Qweary: How To Stiffen Shirt Collars From the Women's Department

Anonymous asked: "I love wearing button down shirts, but the collars never look right.

"Finally, I realized the reason mine got floppy was because the shirts I have don't have collar stays. Do they even make women's shirts with collar stays? (As someone both fat and busty, it's often easier to find plus size shirts in women's). Any other collar taming suggestions for yours truly? Love, A Chubby Fan"

Great question. Women's button up shirts are marketed to be sold with suits or worn on their own, and in both the later and former styling the shirt is intended to be unbuttoned quite a bit. Thus, the shirt will be flaring open circumventing the need for collar stays. In the case of a more dapper styling of women's shirts, buttoned up and with a pice of neckwear those unsupported collars will point to the sky, much to our frustration. There are however, a few solutions to this problem:

1. Get Shirts with Button-down collars

While more informal, the button-down collar does help maintain stiffness. Try the shirts at Brooks Brothers (1, 2) and Uniqlo (1, 2). If your shirt does not come with a button dow collar, a tailor with good needle work may be able to add a button. However, this could be costly as it is such a skilled alteration.

2. Buy Collar Stays

You can also buy collar stays! They're meant to replace the collar stays that can fall out of men's shirts, but its possible a tailor can add a fold of fabric to the collar to accommodate the stay. To make this easier for the tailor, make sure the women's shirt collar has some thickness to it. Your tailor will need to add a strip of fabric to the underside of the shirt collar (at both tips). The addition must be a tight fit for the stays in order to maximize the minimization of the floppiness (if that makes sense). It may be helpful to bring in the collar stays you'll be using for the shirts when you're tailoring the garment. As a warning, many women's shirt collars are shorter than men's shirts. The collar stays you'll be buying may be too long out of the pack for your shirts, and therefore will not fit. It's simple enough with plastic stays to trim the stay with scissors (trim from the end that is NOT pointed. You need to preserve the pointed side.)

As a final note, you'll need to decide between adding collar stays or getting the shirt converted to a button down collar. Both cannot be added to the same collar (button down collars don't have collar stays, shirts with collar stays don't have buttons). 

Best of luck to you!