The Return of the Paper Collar?

During the summertime in the warm climate we live in I often find myself wishing for the return of the paper collar. What better way to deal with ring around the collar than to just throw out the old collar and put on a new one? I have a theory (unproven, admittedly) that using paper collars would have less environmental impact than all the water and detergents we use to scrub out ring around the collar. Of course, the best solution would be to adopt collarless shirts. The folkloric apparel in hot climates tends towards white and collarless or, at least, short collars. Until dashikis make a comeback I predict we’ll see the same paper collar trend that hit the Victorians:

It is hardly twenty-five years since the advent of the paper collar. Prior to that time the average man wore neck-gear made from linen fabric, or was content to go without collars, except on Sundays and legal holidays. Then the collar was frequently built in with the shirt and worn with a loose, limp and decidedly comfortable manner. The mechanic going to his daily work despised collars altogether, and in order to see an aggregation of white linen, stiffly starched and held about the neck with satin stocks, it was necessary to attend church or go abroad at a Fourth of July celebration, Then it was that some genius discovered that there was nothing like paper, and produced that useful, convenient and always done up article the paper collar. It struck the popular fancy the paper collar did-as a cyclone strikes a Western hamlet, carrying everything before it, and so complete a revolution of gentlemen’s toilet was never before effected in so short a time. Everybody, or pretty much everybody, appeared out in clean paper collars. Their advantage over any other collar was apparent. They never needed the careful attention of the washer-woman, and after one had been worn until it was in a state of dilapidation, another, bright, clean, folded without a wrinkle, was ready in the box to take its place. The banker if he was not too old-fogyish, wore paper collars; the business man, the society man, the workingman, even the dudes of those days wore paper collars.

-Taken from Manufacturer and Builder December 1886

A note from the Mrs.: This post is a good indication of the lengths Erik will go to avoid laundry.

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4 Comments

  1. Having just scrubbed my eleven year old son’s white school shirt collar, I’d like to add my vote for paper collars.

    I rather like ‘Aberdeen’. Very dapper.

  2. I have had a tall dresser with a collar drawer on top and a small mirror behind. I no longer have it, but was always amazed that the furniture industry adapted and made specialized furniture for the paper collar. Obviously, keeping them in a drawer with other items was hazardous to their paper nature.

    My preacher grandfather always cursed, beat his 12 children, and ripped off the paper collar every Sunday after church. The collars were obviously sturdy because he ripped off buttons that my grandmother had to sew back on. I suppose his behaviour was one more way to show violence and terrorize his family. Control by hegemony. Yeah, I know this story has nothing to do with the point of the article. But, I never hear of paper collars without thinking of this story.

  3. In the 60s it became trendy to wear shirts with different colour collar as fashion shirts were very expensive we hit on the idea of buying ex RAF shirts for 5 shillings from the army and navy stores and a pack of paper collars from Woolworths …….Saturday night sorted !

  4. The collars pictured are actually celluloid. They were manufactured by a company that just went out business in the last five years. However, if you are looking for paper collars, we carry them in several styles on our website, http://www.amazondrygoods.com We are the last manufacturer of paper collars still in business. They are still done on an original mid 19th century press.

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