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What is a Spread Collar?

Collars can be confusing, especially when you put a lot of effort into your style. In this article, we’re going to tell you about one of the most popular types – the spread collar. Generally, a spread collar is a classic style of collar where the distance between the two collar points is longer, and the points sit close to, or under, the lapel when worn with a jacket. It is traditionally associated with a more formal style in menswear, and is commonly worn buttoned up with a tie.

As experts in the men’s clothing industry, we’ve talked about dress shirts, pants, and even suit accessories. Now we’ll tell you all you need to know about the spread collar and how it can best suit you.

Let’s begin.

What is a Spread Collar?

A spread collar is a category of popular dress shirt collars characterized by a wide distance between the collar points when worn. Spread collars are often specifically wide enough so that the tips of the collar points are hidden by the lapel when worn with a jacket. For reference: the average “spread” for this type of collars is about 5″ from one collar point to the other, but can include a range of spread distances from semi-spread to full spread.

Spread collar dress shirts are the most common of the dress shirt collar types and are your middle-of-the-road, can’t-go-wrong option that looks great on most face-shapes and with most styles of tie-knot — but there are some variations within the spread collar category. We’ll help explain the difference between the types of spread collar below.

What is a Spread Collar vs. Semi-Spread Collar vs. Full Spread Collar: 4 Main Differences

graphic of spread collar

Here are 4 main differences between spread collar types:

#1: Collar Distance

The most notable difference structurally will be the distance between the collar point. Full spread collars are almost horizontal to the wearer, aligning with the angle of the collarbone. Spread collars are the middle ground, hiding under the lapels but not quite as wide. Semi-spread collar shirts are actually the most common type of spread collar, representing the “middle-of-the-road” option we mentioned above, but are the narrowest of the spread collar types, and the tips may not always reach the lapel.

#2: Face Shapes 

All types of pread collar shirts are extremely versatile, but there are a few differences. Because of its horizontal characteristics, any type of spread collar dress shirt flatters these face shapes the most:

  1. Oval
  2. Diamond
  3. Oblong
  4. Heart

However, with their less dramatic angle, narrower semi-spread collars complement nearly every face shape:

  1. Oval
  2. Round
  3. Square
  4. Diamond
  5. Oblong
  6. Heart

#3: Formality

When in doubt, remember an often-accurate rule: the wider the spread, the more formal and traditional it looks. Spread collar dress shirts with wider tip-to-tip distances are dressed up much more easily compared to point and button down collars, with more neckwear and accessories at your disposal. We should also mention: not only are wider spreads more formal, but it’s more imperative that you stay fully buttoned. Semi-spread collars are suitable to rock unbuttoned, any wider and you should stay securely buttoned-up.

#4: Tie Shapes

The last difference between spreads is the type of tie-knots that you can wear with them. The wider the space between the collar points, the more room you have to fill with your tie knot, so plan accordingly. A Windsor or Half-Windsor knot with a proper silk tie should suffice, but skip the skinny ties and four-in-hand knots here.

For semi-spread collars, you have a wider range of options (again, this is the most middle-ground collar you will see on most dress shirts, so you likely need not fret). With less space to fill, most tie-knots will fit while looking great – anywhere from a four-in-hand knot to a full Windsor will do.

3 Examples of The Spread Collar 

man wearing a white shirt with spread collar

Example #1: Light Blue Twill Dress Shirt

Our Shirt in Light Blue Twill is a great example of a spread collar being used on a highly-functional dress shirt that can be dressed up or down for the occasion. If you want to go for a more casual look, you can easily throw on a dark gray blazer for a casual Friday outfit that is far from unprofessional. Want to dress it up? Opt for a full-Windsor tie knot on a burgundy tie to create contrast between the shirt and accessory – then, simply throw on a jacket and dress pants for an easy Monday through Friday getup.

light blue twill dress shirt

Example #2: Royal Blue Stripe Dress Shirt

The Royal Blue Stripe Dress Shirt works for formal and casual settings. The fine stripe pattern completes contrasting white-on-blue look that anyone can sport. So whether you’re going out to hang out or you’re going to meet a client, this timeless piece will surely work. Wear it with a closed or open collar, and it will still look good.

Example #3: Pink Micro-check Dress Shirt

Professional, but dashing? This Pink Micro-Check Dress Shirt is exactly that. This one is masculine without being overwhelming to the eyes of those looking at it. No extra effort is needed to look smart and neat with this shirt.

Suit Styles That Best Match A Spread Collar

Your suit options are open to your style with a spread or semi-spread collar. Unlike a cutaway collar, pin collar, or club collar, which works best with your more formal options, spread, and semi-spread collars will look great underneath any of your suits no matter their lapel type – from notch to peak. Nowadays, you can even wear a spread collar underneath a formal shawl lapel with the proper bow tie.

three men wearing spread collars

Frequently Asked Questions

Is it okay to wear a spread collar without a tie?

Although this has tie space, it is perfectly okay to wear a spread collar without a tie – this is a great, dressed-down look, especially when paired with a blazer. However, we will say that a semi-spread collar will look even better without a tie between the two, thanks to its more traditional middle-ground aesthetic. Remember, the wider the points, the more formal the shirt.

Can you wear a bow tie with a spread collar?

Yes, bow-ties are perfectly acceptable as they fill the large gap between the collar tips nicely. Use this advice at your own discretion, as bow-ties are almost always seen as formal attire, and spread collars can be worn in a casual setting (we’d suggest a tie over a bow-tie).

How should you choose your collar style?

Choosing your collar style comes down to your personal preference with situational formality and face shapes sprinkled in. When it comes down to it, you’ll wear what you feel comfortable wearing. However, there are situations like, at a wedding, where you’ll want to opt for a more formal option (think cutaway with a bow-tie or wingtip collar with a french cuff).

On the other hand, a normal Monday at the office won’t call for the most formal collar type, and you will look more comfortable in a traditional spread or semi-spread collar. Lastly, as we discussed, face shape can play a role in deciding which collar style to choose from, but we would leave that as a last resort when selecting which kind you want to rock (it’s a tad subjective).

More Helpful Dress Shirt Guides Articles

If you need more help with your dress shirt, don’t fret. We’ve got more guides to help you.

  1. Never wear a dress shirt without ironing it. This guide on how to iron a dress shirt should help you figure out how to keep it looking new.
  2. If you’ve ever wondered how should a dress shirt fit, this guide will answer the question for you.
  3. This guide on how to keep your shirt tucked in is all you need to keep everything in its place.

In Conclusion

In the end, it’s always a safe bet to rock a spread or semi-spread collar dress shirt, and really, they aren’t too different from each other at all. The horizontal and distanced points between the collar’s tips on a spread collar dress shirt are a can’t-go-wrong attractive option that you should always have in your wardrobe. Go forth with your classic spread collar and dominate your dress shirt collar style!

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