Over the past few decades, we have seen many staples of men’s wear go the way of the dinosaur and be phased out. This is a shame seeing as many of these accessories still have a place in the modern world. With this in mind, we thought it pertinent to spend some time going over some forgotten suit accessories that may not be as popular these days. In this blog post, we will be shedding some needed light on the usage of tie clips, collar bars, tie tacks, and collar stays so that you may be better prepared to turn some heads at your next professional gathering.
Tie clips are small metal accessories designed to keep your necktie secured to your shirt. They are made from various materials such as gold, silver, nickel, or bronze. Tie clips can be loud and extravagant pieces with precious gemstones and bright colors. Or go a more subtle route with plain metals that can be engraved. It’s best to wear your tie clip either just below or just above the third button of your shirt (not including the collar button). If you like a bit of a rakish presentation, angle it slightly downward.
Collar bars are small metal tubes with ornamentation on each end that go through a shirt’s collar points. They sit underneath the tie. Collar bars create a visual effect wherein the very top of the tie rests on the collar bar. This pushes it up and out in a graceful arc shape.
You will sometimes see safety-pin versions of these, which are called “collar pins.” Any custom shirt can be made with an “eyelet collar” to accommodate collar bars, which typically have one end that unscrews for easy in and out. If you use a safety pin, it’s not uncommon to simply pierce through the collar points. As you might imagine, cinching the collar points together in this way precludes the need for collar stays.
It’s worth noting that shirts and ties worn with collar bars look very elegant, but are quite rare nowadays and are associated with dandyism. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it’s something you should know so you can manage your image effectively. Wear one out to a nice dinner, but not a job interview.
Tie tacks serve the same purpose as tie clips: to keep your tie anchored to your shirt so it doesn’t flop around all over the place. It just achieves this goal in a different way. Instead of clipping your tie to your shirt, a tie tack has a sharp end that pierces through the tie and shirt. It’s then secured with a backing similar to an earring.
As elegant as these are, there’s one small drawback – it makes a hole in your tie. This isn’t the worst thing in the world since you can just be sure to use the same spot over and over again, but it is something one should be aware of. They are also somewhat rare nowadays, as opposed to the 1950’s & 1960’s when they were much more common.
Collar stays play a simple but important role: prevent your shirt collar from curling and looking unsightly. When your shirt collar is askew, curled, or otherwise tired-looking, it gives the impression of someone who’s disheveled and perhaps overwhelmed. A collar that looks neat, symmetrical, and stays in place, on the other hand, says that you’ve got your act together. It says that you pay attention to the details, even the smallest ones.
Known in sartorially esoteric circles as “collar bones,” these are small strips of material, typically plastic or metal, that rest inside a special pocket on the underside of your shirt’s collar points. They’re very common – most RTW shirts are sold with removable plastic collar stays, and nearly every custom shirt we make for our clients can accommodate stays. However our favorite collar stays are metal that come with two tiny-but-extremely-strong magnets. The stay itself goes in its pocket as it normally would, and the magnets go underneath the shirt where the collar point touches it. We sell them in three different sizes, and we even have versions that double as buttonhooks and bottle openers.