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How do you roll? Untangle the Great Buttondown Collar Conspiracy!

Discussion in 'Classic Menswear' started by mafoofan, Apr 10, 2013.

Which collar roll is closest to the ideal?

Poll closed Apr 17, 2013.
  1. #1

    70 vote(s)
    43.8%
  2. #2

    10 vote(s)
    6.3%
  3. #3

    8 vote(s)
    5.0%
  4. #4

    49 vote(s)
    30.6%
  5. #5

    23 vote(s)
    14.4%
  1. bertie

    bertie Well-Known Member

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    I was not as clear as I would like to have been. It's not attitude per se. It's a different approach to dressing where the comfort of the collar (in this particular instance) is a desirable quality. If the quality or characteristic being pursued is one of comfort, the actual collar shape and resulting roll is unimportant to the wearer. My guess is these original wearers did not care how the roll looked at all - it was merely a side effect of the shirt design. That may also explain why many contemporary collars (or the pictures thereof) are not pleasing to you,

    You are asking for opinions on the ideal roll and presumably reverse engineering that to build your perfect collar. That seems like a different exercise. You are starting with the aesthetic and working backwards to figure out perfect fabric, collar point length, etc. to achieve that aesthetic. The original BD collar crowd started with the comfort as a desired outcome (though I guess oxford cloth was a given with the original design) and let the roll fall where it may. These are different approaches to the same clothing item.

    The old BB OCBD has become a "standard" because some people recall it with fondness and because the newer BB shirts seems to have lower quality (thinner fabric, smaller collar, poorer stitching). It seems some people who have witnessed that evolution also recall the old shirt's resulting collar roll with fondness. This, however, fetishizes the roll rather than the comfort aspect of the shirt which was its original context. This may even be inevitable since the record we rely on is photos rather than interviews with the people in the photos where they reveal why they picked that particular shirt. Nothing wrong with that but explains why the reaction of many in this thread is that there is no ideal roll (even if we have a personal stylistic preference).
     
    Last edited: Apr 10, 2013
  2. mossrockss

    mossrockss Well-Known Member

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    To be honest, I never liked the look of a bd collar with a tie—I always associated it with the type of guys who would go to Macy's and buy themselves a "dress shirt." Super stiff collar lining, no roll and always paired badly with uninspired suits/sportcoats.

    UNTIL, that is, I saw pics like those from Derek's post on PTO this morning. Now I can't get enough of that look—it just has to be paired with an outfit correctly. And though my lined and modern BB shirts don't live up to that legacy, I really love their roll—especially now they've got some mileage on them.
     
  3. MyOtherLife

    MyOtherLife Well-Known Member

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    Chosing from those photos, #4 closely resembles how I prefer my bd's with ties but any of them are common sights.
     
  4. karwoski

    karwoski Active Member

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    I picked #4 because I thought it was the one that looked the most similar to this:

    [​IMG]


    Which I think is probably the best buttondown collar roll picture I've ever seen.
     
  5. RDiaz

    RDiaz Well-Known Member

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    Who ever said that?

    I just think that what you define as a "pleasing" roll goes against the nature of a polo collar. If I want a pleasing, clean line (roll or not) I go for a normal, spread collar. If I choose a polo collar it's because I want it to look floppy, soft, casual. I bet I would love the roll on your Mercer shirt. You just can't get an ideal roll because a nice pollo collar is unpredictable.

    What picture do I like the most on the original post? Alright, that'll be #4. #1 looks nice too. You never know what you're going to get with an unlined collar, but most times it will resemble a bell shape, albeit not "pleasing" nor uniform. There, I said it!
     
  6. Journeyman

    Journeyman Well-Known Member

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    How about the collar roll of an unbuttoned, button-down collar? :devil:
     
    1 person likes this.
  7. MyOtherLife

    MyOtherLife Well-Known Member

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    +1 Excellent point. Equally, if not more important than the original post. I too would like input on this.
     
