What do I do with collar stays?
February 1, 2008 2:45 AM   Subscribe

Ok, so I now know they're called Collar Stays but what do I do with them?

When do I remove them? When washing, storing or wearing? Wikipedia says they should be taken out when dry cleaning, but what about ordinary washing? And why do some shirts have them and others not?
posted by jontyjago to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (14 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
 
Personally, I keep all of my collar stays in a small jewelry box, only inserting them into shirts immediately before wearing, and removing them when I take the shirt off. Mostly I do this because I dont want to lose them. (I'm referring to glossy gold/metal collar stays, not the cheapo plastic ones which really dont work anyways)
posted by jmnugent at 3:03 AM on February 1, 2008


Jmnugent has the right idea.

Even if you have the plastic ones, take them out when you launder your shirts. It's awful when a plastic collar stay breaks in the collar. (Plus, if you forget that they're there when you iron your shirt, it can be even more trouble.)

Investing in few metal ones is always worth it. Any good mens-wear shop should have them.

Why do some shirt have them? Probably a reflection of how formal the manufacturer feels the shirt should be.

Basicaly, all they do is stop your collar from folding or getting warped, crumpled or curled.

Even in a casual context, a sharp straight collar is always better looking than some rumpled mess.

In a suit, they keep the spread of your collar even and in place, so you don't get your collar up over the lapels of your jacket or expose the loop of your tie.
posted by generichuman at 3:35 AM on February 1, 2008 [1 favorite]


Generichuman recommends metal stiffeners, though if you can find ones made of a thermosetting plastic like Bakelite (will not warp with heat) or even antique ivory ones, then if you forget to remove them before washing they won't deform and won't damage the shirt.

As for why: they're like holes for cufflinks. Their presence says a lot about the formality of the garment, and thus about its wearer.
posted by Hogshead at 5:40 AM on February 1, 2008


Save them. It sucks to have the edges of your collar keep flipping up. I take them in and out every time.
posted by Ironmouth at 6:08 AM on February 1, 2008


My cynical thought is that it's cheaper for shirt manufacturers to not have to sew collar stiffener into the shirt.
posted by gjc at 6:17 AM on February 1, 2008


I actually bet it's more expensive to sew the hole in to access the collar stay area, gjc.

I would keep them with my cuff links. When the cuff links go on, collar stays in. Cuff links off, collar stays out.
posted by Doohickie at 6:57 AM on February 1, 2008


From experience, if you don't take them out, they usually come out in the washer or dryer. I have 2-3 sets of stays for 4-6 shirts these days due to laundry losses.
posted by GuyZero at 9:12 AM on February 1, 2008


My cynical thought is that it's cheaper for shirt manufacturers to not have to sew collar stiffener into the shirt.


A thought only possible in the mind of someone who has never really cared what his shirt collar looks like.
posted by dpcoffin at 9:46 AM on February 1, 2008


My cynical thought is that it's cheaper for shirt manufacturers to not have to sew collar stiffener into the shirt.

Not true- that's actually an easier procedure than making the slots for collar stays.
posted by oneirodynia at 10:07 AM on February 1, 2008


I have a set of stainless steel collar stays sold under the brand name "Wurkin Stiffs." (link) The nice thing about them is that they come with little magnets that go inside the shirt to hold the collar tips down. Collar fly-away is no more.
When I'm done wearing them, they come out of the shirt and go back in their little box.
posted by leapfrog at 12:14 PM on February 1, 2008


There at least used to be collar stay called the Spiffy. It was the shape of an inverted "U" with spring-loaded pins pointing down. You tucked it up under your collar behind your tie, pushed the pins up and stuck the points in at the collar tips.

If it's still made, you can probably find it at military or police uniform stores, or any place there's ROTC or a military school.
posted by KRS at 1:15 PM on February 1, 2008


"A thought only possible in the mind of someone who has never really cared what his shirt collar looks like."

Wow, tell me how you really feel. My collars look fine.
posted by gjc at 5:43 PM on February 1, 2008


Sorry, gjc; certainly didn’t mean to insult you. I’m sure your collars DO look fine, and that you’re an estimable fellow regardless.

But consider:

The fact that you think your collars look fine, and even that you have an opinion about the look of collars, doesn’t in any way prove that you “really care” about this weighty issue.

Here’s what I meant:

If you DID really care, you’d certainly have noticed that sewn-in stays look worse than insertable ones simply because they can’t be removed during laundering and pressing, so they inevitably wind up imprinting on the outer collar when ironed, breaking, distorting, and otherwise offending those who care. Never noticed? Wear only wash-and-wear shirts? You’ve never bought a collar stay? Sorry; can’t count you amongst the Really Caring... (Don’t fret; it’s not that much fun...)

You’d also have noticed that the more expensive a dress shirt, the more unlikely it is to have sewn-in stays, rather than the other way ‘round, as your comment suggests.

That’s all; not a personal critique...
posted by dpcoffin at 9:53 AM on February 3, 2008


I also have wurkin stiffs, and they are SWEET! Watch out for the women though, one pull on your shirt will have you searching for that magnet for 30 min.
posted by senseigmg at 6:51 AM on February 6, 2008


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