The grandpa collar is a subtle and stylish alternative when you want to mix up your smart casual appearance.
Want to stand out from the crowd, without looking like you’ve rifled through the garbage after the Met Gala and cobbled together an outfit with the discarded garments? In a world of conventional turndown collars, a well-styled collarless shirt — also called a band collar, or a grandad collar — catches admirers’ eyes just the right amount.
Dating back to 1920s New York — an era of flat-capped newspaper boys and prohibition-era hooch smugglers — as a working man’s shirt designed to be worn without a tie, the collarless shirt fell out of favour with everyone besides your grandpa until a recent revival (thanks again, hipsters).
Usually made of linen or cotton, adding another layer of slightly-crinkled casualness, a grandad collar sits a little looser than a normal dress shirt, meaning it shouldn’t look tight or feel restrictive and the back tail should sit midway down your back pockets. It should look retro without appearing like a dress-up party costume, injecting a slightly formal touch to your casual wear and a slightly casual touch to your formal wear.
A collarless shirt — which obviously cannot be worn with a tie — is never going to fly at a black-tie occasion, but it adds a distinctive twist to conventional smart casual. At summery semi-formal gatherings, a white granddad collar pairs nicely with a breezy beige linen suit and a smart pair of brogues, sans socks, beneath a rolled-up trouser leg.
With a casual outfit, the band collar produces a more relaxed vibe than a conventional collar would give you. Denim is the most laid-back option, often sporting a placket that only extends midway down the chest, which suits a pair of beige chinos and simple bright white sneakers. A light powder blue or white collarless shirt also complements dark denim and on-trend loafers for a Saturday evening outfit when you’re heading for a drink somewhere a little more dressy than your local pub.