Thursday, August 26, 2010

The Pinned vs. Clipped Collar: A Protracted Discourse

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.
ADG

27 comments:

J.P. said...

That was a great commentary about collar pins. I have wanted to pick one up for a while and this explains a lot.

LPC said...

If one were to wonder about collar pins, I imagine most questions have now been addressed. Oh, and I just bought my son a pale blue gingham shirt - by some artsy company at an artsy SF store...

ADG said...

LPC...It's obvious Prunella, that I'm running a little thin on blog post motivation. This will be mitigated when LFG returns from Florida this weekend. I'm certain that your son will look fetching in his new powder-blue gingham. I've got a few of them.

J.P. ...the go get one!

ilovelimegreen said...

ADG- Is this the first photographic evidence with which you have provided your readers of you sporting a necktie (as opposed to bowtie)? That's one snazzy monogrammed shirt.

Summer is a Verb said...

I used to pin the back of my Skyr turtlenecks once they got too stretched out. Does that count? XXOO

vir beātum said...

Excellent post. I've been waiting an age for someone to write about this. Time to dig up my stash of Edwardian collar bars, bought in a junk store for about $2 each.
VB

Patsy said...

Now we know the where and the how of collar pinning, but what about the why?

Anonymous said...

The only thing worse than the slide on clip, is when I seem somone using it with a button down shirt, not sure what it says about the individual, but can't be good.
RTS

JDB (Chin Up, Pretty Smile, Give 'Em Hell) said...

The pre-drilled bar looks like something you would see in the navel of a college girl or the eyebrow of some misguided highschooler. Eck!

Main Line Sportsman said...

Why not just go with tab collar...which I think looks great and is very functional. That first pict. of Freddy shows him wearing what looks suspiciously like a slide on collar pin.Rarely does anyone wears these today....(I do occassionally)....so I doubt if any Maitre' D' would be sufficiently astute notice the difference and banish you to a table near the bus-boy station due to tie and collar related infractions. Indeed, in today's monochrome track- suited world of sartorial sloth and buffonery, the hourly rate guy at the restaurant rostrum is probably just happy when the prospective patron is wearing pants...let alone a collared shirt.
Now, I am with you on this ADG....but only on the fringe.

Anonymous English Female said...

ADG - You've lost me here - baffled, dazed and confused me. As Patsy as already said - what's the point? If the shirt's properly tailored, well fitting and made of decent fabric why the hell would anyone need somekind of diaper pin accoutrement to keep it all in place??

Richard M said...

You are so right about the collar pins!! I would note, however, that 2 of Frazier's sartorial heroes, Tony Biddle and Astaire, did often sport both boutonnieres and pocket handkerchiefs, despite his rule.

ADG said...

Richard...nice to know that Frazier could allow a bit of sartorial latitude!

AnonEngFem...sorry to have flummoxed you but I'm not surprised. You and Patsy are girls.

MainLiner...Welcome home. I like tab collars but I found that the collar points weren't quite long enough for my liking. The first pick of Frederini, if you blow it up, shows that it's a pin-thru but I can see how at first glance it looks otherwise. And alas, I agree with your overall observations about Maitre D deportment.

JDB...funny but scary.

RTS...yep. I haven't seen that in a while.

Patsy...I can't explain that.

VB...yep, the flea markets are great sources for these things.

AllieVonLandmark...if you do it, it's ok.

LimeGreenGal...thanks. It matches my thong.

Preppy 101 said...

I used to help Mr. Preppy 101 with the symmetry and parallelism when pinning the collar. Welcome to my OCD world. xoxo

Conor said...

Great post ADG. You know well that without your tutelage and graciousness, I would never have been able to enter the world of collar pins. Lovely world too, by the way.

Thanks again.

Main Line Sportsman said...

And now...for a twofer...I am must add that I would love to have been at the Stork Club table with Ernie banging back the Martinis....look at that relish bowl...I can almost hear the crunch of celery and radish and the laughter of one of the all-time great Sportsman-writers!! Great picture.
Oh...and thanks for the "welcome home"...sincerely..that was a nice salutation. It sort of encapsulates the friendly atmosphere here in our blogosphere.

NCJack said...

C'mon now, quit prancing around the subject, tell us what you really think.

I feel that I've had nasturtiums cast upon my sartoriality

Laguna Beach Prep said...

I oppose this, wholeheartedly. I'm with A.E.F. above. I don't get it. It can't be because I'm a girl, 'cause I'm not (obviously). This just seems a bit much. Too much FUSSINESS and Frazier-worship going on here.

