We recently published an article about collar stays and today we won’t move very far from the collar area of the shirt.Although you will rarely see gentlemen wearing collar pins nowadays, I think they look quite elegant and debonair and often underline one’s personal style. This article will show you all about collar pins, including the history, the different styles, where to buy a collar pin and what shirt collar to wear with a collar pin. In case you like to wear tab collars, you should seriously consider wearing a collar bar since it elevates the tie knot in the same way.
The History of the Collar Pin
Historically, the collar pin first surfaced in the beginning of the 20th century. The turndown collar was still in its infancy and, unlike today, was very strongly starched and hard. Silk collars however, were simply too delicate for the starch and so someone had the idea to connect the collar with a pin in order to give it a better shape and a neat look. As a result of this pin, the tie was slightly elevated which also looked quite sophisticated. Over the following decades, the collar bar cycled in and out of fashion: Fred Astaire wore it frequently in the 20’s and 30’s and it was also spotted in movies—Paul Muni in Scarface is a perfect example for that. In Germany, it regained popularity in the 1950’s, and the 1960’s in the U.S. in 1987, Michael Douglas as Gordon Gekko in Wall Street infamously wore his boldly striped shirts as well as his collar pins and thus caused a little revival of this accessory. Today, the TV Series Mad Men shows certain characters wearing a collar bar. Basically, there are three different kind of collar pins:
The Collar Pin
The classic collar pin looks similar to a big safety pin. It can easily be worn with all kinds of club collars or narrow collars. All you have to do is to connect your collar with the pin under your tie. This will result in two little small holes in your collar once you take out the pin. However this is not a problem at all since those holes should disappear after the shirt returns from the laundry.
In addition to the standard pin, there are straight pins with a little cube or element on each side, at least one of which can be screwed on and off. It looks similar to a barbell. This type of bar requires a special shirt collar made with two holes. Today, the chances of finding such a shirt collar off the rack are probably lower than winning the lottery. Therefore, you will need a made-to-measure or bespoke shirt.
The Collar Bar
The third option is better referred to as a collar bar, rather than a collar pin since it has a clasp on each end in order to hold the collar together. Often, those collar bars are richly decorated, or even have precious or semi-precious stones in them. Many people use the term collar bar interchangeably with collar pin. Personally, I prefer the first two options because I like the way they hold the collar in place, whereas the collar bars are not able to give me the same amount of shape. Additionally, I am not overly fond of the elaborately decorated bars. Even though the collar pin is often associated with a white collar environment, it was originally reserved for informal attire. Back in the day, formal attire always required a stiff collar, and the silk collar was anything but stiff, as mentioned before. If you want to wear your collar pin with your business suit or your Tweed Outfit, go ahead! It can look splendid. In any case, one should ensure one has a small tie knot, because otherwise one’s collar will wrinkle and look unfavorable. This means that you should choose a tie with very little or no lining at all and tie a simple not.
Where to Buy a Collar Pin, Barbell or Collar Bar?
Collar Bar with Ball End in Silver by Fort Belvedere
Collar Bar Clip in Silver made of Brass by Fort Belvedere
Collar Bar Channel End Silver Fort Belvedere
Collar Pin Safety Pin Silver Fort Belvedere
If you are now eager to shop for a collar safety pin, you have the option of silver or gold. On the other hand, should you prefer a collar bar or collar clip in different sizes, look here. Besides these options, you may find collar pins at flea markets, vintage stores or even Brooks Brothers (though they’ll charge you $58 rather than $25-30…).
A Shirt for Collar Pin with a Pinhall & Piccadilly Collar
If you are looking for a ready-to-wear shirt with little holes (also known as a pinhall) for a barbell, you should take a look at J. Press (If you cannot find the shirt easily, search for Pinhall). Back in the day, a Piccadilly collar (a white detachable collar with rounded corners) was often worn with a collar bar or pin. If collar pins are too long, they do not hold the collar together and look bad. Therefore, you should pay attention to the size. In the 30’s, collar pins were usually between 1.5 – 2 inches, whereas today they are often larger than that. Go for the smaller ones as they will look better.
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