Image courtesy of Wurkin Stiffs
Ever wonder why some guys’ shirt collars look so crisp and flush? Here’s the secret: collar stays.
Collar stays are small pieces of metal or plastic that go in the little pockets on the inside of your shirt’s collar. They support the structure of the collar, keeping the fabric stiff and flat against your neck. This small hack goes a long way by properly framing your face and necktie, or just keeping the shirt looking crisp and sturdy if you’re not wearing a tie.
Because dress shirts are less popular than they used to be, collar stays have been forgotten by some, or are completely unknown by younger guys dressing for their first job interview. Without them, shirt collars will inevitably curl, droop or sort of float around above your jacket lapels. While this isn’t a big deal in casual settings, it’s almost always better to achieve the sharp look provided by collar stays.
When picking a box of collar stays, you have the option of plastic, metal, magnetic or adhesive. Plastic and metal are pretty self-explanatory, but magnetic stays offer some extra help. Using magnets on the inside of the shirt, these keep the points of your collar completely flush with your shirt at all times. This provides some extra security, but as you probably guessed, magnetic stays cost a little extra. Adhesive stays are the runt of the group (somewhat like a clip-on tie), but they work great for polo shirts or button-ups that don’t have collar stay pockets.
1. Smooth Stays Steel Collar Stays (36)
Our favorite set of collar stays is this box of stainless steel stays from Smooth Stays. It comes with 4 sizes, so there should be something for each shirt in your closet, and you get 36 of them. They’re not flashy, personalized or magnetic, but the metal provides a real upgrade over plastic with extra weight and rigidity. Reviewers are big fans of this set (1,990 reviews and 4.7 stars), but they offer one helpful tip: TSA is not a fan of metal stays, so pack them in a carry-on if possible.
2. Xydstay Plastic Collar Stays (60)
If you want to test out collar stays with the least effect on your pocketbook, try this $7 box of plastic stays. They’ll give you a feel for what collar stays do, but because they’re cheaper plastic, you’ll go through the box fairly quickly with stays breaking and bending. The affordable price also makes them a good bet if you don’t wear dress shirts often, or just need some replacement stays for a dress shirt that came with its own collar stays.
3. Quality Stays Plastic Stays (220)
For $3 more, you can get 220 plastic collar stays from Quality Stays. If you prefer plastic stays to metal (some guys like the lightweight feel and disposability), go for this box. Alternatively, if you travel often, plastic stays are probably a better bet for airport security. They’re extra thick, so you’ll notice an upgrade immediately if you’re used to stock collar stays that come with some dress shirts.
4. Fashion Anchor Adhesive Stays
If you have a polo shirt or a button-up without collar stay pockets, pick up a pack of these adhesive stays from Fashion Anchor. They utilize a stick-on pad and a little piece of plastic to ensure that even casual shirts stay snazzy. To put them on, fold up the collar of your shirt and stick on the adhesive with the plastic running from your neck to the point of your collar. Then enjoy a sneakily crisp polo shirt at the golf course, lunch or the beach.
5. O.RIYA Custom Steel Collar Stays
Custom or specialty collar stays make great gifts for friends, fathers or family members. Pick up some of these from O.RIYA and add a custom engraving such as a friendly message, inside joke or group name. It’s something he’ll actually use every day if he dresses up for work, and he’ll see it while getting dressed each morning. The stays feature a thick, high-quality stainless steel build, and also come ready for giving in a nice gift box.
6. Melix Home Stiff Collar Stays
Because collar stays are hidden almost all the time, they’re a great opportunity to work a secret joke into your outfit. These steel collar stays feature two phrases on each stay: “to keep you stiff” and “when I’m not there.” Obviously, this is referring to helpful wives and girlfriends straightening their man’s collar as he goes out the door – much like a good collar stay.
7. Würkin Stiffs Magnetic Collar Stays
For the seriously meticulous dresser, only the crème de la crème will do. In the case of collar stays, that’s the magnetic option. They’re certainly more expensive than plastic or even metal packs at $40 for a set of 3, but you’ll notice a slight difference. With the magnets under your shirt, the tips of your collar will stay flush no matter how much you’re moving around. Also, if you’re going to go magnetic, we highly recommend this specific set from Würkin Stiffs because they were the first company to produce magnetic stays, and their experience shows.