A Tribute to the Collar Pin

dexter large

Ivy Style continues honoring Black History Month with a selection of images of stylish African American gents sporting collar pins. This post was originally posted on February 20, 2011.

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On my trip to Cambridge a few months ago, I picked up a silver collar pin at J. Press. I took such an immediate liking to it that I got a matching one in gold from the New York store as soon as I got home.

It’s one of those pieces of “shirt jewelry” that can really change the look of an outfit even though it’s just a small detail.

My lone tie bar was blown from my body this winter during one of our wind-fueled snow storms (the kind where you grab on to the nearest building for support), and I’ve had no desire to replace it. I think I’ll stick with collar pins.

Of course if all your shirts are have buttondown collars, a collar pin doesn’t do you much good — unless you want to keep your collar unbuttoned but pinned, as some of the nouveau preps do. J. Press staunchly admonished me against this practice as I handed over my debit card. But according to Alan Flusser, whom I visited last week while on assignment for The Rake, there is historical precedent for this: namely Fred Astaire.

If you want to give collar pins a try, no need to seek out a special shirt with pre-cut eyelets. According to Paul Winston, a purist would rather pierce his collar, since different ties make different-sized knots. If the collar is unfused, the holes will disappear when you wash the shirt, enabling you to pierce the collar in a different place next time.

Now for our image gallery. At the top is Dexter Gordon from 1963.

This guy was featured in our post on Dizzy’s swellegant, elegant party:

Here’s an image from Ralph Lauren:

And another. Always loved this outfit:

This is Dexter Peart…

… who’s also featured in this GQ video about collar pins:

The blog Components of Enthusiasm has done a post on collar pins, and pins have shown up previously in a number of Ivy Style posts, such as these below:

Bow Ties and Bongos

Penny For Your Thoughts

X Marx the Spot


17 Comments on "A Tribute to the Collar Pin"

  1. Looking forward to a tribute to the tab collar.

  2. Love your article, but could you make a list for us readers of unfused dress shirts? I can’t find affordable ones anywhere. I remember when I first started working fifteen years ago I could to “Today’s Man” and they had these great unfused shirts for $25. You could get them in button down, plain or tab collar all for the same price. I bought a bunch of them and then the store went out of business. I figured no problem, I’ll find others. Wrong. Yea, I know about Brooks Brothers and Mercer … but do you know of any more democratically priced shirts?

  3. J. Crew? Club Monaco? Ralph Lauren on sale?

    My first reaction was to send you to Mercer, but then I see you mentioned it.

    Send David an email in the name of “democracy” and see what he says.

  4. Yes, OldSchool. I prefer the Tab Collar. I will never use a collar pin because I don’t want a hole in my shirt

  5. Bermuda,

    My Brooks Brothers shirts already have pre-made/stitched holes in the collar. I wouldn’t put holes through a collar that wasn’t supposed to have it either…

  6. Are you the kind of guys who put rubber bands around your tassels to keep them nice and tight?

  7. I have several collar bars which clip on to the collar instead of piercing the shirt. Mine are decades (3 or more) old, bought for a few dollars at most. However, in stead of running down to your neighborhood Brooks and paying an arm and a leg, try slumming and find them in the costume jewelry section in a thrift store. Cuff links usually sell for about a buck, I cannot fathom collar pins much more.


  8. Many guys, myself included, consider clip-on collar bars the equivalent of clip-on ties.

  9. Thanks for all the pictures and particularly the analogy with clip-on ties in the comments. A couple of months ago, we wrote a article about the collar pin
    as well, which might be of interest to you.

  10. Where can u get these collar pins?

  11. Who is that drummer?

  12. Charlottesville | February 24, 2016 at 12:39 pm |

    A rousing cheer for the collar pin! I have been piercing my unlined, BB club collar oxfords for many years, without appreciable damage. They were mostly from the custom section, and I am not sure whether they are currently available ready-made. I am also a big fan of the tab collar, and they were definitely part of the heyday look. I am wearing one from BB today. Again, I am not sure whether they are readily available off the shelf these days.

    EG – J. Press is a good source either in store or online, and I can vouch for their quality, but collar pins are available from the Tie Bar and other web merchants as well as some local men’s shops and jewelers.

  13. Bags' Groove | February 24, 2016 at 2:39 pm |

    I’ve always thought of pins as being far too Wall Street to be true Ivy. Tab collars are far better, anyway.
    But where can you buy a good tab these days? Kamakura made them in the past, but don’t appear to be making them today. That’s a shame. Sad I am.

  14. Ward Wickers | February 24, 2016 at 3:12 pm |


    For a tab collar, try Michael Spencer. I just received my first OCBD from them and it is an outstanding shirt with every detail perfect. They make what they call a Windsor Tab Collar. It looks good (haven’t bought one yet) and even has the British Royal moniker for a little extra panache.


  15. Bags' Groove | February 24, 2016 at 3:33 pm |

    That looks perfect, Ward, but I don’t live in the Land of the Free, and I think shirts really need to be tried on.
    Ironic that Michael Spencer should refer to them as a long time favourite of many British gentlemen, because I’ve not been able to find one that I’d want to wear anywhere in England. I wore them all the time in my younger days. I’ve a dog-eared photo showing me looking very snappy in one with my customary knitted tie. Another irony is that the clothes I wore in my youth would still fit me today. What ill health does for the old temple.

  16. Collar pin with a button down shirt (RL ad) is equivalent to braces with a belt. Good Lord!

  17. Vern Trotter | February 29, 2016 at 6:06 pm |

    You forgot Charlie Rangel!

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