Style Advice - Two C’s of Shirt Formality: Collars and Cuffs

As we mentioned above, shirts collars and cuffs for men and women play a large role in determining the formality or informality of a given outfit.

First, shirt collars formality is determined by two main factors: its firmness and its degree of “spread,” or distance between the collar points. Firmer collars are more formal than softer ones, and wider spread collars are more formal than those with minimal spread (sometimes referred to as a “point” collar).

Second, shirt cuffs indicate formality or a lack thereof. A barrel cuff is not necessarily casual per se (you can wear one with a suit, after all), but cuffs that require cufflinks -single and double- are definitely more formal. The single cuff smoking collar shirt in white is exclusive to white tie and is thus the most formal shirt.


Clothing being an art as much as it is a science, it’s important to remember that a mens shirt or a women blouse is the sum of its parts. A brightly colored, checkered patterned shirt is casual, but if you throw a spread collar and double cuffs on it, you increase the formality. Conversely, a plain white shirt or blouse would typically be quite formal until you slap a button-down collar and two-button barrel cuffs on it.

Components of a Dress Shirt or an Elegant Blouse

All men’s dress shirts and women blouses have two major components: collars and cuffs.

Mens and Women Shirt Collars

As we mentioned above, a dress shirt’s collar is key formality indicator.
There’s quite a bit to discuss as it relates to shirt collars, including how to make collars work with your face shape (you can identify yours with our face shape guide). To that end, we’ve created a guide to shirt collars that we invite you to take a look at.

Mens and Women Shirt Cuffs

A shirt’s cuffs are another formality indicator. The three main styles for men’s dress shirts are barrel, single, and double/French.
Like collars, there’s much to know about shirt cuffs. As such, we created separate pages on shirt cuffs with all the information you need.
Shirt lovers sometimes also search for detachable collars and cuffs.
Replacement collar and cuff service is appreciated by many shirt-buyers.

Fraying of Shirt Collars and Cuffs .Why do my shirt collars and cuffs fray?

Shirts can wear thin and fray from repeated use and care over time. Although wear area abrasion damage can show up anywhere, it is most often seen first in the cuff edges and folds, as well as the neck/collar area. There really isn’t any way to prevent or fix this type of damage. However, heavier woven shirts with tighter weaves are more durable than end on end , batist or other thinner woven materials.