What do Remington Steele, Jay-Z, and Rocky Balboa all have in common? They all know how to pull off a collar bar. The uncommon accessory is making a quiet comeback, and it has the potential to take your style to the next level. Think button-down collar on steroids. Here’s everything you need to know to make a collar pin work.
Setting the Collar Bar High
The idea of pinning a collar’s points together dates back to the early 20th century. At the time, collars were larger and needed a bit of help to keep from flopping around. And while today’s collars hold their shape much better than the ones of yesteryear, even the advent of buttoned and tabbed styles has failed to match the smart look that one achieves with a collar bar or pin. By elegantly arching the tie knot and shaping the collar neatly around it, a collar pin creates an immaculate, put together look.
The best part is that they’ll never get played out. Wearing one is such a confident gesture that you’ll never see one on every guy’s neck, but as long as there are guys running the show, they aren’t going anywhere either. Collar pins have been especially popular in Hollywood, with characters (and real-life celebrities) who are always composed and in control. In other words, guys who look like a boss. But even if you aren’t silver screen royalty, it’s easy to look like a leading man with a collar pin as long as you keep a few things in mind.
Casual is Not an Option
The collar pin is a small detail, but it looks so sharp that there’s no point in trying to dress it down. Any man wearing one knows he’s the best dressed in the room, and isn’t trying to hide the fact. So opt for a crisp dress shirt, in a timeless white or blue. From there, choosing the right collar is key. You don’t want a wide spread since you’ll be pulling the points together, and the points should be long enough to wrap around the tie and still leave room. A forward point or round collar with classic proportions should do the trick. It’s acceptable to push the collar pin straight through the collar fabric, but a competent shirtmaker should also be able to make eyelets in the collar for the specific purpose of passing a collar bar through.
Stay on the Safe Side, Ditch the Safety Pin
Collar pins come in two styles. The first looks like a giant safety pin, and functions in the same way. The second looks something like a barbell, usually with round or squared edges that screw on and off. Historically, both are perfectly acceptable, but we prefer the latter. Simply because most people are unfamiliar with collar pins, and in recent memory anything remotely resembling a safety pin in fashion immediately recalls a punk DIY aesthetic. Unless constantly having to explain that your shirt isn’t about to fall apart is something you’re into, avoid the confusion and go for a barbell. They commonly come in gold or silver, whichever matches your belt or watch is a safe bet.
The Finishing Touches
A bold tie knot pairs great with a collar pin. Although a smaller knot certainly works, a half-windsor or similar will better fill out the gap between the pin and the collar points. A knot that’s too slim (especially on a skinny tie) can look like it’s being raised conspicuously high by the bar. It comes across as too dandyish to be taken seriously. Compare the two Toms above. Who looks more assertive, Mr. Ford or Mr. Hiddleston? Hint: It’s probably the guy whose suit label has his own name on it.
One last bit of advice – don’t over accessorize. The collar pin makes enough of a statement. Otherwise you’ll commit the sartorial sin of trying too hard.
ManuelRacim offers classic barbell style collar pins available online. All custom shirts are available with collar eyelets upon request. Make an appointment to design your own shirt today.
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