The History of the Grandad Collar Shirt: How did it become a timeless staple?

The Journal
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The History of the Grandad Collar Shirt: How did it become a timeless staple?
6th November 2020
The Journal
James Kingston

Fashion trends recycle themselves all the time, but true style is timeless.  The collarless shirt (often known as the grandad shirt) is the pillar of wardrobe staples that has truly withstood the test of time and earnt its place as the unshakable foundation to any man’s wardrobe.

But how has the humble grandad collar found its way into our lives to begin with?

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The history of the Grandad collar shirt is one of much debate, however its origins get commonly traced back to the 1920’s.

One suggestion was that it originated in New York, 1927. A lady named Hannah Montague supposedly took it upon herself to cut off her husband’s shirt collar so she could wash them separately. As well as the grandad collar, the detachable collar was also born.

Others have citied that is was blue collar workers who invented the grandad collar in the 1920’s. According to legend, the decision to cut collars was equally functional— as they didn’t wear ties on the factory floor due to the risk of getting them caught in the machinery, there was no need to retain the collars on their shirts.

The origins also get traced back to the British military during World War 1, as with much of modern menswear. A grandad collar was use on the standard-issue greyback shirt as well a number of khaki green wool undershirts during World War 2. This look would not be adopted as fashionable until the 1950s when the Prime Minister of India, Jawaharlal Nehru, popularised it due to its lightweight practicality.

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The creation of the Essentia Shirt

At Benedict Raven we always look to the past to reintroduce key pieces to our collection that will dominate your wardrobe for the future.

We have been working hard to create a grandad collar shirt perfect for any occasion. Learning the history behind these shirts, has allowed us to craft our new Essentia Shirt to the highest standard from crisp Oxford cotton. To highlight the importance of the collarless shirt in our history we have given our grandad shirt the name Essentia, being the Latin word for essence. It is crafted by hand in Bristol, England from the finest Oxford cotton and is cut to a relaxed fit for easy everyday comfort. The Essentia Shirt is a limited stock item, with only a handful made exclusively. Trust us with this collarless style and add a distinctive, unique piece to your wardrobe that is made in England and crafted with care.

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Shop our Grandad Collar Essentia Shirt here.

How to wear it?

The absence of a collar allows the shirt to become more versatile as it is casual enough on it’s own with rolled sleeves, but also has enough structure and class to smarten up for more formal settings.

As for what to wear a grandad shirt with, they can be layered with pretty much anything, which may go some way to explaining why it is in our collection. Although they look great enough on their own, the choice of accompaniments which go with a collarless shirt is limitless. A jacket or blazer can offer a clean and refined look that’s perfect for the festive season ahead.

As winter is looming and the temperature is dropping, simply throw on a bit of merino, in particular our V-neck jumper. The Eton would really add the finishing touch.

So whilst its origins may go back away, the grandad shirt is a timeless essential that’s going to remain in your wardrobe for the future.