When I visited The Andover Shop in 2010, Charlie Davidson had a handy tip if you’re unsatisfied with the collar roll on your buttondown oxfords. It goes like this:
1) Unbutton the collar.
2) Push it upwards until it achieves an arched shape.
3) Stick the tip of a pencil through the buttonhole and make a small dot on the shirt.
4) Repeat on the other side.
5) Have your tailor/seamstress/wife move the buttons to the new location. Or, if you’re man enough, do it yourself.
6) Wash the shirt, allowing the cotton fibers to close the holes from where the buttons were previously located.
And there you have it: instant collar roll.
“That’s a great tip,” I told Charlie. “But wouldn’t it be easier to just get one’s shirts from you? Surely your buttondown must have the perfect roll.”
“It does not,” Charlie said. “I’ve got a great shirtmaker, and I’ve given him a Brooks Brothers shirt and told him to rip the @#$%& thing apart to figure out how to make the collar roll, and he still can’t figure it out.”
Paul Winston has told me the same thing: At Chipp they used to dissect Brooks shirts, too, but could never figure out how to duplicate the collar roll.
According to Charlie, Brooks uses — or used to use — a simple tool that was stuck into the collar at a certain point in the manufacturing process to give the collar its distinctive roll. I don’t know what their secret is at Mercer & Sons, but they guarantee a perfect roll.
Here’s a Style Forum thread devoted to the topic, while pictured above, in case you didn’t recognize him, is George Peppard from “Breakfast at Tiffany’s.” — CC