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In The Frame

Clerical Collars and Shirts: Making the right choice

19th July 2021

When it comes to clerical collars and shirts, there is a time and place for each type – whether it be the more traditional choices, such as Vicars, Slip-In and Tonsure to more hybrid styles like clerical bib-stocks and accessories.

A clerical collar has remained a sign of a person’s religious calling through the generations, and helps others to easily identify those in religious positions, regardless of their faith. The clerical collar is a narrow, stiff, and upright white collar that usually fastens at the back, however over the years, the clerical collar has evolved to more modern options for the clergy. Historically speaking, collars started to be worn around the sixth century as a way for clergy to be easily identified outside the church and .

The collar is considered part of a priest’s formal wear and day attire and is best identified by a small white rectangle that is seen peeking through the space between the shirt collars. However, some priests still choose to wear a full Vicars collar which means the white collar is shown all around their neck.

Detachable collars have become a mainstay accessory for clerical clothing in recent history as they conveniently allow the collar and the shirt to be cleaned separately. When the collar becomes over-stained or worn out, it could be replaced without having to incur the expense of obtaining a whole new shirt as a replacement.

Vicars collars are one of our most popular choice amongst the clergy when it comes to detachable collars. They 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.

Another choice in detachable collar is the simple, yet timeless slip-in collar.  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. They have begun the most popular collar throughout the UK and one of our best selling collar products.

The Tonsure Collar, also referred to as a Roman collar, is another collar option that has become a mainstay choice in collar for vicars. This is 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.

Whilst many of these collars choice are dependent on the theology or style of churchmanship, a primary consideration should also be the shirt that accompanies the collar. Usually, it is best to order a neck size half a size larger than you normally would to ensure comfort when inserting or fixing the collar to the shirt.

Clerical Collar

Clerical shirts have been a staple in most western countries for many decades now as it allows for a modern approach that retains the traditional aspects of clerical ensembles.

As suit jackets don’t feature a high style collar, several adaptations were made to mimic the look of the collar worn with the cassock. One style of detachable collar is the Tonsure that has a black collar with white band built in. These just get attached like any other detachable collar with studs to a collarless shirt, giving the shirt a similar appearance at the neck to a Roman cassock.

Some clergy shirts are designed with a high collar attached, made with a channel that can accommodate a full wrap around collar such as the Vicar’s collar. This affords the same look as only the black part of the collar is attached to the shirt and not to the collar itself.

However, the most typical clerical shirt has a high tab collar and a square opening in front. Priests can then easily slid a white plastic priest collar into the opening. This option is popular due to the simplicity and complete comfort. In addition, this flexible plastic collar doesn’t stain as cloth can, and is easier to clean.

For the last decade, Hammond and Harper has proudly been the UKs primary supplier of quality clergy vestments that showcase your professionalism and dedication to your faith. Our expert craftspeople have listed, designed and created the clerical attire you need, to ensure your garments meet your needs and keep you comfortable. Contact us to learn more about our custom clergy robes and vestment options.


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