What is a Collar Stay?
In keeping with the theme on maintaining a professional appearance and wardrobe, we’d like to discuss an item that is oftentimes looked or passed over. This is the simple, yet resilient, collar stay. So, what is a collar stay, do you need one, what kinds are there, and what are the best ones?
In the simplest terms, a collar stay is simply a piece of material that adds weight to the shirt collar, adding a layer of crispness to the look and appearance of the collar. Shirt collars are notoriously light and flexible, allowing them to bend, droop, curl, and distort at any movement.
This distorted look on a shirt collar is both unprofessional and can ruin the appearance of any otherwise well put together suit. As-such, collar stays were introduced to allow for a rigid, inflexible material to force thee shirt collar to remain affixed and in place. This solution keeps the collar looking crisp and fresh and ensures that it does not curl up.
Different Types of Collar Stays
Many shirt manufacturers include collar stays with the shirt. However, this solution is oftentimes a cheap one and does not provide the weight needed to ensure the collar of the shirt remains in place. This solution should be used temporarily, and you should look to replace the collar stays provided with ones you have purchased.
Other manufacturers will have a collar stay permanently sewn into the shirt collar. This is a good option, however, is oftentimes not seen as it is a bit more costly for the manufacturer. As a means to save on costs, most manufacturers will only include a flimsy collar stay which can be removed.
Plastic Collar Stays
By and large, the most common material for collar stays is plastic. Plastic is a relatively cheap material, allowing for low manufacturing costs. We, however, do not recommend purchasing plastic collar stays. Although the shape will be improved, plastic collar stays will wear more quickly, leading to a bent look. Plastic collar stays will also need to be replaced more often. Lastly, if a plastic collar stay were to be ironed or washed, it would lose some of its elasticity and be more unsightly.
Stainless Steel Collar Stays
Stainless steel is one of the most common collar stay materials. It is a stiff, durable material that will leave your shirt collar appearing crisp and in place all day. Stainless steel is also a common manufacturing material, allowing for costs to be contained and relatively inexpensive. It is for that reason that we recommend stainless steel collar stays over plastic ones.
Brass and Gold Collar Stays
For the more extravagant individuals, brass and gold collar stays offer a more exquisite look. Although the difference is only slightly discernible, some individuals enjoy the heavier, more weighted feel these materials provide. Both brass and gold collar stays are substantially more expensive than their plastic or stainless steel counterparts. Both brass and gold collar stays maintain their form and function and can be passed down through generations.
Magnetic Collar Stays
Magnetic collar stays are becoming more and more popular. These collar stays will have magnets attached to either side of the shirt, ensuring that the collar stay remains affixed and in place. Magnetic collar stays are relatively inexpensive and will work well to keep your shirt collar in place.
How to Use a Collar Stay?
Using a collar stay is relatively easy. For a button-down shirt, you will need to begin with two collar stays. Lift the collar of the shirt and find the pockets of the collar. There will be an opening, allowing you to insert the collar stay in. The thin side of the collar stay should be inserted, with the wider side facing out.
Collar stays come in a variety of sizes, as fit is an important aspect of getting the shirt collar to maintain its look. Typically, collar stays will range from 2-3.5 inches in length. It is important, however, to ensure that your collar stay does not protrude out of the pocket. This can lead to being pierced in the neck by the collar stay and is a generally unprofessional look.
Best Collar Stays
We’ve included below a few of the best collar stays we’ve found and used on Amazon. Please note, we are an Amazon Affiliate Partner and receive a small commission if you purchase any of these products from Amazon. This costs nothing extra to you but helps us maintain the quality and service of this site.