Collar Con-fused: Fusing Explained

If you’ve ever run into a finicky shirt collar, chances are it had something to do with fusing. Most people will never stop to think twice about how their collar was constructed, but enthusiasts will tell you it can be the make-or-break detail separating a good shirt from a great one. We asked menswear writer extraordinaire Derek Guy to give us the lowdown on what collar fusing is, and why it matters.

Derek’s well-informed sartorial memoirs have developed a cult following on seminal menswear tome Put This On, along with his personal blog Die, Workwear! With a near-encyclopedic knowledge of classic dress, his is the perfect brain to pick for an explanation of the more nuanced aspects of fine shirting. On the history of collar construction, he has this to say:

 

 Fussy Fusibles

fused collar

A stiff fusible lining provides structure and shape to the collar, and makes ironing a cinch.

 “In the past, all shirt collars were made unlined, which meant that nothing but two pieces of shirt fabric were sewn together to form the collar leaf. Later, shirtmakers started to ‘sandwich’ an interlining material between the two fabrics to give the collar more substance. At some point in the mid-20th century, fusibles were invented, which allowed manufacturers to bond the interfacing to the two shell fabrics. This helped ‘stabilize’ the material. Early versions of this technology were terrible because the fusing would often delaminate and cause bubbling on the collar surface at some point. That more or less never happens anymore, as the technology has advanced quite a bit. In fact, fusibles nowadays come in a pretty wide range of weights, so you can get a soft or stiff looking collar (depending your taste), and still achieve a clean, crisp look.”

 

The Silver Lining Around Unfused Linings

unfused collar

Unfused, soft interfacing gives this collar an elegant, natural roll.

“There’s still an upside to an unfused collar, however. With no lining, or if the lining floats freely between the two shell fabrics, a collar can look a bit more relaxed and casual. The reason is because unfused collars are harder to iron without setting in wrinkles. This was a much beloved American look when it was done on Brooks Brother’s famous button down collars. Nowadays, for better or worse, hardly anyone makes a shirt collar without a fusible. It’s kind of an anachronistic detail obsessed over by a small circle of enthusiasts. If you want a clean looking collar, get something made with a fusible. If your style is more relaxed, embrace the wrinkles and get something unfused.

 

At ManuelRacim, we insist on offering the full gamut of options for you to discover your style. Our selection includes traditional, completely unlined collars; collars with a free floating, unfused lining; and four different weights of fusible interfacing. Stop by the shop and speak with a stylist to learn which one is right for you.

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