A Brief and Incomplete History of the Dress Shirt

A Brief and Incomplete History of the Dress Shirt

A Brief and Incomplete History of the Dress Shirt

Hi friends,

Let's dive right in to find out the origins of the dress shirt and where the terms of "white collar" and "blue collar" come from, thus answering where our name Blue and White Collar came from (did you know we sell dress shirts on this website? Go ahead, treat yourself to one or a couple dozen!).

The white dress shirt as we know it originates in the 18th century. These shirts often had intricate flourishes and large stiff collars. They were traditionally worn by the wealthy as a symbol of said wealth because they were the only ones who could afford to wash their clothing regularly, thus being able to maintain its color. 

This style fell out of fashion around the turn of the 19th century in favor of a look that leaned more towards minimalism. Gone were many of the flourishes and embellishments found in earlier dress shirts, and we were left with a shirt that more closely resembles a modern day tuxedo dress shirt. The sleeves  were plain and body of the shirt had minor embellishments and pleats, while collars were either small or turned up as notably worn by the 8th president of the US, Martin Van Buren


Those shirts eventually lost all embellishments and became the dress shirt we know today around the turn of the 20th century.

The term blue collar was coined in 1924 in a newspaper in Iowa when the writer noticed that manual workers were wearing denim or chambray collared work shirts. These shirts were thick and could hold up to hard work outdoors, unlike their white dress shirt counterparts. This led to collared shirts becoming less synonymous with business and wealth, and became the uniform of every working man whether they worked in an office or outdoors. 

These shirts are worn daily by men all over the globe from closing business deals, replacing power lines, delivering mail, or teaching college courses. The dress shirt has been a symbol of craft, dignity, hard work, and manhood over the past three-hundred years and continues to do so today. We named our company Blue and White Collar to convey at the very moment someone heard about us that we were for every man in every occasion in his life. We envisioned men wearing our shirts on their wedding day just as much as we saw them wearing our shirts while changing a leaky pipe on your average Tuesday. These shirts are for your biggest and smallest moments in life, because when it all comes down to it, the dress shirt truly is life's uniform. 

Happy New Year, friends! 

-Jordan and the Blue and White Collar team