Tag Archives: collar band

Collars and cuffs

22 Mar

19th century detachable collar.

People notice the state of your clothes and if you’re running around in dirty collars and cuffs, this takes away your polished, professional look.

Victorian men were the most efficient shirt-wearers of the modern era with starched, detachable collars and cuffs easily replaced or rigorously cleaned, starched, and put back in place with studs. (For further reading on historical cuffs and collars, read this great blog.) By the early 20th century, cuffs and collars grew into the body of our shirts and have remained attached ever since – good for clothing efficiency but not good for instantly removing hard-to-clean grimy cuffs and oily collars.

It’s a shame to have to retire a shirt because of a dark ring around the inner collar or on the inside of your cuffs when the body and sleeves of the shirt are intact, so here’s help.

Collar care

When hanging your shirts up on hangers, whether to air dry or to put into your closet, you can extend the life of your shirt by buttoning the top button to keep the collar band in shape.

Sandwiched in between the back and front fabric of the collar and the collar band is the fusing (also known as interfacing) that gives shape and body to the collar pieces. Doing up the top button will keep your collars rounded and in good shape.

Collar stays
Does your collar curl? Sport shirts have a “soft” collar without as much fusing as a dress shirt because it is meant to be worn open at the neck, and dress shirts have “hard” collars with more stiffening because they support ties that need a firm, shaped foundations. Both types of collars can fall prey to curling collar points.
Avoid premature curling (and dye loss for that matter) by spending a little more on your shirts. Inexpensive shirts are not made of high-quality fabrics with good dyes and fusing, and you may find that after a few washes, not only has the collar curled, but the colour has dulled and the fusing has come away from the fabric and looks bubbly. Money-wise and image-wise, this is not a good investment.
Mother-of-pearl collar stays.

Mother-of-pearl collar stays.

Collar stays stiffen the collar points by sliding between two lines of stitching on the underside of a shirt collar (almost always featured on a dress shirt and some sport shirts). This helps the collar hold its shape and gives it a longer and healthier life.
Most off-the-rack shirts have plastic stays which are fine, but a gent who takes pride in his clothing will invest in metal (brass, silver), enamel, bone, or mother-of-pearl stays. Remember to remove them before laundering so you don’t lose them.

Ring around the collar

Though the body of your shirt is clean, you may still notice a dark ring around the inside of your collar. This is a stain of our skin’s natural oil, grooming products, sweat, and dirt, and it’s hard to remove with regular machine washing. If you’ve got some stubborn collar stains, try this:

  • Wet the collar and apply your choice of: liquid laundry soap or laundry bar soap (i.e. Sunlight) along the soiled band. I have also heard of using cream of tartar, shampoo, and a paste of vinegar and baking soda to remove collar stains;
  • Scrub with your fingers, a cloth, or a toothbrush but take care not to scrub too hard or you could damage the fabric;
  • Depending on the severity of the stain, either wash in hot water or pour boiling water over the collar and let soak for several hours before washing in hot water. Remember to keep your whites separate from your colours or risk tinting your white shirt with dye from the coloured shirt.

If the ring remains on a white shirt, try wetting the collar again and sponge a diluted solution of hydrogen peroxide and water, let sit for 30 minutes, then wash again in hot water.

If you just couldn’t be bothered, take the soiled shirt to the dry cleaners and make sure to point out the collar so they know how to clean it.

Cuffs

If you are lucky enough to get your shirts from shirt maker, Marlon Durrant Bespoke Shirts in Toronto, he does a practical collar and cuff replacement program for his high quality shirts. Md’s shirts are excellent investments as it is, and this value-add program says a lot about the integrity and quality of his garments and his business. I also see it as an environmentally conscious program in that it saves creating a whole new shirt.

For those wearing off-the-rack shirts, you may find everyday sweat, oil, and dirt mixed with the day’s food, drink, and anything else you get your hands into ends up on your cuffs. If you wear French-cuffed shirts, you may notice a discoloured strip on the outside fold; barrel cuffs soil inside and out. Follow the ring around the collar steps to clean your cuffs.

