It’s not just you. Giant collars have been slowly taking over Instagram throughout 2020. With the explosion of maximalist collared blouses recently, most trend reports I read just call them “big collars” or “statement collars.” I wanted to know what the specific subspecies of these were called, so I did some googling and pinteresting and figured I might as well share the fun stuff I found here.
I think most of the trendy blouses I’ve seen popping up seem to be Puritan collars (or oversized peter pan collars labeled as such), and Chelsea collars, with some shawl collars and sailor collars mixed in. As with any fashion terms, a lot of collars fall somewhere between these (e.g. at what point does a peter pan collar become a puritan collar?), but most of the aforementioned styles seem to pop up if you search for “frill collar blouse”.
I knew sailor collars because they’re so iconic, and peter pan collars from when twee was big, but I couldn’t come up with Puritan and Chelsea offhand. Although I guess I was familiar with Puritan collars from historical photos, though I don’t think I’ve lived through it trending into mainstream fashion until now.
After a few years now of square neck and sweetheart necklines trending with giant sleeves (that whole milkmaid blouse thing) and a continued yearning for romanticism/escapism, I guess feminine statement collars coming back seems inevitable in retrospect. It also plays well with the more sedate and less wench-y fantasy vibes in cottagecore, which anecdotally seems is still going strong.
Anyway, this post isn’t going to get much deeper than that, but here are some examples of each type. For more photos, see the Pinterest board I made. As usual, images are selected purely for visual merits, and not as a recommendation on quality or brand. Now that you know the terms, you can do your own searching through a shopping aggregator or for vintage on ebay/etsy/poshmark/depop etc.
Honestly this one seems stupid appropriate given how ass-backwards everything has been heading, all the way right back to spending Thanksgiving spreading disease to the whole country.
While this comes off as more 1970s, and personally I find this style slightly more wearable than puritan collars because of the negative space.
I had a blouse with a shawl collar and rouleau buttons that I even got the sleeves taken up on last year, but tragically it is now too small for me and my sedentary quarantine lifestyle.
- Pastels for more of a sweet/doll vibe, black and white can be fun for a goth/Wednesday Addams vibe
- Either of those I think look particularly cool with edgier accessories (stompy boots, big hoops, high waisted relaxed cut jeans)
- A small scale print will cause the collar to blend into the shirt, a more low-key way to wear it (probably why this shirt outlined the collar, so you can actually see the thing)
- If shirts aren’t your thing, I’ve also seen these popping up in knitwear
- A more sparse print or something more modern (i.e. not ditsy florals or stripes) can feel less saccharine
- Pairing with menswear-y trousers and trendier sunglasses, bags, earrings, belts, etc is a cool way to update it.
- As with any other old-timey feminine potentially puritanical/culty styles like prairie dresses, IMO the most straightforward way to move an outfit away from that is to have modern head styling and shoes, and if it’s a top, to just wear it with good old denim (or leather/pleather trousers or skirts, if you’re feeling extra).
Personally, I dig how feminine and frilly of a take on button-down shirts it is. My personal style preferences within the realm of cottagecore/storybook style (vs casual outfits with tees) runs pretty girly, and menswear style button downs are usually not it, and it’s nice to have options for switching it up from knitwear while still feeling cute.
I was really sad to find the shawl collar blouse I had was too tight because I thought I was going to experience a “HAH I held onto this and now it’s its time to shine” moment, so I ended up buying a Chelsea collar blouse from ASOS to scratch that itch (and also fill that clothing niche, as that was literally my only button down shirt aside from a flannel that I only wear unbuttoned as a layering piece). I’ve given up on shopping for long sleeve button down shirts anywhere that doesn’t have petites lines and a good return policy, because fitting non stretch shirts with a ~39″ bust at 5’1″ is the worst. I’ve somehow managed to lose our iron/steamer so I haven’t worn a proper outfit with it yet. I’ll update here with an outfit pic once that happens, but don’t hold your breath.
Are you yea or nay on big collars? Is there a specific collar style that really speaks to you?