The History of Pin Collar Shirts

Fashion always looks to the past at the most style defining eras for sartorial inspiration. At Hawkins & Shepherd it has always been about the smart tailoring of the roaring 1920’s. It’s the way that men took pride in their appearance and in looking smart, an element of dressing that can sometimes get lost these days amongst a sea of casual jeans and t-shirts. The twenties was timeless tailoring at its best.

Glitz, glamour, and seriously sharp tailoring paint the picture of the roaring 20s. At the beginning of the 20th century, the popularity of seriously starched shirt collars erased any opportunity for sloppy looking wrinkles in menswear; ensuring aesthetics were strict and uniformal. But this stiff shirt style contributed to a distinct sense of stuffiness left lingering from the Victorian era that the dynamic young gentleman of the 20’s were desperate to shake off. Shirts became a mode of rebellion against old rigid clothing and old rigid ideals.

Soft collar shirts rose in popularity, but the relaxed silky fabrics were too delicate to support a tie without looking messy. But by connecting the collar to a pin you could get a more defined shape and neater look. The tie would sit elevated with a slight arch in a smart and sophisticated manner. 

Two types of pin bars transformed menswear in the late 1920’s. The classic pin bar has screw off ends that fit through eyelets in the collar, or a large safety pin that can be attached to any collar.

Like all men’s popular tailoring trends, it circled in and out of fashion through the following decades, but was mostly brought back into fashion through popularity of TV shows. In the early 1930s Paul Muni was spotted wearing one in the original Scarface. A slight revival of the pin collar shirt came in the 80s when Michael Douglas wore one playing Gordon Gekko in the film Wall Street. Most recently, Mad Men’s sharp early 1960s styling and Boardwalk Empire's 20s tailoring has brought the pin collar shirt back to the menswear industry.

Boardwalk Empire - Al Capone

Boardwalk Empire - Al Capone

Boardwalk Empire - Charles "Lucky" Luciano (played by Vincent Piazza)

Boardwalk Empire - Charles "Lucky" Luciano (played by Vincent Piazza)

Vintage mugshot

Vintage mugshot

You can view 'Hawkins & Shepherd' full collection of pin collar shirts and pin bars.

Hawkins & Shepherd - Pin Collar Shirts

Hawkins & Shepherd - Pin Collar Shirts