THE CAMP COLLAR

The History of the Camp Collar, alias Hawaian Collar

In the vast wardrobe of the elegant man, the area dedicated to sport is nearly as large and profound as all the rest, and yet remains little explored by experts in the field.

The sport shirt made it’s real appearance in the male wardrobe in the the 1910s. It was introduced by the new fashion for outdoor sports which went hand in hand with a healthier lifestyle and the concept of an elegance adapted to the new necessities of life: the modern man had to be elegant but also sporty and dynamic, capable of adapting to many situations, and loved dance and the mouvements inspired by frenetic jazz.

 

Though it has ancestors, the “Camp” collar took on it’s definitive form around the end of the 1930s, with little variation thereafter. It is also known as the “Hawaiian”, “Cuban”, “bowling”, “reversible” or “American” collar.

This collar has a very precise characteristic: it has no collar band. The collar is sewn directly to the body of the shirt. By nature, the Camp collar is open, fresh and particularly adapted to the heat of summer or to tie-free informal wear, though certain vintage “convertible” models could also be buttoned up to the neck in order to be worn with a tie.

 

It is a common error to think that the camp collar is exclusively typical of Hawaiian shirts. In reality this particular type of shirt is more defined by the material and print than by the type of collar used.

 

In the 1930s et 1940s, famous actors such as Errol Flynn and David Niven were attracted by this special collar. Flynn, representing the chic and virile Hollywood, wore it with a very casual American class, even with formal suits. Niven, paradigm of the English gentleman, prefered to associate it with a silk scarf printed with nautical designs, without a jacket or with a simple blazer.

Democratised during the 1940s, The camp collar finally entered into the popular wardrobe, notably as a shirt worn at the job or on vacation and by students allergic to constraining neckties.  It was at last integrated into “tiki” style of the 1950s, inspired by Polynesian imagery as filtered through the gaze of Western culture in a period of economic boom.

 

Fallen from fashion in the 1960s, the sports shirt was, during a certain period, supplanted by the button-down shirt before returning to the catwalks in the late 1990s.

How does one wear the camp collar?

A sports shirt should be both versatile and practical. Tradition calls for an ample cut, without darts. Vintage models often present two chest pockets and are short enough to be worn inside or outside of the pants waist.

 

An infinite variety of models exist: the collar may be longer or shorter, the shirt opening deep or shallow; the sleeves may be short or long, the shirt with or without pockets, and made of flannel, wool, linen, cotton, silk, seersucker or viscose… but alas, also in polyester, a fabric with the inconvenient tendency to retain the heat of the body rather than allowing it to breathe! Rather unideal for a sports shirt…

 

To underscore the sports and vacation theme of these shirts, vintage models are often printed with floral or checked motifs or abstract designs.

Fratelli Mocchia di Coggiola shirts are designed following a classic model of the sports shirt, without pockets so as to best show off their unusual prints. For the same reason, the buttons are hidden behind a placket using hand stitches.

 

The collar may be buttoned up to the neck or left open. Will you tuck a brilliant silk scarf into the neckline, or like David Niven, a striped scarf? These unique shirts may be worn tucked in to a chino or classic pant with or without darts, and may be worn with a sporty tailored jacket or a formal suit. The FMC shirt is adaptable for (almost) all occasions: the choice depends only on your imagination and sense of humor!