  8. mafoofan

    mafoofan Well-Known Member

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    I think you are misconstruing what I wrote about Ishizu. I never argued that individual "attitude" took the place of aesthetic, technical qualities. My point was that to wear something like a buttondown collar in the American Trad style, one must to some extent resonate with the ethos of that manner of dress. Yet, all the attitude, emotion, understanding, psyche, etc., in the world will not suddenly make a bad-looking collar look good.


    Yes, as I've pointed out, all these factors come into play. They will affect the shape of the collar's roll, not your attitude. It's that shape I'm interested in and I thought others were!


    For what it's worth, #1 and #4 are both supposed to be bell-shaped. The differences are the volume of the bell's upper portion and the width across its top curvature.


    Not necessarily. Lots of other variables come into play: fabric type, whether there is lining and how it is executed, collar shape, button positioning, etc.



    Maybe so. So what? That's exactly what many of us experienced members struggle with: calibrating a custom buttondown collar to roll correctly. That discussion with your shirtmaker inevitably touches on collar point length, spread angle, lining type (namely, not to add any!), button placement, etc. You don't just tell him that you want something floppy and unlined, to express the vintage Brooks Brothers attitude.


    Who said anything about wanting a clean line? An unlined buttondown collar will still tend to take on a defined shape, as illustrated. Something cannot look "floppy, soft, casual." That's how something might feel. Yes, that it is important and crucial, but not what I'm asking for your opinion on. How do you like your buttondown collars to look?


    See, was that so hard?

    Anyway, I think you are wrong about the unpredictability of the collar. Yes, wear and washing will affect things, but each collar will nonetheless tend to take on a particular shape. It will not change throughout the day.
     
    Last edited: Apr 11, 2013
  9. RDiaz

    RDiaz Well-Known Member

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    Well, I mean a clean roll - don't know how to put it, smooth, symmetric curved lines? Like, a roll shape that looks studied, and structured to look a certain way. Which is what I get from your pics. Still, I think I've understood where you want to get to, which is why I've settled on #4. Add some imperfection to that shape and you get what I like.

    I've had collar roll change during the day (mostly becoming more asymmetric), and my polo collars are fused, so I guess an unlined collar would be even more unpredictable.

    Maybe I'm not correctly putting my thoughts into words (which is likely due to english not being my native language), but to me, something can look floppy, soft and casual. Most times you can tell when something is going to be soft and floppy just by looking at it, can't you?
     
    Last edited: Apr 11, 2013
  10. bertie

    bertie Well-Known Member

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    I do not tell my tailor that I want a strong, permanent collar shape for the buttondown. I actually do tell him I want something with long collar points and unlined. I don't need to specify floppy - that is implicit in my request. The intention of the collar was to be floppy which could change shape. You are looking for something that does not. You want a button down that does not act like a button down is supposed to.
     
    Last edited: Apr 11, 2013
  11. Manton

    Manton Well-Known Member

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    1, 2 and 5 are all fine. 3 and 4 could be fixed by simply moving the buttons.
     
    2 people like this.
  12. Orgetorix

    Orgetorix Well-Known Member

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    First, you're overthinking it. The criteria for a "nice roll" is mainly that the collar have a sufficient degree of roll, not that it have any particular shape. It's fundamentally a quantitative thing.

    Second, you can't just "put aside the question of how a collar roll might change through wear." Variability is inherent to the buttondown collar. If you're trying to nail it down to one specific look, you're doing it wrong.

    This is the same shirt, and all the photos were taken within the last year. It rolls differently every time I wear it. Which tie I wear with it and how I adjust the knot might have something to do with it, but that's just the way it is.

    [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]
     
    4 people like this.
  13. mafoofan

    mafoofan Well-Known Member

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    I think you are reading too much into this. The collars are obviously Platonic illustrations. Of course, real fabric will not fit the shape 100% perfectly. But, nonetheless, every buttondown collar I've seen takes on a distinct shape that is more like on of those illustrations than the others.


