Did you know that there are nine different types of collar styles for dress shirts? Yes, that’s right. Depending on the occasion, style, and overall look you are seeking, different types of collar styles can work better to pull off that perfect formal or business casual attire.
While many prefer a conventional dress shirt with a spread, semi-spread, or forward point collar, other types of collars such as the button-down collar can also look great for less formal occasions.
A button-down collar is a type of collar where the two forward-facing points of the collar are attached to the shirt by two buttons. A spread collar, on the other hand, is a type of collar that has a much wider distance between the two collar points, as compared to a standard or point collar. A wider spread helps visually widen a person’s face and compliments individuals who have inherently thinner or longer faces.
But when should you opt to wear a button-down collar vs. a spread collar? And what are some of the tips you can follow to ensure your attire is just the right level of formal or casual that you are looking for? For answers to these questions and a lot more, read on!
Button Down Collar vs. Spread Collar – Similarities & Differences
With the rise of more ivy-influenced preppy fashion, the classic button-down collar oxford or dress shirt, which was once reserved for, well, traditionalists, has made a comeback in recent years.
The biggest difference between the two types of collars is not just the design but also the level of formality each one represents.
A button-down collar, for example, is less formal and more easygoing than a spread collar. One can easily pull off a business casual look with a button-down collar shirt paired with denim jeans, gray/navy khaki chinos, and even denim shorts. You won’t be able to do the same with a spread-collar shirt!
Thanks to the two buttons holding the collar firmly in place the neckline stands firm and this type of collar can also look great without a tie, a suit, or a blazer. In addition, it looks neater, particularly on the off chance that a shirt you’re wearing is untucked.
A spread collar is a lot different in terms of design. In the case of a spread collar, you generally have two variations, a full-spread collar or a semi/medium spread collar.
The term ‘spread’ refers to the distance between the collar points. A wider spread means that the gap between the two collar points is a lot wider allowing you to wear thicker ties with full Windsor knots.
A semi-spread or medium-spread collar isn’t as wide as a full-spread which in some ways can make it more versatile as it can be used both with or without a tie. In most cases, a spread collar is a lot more formal and is often worn with a suit and tie or blazer and tie combination.
Why Choose A Button Down Collar vs. A Spread Collar?
The button-down collar is a classic style that features small buttons on the collar points, which are fastened to the shirt. This collar should be chosen if what you seek is a more casual and relaxed look, for everyday wear or casual occasions. It’s commonly seen in Oxford shirts and is perfect for pairing with jeans or chinos. The buttons help keep the collar in place, preventing it from flapping around.
On the other hand, a spread collar is the preferred choice for individuals who have thin or narrow faces. The widened gap between the two collar points can visually widen the wearer’s face making your facial features line up just right.
A spread collar style is often associated with formal or dressier occasions. It provides a more sophisticated and elegant appearance, especially when paired with a tie and suit. The spread collar allows for a larger tie knot and works well with a wider range of face shapes helping create a more open and bolder look.
Both collar styles have their own unique charm and can be worn in various settings. It ultimately comes down to personal preference and the overall look you want to achieve. So, whether you’re going for a more relaxed or formal vibe, the choice between a button-down collar and a spread collar can elevate your style game.
Styling a Button-Down Collar vs. a Spread Collar
How do you style each one of these collar types to meet your specific dress code requirements? Let’s find out!
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Styling A Button-Down Collar
For a casual and laid-back look, pair a button-down collar shirt with a pair of denim jeans. If you are feeling bold, roll up the sleeves for an extra relaxed vibe. You can also leave the top button undone for a more effortless suave look or button it up for a neater more formal appearance. Again, to keep a more polished look make sure the shirt is tucked in. You can also leave it untucked for a messier, more casual look.
For a more formal style, dress up a button-down collar shirt with a pair of dress pants or tailored trousers. If you want to add a tie, go for a slim or knit tie to complement the casual nature of the collar. For more formal occasions, also opt for a solid color or subtle pattern.
