When Bogie put his collar up on his trench coat, it became an iconic movie look. When cool guys like John Travolta did it, the look became legendary. Coat collars have a lot to do with the style of coat and they have a long history of defining coat fashion. What don’t you know about the types of collars on coats…and why are they so important?
Creating the Coat
Humans were making clothing as far back as 40,000 B.C.E., so far back that huge ice sheets covered a big part of the globe and woolly mammoths casually stomped around. These early people cut animal skins and stitched them together to make everything they wore, including fur wraps that functioned as the first-ever coats.
They weren’t exactly well-tailed pieces but they got the job done. Outerwear became a little more sophisticated with the first fur capes, worn over the shoulders and held in place with toggles. In later Greek and Roman cultures, cloth was worn instead of fur. But these items were still capes, heavy pieces of material that sat on the shoulders.
Coats are garments with defined arms. And despite these early efforts, it would take quite a while for these items to appear in the fashion world and actually catch hold with popular style.
An Outer Layer
In the 1400s and 1500s, men and women commonly wore long outer gowns over the other clothing they were wearing. The gown was worn open in order to show off these other clothes and was worn as a mostly sleeveless or short-sleeved garment. Henry VIII, King of England, wore one of these outer gowns as part of common court fashion.
These outer gowns were sort of like early coats but still did not have sleeves and were not worn strictly as outerwear. They were more like highly embellished robes and they were worn as part of indoor outfits. For a warm outer layer, people still commonly wore cloaks and capes to protect themselves against the cold.
Actual coats still wouldn’t appear until much later, though the seeds of the idea had already been planted in the earliest days of clothing creation.
The First Coat
In the late 1600s, French coachmen started to wear an overcoat in order to stay warm while performing their job. The English, not to be left behind in the style department, soon came up with the greatcoat, which was made with full sleeves and a long length. This was a true coat by any definition, an outer layer worn over clothing with long sleeves and a long length for the sole purpose of adding warmth. By the mid-1800s, greatcoats had become the most popular and fashionable outerwear choice, far surpassing the popularity of the cloak and the cape.
Women’s coats became popular at the same time as riding wear for women became trendy. Their coats were knee-length designs meant to be worn open. From these early designs, all other coasts were created. And over the years, that list has become pretty long. The types of collars on coats have helped to define coat style over the years, changing everything about how these different coat designs look and how they make you look.
Parts of a Collar
Coat collars can sometimes be very simple and really, it doesn’t seem at first glance that there’s a whole lot to them. Bu tin fact, there’s a whole lot happening with coat collars. Coat collars are made up of several parts, in fact. The different parts of the collar all have unique names and each part is important because together, they create the overall look of the collar.
The back part of the collar that stands up at the back of the neck is known as the stand. The fall is the part of the collar that is folded over from the stand and drapes down. The roll is the bend between the stand and the fall. The roll line is the top line of the collar as it follows your neck. In other words, the roll line is the edge of the collar that points up toward your face. The style line is the opposite edge of the collar that is at the end of the fall. These are the main parts of the collar, which isn’t so simple after all!
Other words you hear in reference to coat collars include the slope, which is the angle of the collar as it falls toward your shoulders. The spread is the space between the two tips of the collar. The point is the tip of the collar. All these words are used when describing the different features you can find on various coat collars.
Different Types of Coat Collars
The different types of coat collars have a huge role in creating different coat designs. After all, the collar is what tops the coat and really does set the tone of the style for the coat itself. How many of these types of coat collars have you worn and which ones are going to flatter you the most?
The bertha collar is seen more often on formal and semi-formal female coat designs that are meant to be worn with evening wear. That’s because this is an embellished collar with a scalloped edge. It is a wide collar, several inches in width, and has a shallow scoop design that creates a slight curve downward. The collar stretches across the base of the neck from the top of each shoulder.
This wide collar style is associated with 1970s shirt fashion but it is still found in coats in modern and vintage designs. The dog ear is a short collar that comes out wide to sit flat over the collarbone. It has a narrow spread and ends in sharp points.
The eton collar is a wide collar design with a wide spread and a straight, flat design. It ends in points and has a simple, uniform design.
