Patrick06790

Connoisseur
My late father was violently prejudiced. He detested any shirt with an open collar, insisting on a button-down collar at all times. The only exceptions he made were for tux shirts and fishing shirts, and if he could have gotten away with a button-down on the former he would have.

Open collars, he explained, were only fit for "crooners and lounge lizards."

For years I adhered to my father's views, even as I rejected his opinions on other matters, such as the saxophone, broccoli and drinking in the morning.

But as I near age 60, I have come around to open collars for sport shirts.

It's been a gradual process, largely confined to the LL Bean canvas shirt. (The shirts are now referred to as "lakewashed." I doubt the veracity of this description, although the image of LL Bean workers trooping down to the nearest lake or pond with armfuls of shirts is pleasing.)

The other frequent use of open collars has been fishing shirts, ranging from somewhat expensive bush shirts made by Filson and Orvis to high-tech synthetic shirts made by a bunch of outfits.

Over the years I occasionally picked up a vintage shirt here and there, usually a wool/cotton mix like Viyella, and these usually had open collars (and dual chest pockets, the other distinguishing feature). I gradually came to like them more than their button-down counterparts.

My feeling now is: If you're going to go casual, go for it.

This is an inversion of the Flusser hierarchy of degrees of dressiness, of course. But that applies to, well, dress shirts. Not something you wear in a canoe.

Which is a long way of getting to the LL Bean shirts I just received:

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The red plaid is "slightly fitted," which I worried about, needlessly. The XL is plenty roomy.

The greyish one is lighter and in the traditional (that is, voluminous) fit

And I include the "lakewashed" canvas for reference.

The one scenario in which I defer to the buttondown sport shirt is for use under a sweater. I do not like collar points outside the sweater. (Or jacket for that matter.) To me it looks too 1950s undergraduate (on a good day) or lounge lizard/wannabe gangster (on a bad day).

https://www.llbean.com/llb/shop/123600?moe=ordhistory&csp=a

https://www.llbean.com/llb/shop/123794?moe=ordhistory&csp=a
 

Flairball

Super Member
I have had somewhat of an adversion to open collared shirts, mostly because in my experience when worn without a tie, and I often go tie-less, they somehow develope a life of their own and do something embarrassing. Lately I have been practicing better collar management and keeping them inline. I find I am having better luck with slightly shorter collars, and I think recently many non-button down sport shirts do have slightly shorter collars, or at least to my eye.
 

GregorSamsa

New Member
Very interesting. I have always thought of "open collar" as referring to just going tieless and I think this is my first time hearing it to describe a collar without buttons.

I want to like these types of shirts, and I have 3 or 4 of them, but I am just not a fan. There is a certain comfort/security I feel with button down collars and when I wear the spread collared shirt I feel too open (fitting description, I suppose). On the rare occasion I have to wear a tie, I don't mind them since the top button is buttoned and the collar doesn't flop all over the place.
 

drpeter

Super Member
Very interesting. I have always thought of "open collar" as referring to just going tieless and I think this is my first time hearing it to describe a collar without buttons.

I want to like these types of shirts, and I have 3 or 4 of them, but I am just not a fan. There is a certain comfort/security I feel with button down collars and when I wear the spread collared shirt I feel too open (fitting description, I suppose). On the rare occasion I have to wear a tie, I don't mind them since the top button is buttoned and the collar doesn't flop all over the place.
Very interesting. Button-down collars are quintessentially American, but many other countries have less of a tradition of wearing them. When I lived in India, they were unknown, and I had to teach my tailor how to make them using pictures of Gant shirts from the New Yorker. And paper and cloth patterns I cut myself and experimented with (alongside the tailor) before getting a satisfying roll to the collar. Most collars were long or short points, and spread collars were also unknown. The nice thing about having a good tailor (inexpensive in that country in the sixties because no one had ready-made clothes) is that you can design your own shirts and trousers, and experiment with styles and cuts.

Some cultures actually wear a short point collar shirt with a jacket but without a tie -- and they button the collar so that it is closed around the neck. This style was adopted by Iranians in the years following the revolution there. I have also seen Eastern Europeans wear shirts in this way with jackets.
 

TKI67

Super Member
Controversy regarding nomenclature notwithstanding, I just ordered one of the Bean canvas shirts in blue. I am, at the moment, wearing their similarly cut blue denim shirt, today with their five pocket cords in tan and a hoof pick belt from Leather Man, a very comfortable outfit, perfect for going out and gardening, as the weather is in the sixties. Further FWIW if I wanted to be very precise, I'd call this a button up shirt with a plain collar, i.e., not point and not spread, certainly not button down, or just a shirt with a collar. I am uncomfortable with wearing such shirts with their collars buttoned. To my post-war USA sensibility that just does not work.
 
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