Q And Answer: Collar Questions

March 21, 2010

Q and Answer: Collar Questions

James from Vancouver writes: Gentlemen, I recently bought a few shirts that have a little hidden button underneath to keep the collar flap down.  When considering the spectrum of formality, would this fall closer to traditional button-downs, or normal non button-down?

Also, what’s the deal with collar stays, or darts, or whatever they’re called? I was at a store recently where someone tried to sell me brass ones to replace the plastic stock units.  Brass?  Really?  I asked why I needed brass and he said “so you can bend them and they stay.”   Isn’t the idea that they keep the collar straight??

Those little hidden buttons can be a nice way to keep your collar points in check without the relative informality of the traditional button-down collar.  The question, I suppose, is what purpose they serve.  They suffer a bit from hybrid disease: they lack the informality of the button-down, but they’re no better than a standard collar when you’re wearing a tie.  Overall, we say: neutral.

As far as collar stays, we hadn’t thought of that explanation for brass stays, but we have to give the sales guy credit for creativity.  There really isn’t a reason, besides a general preference for metal over plastic.  I must admit that a couple years ago for Christmas my mom got me some gold-plated stays, and I enjoy the idea that the most precious part of my outfit is hidden to the outside world.  Functionally, though, stout plastic is just fine.

(One addition, per Un: brass stays won’t melt if ironed.)