What is a Mandarin Collar?

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  • Written By: Dana Hinders
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
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  • Last Modified Date: 31 December 2019
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If you’re looking for a fashion-forward alternative to ordinary apparel, consider incorporating a shirt with a mandarin collar into your wardrobe. These collars, sometimes called Chinese collars or cadet collars, continue to be very popular for both men and women.

A mandarin collar is a shirt or jacket collar based on the traditional Manchurian dress. The collar starts at the neckline and typically rises two to five centimeters with no fold. There can have either rounded or straight edges at the front of the collar. If the collar overlaps slightly, there is often a button to secure the two sides of the garment together.

Sun Yat-sen, a Chinese revolutionary and political leader, popularized the use of this style of collar in China by creating the Zhong Shan suit. Also known as the Mao suit, this outfit was intended to be representative of the Han people and prominently featured a mandarin collar.

A mandarin collar is very similar to the Nehru collar that is a characteristic trait of modern Indian clothing for men. Band collars, a style designed to make it easy to use a detachable collar with a shirt or jacket, are also very similar in appearance to the mandarin-style collar.


This type of collar may have oriental roots, but its use is now widespread. Outfits with mandarin collars are often worn by Eastern Orthodox and Eastern Catholic clergy. In addition, the United States military has adopted mandarin-style collars on uniforms that require the use of body armor.

In popular culture, men often choose to wear shirts with mandarin collars since this style does not require the use of a necktie. A shirt with a mandarin-style collar can be worn with a business suit as a slightly less formal alternative to traditional dress. In fact, many men’s clothing shops now sell tuxedo shirts with mandarin collars. This look is youthful and minimalistic, making it a favorite fashion statement among young men working in creative industries or those seeking to avoid the impression that they are playing dress-up in their father’s business clothes.

Although this collar is most often associated with fashion for men, women can enjoy this unique design as well. However, shirt and jackets for women with mandarin collars are often made from silk fabric, feature knots instead of buttons, and have other vaguely oriental-inspired details. These pieces can easily be paired with dark denim jeans or skirts for a fresh and contemporary look.


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Discuss this Article

Post 7

If you are trying to care for your mandarin collar, always remember to iron it carefully.

Post 6

I hate to contradict everyone else but I just hate mandarin collars! I think mandarin collar shirts for men under suits look just awful. A few of the men at my office have taken up this style and I think they look much less professional than their less "creatively" attired brethren.

I'm not sure how this trend got started but I wish it would go away.

Post 5

@wander - I agree with you. My boyfriend has a few mandarin collared shirts he wears to work with his suits and I think it looks great. I'm actually a pretty big fan of the mandarin collar for myself as well.

I knit myself a mandarin collar sweater about a year ago. I get a ton of compliments on the sweater now but when I was knitting it I wasn't really sure about the collar. I even considered changing it to a different style! In the end I stuck with the pattern and I'm very happy with the results.

Post 4

Mandarin collar fashion has extended to sweaters and coats. The less formal styles are cotton or part woolen sweaters with very attractive collars. The collars are out of the way, so your blouse underneath looks neat.

Vests in many styles keep your neck warm and give a neat look to your whole outfit.

For a real formal and eccentric look, there is the military inspired sweater jacket. The one I saw was black. It had shoulder epaulettes and gold buttons in the front. On the back, there was a crest applique. It was expensive, but sharp looking.

Post 3

The mandarin collar has been a traditional Chinese style for many years for both men and women in China. I really love the red, silk women's mandarin collar jackets. Often they have beautiful designs on them.

The mandarin collar style for men was partially inspired by the style of Mao and other governmental leaders. Their jackets were often a black color.

In time, this style became popular in the west. And it still is. This style really looks good on most everyone. You might find mandarin collars on shirts, jackets, blouses, and sweaters. They add class and sharpness to the total look. I love the mandarin collar and hope it never goes out of style.

Post 2

I think that choosing to wear a shirt with a mandarin collar instead of a traditional tie with a suit is a great way to show your fashion sense off. I think that men's clothing needs more variety when it comes to dressing up and presenting your self as put together.

I find that a lot of the sensibilities found in clothing in the east manage to balance a clean, minimalist look that is both stylish and very functional. I think that ties are rather uncomfortable, so it is great to find something attractive that presents the same aura, without having to suffer for it.

Post 1

Mandarin collars can be one of the most flattering additions to a blouse if you make sure it isn't too overwhelming or stiff. There are many lovely designs today that have a great oriental feel to them.

I think some of the prettiest blouses feature a mandarin collar with the ribbon latch across the front. It really gives the blouse a great feminine feel while still looking professional.

If you are trying to care for your mandarin collar, always remember to iron it carefully. Follow the natural flow of the material and don't bend it, or it will lose its shape quickly.

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