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Overview

You need to look sharp, and collar stays are the key to conquering collar curl. But looking refined doesn't mean surrendering your individuality, your attitude, your edge.

 

Like the tattoo that no one else sees, Collar Ink™ allows you to still be you in any formal environment. Always wear your favorite design or switch it up – one style for that difficult client meeting, another to celebrate a bull market, and another to mark a smoky romance.

 

Weekly review meetings are not the place for tattoo art, but with Collar Ink™ you keep your edge without anyone being the wiser. Our top-of-the-line metal collar stays set with bold, meaningful graphics will have you leading the pack each week.

 

Collar stays ensure collar points will not roll, tuck, fold, or crease and provide you with the sharpest collar in the office. As collar stays are hidden inside a sewn pocket provided by the shirt maker, your inspirational prints are kept a secret.

 

Great for workplaces with strict dress codes.

 

Why have some retailer's logo on your collar stays?

Be your own brand.
Be you. Be true.

 

 

 

Size & Material

• 2 1/2" x 3/8" (the industry’s most common size)
• sturdy stainless steel
• deeply engraved design, filled with black enamel (won't ever rub off)
• won’t set off metal detectors

• won't show through shirt collar

 

Included

• 1 set of stainless steel collar stays

• storage sheath
• descriptive card
• gift box

 

The collars come in a choice of four different designs:

 

 

 

 

 

 

Usage


Collar stays are inserted into the pockets sewn into the back side of the shirt's collars. If you don't have stay pockets, it's time to get another shirt! If you do, simply insert your collar stays. There are a variety of collar types with differing lengths of pockets – Collar Ink™ is the industry standard in length and width.

 

You can leave the stays in the collar between wearings, but remember to remove them before laundering. And don't worry, they will not set off metal detectors.

 

Here are some additional uses:

• makeshift screwdriver

• emergency bottle opener (hold between thumb and cap – it aint pretty, but it helps)

 

 

 

 

While we did not “write the book” on collar stays, undoubtedly we could (watch out Tom Clancy). You won't find a more detailed description anywhere, as few know more about these little stiffies than Collar Ink™. Sit back with a snifter of brandy and lose yourself in the ephemera...

 

Also commonly known as “collar stiffeners", “collar bones”, and sometimes erroneously as “collar tabs”, collar stays are integral components or optional accessories for many types of collared shirts and coats. Their primary function is to stiffen the collar of a fabric garment, increasing rigidity and preventing the points (corners) from curling, in order to affect a neater and/or more freshly pressed look. Stays also help maintain the spread (distance between the points) of a shirt collar, help prevent it from slipping outside of a jacket lapel, and also help hide the loop of a necktie.

 

Historical View

Historically, stays were sewn, pinned, and inserted into and around collars of men’s and women’s garments with many United States patents filed in the late 1800s and early 1900s. As fashion and technology advanced, so too did the types and qualities of the stays. Typical materials used in this early era were whalebone and celluloid, while metal strips and wire were also incorporated into some types of stays. Sometimes the stays were elaborate constructions of riveted sheet material that supported the entire collar and allowed the wearer to make adjustments (e.g., US Patent 928573; see Fig. 1). Some means of securing collars were even more complicated, such as ones involving straps attached to the collar points that loop beneath the wearer’s underarms (e.g., US Patent 481425; see Fig. 2).

 

Another collar stay genre that endures today, commonly known as a tie bars and tie chains, began being patented during the early 1900s (e.g., US Patent 1059353; see Fig. 3). The tie bar usually extends between the collars, attached through holes, slits, or tabs either unobtrusively or in an overt, fashionable manner.

 

While celluloid was a common material in the early 20th century because of its light weight, flexibility, and durability, it unfortunately was also highly flammable. As such, when used as collar stay material it had to be removed before heat-drying and ironing, as it could easily ignite. In August 1910 a celluloid collar stay that was not removed from a garment in a heated-pipe dryroom, ignited and burned a laundry company building in Portland, Oregon causing a $90,000 fire loss and imperiling 200 laundry workers.(1)

 

It was the advent of plastic that in the mid-1920s allowed stays to be more effectively sewn permanently inside of the collar. This continues today with clear and opaque Nylon and Polyester stays being common, but they can also be permanently fused to the collar fabric as well affixed using adhesive.

 

Throughout the mid-20th century removable stays remained popular with myriad innovations incorporating metal wire and sheet material, often integrating springs (see Fig. 4) and pins. Some were marketed as self-adjusting (e.g., US patent 2,487,583; see Fig. 5) while others were manually adjusted in some regard (e.g., US Patent 2,799,024; see Fig. 6). Given the armed forces’ propensity for impeccable dress uniforms, some innovations were directed specifically at military collars, even incorporating insignia into the functionality (e.g., US patent 2,867,815; see Fig. 7). During this period flat, insert-able stays made of plastic were common, sometimes with V- and multi-branched shapes (e.g., US Patent 2,744,255; see Figs. 8 and 9).

