Style Defined: Spread Collar

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Wear it if you enjoy putting time and effort into your style but are still more conservative than you are Italian.

Ah, the spread collar dress shirt – the middle ground of dress shirt collars

First, physically. The spread collar is literally right in between a forward point collar and a cutaway collar. While the points of a spread collar are spread farther than those on a forward point collar, they aren’t so boldly swept back as a cutaway collar.

Instead, they spread just enough to be tastefully hidden under the lapels of a jacket, but close enough together to cover the collar band of a necktie. Added bonus? This ‘in-between’ shape fits a both skinny four-in-hand knot and a bulky half-windsor with equal aplomb.

spread collar dress shirt

Second, the spread collar is also sartorially and stylistically down the middle. If the forward point collar ‘guy’ is the strict traditionalist and the cutaway collar ‘guy’ is the sprezzy trend-setter, the spread collar ‘guy’ falls comfortably in that sweet spot in the middle.

He’s not stuffy, but he’s not breaking any rules, either. It’s the kind of neutrality that also adds versatility, holding its own against peacocky suit in a bold pattern, or elevating a standard and somber grey or navy business suit.

spread collar dress shirt

| BRIAN WEARS | Ermengildo Zegna suit, Brooks Brothers shirt and tie, Rolex Datejust watch, Shoes c/o Paul Evans | PHOTOGRAPHY | by Rob McIver Photo

Third, while cutaway collars are often avoided by men with wider faces and, likewise, men with skinny or long faces avoid narrow collars), the spread collar falls smack dab in the middle. As such it’s incredibly versatile, working well with most all face shapes and sizes.

One important styling note – unless it’s your personal preference, the generally accepted advice is that narrower collar spreads look better unbuttoned and sans tie than wider collar spreads. An undone cutaway collar without a tie just looks off to most people.

spread collar dress shirt

On the contrary, an undone forward point collar can look spot on. Again taking that middle ground, a spread collar might not be my first choice to wear open, but it can definitely do the trick.

As for the origin? Well, it’s a tough one to pick out, but the spread collar hails from around the time of the Duke of Windsor as he was often seen sporting the style.

Beyond that, it’s another classic style that may very well have been around since the initial development of the modern shirt collar – and for that matter, it’s not going anywhere anytime soon.

spread collar dress shirt

Thanks for reading.

Stylishly Yours,

Adam Lehman
He Spoke Style

Chime In

  • Mequell Green

    I enjoy the pieces your doing about the different shirt collar styles. Little eye opening because what I always deemed a “spread collar” you deem a “cutaway collar”. My dress shirts are majority “cutaway collar” shirts which I’ve always called “spread collar”. When I wear them open without a tie I generally use magnetic collar stays which keeps the collar up and looks great with a sport jacket. Just a little FYI on the sans tie opinion in the blog.