What Do Collar Stays Do, Anyway?

What do collar stays do?

Collar stays are the plastic or metal inserts that you place underneath your shirt collar to keep your collar crisp. 

We've said it time and time again that collar stays are the most overlooked corporate wear accessory that plays a vital role in any man's wardrobe. It's overlooked perhaps, because it isn't as visible an accessory in comparison to flashy socks, lapel pins, bracelets and watches.

However, it plays an integral part in presenting a clean and professional look. There's nothing more off-putting than seeing a well dressed, professional suited and booted to the "Tee", but feeling confused when your eyes glaze over his shirt collar. And, what do you see?

curled shirt collar


As opposed to a cleaner shirt collar like this:

crisp shirt collar

The look doesn’t look as crisp with a curly untamed collar.

When it comes to the big picture, collar stays enhances what we call the "Arrow Effect". The Arrow Effect is the arrow shape the your shirt collar and tie creates when you wear one. It enables the wearer to direct a viewer's gaze straight to your face instead of all over the joint.

Here's what it actually looks like:

The Arrow Effect

Click the image for an in depth guide on the Arrow Effect and how it's still applicable for corporate offices that don't wear ties. 


Why does the collar curl?

There are a number of reasons why the shirt collar begins to curl. When first purchasing your shirt you'll notice the collar remains crisp and sharp. Even when removing the plastic inserts, the fresh shirt's collar remains crisp.

However, after a number of wears and throwing it in the wash the collars become flimsy and prone to curling. 

Think of it like your standard A4 sheet of paper.

sheet of paper on a desk

Scrunch it up into a ball, unfold it and what do you get?

wrinkled paper

A wrinkly sheet of paper, obviously. 

Similar to the paper, the vulnerability of your shirt and it's collar to wrinkling depends mainly on the fabric of your shirt. These fabrics are most commonly; cotton, cotton/polysester blends, wool or linen and linen/cotton blends.

High elasticity fabrics will wrinkle less and after scrunching will return back to it's original form. Here's a quick chart of the elasticity levels between most common fabrics of clothing being linen, cotton and wool.

linen, cotton and wool elasticity graph

You can test the wrinkle-ability of your clothing and their fabrics by grabbing a handful and scrunching it. 


What does this mean for your shirt collar? 

stack of folded shirts

Designed by Freepik

This basically means that the severity of your shirt collar wrinkles depends mainly on the fabric. Considering that most collared shirts are cotton this means that most and if not all your shirts' collars are fairly vulnerable to wrinkling. 

With reference previously to our A4 sheet of paper example, our shirt collar's proneness to curl is inevitable as we wear them out and throw them in the wash. Our clothing, no matter what, is going to take a beating and the collar is going lose it's rigidity.

And this is why collar stays are important. 


What do magnetic collar stays do?

magnet used for magnetic collar stays

You may know already that there are different types of metal collar stays ranging from brass, sterling silver, gunmetal and even gold. Magnetic collar stays take it a step further combining premium ferritic stainless steel with magnets that you install underneath your shirt to keep your collar fixed down and permanent.

Since corporate offices are removing the tie from the dress code, we thought it would be a good idea.

Here's how they work.


In conclusion

Collar stays keep your shirt collar rigid for a sharp presentable look.

Donning droopy, floppy collars is a major set back when it comes to a professional image. Hence why we think collar stays are the most overlooked men's accessory but a vital article for all professionals. 

Although high elasticity fabrics such as cotton (the most common fabric for men's corporate shirts) inhibit wrinkling of the shirt, loss of rigidity of the shirt collar is inevitable. This is because of the natural wear and tear and washing the shirt does.

Therefore, we think collar stays are needed in every man's wardrobe.


Do you agree with us?

If not, shoot us a comment below. 


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