With roots nearly a century old, the spearpoint collar is something strongly evocative of pre-World War II style.
Later morphed into somewhat of a caricature by the image of an Italian mobster’s egregiously long straight bladed collar, the original spearpoint collar style simply consists of a long pointed collar with an outer that curves in on itself as it makes its way to the back of the wearer’s neck. It’s a style that wearers and appreciators of vintage clothing can generally only access via buying true vintage or bespoke, which can require either a great sum of money or a great sum of luck (or a bit of both!).
English designer Simon James Cathcart, known for specialising in vintage styles, has capitalised on what was a gap in the market for this style of shirt by offering spearpoint collared shirts in a range of fabrics, retailing at AU$135 each. The cloth options are excellent, including plains and prints with a sufficiently old-time charm. What piqued my interest was the offering of a cream tattersall oxford cloth; an option I had previously spent much fruitless time searching for in cut length for bespoke. I also picked up the sky blue chambray offering.
I was immediately impressed by some of the unique details that Cathcart has added to his shirts at the competitive retail price. The tattersall shirt, cut in a dress style, features an asymmetrical placement for the bottom two buttons which sit below the belt line. This placement takes the strain off of the placket when sitting down, which eliminates the possibility of those lower buttons pulling the buttonholes out of shape, a problem I often have with my body. The chambray shirt was the star of the show, however; unique reinforcement seams across the front and back, a double button throat latch, contrast embroidered ventilation spots across the shoulders and triple stitching on some seams. The collar shape is excellent, these are perhaps the first shirts I’ve owned where I feel like I could go for the air tie without the overall outfit appearing to have something missing.
There are a couple of considerations that would make them better; the sleeve cuffs are almost disproportionately short, and the back collar stand height teeters on the verge of inadequate when purchasing a size 16 (40-41cm neck) or larger. However, the former doesn’t really matter when the shirt is under a jacket, and the latter is an issue that is difficult for anybody to resolve in readymade garments while keeping the cost of manufacturing low, especially to keep it low enough to allow for a competitive sale price. As such, if you have a longer than average neck or simply prefer a high collar stand as I do, the best solution is either to make do with what is available, or commission a bespoke piece instead.
Happily, the sizing run on these is done well, with the neck sizes being pretty much bang on. While many ready-to-wear shirtmakers, especially in the sub-$300 range, build the collar of a 16 inch neck for the neck of a 16.5, the Cathcart sizing is a refreshing case of what you see is what you get. The shirts are cut in a relaxed – not baggy – fit, with enough room for ease while maintaining a clean drape. Sleeve length is just about right for my average length arms. The pattern is designed for a relatively un-sloping shoulder, so if you have high or normal shoulders, it’ll drape well. However, if like me you have rather sloped shoulders, be prepared for there to be some wrinkles around that area (though it’s not a big deal for a relatively affordable readymade shirt). The body length is right on for me at 6’1″ to have full confidence in the shirts staying tucked in all day.
If you’re looking to wear them with a tie, ensure your tie choice is unlined or very lightly lined, and either fairly narrow (under 3″) or a tapered cut so as to ensure a small knot. There isn’t a whole lot of tie space for these shirts, given they’re intended to be evocative of a time when people mostly wore small and narrow tie knots. Vintage ties are likely your best bet.
Overall, Cathcart’s spearpoint collar shirts are solidly made, with clear evidence of the design thinking that has gone into them. They offer an inexpensive way to try a unique collar style, and a great option for nabbing some interesting design details – and fabrics – off the rack. My picks are the tattersall oxford cloths in cream and yellow, the chambrays, the dot print cloths cut in the same style as the chambrays, and the bottle green summer camp shirt.
View the full range of Cathcart shirts on the brand’s official website.
Product pics courtesy of SJC/Cathcart London.