promoting the sloppiness of no necktie. Instead , you could emphasize its importance.

NickD

To add to Simon’s comments, being a gentleman would probably not include wearing a costume, and in most firms (irrespective of industry – I work for a law firm) wearing a suit and tie when you haven’t got a client meeting now looks like at best an affectation and at worst like office cosplay. I’d say subtlety is important, as well as not standing out for the wrong reasons. I save the ties for the occasions that they are appropriate and attempt to dress well, but appropriately the rest of the time.

Vadil

Fully agree, you can be a gentleman in jeans. Times changes and many non-traditional companies don’t have any dress codes, but of course a sense of style is still important.

Marshall Baird

Simon,
Being a gentleman is indeed about propriety and courtesy, and both are more clearly demonstrated by wearing a tie, or at least buttoning all the buttons but the collar button if one goes tie-less.

Yuriy

So women go after cigars and cars… it is good not many of them visit here… otherwise even a perfect tie wouldn’t help)

Rich

I enjoyed the post, thank you.

It always used to bug me that Charles Thrywhitt shirts said their buttons were sown on so securely they would never fall off. So why did they include spares?

Emmett shirts work well for me esp. their button down collars but they aren’t always available so I’ll look up at PS button down as they sound perfect and a similar price to Emmett.

C Y

I think the spare buttons are provided in case buttons break or get chipped.

Rich

Good point.

kristoffer

Very nice article. Btw. do you prefer pocket shirt or non-pockets? I feel kind of naked without pockets/details . Guess it depend on the use/formality. Any articles on the theme?

hugh

I think there may be a cultural divide here. As an American, I find OCBDs on their own (ie with jeans and a belt) tend to more often have a pocket; and that same shirt can often slide under a jacket (not a suit) with a tie without any real fuss. But for smoother cotton shirts with spread collars, I like an uninterrupted chest. Maybe this is a sliding scale of formality: shirts edition

Henry

Hi, may I please ask what’s your average collar height at the back for a jacket?

Marshall Baird

Mr. Crompton,
The first button below the collar button is meant to be buttoned.
It would show far more self-respect and respect for others if you remembered this.

Marshall Baird

Simon,
As a loyal follower of Permanent Style, I thought I owed it to you to alert you about this matter.
Unhelpful? Silly?
Quite the contrary!
Why not ask your readers what message is being sent by leaving that button unbuttoned?

Marshall Baird

Thank you for your detailed reply.
One wonders what Bruce Boyer would say about the matter.

Matthew

Still to your guns here Simon. I’ve worked in the most formal of offices and environments (in diplomatic, banking and corporate circles; home and abroad) and have no doubt that buttons and collars have little to do with respect or self respect. It tends to be the anxious guys, eager to conform (or exclude) who associate rules of dress with respect or courtesy. Dress with modesty is my only real rule.

Paul F.

This post about collars is very apropos for me. I recently had some bespoke shirts made, all in PS cloths. This was my first experience with bespoke shirts, and I was very struck by the heights of the collars compared to those on the MTM shirts I’ve been wearing for years. Of course, I now understand that the collars on the bespoke shirts are as high as they are to accommodate the jacket worn over them, as you discuss, but the height takes a little getting used to for the uninitiated. Nonetheless, I’m compelled to ask why most RTW and even MTM shirts have collars that are so low, in comparison to those a tailor would typically make for a bespoke shirt?

Nico

I see the point for a limited variation in collar styles, but don’ t you think there are shirt styles that call for a specific collar? E.g., a denim shirt with all the western details, yoke, snap buttons, maybe sawtooth and the like, require in my opinion long points irrespective of face shape. Or playful tropical with camp…

Initials CG

Thank you! This was very appreciated because I’ve been trying to achieve precisely this concept, and the measurements provide a great guideline.
Out of curiosity, did you have the problem of realizing you had too many shirts? I mean I still have many great rtw shirts when cotton was still really good at a mid-market price – one of your earliest blogger posts described how you tapered your shirts, and I tried it myself. Great tip btw! Just can’t get myself to part with them because they’re still in great condition, and I went crazy with the sewing machine.
I’ve been hand washing and ironing my shirts during this lockdown and I can’t believe I have so many.

Liam

Great article, as always! I was wondering if you have ever heard of Crichton Bespoke. They are a shirt maker and tailor based in Chester, but they have an office based in London. I am looking at commissioning some bespoke shirts and suits and I would ideally like to support a local tailor as long as I do not sacrifice too much in quality.

BL

Why not mix in a band collar?