What is a band collar shirt? Well, in simple terms, it’s a dress shirt without a collar!
When looking at the development of a particular menswear style, the band collar is especially interesting. The reason? For one, there are numerous and varied ‘origin’ stories that have all come together to result in one garment with a small variety of subtle stylistic differences.
But first, what exactly is a band collar shirt? The answer is relatively simple – it’s a shirt with just a band for the collar. More elaborately, it’s a shirt that eschews the go-to turn-down collar, instead being formed from a singular, flat band of cloth that runs around the neck.
It’s like a regular dress shirt with the turn-down collar (or collar cape) snipped off. In fact, it’s an easy DIY project to make your own in that very method.
Types of Band Collar Shirts
First, there’s the standard band collar that is probably the most common these days. This variety is the simplest, with the shirt merely ending where a standard shirt collar would begin.
This look is likely derived from classic workwear back in the days when shirts had removable collars. White collar workers would attach a collar and style with a tie, while tie-less blue-collar workers would often go sans-collar.
The second is the Mandarin collar, which is a term often mistakenly used for all band collar shirts, but actually refers to a specific variety.
As opposed to a regular band collar, a Mandarin collar extends (usually 2-5 centimeters) above the neckline, and could more appropriately be called a stand collar.
As implied, this look is an appropriation of the necklines of gowns worn by Mandarins in Imperial China. Where a band collar closes entirely at the throat, a Mandarin collar often (though not always) leaves a gap where the fabric rises above the button closure.
Last is the Nehru collar, which is actually very visually similar to a Mandarin collar. The distinction lies more in the type of garment with which it is used.
Mandarin collars usually refer to shirts while Nehru collars refer to a jacket style picked up from traditional Indian attire – a style rocked notably by Indian Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru, hence the name.
Styling the Band Collar Shirt
Now, while band collar shirts used to have pretty specific connotations, these days they’ve been developed to fit pretty much any occasion.
A standard band collar was once limited to purely casual attire purely by nixing the option of a tie, but in an air-tie welcome world, it’s become common practice to wear the style under a blazer, or even a suit.
Likewise, a Mandarin or Nehru collar used to stand out as distinctly foreign, but with the current amalgamation of influences evident all over men’s fashion, it’s a look that is still unique without screaming ‘exotic’.
Wear it buttoned up for clean sophistication, or with a few buttons undone, as Brian has done here, for a relaxed and breezy vibe!
Thanks for reading.
He Spoke Style