Fashion Magazine

That Summer Vacation Collar

By Dieworkwear @dieworkwear
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So much of a shirt is in the details. A French front and plain chest keep things dressy, whereas a placket and chest pocket make things more casual. I mostly wear semi-spread collars these days with ties, although I prefer button-downs for almost anything else. When worn open-collared, they just stand up better – helping ensure that your collar won’t slip under your jacket’s lapels. 

For summer, I’ve been wanting a “vacation collar,” named so because you mostly see them on mid-century vacation shirts (see Pete’s very good two-part series over at Put This On). Note, the terminology here is my own, although I don’t know if there’s good, standard language to replace it. 

There are a couple of designs here, but the constructions are all the same. These are made with what’s known as a one-piece collar, which differs from your standard collar in that it doesn’t have a separate collar band. Instead, two pieces of fabric – one for the topside, the other for the bottom – are stitched together, often with some interlining for structure. They then flow seamlessly into shirt body, giving a clean, casual look. 

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They can be shaped in a number of ways, however. Carl Goldberg over at CEGO Custom Shirtmaker tells me he would call the notch design on Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. at the top of this post a camp, Cuban, or pajama collar. The more fluid, rolling style on James Bond above, then, would be a capri, Italian or Portofino. Other shirtmakers use different terminology and it’s not uncommon to see these terms flipped around. Paul Stuart also calls the capri collar their Cooper. 

Whatever the name, I like their mid-century sensibility. They were an off-duty favorite for men in the 1950s, particularly in the summer months, and go well with tailored or casual clothing. They typically come short-sleeved, although long-sleeved versions aren’t uncommon, and feature boxier, looser-fitting bodies for an easy-going vibe. Original mid-century models were often made from silk or rayon, although contemporary versions tend to be pure cotton. 

For options, I really like Battenwear, Camoshita, and Grei. Mr. Porter also has an entire section on their site dedicated to the style, while Self Edge specializes in more retro-designs. For myself, I have a length of all-white seersucker shirting here that I’m planning to send to Ascot Chang. It’ll be made with a Cuban collar, long sleeves, and a single chest pocket. To be honest, I don’t know if you can really call it a vacation shirt for a guy who barely works, but it’ll be nice to wear with summer suits and sport coats. 

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