When you think of a classic coat collar, it might look a lot like a johnny collar. This is a simple and elegant, traditional collar design. The johnny collar is not stiff and sits flat on the neck rather than standing up against it. It is folded over and has a one- to two-inch medium width in a sloping design that angles toward the middle of the neck. It has pointed ends and spread that is around two inches wide.
The mandarin collar has a very modern and sharp look to it. This is a short collar that stands straight up, going around the neck in a band that has a small gap at the middle of the throat. This is a simple, minimalist collar that you will see on many modern coat designs.
The peter pan collar design is a classic embellishment that adds a touch of whimsy and charm to any coat design. This is a narrow collar with a somewhat round shape that fits around the entire neck in a single piece of fabric. This collar connects at the throat with just a small, narrow spread. The ends of the collar are rounded, creating a distinct look.
The Bermuda collar is a variation of the peter pan collar design. It’s a flat collar that is shaped just like the peer pan collar but it has a square edge that ends in short points, rather than a rounded edge.
The puritan collar, also called a pilgrim collar, is a very wide collar that sits flat and has a sharp angle toward the chest. It ends in points and meets at the bottom of the neck but has a wide spread from here. This is a distinct, large collar that may be paired with a lapel or may appear alone.
Wing collars have a distinct look that adds flair to any coat design. This collar lies flat and fits in a thin band around the back of the neck before it spreads out into two narrow, flaring triangles on either side of the neck, right across the collarbone.
All About Lapels
Coats don’t always just have collars. Sometimes, they also have lapels. A lapel is sort of like an extension of the collar. It comes down from the collar on either side of the chest in a V-shape design. There are many different types of lapels that also affect the overall look of the coats that have them. Lapels are commonly seen on trench coats and many other coat designs.
Notch lapels appear to be separate from the collar but they are made in the same color and fabric. They meet the collar near the collarbone and have a distinct notch here. The lapel extends downward from here. Notch lapels are made in varying widths and lengths. Some may be very wide while other designs have narrow notch lapels.
A peak lapel looks like it is separate from the collar, though the two are usually made in the same color and fabric. The peaked lapel is somewhat wider at the top where it meets the collar near the collar bone, ending here at a sharp point, or peak. The lapel extends down from there, becoming thinner until it ends in a point at the bottom of the V neckline of the coat.
The shawl lapel is a one-piece design where the collar extends to create the lapel, which usually has a rounded and somewhat wide shape. The overall shape looks like an oval framing the head and neck.
Choosing a Collar for Your Face Shape
What’s the difference between all these collars? Besides the obvious style factor, the type of collar you wear can greatly enhance your facial features and natural face shape. On the other hand, there are collar styles that won’t look as flattering with your face shape. Choose the collar designs that will help you make the most out of what you’ve got. After all, that’s what fashion is all about.
Do you have narrow cheekbones and a more narrow jaw? You need a collar with a wide spread when you have an oval face shape. This will help give your face some width and add some definition to your jawline. Avoid narrow spread collars and collars with long points. More rounded collar designs will look best on you.
If you have a round face shape with fuller cheeks and a more rounded jaw, you want a structured collar that has points on it. A pointed collar will create a contrast and helps create a narrowing effect that elongates your face. Collars with a wide spread will make your face look wider and even fuller, so avoid these designs. Stick to narrow collars to create that narrowing effect on your face.
Have a more square jawline with a less pointed chin? Long and narrow collar styles are going to suit you best. Look for collars with a narrow spread and a more elongated design to help lengthen your face. Collars with a wide spread will make your jaws look wider and a little heavy, so stay away from these styles.
Types of Collars on Coats
Choosing the types of collars on coats that are going to flatter you and help you show off your personal style is key. If you like a little bit of flair, you might want wider collar designs with lapels. If you’re more simple and elegant, a collar with a little less volume to it might appeal to you. When you know about the different collars and how they enhance your looks and style, you can make much better fashion decisions and choose coats that will turn heads for all the right reasons.