 

Contemporary Stays

In contemporary men’s fashion, collar stays are most commonly understood as flat, rigid inserts, which are slid into a small pocket sewn into the underside of a dress shirt collar (see Fig. 10). Common stay materials are white PVC (Polyvinyl chloride) plastic as well as clear Polyester, Nylon, and PET (Polyethylene terephthalate). While manufacturers and retailers will often include or give away plastic stays with a purchased shirt, these are typically very thin (around .4 mm), often printed with the company’s name/logotype. Plastic collar stays that are purchased separately are often thicker (around .9 mm), and hence more durable and rigid (see Figs. 11, 12).

 

Typical metal collar stays are offered in the same sizes and shapes as the plastic stays and are generally considered to be more durable and of higher repute. Stainless steel and brass are the most common, but more expensive versions in silver-, gold-, and rhodium-plating; solid silver; gold; copper and nickel; titanium; beryllium; and platinum are also sold. The most expensive collar stays advertised are made of platinum, with up to 92 hand-placed diamonds along the periphery (around $15,000), from Stayclip®.

 

Contemporary removable stays are also made of natural materials such as: mother of pearl, ivory (from re-purposed piano keys), bone, and horn, as well as petroleum-based resin.

 

Nearly all removable collar stays are rounded at one end and pointed at the other, allowing the stay to extend to the point of the collar. Permanent stays are also typically shaped with a single point, but also can have a double point, or be rounded at both ends (see Fig. 13). Whether removable or permanent, the angle of the point varies, with “tapered” points being more acute. More rare are collar stays that are a V-shaped and span the width of the collar and provide greater support (e.g., US Patent 1,917,177). Multi-branch stays combine the spread of the V-shape, but also have an additional arm offering further rigidity (see Figs. 8, 9).

 

Today the most popular length of removable stays is 2 1/2 inches, with the width ranging between 3/8" and 1/2". Other removable stays are common at 2", 2 3/4" , and 3" (see Fig. 14). Permanent stay dimensions have greater variability with widths ranging between 1/8" and 1/2" and lengths varying between 1 1/2" to 4 3/4". The length of the collar stay depends upon the type of collar (e.g., French, Venetian, Elysee, Saint-Germain, Saint-Tropez), which vary in shape and spread. The shorter collars, often with a wider spread, use the 2" removable stays while the 3" stays fit the longer collar types like the Parisian.

 

Use of Removable Stays

The thin (.4mm) plastic stays sold with the shirt or that are complimentary of a retailer or launderer, have difficulty maintaining their rigidity over time. They can easily become bent through normal use and they fare even worse if not removed before laundering and if exposed to the heat of a clothes dryer or iron. One of the main reasons that removable stays are so popular is because it becomes difficult to launder and press shirts with a piece of plastic sewn into the collar; creases easily form around the outline of the collar (2) and the stay can deform and even melt due to the heat of an iron. Removable stays, no matter the size or material, should always be removed before laundering in order to prolong rigidity, avoid damage to the shirt, avoid damage to the laundering machinery, and ensure that the stays are not lost in the process.

 

Most men’s fashion sources claim that well-dressed men use high-quality collar stays, purchased separately as an accessory. There is debate, however about which material is best. Naturally, each has strengths and weaknesses. The strength of metal stays lies with their rigidity and durability. They do not inadvertently curl or soften when exposed to heat and humidity, but they can be intentionally bent by the wearer for a desired lay of the collar. Sometimes this is helpful, especially with longer collars, when shaping a collar around a tie, or trying to have a collar lay more naturally overtop the collarbone.(3) Metal stays are usually more expensive and are viewed as being of higher quality than plastic. Metal stays offer a greater weight to the collar, which is often esteemed, but can also lead to greater wear of the shirt fabric (around the edges of the stay pocket) over years of use. Also, since they are relatively heavy, some men complain of them falling out more easily when dressing and undressing. Because they are often thought of as a fashion accessory (sometimes quite expensive) there is a greater sense of loss when they go missing. And while not all metal stays will set off alarms at airport security, many can become suspect when a wand-style metal detector is waived over them. As a secondary function, some men have used them as an improvisatory screwdriver, though this could easily damage the stay permanently.

 

The heavier plastic stays (around .9 mm), which are usually purchased as accessories, are usually less expensive than metal stays. As such there is less of a sense of loss when they are damaged or go missing. They are of lighter weight and less hard, therefore less prone to wear away collar pockets and to fall out inadvertently when dressing and undressing. It is possible to bend them to shape somewhat, but they generally do not hold consistent shape well. If mishandled they are prone to flex back rather than deform like metal stays, and they will not attract undue attention at airports or around other metal detectors. Being plastic they can also be easily trimmed to suitable dimensions or a particular shape. In general they will not last as long as metal stays, as they are susceptible to heat, especially when accidentally laundered.

