Clip on collar pins are like clip on ties and clip on suspenders. Under no circumstances shall anyone over the age of nine utilize these sartorial aberrations. Either impale your collar or leave it sans girding. Skewer it or let it be. Impale the cloth or anchor that collar through its pre-sewn eyelets. Take a cue from aplomb master Astaire.
Why? Because the difference between a pinned-through collar and one anchored by some type of slide-on ditty is like being seated in the Cub Room at the Stork Club versus Sherman Billingsley ordering you and your party to Stork Siberia. Clip-on slide-on and your collar will be relegated to the cheap seats. Let me say it another way. Anything other than pinned-through shouts sartorial rookie. Poseur is too strong and frankly, an unfair characterization but plebe certainly isn’t. Here’s Papa pinned nicely in the Cub Room
Here's Astaire again...and he's pinned this point collar to perfection. I’ll touch on collar types and the damage pins inflict so sit tight. Astaire also tarted up his shirtsleeve nicely with an inconsequential monogram. The point collar just takes to the pin better than any other collar style.
Australian pilot Sir Norman Brearly was known to pin it down before taking to the skies. I’d love to live in a world where half this level of sartorial precision was the norm.
Frank’s sartorial acumen was unimpeachable. However, I’ll use his pinned collar example to make a point about club or rounded collars. Once you pin them, the already modest collar essentially disappears. The resultant look is, at least to me, a bit underpowered. It’s “off” in some way and ends up looking like the antithesis of the anchored aplomb of the Astaire point collar. Sinatra also appears to be wearing a collar with sewn-in holes for said collar impalement. I’ll take that issue up in a moment as well.
Here’s George Frazier pinned to perfection. Surely he would cut you down to size if he discovered you sporting a clip on anything. I suspect for Frazier it was either a Brooks Brothers oh-so-properly rolled button down or it was a point collar pinned to perfection. And God help you if you wore a carnation and a pocket square.
Let’s bring Wolfe and Merkin into the fray. Obviously the issue of collar girding was one of significant import for both of these dandies. In Wolfe’s dedication of The Right Stuff to Merkin, he mentions not only the collar pin issue but a Frazier corollary of some sort.
Ok, so let’s talk hardware. While some may spend significant bucks on collar pins I never will. I buy the gold and silver plated ones at Paul Stuart because I’m prone to lose them. And who the hell’s gonna know the provenance and alloy content of your collar pin? Those that I allow to get that close to me are already so rapt in Maxminimus Fuzzy Aplomb that they could give two hoots and a damn regarding the hardware that they are about to relieve me of. Shut up. I mean it. Shut up. The pin at the top is exclusively for shirts that have preset-sewn-in holes. I no longer own any of those shirts so if anyone does, send me an email and I’ll drop this one in the mail to you. You need to buy pins like the second one.
I don’t like the pre-drilled collar holes because their placement demands that you tie your tie a certain size to accommodate the un-editable space created by the pinned collar. Some ties result in smaller knots based on weight and type of material. And if the entire rig isn’t cinched with air-tight z-e-r-o space showing around and below the knot...the result is loose and sloppy-exactly the antithesis of what the pinning-girding effort should yield. The picture above that I nicked from a website illustrates my point. Everything looks nice. The suit, the shirt, the tie…nice choices. But the screw-on collar bar leaves way too much space around the rig.
Now let’s take up the issue of sequelae…collar trauma. Folks, it’s the price of doing business. Yes, the pin-through ritual will take a toll on your shirts. But either accept this and concede it or don’t wear pinned collars. Nothing more to say here. Take comfort in the fact that when laundered, the pin holes generally heal and that only after years and years of use will the collar look too buck-shot and thus require retirement. Here are examples from my closet. Keep in mind that all three of these shirts are at least fifteen years old—the Brethren end-on-end was made in the USA so that tells you something about its age.
End on end probably takes more of an irreparable hit than other fabrics. Keep in mind though, that even after years of wearing this shirt and the resulting scars, I still wear it and once it's pinned again, all of the battle scars seem to fade into the overall assemblage.
A slightly less traumatized Paul Stuart example.
And I stopped pinning this Flusser shirt from fifteen years ago so the damage is minimal. I don't like how small and incorrect these club collars seem post-pinning.
So here’s the ADG interpretation of collar pinning done right. Airtight and snug. Also realize that this is a hybrid collar. It offers the circularity of a club collar but with rounded collar points that remain pronounced amidst its pinned-collar harness.
Of course it wouldn’t be an ADG post without at least one fuzzy iPhone picture. So here you have the balance of the rig that shrouded the impale-ee.
Fuzzy completeness manifests via the Toad of Toad Hall Man of No Consequence Monogram. Opposite the 5th button. Shut the……
So if you can’t run with the pinned-through dogs, I suggest you keep your clip-on ass on the porch.
Onward. Pinned. Woof-woof.