Yama asks: I’ve been getting frustrated with the plastic collar stays that come with most of my shirts. I see a range of higher-end options, from magnetic to brass to titanium and even 24k gold. Some company even sells collar stays that double as can openers. I just want my dress shirt collars to look nice, symmetrical, and “up.” What do you think is my best bet?
A dress shirt requires collar stays – they maintain the shape of the collar and give it the crisp, “finished” look that says “I’m dressed up.”
Shirts typically come with plastic collar stays, and for practical purposes, these are perfectly fine. They’re typically strong enough to keep your collar straight, while being flexible enough to prevent damage to the collar fabric.
You can also buy collar stays in brass, steel and even gold. These can be a touch of luxury for you that isn’t seen by anyone else, but they aren’t functionally necessary.
There are, as you identify, some stays that feature a very small, powerful magnet that you place under your shirt to keep the collar up without buttons. If someone makes these and wants to send me a review set, I’d be happy to try them, but I can’t bring myself to actually spend money on the whole affair. It seems a little goofy.
While I don’t really recommend spending money on metal stays, it can be a good idea to pick up a set of plastic stays. You should be able to buy them at any decent men’s store for five or eight dollars (try Brooks or Jos. A. Bank). It will include stays of various lengths. That way, you don’t have to try and keep track of the sometimes super-flimsy, transparent stays included with your shirts. I also have one of these in my dopp kit, along with some plain cufflinks, so I’m never left unprepared.