Consider the Collar Pin

Any Boardwalk Empire fans out there? I’ll admit to being late to the party, but I managed to work my way through the entire series in about six months in what I’d call a form of conservative binge-watching. As any men’s style enthusiast will attest, one of the best parts of the series was the clothing. And one of my favorite parts was a simple and ubiquitous accessory: the collar pin. Far from being just a period piece, the collar pin can be incorporated into contemporary menswear. Here’s a quick guide on wearing a collar pin.

How To Wear A Collar Pin - He Spoke Style

| WEARING | Al Bazar double-breasted blazer, Saks Fifth Avenue shirt, J.Crew pants, Brooks Brothers tie, Vintage collar pin, Timex watch, Briefcase c/o Banana Republic, Boots c/o Gordon Rush | PHOTOGRAPHY | by Rob McIver Photo

What does a collar pin do? A collar pin serves two purposes. First, it’s designed to bring your collar tabs closer together, which gives your collar a very unique and distinctive look. Second, it props up your tie knot, which helps feature it more prominently.

When should you wear a collar pin? I’m fond of labeling style choices with the categories, always, sometimes, and never. In the case of a collar pin, I’d add a new category: occasionally, which I’d consider less than sometimes. It works in an office setting as well as on a date – an interesting detail that’ll make you look like you’ve got your stuff together.

What kind of collar should you wear a collar pin with? Not all shirt collars were made for collar pins. Most forward point collars, like the shirt I’m wearing here, will work just fine. And in my opinion, club collars were made for collar pins.

How To Wear A Collar Pin - He Spoke Style

What are the drawbacks of using a collar pin? The one major drawback of using a collar pin is that it creates holes in your collar. These will disappear after washing, but if you keep pinning the same collar, it will eventually start to deteriorate. If you’re at all worried about ruining one of your favorite shirt’s collars, don’t use a collar pin. I have two shirts that I specifically reserve for pinning the collar.

Are there alternatives? Yes. If you don’t want to use a classic collar pin, you have two options. There are clip-on versions, which serve the exact same purpose without leaving holes. (Want to see one of those in action? Here’s a post where I’m wearing one.) And you can find shirts specifically made to be worn with a collar bar.

How To Wear A Collar Pin - He Spoke Style

Have you ever worn a collar pin?

Thanks for reading.

Stylishly Yours,

He Spoke Style


Chime In

  • Bill Gabbard

    Collar pins make me think of Redford in “Gatsby,” definitely a trendsetter…like the song says, “I remember it well.” Just read an interesting piece by Chris Meggs on Prezi about how Ralph Lauren (and Theoni Aldredge)’s 20s throwback look was huge, and set the wheels in motion for Lauren’s influence in the Prep Revolution of the late 70s (fascinating time, it happened right in the middle of my college years). Highly recommend the read. Hmmm. I have a collar stay in my cufflink box, haven’t worn it in a while. Maybe Easter!

    • Brian Sacawa

      I will definitely check that out. Thanks for the tip, Bill!

  • Alexandros Barlas

    Hey Brian,

    I want to ask you what seems to be an easy question to answer. Say you’re in the early 20’s like me, say you don’t have insane amount of money in your disposal and say you need to build from scratch a basic, yet versatile attire, including shoes, hats, asscots, like almost everything in your blog, that can be worn in all social occasions except like university ( I don’t expect to show up that dressed up in my Computer science classes).
    With all that in mind, how much money would get the job done? is 2.000gbp enough? (Oh yeah, I live in the UK)


    • Justin Targia

      I’ll try to help but I think my answer may not be exactly what your looking for. Maybe Brian can give better advice but in my opinion it’s simply not possible to say how much money it will take to build a complete wardrobe. I know the UK is the country of high street fashion and with brands like new look, river island and top man you can easily buy a ton of things with 2000 gbp but they most certainly won’t be quality items. As a start get a navy blue suit. The brand that comes to mind for affordable quality suiting is suit supply. The brand has many different fit options and when your there tell them that you’d like to break up the suit and wear the pieces separately. They will find the best suit that will work for you. Of course as Brian would say get a three piece suit because that will give you many more styling options. Then start looking at grey blazers or any colors or shades that you like best. Blazers will be the most important part of your wardrobe so you can never have to many.

      As for shirts white and blue are the most versatile colors and what I wear almost everyday. Stripes will also almost always be appropriate. A great start would be to invest in 5 quality well fitting shirts. There are so many brands out there that it’s hard to choose but just shop around and I’m sure you will be able to find good shirts for an affordable price.

      Shoes will always be pricer but it’s best to invest in good pairs that will last a very long time. I’m assuming you already have basics such as jeans and casual knits.

      To answer your question simply, can you build a complete wardrobe for 2000 gbp? no but you can definitely build a great foundation. Remember your wardrobe will never be complete. I am always adding new items and that won’t stop. Don’t worry to much about getting everything at once. Just get what you can and add an item or two when possible. Hope that helps

      • Alexandros Barlas

        Really nice input justin. Thanks for the advice. I’m still looking to what Brian has to say and then plan my course of shopping spree!

  • Mugsy Jeans

    Collar pin’s are pretty rare, can’t say I’ve ever seen them done fashionably in person. But they are certainly distinctive and classic, which means you can’t go wrong with them (and I have to agree that Boardwalk Empire gives them an added cool factor that even younger guys would appreciate!). Just curious, but what’s your take on collar pins vs. tie pins, Brian? Do they serve generally the same purpose? Do you prefer one over the other? Can they be worn together? Appreciate the tips!

  • Joel

    Super late on this post but I like to wear collar pins pretty casually. If I’m wearing a short sleeve shirt with a collar I pop on a collar pin and I get a lot of compliments on it.