White Collar Crimes


In our last post, the Millennial Fogey talked about his penchant for shirts with contrasting white collars. Clearly they weren’t a defining staple of the genre during the heyday. But they’ve long been offered by the usual suspects, though likely worn by men whose most recent time on campus was for a class reunion.

Call it Tycoon Ivy. It’s certainly been implanted in the collective unconscious as the defining shirt style of Gordon Gekko, which is why the blogger known as The Style Girlfriend calls it the “jerk shirt.”

As for our take, here’s Ivy Style Associate Editor Chris Sharp:

When I got out of school I worked at a shop and became friends with a buyer from another shop. What the two shops had in common was that they carried Gitman Brothers modified spread-collar shirts with barrel cuffs. The barrel cuffs kept them from becoming too full-on fancy, but the collars were vaguely English and slightly formal, but not so crazy that it would make this buttondown guy uncomfortable.

The contrast collar is a bit of an homage to the detachable collar, and how if  you put a white collar on a colored or striped body you have a white-collar shirt suitable for gentleman. Completely random thought: there’s that character in “Metropolitan” who’s obsessed with detachable-collared shirts.

And here saith King Richard The Forty-Fourth:

At J.Press beginning approximately 1960, contrast-collar-and-cuff dress shirts came mainly with a body of light blue end-on-end, madras, or narrow-stripe Madrilyte broadcloth. They crept up to perhaps 35% of our straight-point dress shirt sales.

Students, professors, and businessmen who were our customers — whether in New York, New Haven, Cambridge or the road from coast to coast — often suited-up sans buttondown for church, business meetings, or semi-formal eveningwear, and contrast-collar shirts provided an interesting mix for their wardrobe. They work nicely with a blazer and grey flannels, but are not really appropriate for sportcoats or tweed suits,  where oxford would be more correct.

I once tried a blue oxford buttondown with white contrast collar and it sat on our shelves for a year or two before we discontinued it.

And now on to some eye candy or eyesores, depending on your taste. — CC

Above and below, Ralph Lauren:









ys Cashmere Jersey Cardigan

Princeton Sport Coat (2)


Orlando Shearling Coat (11)




RL 035

Brooks Brothers:








J. Press:


An Affordable Wardrobe:



Proper Kid Problems:


19 Comments on "White Collar Crimes"

  1. It works in moderation. The opening image looks like an explosion in a Polo factory and the poor boob was randomly plastered by madras shrapnel. The other boys look fine until the art director got so fatigued from the bad support in his driver’s loafers he lost focus and judgment and put too many damn notes into the music.

  2. Bags' Groove | June 28, 2015 at 3:40 pm |

    I’ve never worn them mainly because they over-complicate any ensemble, as demonstrated above.

  3. A nice touch, used sparingly. Like your canary yellow sport coat, or spectators, not for everyday wear.

  4. I liked this post, despite the outrageous lead picture. Funnily enough, yesterday I posted an outfit using a club collar shirt on my hopelessly obscure blog. Mr. Press argues, if I have him right, that Contrast collar shirts should be worn only with suits or Blazers, as sport coats feel more comfortable with Oxford cloth shirts. The body of the shirt I wore WAS Oxford Cloth and I was comfortable wearing it with a solid Silk Andover Shop sport coat. Still, disagreeing with Mr. Press is rarely a good idea!

  5. I can vouch for the old Gitmans, both club and tab ( with the stud ). I owned many with both contrasting collars and not, great shirts. Ralph did some very nice ones, but I think the current offerings are all slim fit.

    I personally like them with charcoal flannel suits.

  6. Billax: Not an ironclad rule regarding contrast collar shirts with sport coats. My concern is that the starkness of a hard finished shirt fabric diminishes the integrity of the jacket’s silk or wool “hand” and fabric design. I.E. too much
    frosting on the cake.

  7. Some people want to mix contrasting collars with everything and to me that is a major style error. I rarely see them in real life where they look good except when worn with an overall simple, formal look such as a navy pinstripe or charcoal flannel with no expressive accessories.

  8. The label “jerk shirt” is quite apt. The contrast color collar is one of the clearest and most unequivocal fashion statements one can make. It’s about as clear as the baseball cap in what it announces about the wearer.

  9. All Y'all | June 29, 2015 at 2:57 pm |

    @Cameron: QFT! And what is up with the hats, indeed. Grown men are now wearing these baseball caps like little Peter Pan frat boys. Beats washing hair, one would guess.

  10. Time for a post on preppy ball caps! Anyone have a heyday-era photo?

  11. Prior to that this headgear seemed very popular.


  12. For god’s sake, MAC, that’s an athletic uniform.

    Maybe you were being sarcastic because it’s Bush.

    But you caused a memory flash: this post is so old it actually predates the day of our official founding, October 1, 2008:


  13. I only owned one blue shirt with a white collar, back in the 1980’s. Just never liked the look. The guy with the too tight plaid jacket is hilarious.

  14. Christian-

    Just having fun, Bush was the only Ivy ballplayer I could think of.

  15. The first picture of the below set is an utter slap in the face to all reality and convention. A man dressed as conservatively as he would never be holding the NYT. Put the Journal in that man’s hands and let’s make that picture right.

  16. @WFBjr
    Since when did fashion models read the WSJ?

  17. The common misstep with white-collar shirts is the addition of white cuffs. Despite some other cuff eccentricities in the Polo pictures, the shirt cuffs match the bodies. Brooks is unable to take a stand on either side of the fence. As for a white button-down collar…it seems like an expensive way for a store-owner to test his salesmen’s taste.

  18. EVAN EVERHART | August 29, 2018 at 1:22 pm |

    I’m personally a huge fan of contrasting (white collared) Winchester shirts, though as stated above, I am overwhelmingly in favor of the cuffs matching the body, especially if the cuffs are buttoned cuffs; white cuffs, to me, are really only for double French cuffs.

    I have a number of these, and I only wear them with suits, anything else always looks a bit stagey to me, too flashy, but worn with a wonderfully subdued suit, and it is quite tasteful. The majority of my Winchester shirts, are Golf (club collared) BB models in Oxford, though I also have some in end-on-end and madras, as well as a few examples from Polo in loud 19th century-esque stripes, as well as quite a few with tab collars – which are by and large, one of my favorite collar styles; once again, only worn with suits.

    I’d also like to state for the record that I am absolutely against the spread collared models (though I have old American Living ones collecting dust in storage).

    I would say that the a man’s success in wearing such shirts has more to do with his own aplomb, than with anything innate to the garment itself.

    And for the fellow above berating Winchester shirts as a poor imitation of detachable collared shirts; Winchester shirts, while ostensibly resembling detachable collar shirts, and likely inspired by them, were also a means of continuing to get use out of a shirt which has already had it’s collar turned too many times, and can now only continue in use with an entire collar replacement (or it’s already had a collar replacement by way of cannibalization of it’s extra long tales into a new collar, after having been turned too many times), beyond this, you cannot replace a patterned body shirt with a differently patterned collar, that would be beyond tasteless, so the only option at that point, is a replacement with a white collar. Grandfather used to do this with some of his favorite shirts – he was a penny pincher and when you buy quality you actually can do this.

    I also wear detachable collars for appropriate circumstances, and there is a world of difference between the two, even if your attached collars are starched, there is a world of difference. Detachable collars are for wearing to full formal hunt events, English equestrian riding events, white, and some black tie evening events, and daytime events/occasions requiring the wearing of a morning coat, or a frock coat, or if you’re a bizarre and eccentric person like me who grew up wearing the things and have a pile of them, you were them with a thoroughly broken in tweed or flannel suit whenever you darn well feel like it.

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