Fit Bits: The Jacket Collar

By Andrew Yamato

You may have noticed it on other guys: jacket collars that stand off away from the neck. Or maybe you’ve seen jackets that bunch up in back creating a taut roll of cloth below the collar. Either way, these garments look every bit what they are: designed for someone else’s body. 

Because it sits so close to the wearer’s face, the collar of a jacket is one of its single most important (and hopefully inconspicuous) elements — and too often one of its most obvious failings. Even to a casual observer who might not identify the problem, the overall effect of a poorly fitting collar is distracting, separating the garment from the wearer when it should be making a seamlessly organic impression.

A properly fitting collar should literally feel good, gripping your neck — not uncomfortably, but reassuringly: “I got you.” It’s anchoring the fit of the entire jacket, keeping everything in place. It should show about a half-inch of shirt collar in back (to balance the half-inch of shirt cuff at the sleeve), and smoothly transition to the lapels without bowing out over your clavicles. Most challengingly, it should stay that way regardless of what the rest of your body is doing, whether that’s tying shoelaces, running to catch a train, or hailing a cab.

To accomplish this, it’s best when the collar is made by hand, and set into the coat by hand, as a good tailor’s skill and experience can build in all the compound curves necessary for a supple, precise fit. Once you see and feel what a collar correctly made for you is like, you probably won’t be satisfied with anything else.