Shirt Collars: Pressing Times


The original idea for the name given to the Brown in Town blog, the Advisory, came to me as these things often do, at 33,000ft. We were flying to New Zealand to see my Sis’ and her wonderful family,  when a light bulb went off; what if I could reach a wider audience than my London customer base by cataloguing the sartorial advice which I dispense day-to-day and share it via a blog or some such.

But over the next couple of years, the Advisory became something much more than just sartorial advice. Within two years, Brown in Town had been born and we had the opportunity not only to offer sartorial advice but also dress those who sought sartorial council.

And here at Brown in Town HQ, there are many topics which are discussed but the one which has risen above all others of late is the age old dilemma of how to prevent one’s shirt collars from curling, either inwards or outwards. We have all seen them; collars which curl up and collars which curl down which I had always believed was caused by the collars wingtip being sucked into the cavity beyond the collar bone, or being spat out by it.

And whilst I was of the opinion that it is our own collar bones which dictate whether or not it is necessary that we wear collar bones, it has come to my attention that the pressing of one’s shirt may also play a part..

Now, most dress shirts are supplied by the shirt maker with collar bones. And, whether rigid or pliable their purpose is to prevent this happening. But whether or not you sport plastic, bone, titanium or sterling silver collar bones, they appear to do just so much in the fight against a curling collar – if anything, I think this encourages the collars tip to become dog eared beyond the point which they are supported by the collar bone.

Much as I love the beauty of a beautiful pair of horn or, dare I say it, ivory collar bones; I don’t actually own a pair. The disposable one’s which we supply with our Brown in Town shirts I do exactly that with; dispose of them. For, having laundered and pressed my own shirts since I began wearing tailored shirts, I learned that I don’t actually need them. My collars sit flat against me, neither curling inwards or outwards.

I have always lived in areas where the water is not particularly soft – in fact it is downright hard here in Bristol and also in London before that – and I have long since taken the precautionary measure of not only pressing my shirt collars first, but pressing them on the reverse. Because this prevents the entire shirt being ruined if one is unfortunate enough to experience the expunging of scale and water from the steam iron, when we depress the steam button!

For it would appear that, by pressing one’s shirt collar first on the back, then the front it stabilises the canvas within the collar. Thus preventing it curling one way or t’other. However, if we find that this does not cause the collar to sit flat against our own collar bones when worn, then I suggest holding the collar at the button or button hole, depending which side you are pressing, with the iron in your other hand press the tip of the collar whilst lifting the the area already pressed upwards, then vice versa – this is similar to the method of making paper chains, whereby we curl strips of paper with the edge of a pair of scissors. See video here.. 

The effect this should have is to cause the tip of the collars to curl up slightly, so that when the shirt is worn, the collar will sit flat against the body and not curl any further, in either direction.

Brown in Town