Should you wear your shirt collar over the jacket’s lapels?

I never wear my shirts like that. It just doesn’t feel right for me. But I’ve been observing this trend and the discussion around it lately, and I think I’ll weigh in. Because why not?

Just a few days ago I saw an argument in the comments of one of the photos Łukasz, the blogger at Outdersen.com, posted on his Facebook page. One of the readers said you should never wear the shirt collar this way, and backed it up with some books on menswear.

The thing is, the shirt in question was a polo, with a short collar band, and the collar itself was made of a single layer of knitted fabric. This kind of collar, when worn with a jacket, tends to slide under the lapels and just lie there all flat, so it’s pretty natural and just plain more comfortable to let it out.

The outfit in question, from Outdersen.com

And it is mostly polo or popover shirts I see worn this way. Popovers do actually have a real collar, which looks okay tucked under the lapels of the jacket, but most polos don’t. If you want to wear it with a jacket, you don’t really have all that much choice. I know, because I tried: you end up adjusting the collar all the time. It spoils the entire idea of a casual and relaxed outfit.

Some polos have collars designed in a different way altogether. Like this one:

Simon Skottowe polo shirt worn by Mikołaj from Blue Loafers

If you want to wear it with a jacket, there really is no other way to do it – tucked under the lapels, it would probably just ruin the jacket’s fit.

Sometimes though, it is just a stylistic choice. And there are guys out there who can pull it off with no problems: when done right, it has this cool, relaxed vibe. The thing is, it can also look quite retro. And even though photos show people wearing the runaway collar, as it’s called, as early as 1920s, it can also be evocative more of a 70s-80s style (and that’s something you’d rather avoid, unless you’re specifically going for a disco look). It all depends on an outfit: proportions, colours, fabrics.

I find it looks fresh and modern with either a typical polo shirt, or with a popover with more of a cutaway collar. This way it’s not too large, doesn’t draw so much attention to itself. I also think it looks better when the shirt is plain instead of patterned.

You will want something different if you actually are going for a look evocative of a particular period. If you want to see examples of some great vintage inspired outfits (as well as read his thoughts on the subject), head to Ethan Wong’s blog.

But here are some examples I consider good:

Maciej Zaremba from Warsaw’s Zaremba Bespoke Tailoring

Andreas Larsson from Berg&Berg

Simone Righi

Yasuto Kamoshita

Erik Mannby, editor-in-chief of Plaza Uomo magazine

Andreas Weinås from Manolo.se and King Magazine Sweden

Would those looks be better with a collar tucked under the lapels? Some maybe would, others wouldn’t. But all of those guys don’t really look like they care, and that’s the beauty of it.

Sure, the books on how to dress will tell you that you shouldn’t wear your shirt like that. Many of those books are also probably beginner’s guides. They lay out the basics, a foundation to build on. Menswear rules are not set in stone, and at the end of the day what matters is how you look and how you feel.

And if you don’t feel convinced, I’d like to see you tell Frank Sinatra he wears his clothes all wrong.

About me

Szymon Jeziorko

My name's Szymon Jeziorko. I wear ties and write about it compulsively. More...

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