Whether you’re a fan of wearing cotton, twill, oxford or linen shirts, they all come in a variety of collar styles. But have you ever considered how your favourite collar differs to the styles of the past? What has changed?

For example, back in the 1500s, the ruff collar was like wearing a £1,500 watch. This over the top collar was purely used to display status and wealth. According to Ian Mortimer, author of ‘The Time Traveller’s Guide to Elizabethan England’, the ruff collar reached extreme lengths:

“At the height of the craze, in the 1580s and 1590s, ruffs are made up of up to six yards of starched material, with up to 600 pleats in them, extending eight inches or more from the neck”. However, this trend didn’t last very long as it was expensive to make and difficult to maintain.

Moving ahead to 1830s, another pragmatic evolution of the collar appeared – the detachable collar. This was actually invented to avoid what you’ve probably done this week: laundry. As collars and cuffs were the most visible parts of shirts, separating them helped to reduce the amount of washing needed. Looks like our ancestors favoured convenient fashion too!

If you’d like to learn more about shirt collar history, this animation by Savile Row Company will give you a complete overview.

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