The Spread Collar
he spread collar has been the keystone ol the English bespoke look since the double collar came to town during the early 1920s. Its introduction is widely attributed to the famous Prince of Wales, probably due to his alleged creation of the Windsor knot that was supposed to escort it In fairness, it was really his younger brother, the Duke of Kent, who tirst popularized it Because ol the spread's inherently dressy and elegant bearing, it has become today s most important dress shirt collar. As spread collars vary greatly in height, point length, and openness, there are usually several models that will flatter any man's head shape or profile II only for variety, some ver sion ol the spread collar should be a permanent fixture in all men s wardrobes.
Although Prince Charles mars this perfect tableaux of royal shirtmaking by being caught with his linger in his ear. his collar archi tecture is spot-on (topltft). The height, point length, and spread of his Turnbull & Asserglen plaid collar points arc perfectly symmetrical with the contours of his face. Notice how the collar s points touch his chest while remaining tucked under his coat's front, even when his head is turned, one of the spreads practical advantages over other models In addition, the dimple of his four-in-hand knot falls directly under the "V" point at the collar's top. And just for good measure, notice that his sleeve cutl has not receded from view, even when his arm extends, cour tesy of its longer sleeve and close fit of its cuff around his wrist.
Because the majority of Italian men are smaller boned, most fancy some version of the spread collar. Fabio Borelli. one of Italy 's new generation of shirt-making scions, is 110 exception. As his face tapers down almost to a point, the spread collar is. in fact, the only possible design able to counteract such a contour.
Borelli has employed a higher-sitting spread collar to better frame his face while tinkering with tradition with typical Italian sprczzatura (bottom left). Don't think for a minute that his collar's slight bowing, the minutely skew ed angle of his knot, or even the peaking of his tie's under blade happen to be coincidence. To the contrary, this demonstration of noblesse negligence is another reminder of an almost cultural predisposi tion by Italy's sty le cognoscenti to continually rework the canons ol Lng lish taste. Who says that the male species is any less decorative-minded
I lerc n the spread collar cum Windsor knot's most indefatigable champion, the late actor and author Douglas Fairbanks Jr. (below). The moment this collar and knot team hit Lon Jon Innior immediately adopted it eventually becoming its lifelong ambassador. Fairbanks"* enthusiasm may have had as much to do \\ ith the large knot and collar's early acceptance by the beau monJe as w ith its alleged instigator, the Duke of Windsor.
The Dress Shirt
OPPOSITE: Well proportioned spread collars as worn by Prince Charles and Fabio Borelli.
Doug Fairbanks with spread collar and full Windsor knot.