The centerpiece of a shirt is the collar.Regardless of whether the shirt is worn with a coat, tie or without, the collar’s upside down “V” shape always points to the wearer’s face and lets it stand out.Therefore, it is important to have a collar that casts a positive light on its wearer. In order to achieve this, the collar should suit the wearer’s face, have the right size and simply look sleek.
In this article, I will focus on collar stays and their ability to give a collar the right sleekness. Sometimes collar stays are also referred to as sticks, bones, knuckles, tabs or in the UK: collar stiffeners.
Basics About the Shirt Collar
Roughly speaking there are two categories of collars: the ones with a glued interlining and the ones without it. Both kinds collars usually feature collar stays in order to create a nice sleek collar. Some collar stays are sewn in an cannot be exchanged, others are removable. Only soft collars like a button down collar do not have any collar stays.
Many people say that “good shirts” should always have exchangeable collar stays. In fact, there are indeed many shirts with inferior glued interlining that have non-removable collar stays. Due to laundry and ironing this cheap collar is often times deformed and the shirt is worthless. However, there exist excellent bespoke shirts with glued interlinings and sewn in collar stays that last for years. Hence, not all good shirts necessarily must have exchangeable collar stays.
Apart from that, many high quality shirts feature exchangeable collar stays. In most cases those are made out of plastic and are often flexible or flimsy. Hence they are not ideal in order to get a
neat looking collar. Moreover, chances are they get lost in the washing machine anyway. Luckily, there are numerous collar stays in all kinds of materials available with prices ranging from $1 to well over $6000.
Collar Bones Materials
Classic materials for collar stays are brass, sterling silver, 14Kt gold or mother of pearl. In addition to that, stainless steel, titanium, horn, precious wood or even ivory and diamonds are used to craft collar stays. Those are generally sturdier than their plastic counterparts and thus it usually does not matter if you forget to remove them before having them laundered – they should look just fine afterwards. However, wooden collar stays and such made out of mother of pearl should definitely be removed in any case before being laundered.
Metal collar stays are less flexible and heavier than plastic ones. Personally, I like that because it gives the collar a sleeker look.
Size Does Matter for Collar Stays
Often times it is very difficult to find the right assortment of sizes for your different collars. Often times, collar stays sets are only available in two sizes which is definitely not enough for me. Three different sizes are better and four to five are ideal in my opinion.
When you have found your collar stays you need a place to store them, a little jewelery box or a leather container should do it.
Within the last five years I had ample opportunities to test different collar stays. Among them were some from amazon and ebay, brass and silver stays from Seven London and Charles Tyrwhitt and mother of pearl stays from Roensberg.
Four years ago I coincidentally stumbled upon Stayclip. Back then there were 4 reason for me to buy Stayclips
- The collar stays were made out of metal
- They offered 4 different lengths: 2, 2.5, 2.75 and 3 inches
- The prices were extremely fair especially considering the fact that I got 8 pairs of collar stays
- The way to store the stays on a metal clip seemed practical
In all those years, I have always been entirely satisfied with Stayclip stays. They still look like new although I constantly use them and storing them on a clip makes not loosing them very easy. I particularly enjoy the four different sizes because I can always find the right size for my collar. Moreover, Stayclip also provides a monogramming service.
In comparison to that Roensberg collar stays are also of high quality however, they only come in three, smaller sizes and they are considerably more expensive.
My brass collar stays show the usual dark discolorations and proofed to be a little too flexible for me. Sterling Silver and mother of pearl collar stays do not have any functional advantages compared to stainless steel or titanium and therefore do not justify the higher price.
Based on my experiences, I will keep using Stayclips and I can only recommend them because of their different sizes, durability and price. I cannot recommend Wurkin stiffs.
But as always – each to his own.
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