What are Collar Stays?

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Collars are an essential element of dress shirts, but these flexible and light pieces of fabric don't always want to stay in place the way you need them to. That's where collar stays come in. 

Collar stays are inserted into the underside of dress shirt collars in order to add weight and keep collars in place. If you have found yourself wondering, “What are shirt collar stays and how the heck do I use them anyway?” Here are some answers for you. 

Unique Metal Collar Stays

What Are Collar Stays And How Do You Use Them?

Shirt collar stays are quite simple to use, despite the mystique that sometimes surrounds them. Simply slide the collar stay into the collar stay pocket on the inside of your dress shirt collar, then fold the collar down as usual. 

If your shirt has collar points, that is, it ends in a 90-degree angle, you need a pointed collar stay which will fit into the point of the collar. If you have a rounded shirt collar, you should choose a rounded collar stay.

Before you wash your dress shirt or send it to the dry cleaner, remove the collar stays. Collar stays should also be removed before you iron your shirt. They will tend to leave a crease under an iron, which is part of why sewn-in collar stays are generally not as preferable as removable options. Collar stays left in during a wash cycle can even tear the fabric, ruining your shirt.

Removable Vs. Sewn-In

Collar stays may be either removable or sewn in. Sewn-in collar shirt stays are generally plastic. These attempt to find a balance between giving a rigid appearance to the collar and avoiding being damaged in the wash. In general, they aren't as good as removable collar stays at keeping the collar in place and looking great, and they often end up being damaged in the wash over time. 

Furthermore, you are missing out on an opportunity to add an attractive piece of jewelry and style to your wardrobe in a removable collar stay. For these reasons, removable collar shirt stays are more often the best choice.

Removable collar stays are usually made of metal, and are often embossed with an attractive design. They are strong and sturdy and do an excellent job of keeping collars in place. Furthermore, they add a little bit of elegance to your dress shirt. 

Choosing A Shirt With Collar Stay Pockets

Not every dress shirt is equipped to hold a collar stay. High-quality dress shirts, such as those made by Twillory, will always have a collar stay pocket. Shirts of a lesser quality may skip the collar stay pocket since it requires extra labor and material. 

Shirts that are trying to be high quality but are appealing to less knowledgeable shoppers may utilize a sewn-in collar stay instead of using a pocket.

If you want your dress shirt to look its best, make sure to choose a shirt that has collar stay pockets. You will find them sewn onto the underside of the collar. They can be pretty subtle, so look closely and flex the collar in order to find the pocket.

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Types Of Collar Stays

Collar stays come in different materials, as well as various lengths, widths, shapes, and designs. Just as dress shirts can be formal, semi-formal, casual, playful, trendy, or expressive of your personal style, collar stays also have many different appropriate uses and looks. Here are a few types of collar supports for you to consider.

Plastic Collar Stays

Plastic collar stays are cheap and effective as long as they are made of a thick enough piece of plastic. It is important to take into account that many, if not most plastic collar stays are not thick enough to do the job well, so you may still end up with a dress shirt collar that won't lay properly.  

However, you can buy as many as 200 plastic collar stays for a little over $10, so if you are concerned that you may lose your collar stays, or if you are new to using them, thin plastic stays may be a good option to start. 

Stainless Steel Metal Collar Stays

Stainless steel collar stays are the most popular collar stays because they are heavy and stiff enough to hold your collar perfectly in place. Stainless steel won't mark your collar even if you find yourself in a rainstorm or accidentally put the collar stay through the wash. 

Stainless steel collar stays can be personalized or designed in a wide variety of ways, and they come in all different sizes and widths in order to give you exactly the effect that you need, no matter what kind of collar your shirt has. 

Stainless steel collar stays are more expensive than plastic collar stays, but a high-quality collar stays like those made by Twillory can last you a lifetime and will make your shirts look amazing. 

It is often advantageous to purchase collar stays by the company who makes your high-quality shirts, since they're designed specifically for the fit and size of the collars of these shirts. 

Brass Collar Stays

Brass collar stays have a unique look and a charming way of aging over time. Because they are harder to find than stainless steel collar stays, they often come at an increased cost. Like stainless steel collar stays, brass collar stays are unlikely to discolor your shirt, even if your shirt gets wet or you put the collar stay through the wash. 

Depending on the shirt colors that you like to wear and your skin tone, the glow of burnished brass can really add an element of glamour and style to your shirt. Brass collar stays have a classic look that goes very well with traditional styles, but they can also look stunning when paired with modern men's dress shirts.

Gold Collar Stays

When you’re wondering, “What are collar stays?”, you’re probably thinking of something small, somewhat arbitrary, and not terrifically expensive. Well, gold collar stays are small, but they are anything but arbitrary or inexpensive. 

Gold collar stays can easily set you back well over $500, and if you choose gold collar stays with embellishments or customization, you can expect to spend much more. If you have a set of gold collar stays, there's a good chance that it was passed down to you from someone in your family. 

An investment into a set of gold color stays is an investment into an heirloom that you can pass on to your sons, and which they can pass on to their sons, and so on. However, if you are not confident that you (or your children) will be able to avoid losing a gold collar stay or putting it through the washing machine over and over, this may not be a worthwhile investment. 

Gold collar stays may tend to be a bit heavier than brass or stainless steel for the size, which may help collars to stay in place even better, but the advantage is really negligible, especially when you consider the cost. The primary reason to invest in a gold collar stay is certainly for the looks, not to mention the bragging rights.

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Magnetic Collar Stays

Are you having some trouble using collar stays? If you find that you have a hard time getting your collar stays to lay in place properly (perhaps you are the kind of person who fidgets with your collar very often), magnetic collar stays are a wonderful option.  

Magnetic collar stays are also a great choice for anyone who has a bad habit of losing their collar stays. It's pretty hard to lose something that is firmly attached to your collar as well as being inside of a pocket. Magnetic collar stays grip your collar with a separate magnetic piece that fits on the inside of the shirt, which makes them both more effective and more likely to stay in place than some other options. 

It can be harder to find magnetic collar stays than other materials, and they may be more expensive as a result of their more advanced technology. Furthermore, it is much harder to find a stylized or attractive version, so unless you're having trouble with stainless steel collar stays, it's probably not worth seeking out magnetic collar stays. 

Collar Stays Made Of Other Materials

These are the most common materials for collar stays, but you can certainly find collar stays in other materials as well. Heavyweight paper, whale's tooth, sterling silver, mother of pearl, horn, and various precious metals can all be found with some searching. As long as the material is firm and heavy, it will likely make a good collar stay.

Should You Use A Collar Stay?

A collar stay is a small detail, but it can make a big impact on the appearance of your dress shirt. Whether the collar stay is visible or not, it will make your shirt look much better. Furthermore, a collar stay that matches your unique style can be the sort of detail that really makes you look put together. As a rule, if you are wearing a collared shirt and want to look your best, collar stays are a good sartorial add-on.