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.