Ode: White Collar

There’s a look that seems to have mixed favor, whether it be with the business guys, the Hollywood set, or the list of wealthy folks.  The contrasting white collar.  What seemed to be all the rage back in the 80s has become a rarity.  Is it a good look?  Why did it go away?  Here’s an ode to a trend I hope returns…

I first noticed these shirts back in the old Brooks Brothers catalogs.  We used to get them at the house growing up, and I always thought they were cool.  Dad had one, and wore a suit to work every day, but I don’t remember him wearing it much.

Ralph Lauren included them in a bunch of advertisements in the 80s and 90s, and they positioned them as a more formal look.  Almost English.  Quite frankly, I think this is a GREAT look.  Props on the three-piece tweed suit, even though I’d never wear the vest here in Atlanta.  The white collar does dress up the look, and the blue gives the look some depth.  Good stuff:

Today, you don’t see these much.  And I don’t know why.  My guess is that as our society has gotten more casual (see dress shoes with tennis shoe soles), there isn’t much need for the formality of a contrasting collar dress shirt.  They do pop up every once in a while, usually by folks who couldn’t care less what we think (mega-stars, uber-rich, movie stars):

Beckham doing it right:

Bob, laughing at Belichick’s cut off sweatshirt:

Recently, we see most of these shirts is in movies that reflect back on the good ‘ole 80s.  American Psycho, where almost all of the wardrobe choices were cherry:

Not recent, but Bond knew what’s up:

The Wolf of Wall Street doing a solid:

And the king.  Wall Street.  Blue Horseshoe loves Anacott Steel.

What say you, readers?  Are you a fan of the white collar?  Other than getting one custom made, the only place to find one is a non-iron version from Brooks Brothers.  Since I don’t wear non-iron anything, I’m going to have to get some professional help…

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22 Comments

  1. Kurt
    02/12/2018 / 7:30 AM

    Strong look. What’s good for Gordon Gekko is good for me. 

    • JRS
      Author
      02/12/2018 / 11:40 AM

      We should all wear a fabric bracelet with those words…

  2. Nem
    02/12/2018 / 8:16 AM

    I admit to liking the look, for more formal occasions.  Even Sir Larry Wildman (like all Brits, he thinks he was born with a better pot to piss in) doesn’t pull off the very, very English white collared dress shirt like Mr. Gekko.  I might stay home after lunch today to watch Wall Street…

    • JRS
      Author
      02/12/2018 / 11:40 AM

      One of my favorite movies of all time.  I may have to fire it up this evening.

  3. Jon
    02/12/2018 / 8:28 AM

    I recently finished a book about the Blackstone Group and it’s co-founder Steve Schwarzman, whose lifestyle has been well documented in regards to Wall Street excess. During my reading I became curious as to how he dressed. You are hard pressed to find photos of him without his signature shirt, blue and white pinstriped with a white collar, undoubtedly custom. Of course he also relies on Hermès ties to complete the look..

    • JRS
      Author
      02/12/2018 / 11:39 AM

      If you don’t mind, what’s the name of the book?  I’m interested…

      • Jon
        02/12/2018 / 12:12 PM

        King Of Capital. Helped me understand the financial world a lot more and a quick read with some very interesting characters with personalities big enough to match their bank accounts…

  4. RCGFairhope
    02/12/2018 / 8:37 AM

    Love mine, but hardly ever wear it. Gonna have to break it out soon after reading this. Glad I’m not the only one.

  5. Matt
    02/12/2018 / 10:03 AM

    I work in a formal environment – suits and Hermes ties are pretty much standard issue – and one would be absolutely crucified for wearing this look unless you’re over 60 and a total hitter. I actually like the look – though with a gekko blue not Beckham blue aka 1996 8th grade dance blue. 

    • JRS
      Author
      02/12/2018 / 11:41 AM

      I figured.  Do you think this is a regional thing (limited to certain areas/cities) or generally speaking?

      • matt
        02/12/2018 / 7:55 PM

        i dont think so…i’m an investment banker and travel to NY/Chicago/Houston quite regularly and think the scorn is universal if you are under 60. Essentially, it’s an affectation and affectations have to be earned. So you need a lot of skins on the wall…or just a total lack self-awareness. There are some old-school bankers with slick-backed grey hair and suspenders and these shirts which looks pretty badass but forty-year old MD rocking one looks like the guy who watched this movie one too many times. And i won’t even address wearing this without a tie…the horror. 

        • Nem
          02/13/2018 / 8:26 AM

          Former deep south banker here, only one co-worker on trading desk ever rocked the Gordon Gekko look, and he was universally known as lacking self-awareness but his frequent media appearances gave him some latitude with many.  In the last 5-8 years I saw OCBDs yield to semi-spread and point collars on the well dressed, but nothing so fancy as the GG.  I retired this summer and joined a firm outside the finance world and haven’t worn a tie since church on Father’s Day.

    • Fritz
      02/13/2018 / 9:19 AM

      I work in a law firm where suits and Hermes ties are standard as well.  Wore my Brooks Brothers light blue with contrasting white collar one time during a severe laundry shortage and was called some variation of Gekko/Blue Horseshoe/Coffee is for Closers for the rest of the day.  I found it pretty hilarious, but don’t know if it’s something to try twice.

  6. Rdb222@gmail.com
    02/12/2018 / 10:53 AM

    Have 2 weeks worth in the wardrobe. Superb with or without tie.

  7. Andy
    02/12/2018 / 11:03 AM

    Wearing one at the office today! Charles Tyrwhitt carries a number of different white collar styles. 

  8. JSK
    02/12/2018 / 1:42 PM

    Unless you’re an investment banker or litigator, you will probably look more like Bill Lumbergh.

    • Nem
      02/12/2018 / 1:52 PM

      LOL

    • ABD
      02/12/2018 / 5:28 PM

      Investment banker here, no one wears these, even the older MDs

      • matt
        02/12/2018 / 7:50 PM

        same

  9. nachdrock
    02/12/2018 / 4:56 PM

    Litigator here.  I have one from BB blue shirt with purple and white stripes.  Gets lots of compliments from well dressed folks actually.  Sidenote: Non-iron sucks!

  10. 02/12/2018 / 9:02 PM

    Huge fan!  Always will be! Not to mention Wall Street the movie was made to frown upon Wall Street.  It avtually caused suit sales to dradtically increase. (Source: a book on Ralph Lauren)

  11. LEE
    02/12/2018 / 9:30 PM

    Owned the full getup in college for some 80s/Wall Street parties. Shirt, braces, tie bar. Good times were had

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