You can try different patterns and colors to add personality to your outfit. Plaid, gingham, or striped button-down collar shirts can add visual interest and make a statement. Don’t be afraid to mix and match with different textures and accessories to create a unique and personalized style.
Remember, fashion is all about expressing yourself and feeling confident in what you wear. So, have fun with your button-down collar shirts and embrace your own personal style.
Styling A Spread Collar
When it comes to a spread collar, you have a few options to consider. For a more formal look, pair a spread-collar shirt with a tie. Opt for a wider tie knot like the Windsor or the Half Windsor to complement the wider collar spread. This combination is perfect for business meetings or formal events. A spread collar shirt also pairs well with a suit or blazer for that extra level of professionalism and smartness.
If you want a more casual yet stylish outfit, wear a spread collar shirt with the top button undone and roll up the sleeves. This creates a relaxed and effortless look that’s perfect for a night out with friends or a casual dinner date. You can also layer a sweater or a blazer over the shirt for added warmth and style.
Remember, the key to styling is to feel confident and comfortable in what you wear. Don’t be shy to try out different combinations and see what works for you!
5 Top Tips for Wearing a Button-Down Collar
Here are five tips for wearing a button-down collar:
- Button-down collars are perfect for creating a laid-back and relaxed look.
- Roll up the sleeves of your button-down collar shirt. This adds a touch of effortless coolness to your overall look.
- Tuck in your button-down collar shirt for a more polished appearance or leave it untucked for a less formal look.
- Use patterns such as plaid, gingham, or striped button-down collar shirts to make a bold statement.
- Add a sweater, cardigan, or jacket over your shirt to create a stylish and versatile look.
5 Top Tips for Wearing a Spread Collar
Mentioned below are four top tips for wearing a spread collar:
- A spread collar is perfect for more formal occasions like business meetings or special occasions.
- Leaving the top button of your spread collar shirt undone creates a laid-back look that’s perfect for a night out with friends or a casual dinner date.
- Adding a sweater or a blazer over your spread-collar shirt adds depth and style to your outfit and can be a great option for cooler weather or more formal events.
- A spread collar is perfect for people who have a thin or narrow face.
- Have fun with your spread collar shirts by trying out different patterns and colors.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is a button-down or spread collar better?
It really depends on your preferred style and the occasion itself! A button-down collar is more casual and works well for a relaxed look, while a spread collar is more formal and versatile. If you want a dressier look, go for a spread collar. If you prefer a laid-back vibe, opt for a button-down collar. Ultimately, it’s all about what makes you feel confident and comfortable.
What is the difference between a spread collar and a standard collar dress shirt?
Spread collar dress shirts can be easily dressed up for more formal occasions. The wider points from one collar tip to the other allows for a full windsor knot, that as we all know, looks amazing when paired with a suit. A standard collar or a narrow collar only allows for skinny knots and ties that don’t quite live up to the same level of formality.
Are button-down and spread-collar dress shirts considered formal?
It’s important to note that both styles can be versatile and can be dressed up or down depending on how you style them. So, while spread collar shirts lean towards a formal look, you can still create a polished outfit with a button-down collar shirt by pairing it with dress pants or a blazer. Ultimately, it’s about finding the right balance between your personal style and the occasion you’re dressing for.
When choosing between a button-down collar and a spread collar, there are a few things to consider. The button-down collar is more casual and works well for a relaxed and laid-back look. On the other hand, the spread collar is more formal and versatile. It’s perfect for dressing up with a tie for business or special occasions.
Both collars have their own unique style, so it ultimately depends on the occasion and your personal preference. There are no strict rules. Have fun experimenting with different collar styles to find out what works best for you!
Samoel Ovanessian is the founder and creator of StylishAlpha.com – a website dedicated to men’s fashion. As a proud owner of more than 200 ties, he loves digging through new clothing combinations for everyday use, formal events and even just for fun. You can read more about Samoel here.