All You Need to Know about Collar Stays – a Quick and Dirty Guide

Collar stays, also sometimes referred to as collar stiffeners or collar tabs, are flat, stiff pieces of metal or plastic that are inserted into the underside of dress shirt collars. The reason for using collar stares is to keep the ends of your collar in place with a stiff material (and a bit of weight). They work wonders by offering crispness and firmness to an otherwise flexible and light piece of cloth. If you’re wearing dress shirts often, you most certainly need to have these to avoid that curled over tip of your collar (which looks bad by the way).

Sewn-in or Removable Collar Stays?

 There are two main types of collar stays; sewn-in and removable ones. The sewn-in varieties are usually made using very thin plastic so as to create a balance of a firm collar look without damaging the collar when it is being washed. If you’ve got these in already there’s really nothing you can do to replace them. However, if you’re looking to take your style to another level, and you’ve got the collar stay pockets built into your shirt, it’s infinitely better to opt for the removable collar stays, as these are usually made of high-quality pieces of metal or plastic and give you the crisp look you want.

Do All Shirts Come With Collar Stays?

The answer to this question is no. The added feature of collar stays usually costs more money to the manufacturer. That is why only specific shirts will come with collar stays already sewn-in. So, unless you are buying high-end shirts, most shirts will not have these essential collar stays – but will have the little pockets that are necessary to insert a collar stay. Yup, they were thinking ahead. Ensure you inspect every shirt you want to buy if you want to get a shirt that has collar stay pockets.

Choosing the Best Collar Stays

Today, you can find collar stays in a very broad selection of styles. Depending on your needs, collar stays are available in different materials, shapes, widths and lengths. Put simply, the correct width, length, and shape of a collar stay are dependent on the width and shape of the collar on your shirt. The material you decide to use for the collar tab is completely based on your preferences – although we do recommend stiffer materials (like stainless steel) for longevity.

Measuring your dress shirt collar stay pocket is a relatively easy task – but here are some quick tips to help you select the best option if you really don’t want to measure:

  • Select a variety pack of collar stays to start – this way you get all options and can experiment with what works best
  • Most shirts will fit a 2.2” or 2.5” collar stay. This is like playing the odds. Odds are, that if you have a small collar (which has typically become more of the norm) this size collar will fit. And, if you have a larger collar (European style, Cowboy Shirts, larger dress shirts etc.) you can still get the benefit of having a 2.5” collar stay in a collar that could take a 3” collar stay

Choosing Materials for your Dress Shirt Collar Stays

Plastic – This is the most widely used material that is used for making collar stays. Abundant and cheap, most shirt manufacturers prefer producing collar stays. It is even possible to buy these plastic collar tabs in bulk for a very cheap price. The one problem – you’ll quickly discover that these collar tabs are not the most effective, as you collar will often not sit the way you want.

Stainless steel – If you want stiff and lightweight collar stays, getting a pair of stainless steel ones will do the job. When you use metal collar stays, your shirt collar is going to look crisp all day. These can go through the wash, won’t bend, and will keep your dress shirt collar looking great. If you’re up for it, you can even spend a bit more to get personalization.

In conclusion, collar stays help to complement your overall look and is a must have for any man.