Jovan said...

While I disagree with your assessment I find it entertaining nonetheless.

ADG said...

Jovan...thanks. That's what I was going for. I mean really...how much can one say about a collar pin? I'm all about the story.

LagunaBeachTradPrepMon...The Frazier worshiping has just begun old sport! And indeed my friend, if we agreed on everything, our interaction would become a bit stale no? Thanks. Oh, and I know you aren't a girl...or if you are, my friend, you'd be the most interesting gal in the world.

NCJack...sorry to have equivocated on this one. I'll try to be more precise next time. And finally, this is wrapped in respect, but Carolinians don't use words like nasturtiums.

MainLiner...I'm with you man. Proper drinks, proper swathing without thinking too much about ones clothes, pretty dates and indeed, a relish bowl. Your vacation resonated with me. I once dated a woman whose family had a camp in one of those old WASPy Adirondack camps where the same families had been going to the same cabins for seventy years. I also remember diving in the water and subsequently spending three days trying to locate my wanker. Cold cold cold.

Conor...I go to LFGs school orientation at 1030 this morning. I'll be thinking about you as you begin to actualize your calling...teach on my friend!

101Gal...a little OCD is good.

And finally.....Ok, I’ve rewritten the collar pin story. Here it is:
“Collars are lovely without any type of anchoring adjunct. A well cut shirt with a proper collar need not be encumbered with any hardware to augment, or in some opinions detract, from its posture. Add a well tied, precisely dimpled tie and you’ve got a sartorially winning combination. However, for those who are interested in heightening the visual interest of a well tied-properly dimpled tie and the relationship with the collar it visits, you might consider a collar pin. Pin-through collars manifest a tighter, more precise anchoring. Slide on collar bars are just as swell. But remember a collar and tie unadorned is a sublime.”

How’s that?

ADG said...

Jovan...thanks. That's what I was going for. I mean really...how much can one say about a collar pin? I'm all about the story.

LagunaBeachTradPrepMon...The Frazier worshiping has just begun old sport! And indeed my friend, if we agreed on everything, our interaction would become a bit stale no? Thanks. Oh, and I know you aren't a girl...or if you are, my friend, you'd be the most interesting gal in the world.

NCJack...sorry to have equivocated on this one. I'll try to be more precise next time. And finally, this is wrapped in respect, but Carolinians don't use words like nasturtiums.

MainLiner...I'm with you man. Proper drinks, proper swathing without thinking too much about ones clothes, pretty dates and indeed, a relish bowl. Your vacation resonated with me. I once dated a woman whose family had a camp in one of those old WASPy Adirondack camps where the same families had been going to the same cabins for seventy years. I also remember diving in the water and subsequently spending three days trying to locate my wanker. Cold cold cold.

Conor...I go to LFGs school orientation at 1030 this morning. I'll be thinking about you as you begin to actualize your calling...teach on my friend!

101Gal...a little OCD is good.

ADG said...

Ok, I’ve rewritten the collar pin story. Here it is:

“Collars are lovely without any type of anchoring adjunct. A well cut shirt with a proper collar need not be encumbered with any hardware to augment, or in some opinions detract, from its posture. Add a well tied, precisely dimpled tie and you’ve got a sartorially winning combination. However, for those who are interested in heightening the visual interest of a well tied-properly dimpled tie and the relationship with the collar it visits, you might consider a collar pin. Pin-through collars manifest a tighter, more precise anchoring. Slide on collar bars are just as swell. But remember a collar and tie unadorned is a sublime.”

How’s that?

Young Fogey said...

You're just posting too fast for me to keep up with, especially because my work doesn't allow me to post comments to your site (old version of the browser, perhaps).

Fred Astaire would, on infrequent occasion, pin a buttoned button-down collar. If I could ever be as dandy as he, that's the first thing I'd copy.

His sleeve monogram would normally be hidden by his jacket, thus making it acceptable.

Am I the only one who noticed the picture of LFG in the background, the one with the spoon on her nose?

ADG said...

Fogey...good for your work browser! It'll keep you out of trouble...spending your time commenting on my drivel.

Astaire..yes, he could get away with things that others would look silly doing!

The Spoon Nose...you've motivated a post for this morning. It will be up in 15 minutes.

Matt Fox said...

Thanks for such a fantastic, well thought out post.

Collar Stays said...

Thanks. Your Blog reads well, I like it, keep at it, love it.

Gentleman's Gazette said...

Great post! I particularly like Brearly's picture. We also wrote an article about the collar bar that might be of interest to you!

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