There you have it, gents – no more excuses for dirty collars and cuffs!

All-purpose clothing maintenance

19 May

This week, I’d like to give you fellas some very simple and very do-able image-enhancing tips on keeping your basics nice and neat to give you a polished look.  Ready? Here we go!

Basics for ties 

Ties are cut on the bias of silk, meaning that they are cut on the diagonal instead of the straight of the grain, like most garments are. This method of cutting gives an elasticity to the fabric, useful in the tying of the ties but making the tie different in maintenance than other garments. When ties wrinkle, they’re not meant to be ironed. Instead, the bias-cut of the fabric allows the weight of the weave to lie differently and because  of this, wrinkles are easily smoothed by rolling them instead of hanging them up. Try storing them rolled on a flat surface like in a drawer.

Are you the kind of guy that isn’t comfortable tying ties and you leave your ties knotted for the next wear? I have some sympathy for you knot-challenged fellas but remember that a proper gent will knot a fresh tie each day, so try to learn how to do at least one basic knot (i.e. the four-in-hand). Once you have this mastered, you can move onto the Half Windsor and if you want to get really fancy, try the Full Windsor. Tie knots may seem intimidating at first, but with practice, will become habit. Google “tie knots” and find the right illustration or video for you to follow – there are lots to choose from.

Keep your shirts in shape

When hanging your shirts up on hangers, button the top button to keep the collar band in shape.

I’m always telling my clients that they can extend the life of their shirts if they keep the collar in shape. To do this, simply button up the top button on the shirt, found on what is called the collar band. Sandwiched in between the back and front fabric of the collar and the collar band is the fusing/interfacing which gives shape and body to the collar pieces. Doing up the top button will keep your collars stiff, round, and in good shape.

Dry clean only trousers

If you’re a fan of wool pants, you’ll notice the “dry clean only” symbol on the washing tag. I know that especially for you bachelors, dry cleaning is a godsend, but do be aware that the dry cleaning process is hard on humans and the environment as it uses highly flammable chemical solvents to get your clothes clean. Dry cleaning can also get expensive.

Dry clean symbol

An alternative to dry cleaning is wet cleaning or environmental cleaning which many dry cleaners offer, easier on the earth but a method that will still cost you – check some good dry cleaning alternatives link here.

I’ve got a couple of tricks for you to help you stretch from cleaning to cleaning:

  • Hang your trousers outside to air them out and freshen them up;
  • If your trousers are already creased, run a not-too-hot steam iron over them to crisp the crease and don’t be afraid to press the hem or cuffs, and steam out the thigh and knee creases created from sitting in the trousers. A good shot of steam should help the fabric recover its shape some.

Washers and dryers: sock’s natural enemy 

Losing a sock during the laundering process is frustrating. I’ve observed enough sock behaviour over time to understand that socks may actually reappear if you have patience: 

  • Check around the washing machine – sometimes they fall out as we stuff clothes into the washer;
  • Look for them in the pockets of your fitted sheets;
  • If you used the dryer, check inside of clothes – static might be holding your sock in something else;
  • If it’s an athletic sock you’re missing, look in your gym bag.

If you lost a sock and you’ve done the above suggestions and it’s been a few loads since you lost the original, chances are it’s gone, in which case, the one left over should be tossed – i.e. leaving the lone sock around is a temptation to wear it with another lone sock when you run out of laundry. Try to avoid this – it won’t do you any favours. For more sock info, please read Sock schlock.

Polish your shoes 

One of the easiest ways to sharpen your visual image is to keep your shoes polished – a shiny shoe will make better the outfit you threw together because you woke up late for work, and a dirty, worn shoe will betray the outfit that you so carefully put together.

The simplest solution to keeping your shoes clean and polished is to keep polish, brushes, sponges, and protective sprays next to the space where you store your shoes. This way, all you have to do is reach for what you need and get the job done right then and there!

To keep it simple and to get a fast and easy shine, I suggest the KIWI Express Shine Sponge – buy two and keep one at home near your dress shoes, and in your desk at the office. Check out the info here.