Collars are much more than something to finish a coat off with. The collar you choose can affect how your face looks and it makes a big difference in how your coat looks. There’s a lot going on with coat collars! To make it easier, we’ve got the answers to the most frequently asked questions about coat collars so you will know all the important info that style experts know.
Should you wear your coat collar up or down?
“Popping the collar,” which means wearing it unfolded and standing up rather than folded down, is a tradition that is said to date to the 1920s and the first-ever polo shirt. The trend would start here with a tennis player who wanted to protect his neck from the sun. But from here, the idea of unfolding the coat collar upward became a super hot look that made style waves in the 1940s with silver screen legends like Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman, in the 1960s with sex symbols like James Dean and in the 1980s with all the cool characters who strutted around in leather, guys like Michael Jackson and Eddie Murphy.
Popping the collar, or wearing the collar of any coat or shirt upright, has been a sign of coolness, sexiness and style for decades. Wearing the collar up is a look that has been a part of the style scene from early on in the history of collars and coats. And when something works, it works. So if you want to pop your collar, then pop it! This is always a look that’s an option because now, popping the collar has become a classic style touch for any coat.
What’s the difference between a coat and a jacket?
Coats are outerwear that you put on when the weather is cold, or windy, or rainy or snowy. Jackets are outerwear that you put on when the weather is cold, or windy…okay, you get it. If both these items are outerwear that you put on over your clothes, what actually is the difference between a coat and a jacket? Is there a difference between them? Fashion experts say yes.
Technically, the difference between a coat and a jacket is the length. Coats are at least hip length, while jackets are shorter than hip length. There are plenty of coats and jackets that don’t exactly fall within this definition but for the most part, this is how you’re meant to tell the difference between coats and jackets. Jackets are generally lighter in weight than coats and don’t offer as much warming protection, though this isn’t a hard and fast rule.
When it comes to collars, however, coats and jackets have many of the same styles. Stick to the basics of choosing the right collar for you based on your face shape and the style you like and you won’t go wrong no matter what you’re wearing.
Should you wear a coat with a contrasting collar?
Contrasting fashion has always been a way to draw the eye and to add distinct style to any item. Coats with contrasting collars allow you to add another color into your overall outfit, so you can create a contrasting or complementing style using different colors. A contrasting collar can actually be a great way to flatter your own natural coloring while still wearing a coat in a color that doesn’t necessarily complement you. As long as the contrasting collar flatters you, the rest of the coat can be in any shade.
Contrasting pops of color can be a great way to add some interest to your outfit. In other words, feel free to play around with this style element. Have fun with contrasting colors and play with this style. After all, good fashion is about using color well. Practice using colors in different ways by wearing a contrasting collar coat.
To give you an idea of how to wear this style, look to the celebrities and their stylish winter coats. Coats with fur collars are often made in contrasting designs. You’ll see style legends and celebs wearing coats with contrasting fur collars all the time.
How do you clean your coat?
Cleaning winter coats can be a bit of a nightmare. Coats might be made with wool fabrics, specific fillings, insulation, faux fur and all sorts of little elements that are extremely tricky to wash. Some items will actually break down or become damaged if they are washed, which is clearly a problem.
If your coat is made with down, fleece or wool, you can machine-wash it. Turn the coat inside-out and wash it on a gentle cycle in cold water. Either lay the coat out flat to dry on a towel or tumble dry it on the lowest heat setting possible. By avoiding heat, you will prevent shrinkage that occurs with many natural fibers. Be gentle with your coat to avoid damaging it. Knits in particular can be damaged if they are twisted or pulled too roughly.
If your coat is made with leather, suede, fur or faux fur, you have to clean it by hand. The leather or suede can be gently brushed with a dry brush to remove debris and dirt and then cleaned with special leather cleaner and conditioner. Faux fur should be soaked in a mixture of cold water and gentle detergent, rinsed thoroughly and allowed to dry. Brush the fur out after it has dried because it will be tangled and clumped. Work slowly and delicately to avoid breaking or damaging the fur.
Follow the care label instructions for your coats and when in doubt, talk to a dry cleaner. Take good care of your coats and they will last you for a long time, so you have them whenever you want to show off your style and your good taste in fashion.
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