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How a grandad collar shirt should fit

How a grandad collar shirt should fit

The old wives tale behind grandad collars literally starts with a wife. The story goes that in the late 1920s, fed up with having to constantly wash her husband’s shirts just because the collars were dirty, New York housewife Hannah Montague cut them off so she could launder them separately then sew them back on. The grandad collar shirt (and the detachable collar) was born.

As fun as that story is, it’s probably not quite true. It seems far more likely that the grandad collar shirt, like a lot of classic menswear, owes its origins to the factory floor. Supposedly, workers who had to run hot machines – and couldn’t wear ties in case they got stuck in the mechanism – cut the collars off their shirts to make them cooler. Which is why the collarless shirt is still a workwear go-to.

There is – like all good menswear staples – a military element, too. All members of the non-commissioned ranks of the British army wore a grey collarless shirt during WW1 and in WW2 the infantry moved to a green version worn by the infantry.  “It’s a great layering option that is less formal than a collared shirt so more versatile, and there are more options to put your own style on it,” says stylist Toby Standing. “Nail the fit and there’s no limit on how you can wear it.” These are the elements you should look out for.


“A grandad shirt, like any cotton shirt, should follow the shape of your body. It shouldn't be too fitted or big and billowy – you don’t want it to hang off you or look too tight.”



“Your sleeve should finish where your wrist meets your hand. Anything shorter will look too small and anything longer will just look sloppy.”



“Ironically the collar – or lack thereof – is the most important part. You don’t want one that is too tight and cuts across your adams apple but, it shouldn’t be so loose it gapes if you undo the top button. Aim for something that follows the line of a crew neck t-shirt.” 



“The seam of the shoulder should meet the corner of your shoulder bone and sit there. If it falls below, that’s a sign that your shirt is too big, and if it’s closer to your collarbone, it’s too small.”



“It’s important to make sure you can do the top buttons up but you don’t want to have it so tight that it starts to pull.”


Words: Nadia Balame-Price
Photography: Lola & Pani
Styling: Toby Standing