In our recent post on how to fit jewelry to a maxi dress, one of the considerations we mentioned is the neckline. The neckline of a dress plays a huge role in what kind of jewelry you can wear and how, not to mention where you can wear the dress.
What I failed to discuss in that fantastic post is collars. A lot of maxi dresses have collars instead of a bare neckline, and this is something you have to consider when styling the dress.
If you’ve never spared a moment to think about your dress or shirt collars, today is your day.
Why? Because collars can make a maxi dress worthy or unworthy of a certain occasion, and they determine how you can accessorize that particular dress. Also, collars frame the neckline and complement your face.
Without wasting much time, let’s dive into the most common dress collars and see how to style them.
The shirt collar is undoubtedly the most well-known because it looks like your regular shirt. It’s the traditional high-stand collar with a hard surface and pointed ends, and it opens up the neckline with buttons.
More often than not, you’ll find a shirt collar on button-up shirt dresses like this multicolor belted maxi.
Some wrap dresses also have a shirt collar, except no buttons on the lapel.
This collar style can be formal or semi-formal, so I recommend a trench coat, blazer, or simple jacket if you have to wear something over the dress. As for jewelry, wear a delicate gold or silver chain around your neck, so it falls right on the bare skin. Round or triangular shape will do, and it can have a tiny diamond pendant just to make it visible.
The shirt collar is pretty bold, so you can’t wear statement earrings or a necklace. Instead, simple earrings, even if they are danglers or hoops, will do.
A shawl collar is really an extension of the dress facing and garment front. It’s round shaped and goes with a V-neck running from shoulder to shoulder to make lapels. You’ll see this collar a lot on jackets and formal dresses, but there’s a way to make it less formal.
The best definition of this collar is that it gives the appearance of wrapping a shawl around your shoulders because the lapels are so wide. However, most dresses with a shawl collar also have buttons going down.
To accessorize this type of collar, you need to go with delicate jewelry once again. Gold or silver chains with pendants will do, or you can wear pearls for a formal look. Keep the earrings simple and your wrist jewelry classy.
You can wear this type of dress with a pea coat, fur coat, shawl or a long, formal-looking cardigan.
Peter Pan Collar
The Peter Pan collar is simply a narrow collar with rounded ends at the front center. This collar is as old and timeless as the shirt collar, and it is very popular on formal maxi dresses. The flat, curved shape makes your neck look longer and your shoulders smaller.
Because the collar is so close to your neck, I don’t recommend wearing any jewelry there. Instead, don some striking earrings (but not big) and a fancy watch or bracelet.
As for outer garments, a collarless cardigan or jacket are the best choice.
As you can gather from the name, a mandarin collar is what you see on Japanese and Chinese dresses. (we covered this type of dress on Maxi Dresses Around the World) This band collar has square or rounded ends, and it’s unfolding, or rather it stays standing with just a little opening in the front. The collar is also called the ‘Chinese’ or ‘Nehru’ collar.
The standing position of this collar means you can’t wear a necklace with it, leaving only the ears and wrists for jewelry. Chinese collar dresses are traditional and elegant so try to keep the jewelry classy and modest.
For the same reason, you should wear this dress with something formal like a trench coat or structured coat.
A bib collar resembles the mandarin collar a lot in pictures, but they are very different in reality. This is a flat rounded shape that fits around the neck like a baby’s bib or a priest’s collar. It is actually a false collar that can be stitched permanently or temporarily.
Bib collars are very common in maxi dresses and female clothing in general because they give a simple, elegant look. It looks especially better with a deep V-neck exposing a bit of chest skin.
I like to wear this type of dress with a delicate gold chain that falls right below the neck and a matching bracelet. It’s a semi-formal style of dress, so keep the earrings safe and go for a watch if you don’t have a formal-looking bracelet.
As for outerwear, a coat or a long thick cardigan will do. Make sure it’s something with a collar so it can cover the bib collar and the back of your neck.
The number of times I have seen a notched collar on a floral maxi dress is innumerable. This is a lapel-shaped collar usually attached to shirt blouses, blazers, and button-up maxi dresses. The collar has square tips and a triangular notch.
It is made of two pieces, with one part going around the neck and the other being part of the open blouse or dress turned outwards to complete the notched look.
If you have to wear neck jewelry, make it a small gold chain, but you don’t have to. Dresses with notched collars are casual, so you can rock bold hoops on your ears or simple dangling earrings to draw attention to your face. Feel free to also go crazy on your wrist jewelry, provided it doesn’t crash with the dress’s color.
Since the dress has a shirt-like collar, wear an outer garment with a collar instead. A coat, a jacket, a collared cardigan, and even a blazer will do.
It’s easy to confuse the wing collar with the shirt collar because they look alike and have the same stiff band to make the collar stand when you want. However, a wing collar has pointed ends that fold outwards, forming the wing tip effect.
A wing collar comes down to a V-neck with buttons most of the time, but it doesn’t look good when you open up the button and expose the chest. For this reason, skipping the necklace and going straight to wrist jewelry and simple earrings is safer.
Again, wear something with a collar over the dress, such as a jacket, coat or blazer.
Tie Neck Collar
The tie-neck collar resembles a bow tie more than a regular tie. It’s a narrow fabric band of any length around your neck that you can tie into a knot or a bow to the throat. This kind of collar is common in chiffon blouses and dresses, and it is quite feminine.
As you can imagine, the collar doesn’t leave much room for a necklace, so you will have to settle for dainty earrings and a watch or a classy bracelet. In most cases, dresses with a tie-neck collar are long-sleeved, so you won’t have to wear a lot of hand jewelry.
For the outer garment, I recommend something without a collar. Instead, think of a long V-neck cardigan that allows the bow to shine.
It’s hard to find the puritan collar on modern dresses. But if you are into vintage things, this was one of the most popular collars of yesteryears. It is a rounded collar similar to the peter pan one but wider because it covers a big part of your shoulders.
More often than not, the collar will be of a different color and material than the dress itself, mostly lace. The collar itself makes a statement, so you don’t need a necklace with that, and you should keep the earrings small as well.
Any outer garment will work with this collar, even a sweater, because you can hide it under there. But it looks even better with a collarless cardigan, allowing the wide flaps to flow out.
Last but not least is the Chelsea collar, which I have to say is also quite common on maxi dresses. It is a medium to wide collar with square pointed ends, and it opens to a front v-neckline, with or without buttons.
While this collar resembles the shirt and wing collars, it is not a standing type of collar, and it’s not stiff either. Instead, the collar just lies flat over your shoulders and neckline, leaving plenty of skin to adorn with jewelry.
Again, a nice gold chain with or without a pendant will do, and you can pair that with matching earrings or diamonds. If the dress is long sleeve (and it often will be), a single matching bracelet or watch is sufficient.
This type of collar will look best with collarless outerwear like a cardigan, but a coat can work too.
The best collar for maxi dresses should frame your face and neck elegantly and bring out your best features. Of course, shirt and wing collars do this best, but you can also try the shawl and tie-neck collars for a more feminine look.
While many collared maxi dresses look formal, you can also wear them casually. Choose a dress that looks less structured and a collar that’s feminine and playful. The shawl, tie neck, and puritan collars are pretty fun options for casual wear but do not overlook the shirt dress either.