Details: The Tab Collar Shirt

Details: The Tab Collar Shirt

Traditionally it was a formal style of shirt collar, but Oliver Spencer has given the tab collar shirt a casual twist for the modern wardrobe.

If you were a fan of Boardwalk Empire or Mad Men, then the sight of a tab collar shirt shouldn't be too much of a surprise, given that it was prevalent throughout both series. Even Daniel Craig's James Bond has developed a recent affinity for the eccentric collar fastening style. In modern-day reality, however, the tab collar shirt is something of a rarity, although if you've been shopping from Oliver Spencer at a while, you'll know that we've been big fans of the shirt, only not in its original formal form, but rather in the guise of our casual Clerkenwell tab collar shirts, which are on the more casual end of the smart-casual spectrum.

The tab collar's exact origins are difficult to pin down, but suffice to say it is a British invention, dating back to around the 1920s. Rather obscure in form and function, it only really gained popularity when the impeccably dressed Duke of Windsor starting wearing it on state visits and royal functions.

Tab collar shirt

The traditional raison d'etre of the tab collar was twofold: the tab would sit behind the tie, propping it up slightly, while also keeping the collar points close to the body of the shirt, delivering a neat overall appearance that gave prominence to the knot. This helped keep the collar's structure throughout the day. The knot also needed to be small to fit into the reduced space, hence double and even half Windsor knots were a no-no. The style has swung in and out of fashion since the 30s up to the present day, primarily because society swings between periods of formality and informality, rendering the tab collar out of favour during more laidback times.

At Oliver Spencer, we loved the tab collar's structure and eccentricity but felt that it had never been properly explored in a casual context. With many people preferring to wear their casual shirts fully buttoned, we felt the tab collar had a place in the modern wardrobe, and so we created the Clerkenwell tab. Whereas the traditional style would call for a narrow point collar or a shorter, rounded Eton collar (also known as a club collar), we created a short square style that feels much more contemporary, so that the tab fastening is almost concealed, to be in keeping with the shirt's minimalist aesthetic. We now have quite the collection of different fabric styles and colours to choose from, which gives you an indication of just how popular the collar style has been.


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