From the Mailbag: Men's Shirts

Question: What’s the deal with little plastic inserts in men’s shirt collars? –Bob Z., St. Louis

Bob–Good question. Just today I put a nice button-down shirt with two plastic inserts in the wash, and only one of the inserts came out. For balance, I removed the remaining insert.
The obvious answer is that the inserts help maintain the structural integrity of the shirt collar. However, the next question that arises is: Should you leave the inserts in? Because, truth be told, if you leave them in for too long, they start to curl, and they end up hurting the collar instead of helping it.
So my advice is to keep the inserts in until you wash the shirt for the first time (i.e., if you don’t sweat and wear undershirts and don’t spill anything on the shirt, 3-5 months), and then remove them permanently.
In the spirit of Thanksgiving, thanks for all the questions! I have more to answer, some of which I’ll work on over the weekend, and any remaining questions I’ll answer from time to time. My mailbox is always open–feel free to ask anything at anytime, and in the theme of the blog, I’ll tell you the truth.

0 thoughts on “From the Mailbag: Men's Shirts”

  1. Something I learned from my GQ friend – they sell those little plastic inserts in packages, kind of like Qtips, and you can use them every time you wear a shirt (or maybe if you are going somewhere nice) and want a nice, crisp collar.

    They are also incredibly handy for cleaning weird gunk that gets between the keys on your keyboard, FYI.

  2. I lack sufficient numbers of GQ friends (or my GQ friends just aren’t very helpful). Where can one pick up a pack of these little plastic inserts?

    Assuming they’re as cheap as they look, I’m an eager customer. Anything to minimize ironing, after all.

  3. They are called collar stays, you should remove them before washing or dry-cleaning, and you can buy them in jars at places like Brooks Brothers. They maintain collar shape. Maybe not an issue when dressing casually, but in a very formal work environment, they can help with the overall look.



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