    I'm sorry, I think you're wrong. A "floppy" collar will still roll a particular way, as influenced by shape, spread, collar point length, fabric, lining, button placement, etc. Manipulating any of those variables will influence the way the collar rolls. I don't really think that is controversial or debatable.


    Again, I'm sorry, but I think this is just wrong. If it you are right, there is little to admire about the old Brooks Brothers shirts. You can get any shirtmaker or decent MTM manufacturer to make you an unlined, soft, floppy collar. It will almost definitely roll. If it doesn't, it will if you move the buttons. The magic the Brooks Brothers collar was how it rolled. It didn't always behave that way, but when it did, it looked great. I don't want to give away more than that.

    Anyway, all this subjectivity is just reinforcing my initial suspicion: most people have no meaningful criteria for admiring one roll versus another. Coming from your point-of-view, I see no challenge in getting a good buttondown collar. Any shirtmaker who can take basic instructions would be able to make you a collar that rolls in some way.


    I'll be blunt again: this is just patently false. How many experienced bespoke clients on this forum (not counting me) have struggled to get their buttondown collars to roll the way they want them to? Manton and Eustace Tiley come to mind. Vox also. Clearly it is a manipulable characteristic and people with informed tastes tend to prefer specific shapes.

    Do you honestly think it is difficult to make an erratically floppy, shape-agnostic collar? I could make you one myself. All by hand, made in USA.


    This only proves me point. That collar is consistently like #4. A wide, flat-topped, bell. Yes it will move around a bit, but the fundamental shape remains the same. You could not coax it to look like #2 (no bell), #3 (a spread), or #5 (upper roll curving above the collar band).
     
    Last edited: Apr 11, 2013
  14. CaymanS

    CaymanS Well-Known Member

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    This threak delivered before it was even an apple in Foo's eye. I'm predicting 100 pages (minimum). *votes*

    Also, I'm fairly certain Foo's choice is 4. There is no bell roll to 2, and Foo hearts the bell roll. 3 is a Borrelli-style Italian bastardization of the BB roll because it spreads, and a spread is no good. 5 is an abomination - among other things, stems show. 1 is the first one and the answer is rarely the first choice. Foo's ideal is 4 - I'd be willing to put a little money on it.
     
    Last edited: Apr 11, 2013
  15. mafoofan

    mafoofan Well-Known Member

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    #3 could never be made to take on the bell shape of the others. The spread is cut into the collar shape. The others, I don't know. I think buttoning point is only part of the formula. Also, the point is to determine what you think is "fine."
     
  16. mafoofan

    mafoofan Well-Known Member

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    I won't comment on whether you're right about my preferences--but thank God someone is finally in this thread who isn't being willfully obtuse!

    The question then is: which do you think is closest to ideal? Why?

    Oh, and one note: I'm not asking people to guess what is ideal to me. I'm genuinely interested in what others consider ideal.
     
    Last edited: Apr 11, 2013
  17. Manton

    Manton Well-Known Member

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    looking again, you are right about three. it's the worst.

    2 also suffers from a lack of tie space.
     
  18. mafoofan

    mafoofan Well-Known Member

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    See? We need more Mantons and CaymanS's in this thread. I'm beginning to think this discussion is just too next-level for 99% of the forum. Please, prove me wrong.

    I'd like to note that the poll results are already showing some clear consensus preferences. The very vocal camp suggesting that shape doesn't matter is sounding more and more absurd as we go along.
     
    Last edited: Apr 11, 2013
  19. mafoofan

    mafoofan Well-Known Member

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    For what it's worth, #2 is not meant to illustrate zero tie space. It is just the way I've seen some vintage Brooks Brothers collars behave. There is zero bell shape. The only "roll" is a subtle amount, right at the collar band. I'm not saying this is good or bad, but it is commonly seen and praised.
     
  20. ctp120

    ctp120 Well-Known Member

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    I could live with 1 or 4; maybe even 5 if worn without a tie (how I usually wear BDs).
     
    Last edited: Apr 11, 2013

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