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Shirt Savvy: Improve Your Collar IQ

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We saw an interesting article in the Wall Street Journal recently testing your collar ID. If you can’t tell the difference between club and the spread don’t be ashamed (essentially, the club is rounded, the spread is pointed). You don’t need to know all the nuances but it’s good to know what collar suits the shape of your face and what collar goes well with a tie (or without one). 

A few friendly pointers: 

- Shirts with stiff collars were designed to be buttoned up all the way and worn with a tie. When they are unbuttoned they can droop. If you’re going to wear your stiff collar open at the next make sure it stands up on its own. You don’t want to look like a waiter at the end of his shift.

- Button-down collars, on the other hand, can be worn with a tie or without. They are generally more casual, often in Oxford cloth. Consider wearing with a less formal knit or tweed tie, which both look terrific. Brunello Cucinelli (212 339 3313) has updated this classic look with Italian offhanded knowingness.

- The cutaway collar is so wide and angled at such an extreme that is almost parallel to the ground. Ralph Lauren (212 339 3347) has been known to sport the extreme cutaway to great affect. It is very formal and should be worn with a tie with a wide knot, generally on a man with a trimmer face. 

- The club collar is a more common sight these days. Young men are leading the comeback and that’s a good thing. But when you wear a small-collared shirt remember to keep the knot of your tie small too. A small collar does not want to struggle with a baseball-size knot.  

- Most men look smart in a spread collar, or forward point (a spread with a narrower opening).  Charvet (212 339 3308) makes beautiful examples of these. Keep the proportions of your tie knot under control and you are ready to make your mark. Go forth with confidence.