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The Evolution of Collars

by Okechukwu Liberty
Image of modern day collar

The Evolution of Collars

The Evolution of Collars

Image of a modern-day white collar

The shirt collar (collars) has come a long way since its days of the bard when ruffs were the size of dinner plates. It’s an interesting story – a tale of knowledge, the evolution of industrialism, science, and dynamic fashion.

Here we find out the evolution and reasons for the men’s shirt collars.

The ruff

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Picture of a man wearing the ruff collar

Picture of a man wearing the ruff collar

The ruff is a piece of fabric that frames the area of the wearer’s face in a way that looks like a cut-off head served on a plate. It is a 16th-century invention that grew out of the “ruffles” featured on period shirts and chemises.

Advances in the manufacture of starch brought about a new stiffness to the soft linen. The high cost of this collar made it a symbol of social status.


The Cravat
Cravat collar

Cravat collar in the 17th century

When the cravat was invented in the 17th Century, the English referred to it as the “French fashion” while, on the other side, they called it the “English monster.”

With time, cravats began to replace ruffs, and when people started getting information and the knowledge of science and logic, they did away with stifled ruff and the present form of collar that we know started to emerge.


The Detachable collar

Detachable collar

Detachable collar invented in 1827

By 1827, an American housewife had had enough of scrubbing her husband’s dirty dirty collars after work. Her husband who was a blacksmith, like white shirts but though his waistcoat protected his body, his collar was always stained with smoke.

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The solution was to detach the collar and wash it separately. Detachable collars and cuffs were late 19th and early 20th-century and they served as labour-saving devices. Since they were detachable, one could choose from a plethora of styles and colours in one’s wardrobe.


The Modern collar
Present-day collars

Present-day collars inspired by Polo players and American Military

The present-day collar was invented by polo players who were tired of their flapping collars and decide to button them down.

The American G.I’s after the war brought with them the smartness that came with the military dressing style and this resulted in the modern, smart and casual form of collars that we know today.



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