 

In addition to the precious stay metals, natural materials such as re-purposed ivory, bone, and mother of pearl are also considered upscale. They offer many of the same benefits as plastic yet can be more brittle and therefore chip or break more easily. Horn stays, largely of buffalo and other cattle, are more durable than other natural materials and will not easily chip. These natural materials offer great rigidity, but also cannot be shaped around a tie or for a particular lay.

 

As an alternative to store-bought collar stays or when collar stays are lost or forgotten, it is possible to fashion plastic facsimiles out of credit-, gift-, identification-, and key-cards or even coffee cup lids.(4) Former mayor of New York City, Mario Cuomo, was also known to help out one of his aides with unruly collars by unbending metal gem-style paperclips and inserting one into each collar stay slit (see Fig. 15 ).(5)

 

There is a relatively wide array of collar stays commercially available. At the lower end of the market are PVC, Polyester, and Nylon stays that are available online and at national retailers. These stays are inexpensive, unadorned, and are sold in quantities of over a dozen in 2", 2 1/2", 2 3/4", and 3" sizes. Unadorned brass and stainless steel stays are sold in similar sizes and quantities at about twice the per-piece price.

 

The upper end of the market is distinguished primarily by material preciousness with metals like copper-nickel, rhodium, silver, gold, titanium, beryllium, and platinum as well as natural substances like bone, horn, mother of pearl, and re-purposed ivory. Also, affixed gems like diamonds help distinguish the most expensive collar stays, selling for thousands of dollars apiece.

Many of the plastic stays that are complimentary of retailers and launderers come with names and logotypes marked by hot-stamping and pad-printing in various colors (see Fig. 16). Metal stays are also engraved and laser etched with manufacturers’ names, though some manufacturers and retailers offer individuals custom engraving of monograms, names, special dates, or sayings.

 

Recent Innovations

Aside from the ultra-expensive, bejeweled stays, there are several distinctive approaches to the modern collar stay. The Hidden Message collar stays (from RedEnvelope.com) offer engraved messages of love in both a PG set (e.g., “You’re so handsome” and “You give great hugs”) as well as a more racy set (e.g., “Make me tremble” and “I might if you ask me”) for women (or men) to give to their loved ones.

 

Collar Ink™ (CollarInk.com) offers a range of collar stays that imprint tattoo-related artwork like dragons, skulls and crossbones, flaming dice, and tribal designs on plastic stays (see Fig. 17) as well as stainless steel stays with similar designs that are etched and incorporate colored enamel.

 

Functionally, Stayclip® (stayclip.com) offers metal and plastic stays with holes that allow them to be held and organized by size with a wall-mountable clip.

 

Despite that the use of magnets in collar stays was patented at least by the mid-20th century (e.g., US Patent 2,599,421), a contemporary iteration comes from Wurkin Stiffs™ (wurkinstiffs.com) with the patent pending use of a small neodymium magnet placed on the inside of the shirt, which holds the metal collar stay in place. In addition to keeping the collar straight, the collar spread can be adjusted.

 

The Collar Card™ (CollarCard.com) offers four plastic collar stays that can be removed from a credit-card-sized piece of plastic, which can be carried in a wallet so as to always have stays with you. While the Collar Card™ has a US patent pending, there is a similar system produced by a London shirt and accessory retailer, which provides only one set of stays per card.

 

While adhesive-backed temporary stays were patented by at least the mid-20th century, today, they are extremely rare for dress shirts. However, for polo-style golf shirts, Golf Collar Stays™ (GolfCollarStays.com) and CollarSTYX™ (CollarStyx.com) are adhesive-backed, plastic stays that adhere to the shorter, knit collars and can be reused over 4 times if removed before laundering. It is possible to use these on dress shirts as well, most notably when a garment has no collar stay pocket, nor a permanent stay inside the collar.

 

End Notes

1) "Collar Stay Imperils 200". The New York Times. August 11, 1910.

2) "Tricks of the Trade: A Shirtmaker goes to the Cleaners". The Wall Street Journal (Eastern Edition). Ray A. Smith. May 3, 2007: Pg. D.8.

3) "How Not to Wear a Tie," Financial Times. Simon Brooke. London (UK): October 21, 2006. Pg. 10.

4) "Tale of the Starbucks Lid," posted September 25, 2007: http://www.idea-sandbox.com/blog/2007/09/tale_of_the_starbucks_lid.html

5) "What to Make of Mario," Time Magazine. Richard Stengel. Monday, June 2, 1986.

 

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Collar Ink™ (metal)

Tattoo-inspired collar stays

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