What Is A Collar Stay?
A collar stay is a strip of material (typically plastic or metal), ranging in length from 2″-3″, that fits inside a shirt collar leaf.
It’s purpose is to provide structure to the collar and prevent the points from curling in an unsightly way.
Most shirts have collars that allow the stays to be removed, with little pockets on the collar’s underside allowing for this to happen. Other shirts -often more cheaply made ones- will have irremovable collar stays.
Button-down and wing collars do not take collar stays.
How To Use Collar Stays
Thankfully, collar stays are simple to insert and remove. Below are quick, step-by-step guides on how to do so:
Inserting Collar Stays
- Starting with shirt off, flip collar up to expose “pockets” which will house the collar stays.
- Insert first stay into one of these pockets, making sure that the tapered end is facing up. Note that if you can see collar stay peeking out beneath the pocket, it may be too long for the collar.
- Repeat step two on the other side.
Removing Collar Stays
- After taking shirt off, flip the collar up.
- Push down on the pointiest part of the collar point, which will expose the collar stay’s bottom end.
- Remove the stay.
- Repeat on the other side.
Shirts With Unremovable Collar Stays
As we mentioned above, there are some shirts that have collar stays, but there’s not way to remove them as the lack the opening for the stay pocket. While it’s great that there are stays present, being unable to remove them poses a couple of problems:
- Such stays are often cheap, bendable plastic, but can’t be replaced with higher-quality metal ones purchased à la carte.
- Ironing your collar becomes dicey, as you have no choice but to iron a collar stay imprint into your collar leaf.
- They can’t be removed before laundering, which can result in damage to your collar.
In light of all this, we recommend that you avoid purchasing shirts without collar stays whenever possible.
Different Types Of Collar Stays
Not all collar stays are created equal. There are many different varieties in terms of both material and size.
Collar Stay Materials
Collar stays can be produced from a variety of materials, which each have their own benefits. Let’s quickly break down your options to highlight their advantages and drawbacks.
Metal Collar Stays
These can be brass, stainless steel, and even precious metals like gold. Metal stays can be relatively inexpensive depending on where you get them.
Nevertheless, they perform well, and look great. They’re also by far the most durable material compared to all the other options.
The only caveat is that you must be absolutely sure that their size is correct; if they’re too long, they can pierce the collar or dig into your skin.
Horn Collar Stays
Extremely rare today, horn collar stays used to be quite popular in the past. Therefore, you’ll have to do some serious Internet sleuthing to find a pair of horn collar stays.
However, they’re perfect for collar stay aficionados. Additionally, they’re softer than metal so may not cause any discomfort if they dig in.
Bear in mind, though, that horn collar stays get brittle over time. Therefore, they may snap if put under too much pressure.
Plastic Collar Stays
Plastic stays are acceptable based on their thickness. Thin plastic that bends easily is next to useless and should be replaced as soon as possible.
Thick plastic, though -the stuff that holds up against some pressure- works very well as a collar stay, particularly if you’re not wearing a tie. This is because their lack of weight won’t pull your collar down.
One advantage of plastic collar stays is their affordability. Not only are they cheap but some shirtmakers will give away bundles for free if you just pop in and ask.
Finally, if you have a tendency to lose things, collar stays will be one of the first to go. And since they come in pairs, this can be frustrating! Although you won’t be doing the environment many favours, plastic collar stays aren’t too heartbreaking to lose.
Magnetic Collar Stays
Magnetic collar stays, popularized by the brand Würkin Stiffs, are a clever invention indeed. The collar stays themselves are metal, but they’re magnetized and come with small magnetic discs that sit on the inside of the shirt.
The magnet is extremely powerful and is awesome for men who don’t often wear ties, want their collars to sit upright and at attention, and prefer the weight of metal collar stays.
Engraved & Personalised Collar Stays
Engraved collar stays make wonderful gifts and add a bit of personality to an otherwise mundane accessory. Engrave the stays with your child’s birthday, anniversary dates, initials, or whatever else you can think of. Note that these will cost more than the average set of collar stays.
Collar Stay Sizes
Just as collar points come in different lengths, so do collar stays. Typically they range from as short as 2″ to as long as 3.25″, but there are surely exceptions here and there.
While a proper fit is obviously ideal, it’s more important that the stays not be too long. A stay that’s too short can still do its job, but a too-long collar stay will make your collar fold over awkwardly at best, and pierce your collar points at worst.
Your best bet is to own a few pairs in multiple sizes and give yourself an extra thirty seconds when getting ready in the morning to make sure that you’re using the right size.
Top 5 Best Collar Stays To Buy Online
As small things that come in pairs, collar stays are incredibly easy to lose. Thankfully, they’re available in a wide range of price points from various companies:
- Würkin Stiffs: The originator of the magnetic collar stay. Pricey, but exceptionally high quality.
- Smooth Stays: A set of 50 stainless steel collar stays for $13 is an incredible value. You’ll never worry about losing one again.
- Cuff-Daddy: Three pairs of metal collar stays for $18, but they’re adjustable and will fit any shirt.
- Moulet Plastic Collar Stays: If you prefer, you can stock up on 350 plastic collar stays for just over $5.
- The Original Shirt Collar Support: An intriguing contraption designed to support an open collar without a tie.
As a bonus, we also have to mention Twillory, an excellent shirt brand that specialises in performance fabrics for the professional man. Unlike its peers, it includes metal collar stays with all its shirts at standard. As a result, they offer excellent value for money!
Feel free to leave us a comment if you’re looking for something more specific and we’ll get back to you within 24 hours!
Though collar stays are tiny, they add to the impact of your image. We hope you enjoyed this guide and found it informative. For further reading on all aspects of men’s shirts, we invite you to take a look at the following pages: