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Catholic Origins

Clerical Collars: Symbolism and Meaning

11th August 2022

The clerical collar is an item adorned as part of Christian clerical clothing. The clerical collar is an item adorned as part of Christian clerical clothing.

Clerical collars are detachable and the styling allows them inserted or buttoned onto a clergy shirt. They are often fastened by a few metal studs, attached at the front and back to hold it to the shirt. The collar closes at the back of the neck, presenting a seamless front.

The clerical collar was adopted by other Christian denominations, including Anglican Church, Methodist churches, Eastern Orthodox Church, Baptist churches, Lutheran churches, and the Roman Catholic Church Prior to the Second Vatican Council from 1962 to1965.

The practice of Roman Catholic clergy wearing the clerical collar as street-dress, tended to be found only in those countries where Catholicism was the minority religion. In the 1960s, many clergy who lived in countries where Catholicism was the dominant religion began to wear the clerical collar rather than the cassock.

The collar is considered part of a priest’s formal wear and day attire and is best known by the small white rectangle that is seen peeking through the space of a black tab collar shirt. However, some priests still choose to wear a full band clerical collar which means the white collar is shown all around their neck. Prior to the clerical collar becoming the norm, clergy could be identified by their cassock, a full- length black robe that is still an option for clergy attire today. Some cassocks are designed with a high collar and a small square opening at the neck so that a priest collar can be worn as well.

A collar is a sign of a person’s religious calling, and helps others in the community to identify them immediately on sight. They are more commonly worn by priests and are designed to be narrow, stiff, and upright white collar that fastens at the back.

The collar is considered part of a priest’s formal wear and day attire and is best known by the small white rectangle that is seen peeking through the space of a black tab collar shirt. However, some priests still choose to wear a full band clerical collar which means the white collar is shown all around their neck. Additionally, because many priests find it rather uncomfortable, the collar has become a way of performing a daily penance to God, offering up the sacrifice for the people the priest serves.

The collar remains a distinctive sign of the priest’s availability and the permanent nature of Holy Orders. The priest “is not his own” and is a visible sign of Jesus Christ, present in the midst of everyday life, ready to reconcile sinners and bring souls back to God.

Regardless of what type of clerical collar is chosen, it’s important to be properly fitted for both collars and shirts. It is best to order a neck size half a size larger than you normally would to ensure comfort. There are 3 different type of clerical collars which include

  • Vicars Collar These collard are held on to the shirt with collar studs — little metal button-like things that pushed through button holes that were aligned on the front and back of the shirt and collar to keep the collar locked to the shirt.
  • Slip In Collar The most typical collar and most often referred to as an Anglican or tab collar, it is designed for convenience and overall comfort, with the collar siting between the shirt collars for easy insert and removal. cloth can, and is easier to clean.
  • Tonsure Collar Also referred to as a Roman collar, Tonsure Collars are a full collar which is set slightly above the shirt, but showing the tab and peak of the white top of collar all the way around.

Hammond & Harper have proudly been the UKs primary supplier of quality clergy vestments that showcase your professionalism and dedication to your faith. Our expert craftspeople customise and tailor our clerical attire to ensure garments meet the high standards for appearance and comfortability. H&H offer a range of collar styles and sizes to accommodate for all shirt types and neck sizes. You can see our full collar range here.

For bulk purchasing, our onsite production process also allows us to custom print your branding and logos onto the inside of our highest quality clerical collars. We believe that this will help to strengthen your brand recognition, whilst offering your customers an extra touch of quality when they unpack the box. You can Contact Us to get an accurate quote on purchasing printed clerical collars.


Clerical Collar CollectionTonsure Clergy Collar Slip-in Clerical Collar Tonsure Clerical Collar Vicars Collar

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