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What is a Sailor Collar?

By Janis Adams
Updated May 21, 2024
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A sailor collar is a collar with a tapering, deep front V. It is a traditionally a broad collar without a stand, and features a squared-off back. As a collar without a stand, it is intended to lay flat on the back and shoulders of the wearer and contains no visible appearance of a roll. The collar is tailored after the traditional sailor's uniform and is most commonly designed as an attached collar and not a removable one. Some people choose to have a sailor collar be a detachable part of shirt or dress, however, so as to offer more than one fashion look.

While most sailor collars are designed and cut to lie flat, the half roll sailor collar is designed to have a small stand in the back. The reason for this alteration in the traditional design is to afford the wearer the option of being able to comfortably accommodate a tie or scarf added as an additional accessory and worn under the collar and tied in the font of the outfit. Those choosing to include the small stand in the back of the collar must keep in mind, however, that should the stand prove to be too high, the wearer when seen in profile will appear to be quite obviously round-shouldered.

Sailor collars often are stiffened with starch and/or interfacing to create a more dramatic collared look. In addition, a sailor collar on an outfit will often include a tie as a decorative element. Designers often choose to vary the front shape of the collar, as well as the height of the fall of the collar in both front and back.

Most commonly worn by women and children, a sailor collar is a quite traditional part of a nautical-themed outfit. Sailor collars are also a common addition to anime costumes, and are often employed as part of a party costume. As well, a sailor collar is a customary design element found in vintage dresses.

To create this type of collar, the pattern utilized is considered a simple one and can be easily adjusted in size to meet the needs of the intended wearer. A basic sailor collar pattern is square or rectangular in shape on one end, with the sides tapering up to points on the other end, which make up the front sides of the collar. The rounded neckline of the shirt is cut between the two points.

Sailor collars have a timeless quality. They can be found in decades old vintage clothing, all the way to 1960s scooter dresses and 1980s padded shoulder tops. Their heritage seems to timelessly linger.

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