A Guide to Mandarin Vs Band Collars

January 31, 2018

A Guide to Mandarin Vs Band Collars

Do you know what a Mandarin, Mao, granddad, Nehru, or band collar is? These actually refer to two slightly different types of shirt collars, but are often used interchangeably (even by us)!

Mandarin Collar or Band Collar?

When you look at a band collar shirt it looks like it's missing something, but there is no collar bandit on the loose! The lack of a collar is intentional. While band collar shirts have no collar at all, Mandarin collar shirts have small upright collars. Can you see the difference?

Mandarin or Band Collar

Origins of the Mandarin Collar

Mandarin collars (also sometimes referred to as Mao collars) originated in China and were worn by Qing-era bureaucrats. These are short, stand-up collars and sometimes fasten in the center with a small hook. Mandarin collars have made quite a few appearances in pop-culture, and are often worn by villainous characters such as Dr. Evil from Austin Powers or the Imperial Officers from Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith.

And What About Nehru Jackets?

Nehru jackets have Mandarin collars, and originated in India. These jackets are named for the late Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru who commonly wore this style of collared jacket. Nehru jackets were popular in southeast Asia due to the prime minister, but became popular in the west in the 60s in large part because of the Beatles! After an infamous trip to India, George, John, Ringo and Paul began wearing Nehru jackets, and many other bands and influencers of the time followed suit. 

Mandarin collars are still used today, both for fashion and practical reasons. The US Army, for example, utilizes a mandarin collar on the army combat uniform. The purpose of the collar in this case is to help protect against chafing, and to protect the neck from the other gear they may be required to carry or wear. Who knew these collars could be both fashionable and functional?

Origins of Band Collars

Band collars are simply dress shirt with no collar. This style of shirts originated with the invention of detachable collars. Detachable collars were popular in the 1830s, and were designed so that collars could be washed separately from the shirts they attached to, meaning less frequent laundry days. Who wouldn't want to do less laundry? While detachable collars haven't had a revival (yet), band collar shirts - the base that detachable collars were designed for - are still fashionable today!

Styling Band Collars

Band collars are a unique alternative to the all-buttoned-up look of a suit and tie. While these are traditionally a menswear item, we are reinventing them to fit female bodies. See below for some different ways to dress up with this unique shirt, and shop our collection of mandarin collar shirts to get your very own!

Gray striped mandarin collar shirt tucked into chinos with a stylish belt.

Gray Striped Mandarin Collar Shirt

Light blue mandarin collar shirt untucked with a blazer on top.

Light Blue Mandarin Collar Shirt




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