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Far from fusty, the grandad collar shirt has made a major resurgence in recent seasons. When done right, this timeless style offers versatility, informal elegance and a whole new silhouette to your shirt collection. The question is, how to wear it so that you don’t look like a, well, grandad?
Commonly referred to as a collarless shirt, the grandad collar shirt is essentially just that. The classic mens shirt silhouette with button collar is joined to a raised band that runs around the neck but crucially does not fold down. Where the name comes from is not exactly clear, however, there are plenty of urban legends on where the style originates...
A popular anecdote as to how the grandad collar shirt came into being hails from 1920s New York. So the story goes, housewife Hannah Montague was so sick of having to repeatedly launder her husband’s shirts that she cut off the collars to wash separately thus getting more wear from the shirt.
While it’s a cute story, this seems like the work of a Manhattan ad exec to help shift more shirts. For a bit of research into the history of tailoring reveals that collarless shirts with removable starch collars had been a feature of men’s dress since the Victorian era.
It seems more likely that the craze stems from a need for functionality as factory workers of the late 19th and early 20th century began to remove the collars as they were scared of getting their ties stuck in the heavy machinery. This is in addition to the fact that the collarless shirt in grey or khaki wool was a part of the uniform for men serving in the British military during World War One.
How to wear it
Now a history lesson is all very well, but what you really want to know is how to incorporate the grandad collar shirt into a modern day wardrobe. What we love about the collarless shirt is that, much like a button down number, it can be worn to a variety of occasions, bringing a twist to an outfit that helps you stand out from the crowd. Here are three of our staple combinations.
Weekend wonder: for smart casual, Saturday style top your dark blue denim jeans with a grandad collar shirt in white or light blue and finish with navy socks and either leather boots or derbies.
Off-duty elegance: a crisp shirt, light cotton or dark blue chinos and slip-on loafers without socks is the epitome of the American Ivy League look. Replace the button-down shirt with a collarless version for a modern British take and swap out the trousers for shorts when on a sunny getaway.
Relaxed formal: adding a grandad collar shirt to a suit brings a laid back feel to a formal occasion and is the perfect dress code for a wedding (provided you aren’t the groom or best man of course). Wear with derbies, loafers or even a pair of minimal white trainers if you’re feeling daring.
And another thing...
Now that you know what to wear it with, we have just a few final pieces of advice for selecting a grandad collar shirt:
The collarless shirt is already pretty informal so for versatility always opt for long sleeves - you can always roll them up if you start to overheat.
While there are variations on the style, such as a half button placket and three button collar, a full button-up front shirt is guaranteed to go with everything in your wardrobe.
On the point of buttons, buttoning the shirt right to the top can work when worn with a suit, however, if unsure leave unbuttoned.
To tuck or not to tuck, that is the question. The collarless shirt is all about giving a relaxed vibe, which is why it should be left untucked. Just make sure that if you’re wearing with a suit the jacket covers the hem of your shirt.
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