Are Tab Collared Shirts Still Fab

Are Tab Collared Shirts Still Fab

Q. I just came across a shirt from five years back with a snap collar (I think you call it “tab”). Can I still wear it? I haven’t seen anyone else wearing them. I mean in the real world; I don’t particularly care about fashion magazines.


A. Before giving you my opinion and my answer, I decided to check with several of the better men’s clothing shops to ask if any of them still stocked men’s tab-collar shirts. In each case, the answer was, “No.” Then I asked to be connected to their custom-made shirt department and was told that they would make such a shirt for a customer who ordered it, but not many do.

Apparently, this shirt style is worn so seldom these days that most stores do not bother to stock it. That clearly means it is no longer one of the basic shirt collar options. Even so, that does not mean it is something you should not wear, the answer is more about what you feel comfortable in and the impression you want to create than about what others are wearing.

A tab collar remains one of the options a man has when he is deciding what to wear. Men’s shirt collar choices set the tone of a man’s style. They are a matter of personal preference, strongly tied into his education and background, his self-image, and his degree of stylishness.

They come in several styles (from most common to least):

  • Spread collar (both a slight spread and a wide English spread)
  • Straight point collar
  • Button-down collar
  • Hidden button-down collar
  • Tab collar
  • I have always been fond of the tab-collar look for several reasons: it is elegant, a bit offbeat, and extremely neat and precise looking. Also, it makes a strong silent statement about the stylishness of the wearer.

But, these days, it is definitely not a current look, especially for younger men. On the other hand, a gentleman who is a natty dresser might well choose such a style on purpose, because it is a way to call subtle attention to himself without wearing anything too flamboyant or eye-catching. You need to have a lot of self-confidence to wear it, primarily because almost no one else is doing so.

Wearing a tab collar sets you apart from the rest of the crowd — in a positive way as opposed to some older styles. If, let’s say, you were to wear a necktie that was close to 4-inches wide, you would come across as clueless and not knowing what well-dressed men currently wear. But if you wore a tab-collar shirt, you would come across as an aware guy with a sense of his own style who is doing something different and sophisticated, and doing so with intent.

If you want a newer version of the style without going the expensive custom-made shirt route, your search will not be easy. Of the many companies I called that claim to carry them online, only Paul Fredrick actually had any. But, with the one in your closet or others you can track down, you will find that they are going to elicit a response.

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