Grandad collar shirts or band collar shirts – whatever you want to call them, the collarless dress shirt is a great style choice that is enjoying a strong revival.
Recommended collarless shirts:
- Goodthreads – 100% cotton
- Isle Bay Linens – 100% linen
- Asos – great variety, quality and price. (header image)
- Uniqlo – extra fine cotton broadcloth
What To Look For
Fit – It goes without saying that a shirt needs to fit the right way. Traditionally tunic shirts were often quite baggy. That’s partly because before central heating people would layer up with suits and overcoats. Today we spend a lot of time in overheated buildings and so prefer to wear just a shirt – hence why slim fitting or even muscle-fit shirts have become so popular. The choice is largely yours, although many enjoy the Victorian strongman or Peaky Blinder look of a slim fit and a muscular build. Whatever you decide, make sure the shirt fits across the shoulders and you still have free movement.
Fabric – Synethtic fabrics like polyester aren’t as cool and comfortable as natural fibres like cotton and linen. They are also unsustainable and release microplastics unless you use a special laundry bag that filters microplastics.
Collarless shirts are a piece of vintage clothing dating back centuries. Men’s dress shirts were worn with separate collars and cuffs for a number of reasons. One was that as these got dirty and showed more they could be washed without having to wash the whole shirt. They could also be starched to appear clean and crisp. This was especially popular during the Victorian era but carried on when soft collars became popular in 1920s fashion.
What this meant was while men could look great with perfect stiff collars when outside, they would often not wear them when alone in a more casual setting. This was especially true of the working class for whom collars were a luxury saved for best.
This look of suspenders, high-waisted trousers and collarless shirt has become a staple of menswear from the Victorian period to 1920s men’s fashion and can be seen in such films as Titanic and Boardwalk Empire. This is how you create that perfect Peaky Blinders costume!
Today the collarless shirt still carries that same air of dressing up without looking formal. You are still wearing a button up dress shirt but don’t have a collar near your neck. This can be an incredibly sexy look that defines smart casual. You don’t have to stick to white grandad collar shirts as you can also get black collarless shirts.
Vintage Collarless Shirts and Stiff Detachable Collars
One thing to keep in mind with collarless shirts is whether or not you want the option of adding a collar. Collarless dress shirts with the required buttonhole at the back of the neck tend to be quite hard to find. You have to find true shirt makers rather than a fashion grandad collar shirt from a high street shop. Like the collars themselves, these are only really made for the legal profession now, although some small makers exist like Darcy Clothing. Sadly the same can be said of the starching with only a few known services in the world with the ability to provide the traditional hard and shiny finish.
Of course you quite easily add a buttonhole yourself, just as you can make a grandad collar shirt by cutting the collar off a normal dress shirt although this can be a bit rough.
You can find vintage collarless shirts quite easily, although officers’ army surplus is another option for buying new. You attach the collar to the shirt with collar studs. To do so, first “bolt” the collar to the shirt at the back by placing the shorter stud through the button hole with the wider base against the neck and then thread the collar onto the metal stud. Put the longer stud through the shirt buttonholes first and then the collar holes.