A Tribute to the Collar Pin

dexter largek

Since 2011 Ivy Style has honored Black History Month by helping tell the story of the many African Americans who have donned the Ivy League Look since its heyday.

Throughout February we’ll revisit some of our previous posts, and welcome fresh ones. Interested contributors may use the contact button above. 

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On a road trip to Cambridge, 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: 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, while the guy below was featured in our post on Dizzy’s swellegant, elegant party:

One of many such images from Ralph Lauren:

Always admired this outfit:

Dexter Peart:

Finally, collar 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

— CHRISTIAN CHENSVOLD

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

  4. 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…

  5. 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.

    Cheers!

  6. Where can u get these collar pins?

  7. Who is that drummer?

  8. 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.

  9. 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.

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

    Bags’

    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.

    http://www.michaelspencer.us/collar-descriptions/

  11. 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.

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

  13. Vern Trotter | February 1, 2021 at 3:37 pm |

    Charlie Rangel represented Harlem and adjacent area for 46 years in Congress, retiring as chairman of House Ways and Means. He always wore a collar pin. Should be first on this list.

  14. Vern, why not write a short tribute? You’ve got one month.

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