The multitude of different types of collars on shirts can seem limitless, there are only three main types of collars. The standing collar, the most common on men's dress shirts, includes such variations as the spread, tab and button-down collar.
A flat collar barely rises above the neckline and then hangs down from there. Sailor collars and Peter Pan collars are both examples. A flat collar may be a single, continuous piece of fabric with a self-facing, or it may composed of two separate pieces of fabric, both attached to the garment at the center back, and meeting in the center front.
A standing collar is almost always a straight piece of fabric that stands up above the neckline. It can be a narrow-band collar, a taller mock turtleneck or it can fold over on itself into a turtleneck collar.
Simple Rolled Collars
A rolled collar stands up from the neckline and then falls from what is called the "roll line" back down onto the shirt. Rolled collars are the most common on button-front shirts. There are many types of rolled collars, particularly on men's shirts. The most common is the straight collar, which has sharp points that rest within an inch or so of both sides of the front button band. The spread collar flairs more widely than the straight collar, and thus can accommodate a necktie with a larger knot.
Rolled Collar Variations
Tab collars are straight collars with a small fabric tab on one side and a small button on the other. The tab is buttoned under the tie to keep the ends of the collar snugly against it. Button-down collars have small buttonholes in their points, and small buttons sewn to the front of the shirt. The buttons are pulled through the buttonholes after the wearer finishes tying his tie. The wing collar has short points that fold back to give a wing-like appearance. Wing collars are most often seen on formal shirts that are worn with a tuxedo. Shawl collars are another type of rolled collar.
Regardless of whether they are flat, rolled or standing, collars typically are reinforced with interfacing to give them body. Flat and rolled collars usually are attached to the shirt with a facing that is sewn on top of the collar and then turned to the inside, so that none of the facing shows. Collar stays are sometimes used in collars to give them a crisp appearance. Collar stays are either made of plastic or metal, and are inserted into holes on the underside of a collar. A good collar will endure regular laundering and ironing, will hold its shape without fraying or stretching, and will give the shirt a crisp, finished appearance.