little bit pilgrim; a little bit Victoriana; a lot stylish. Perhaps it’s a rejection of the micro mania the fashion world has fawned over for the past few seasons, or it could be that the only part of our outfits now visible to the outside world are our heads and shoulders — over zoom — but for autumn 2020, the message is clear: bigger is better as the statement collar has become the must-have trend of the season. To be seen wearing a collar of ordinary proportions would nowadays be considered sartorially reckless.
Taking their name, unsurprisingly, from the little boy who never grew up, Peter Pan collars were named so after the look was popularised by Broadway star Maude Adams in 1906. Adams wore a feathered cap and a patterned puff-sleeve blouse that featured a contrasting oversized white collar for her performance of J.M. Barrie’s original 1904 play. After the style was debuted on stage, newspapers were buzzing with opinions on the look and within a matter of weeks, handmade versions appeared on shelves at department stores. “Peter Pan resorted New Yorkers’ belief in fairies, and these dainty ‘Peter Pan’ collars give a transforming touch to the costume,” one article read. “The newest fad in the lace-trimmed linen and batiste Peter Pan collars, now so much in demand to wear on the fashionable Eton and bolero suits.”The collar faded in and out of fashion throughout the ensuing decades and, it wasn’t until the 1980s that the trend took off once more, adorning everything from power suits to patterned blouses and becoming a firm favourite in the wardrobe of royal style icon Princess Diana. The wide-collared blouse graced many a Lady Di ensemble, allowing her to show true character by combining her signature Sloane Ranger chic with nods to trends of the day.
The collar faded in and out of fashion throughout the ensuing decades and, it wasn’t until the 1980s that the trend took off once more, adorning everything from power suits to patterned blouses and becoming a firm favourite in the wardrobe of royal style icon Princess Diana. The wide-collared blouse graced many a Lady Di ensemble, allowing her to show true character by combining her signature Sloane Ranger chic with nods to trends of the day.
With the most recent season of The Crown arriving on our screens this weekend, the wardrobe of this iconic royal has never felt more relevant and has subsequently helped to cement the supersized collar’s place in the fashion halls of fame. While it has been more than 20 years since she died, the Diana effect is evidently as strong as ever, influencing everyone from Alexa Chung to Harry Styles and even Kate Middleton to adopt the outsized version of the girlish white collar.
The collar has also become the item of choice among street style stars and has been spotted on the runways of some of the industry’s biggest players, including Gucci, Prada and Miu Miu. But, credit for the revival of the fashion world’s love for Peter Pan collars should go to Danish fashion brand Ganni, which last year launched an oversized collar poplin blouse that instantly appeared on the well-dressed shoulders of Instagram’s most stylish influencers. The white version of the shirt completely sold out online, while a green and white striped style followed closely after. Since then, the label has extended its offering to include dresses, like this Cotton Silk Smock Dress (£325) in gingham check, which features a ruffled bib collar and shirred bodice.
Elsewhere, cult brands such as La Veste, which was co-founded by Spanish stylist Blanca Miró, released an extremely popular Peter Pan–collar shirt in a 70s-inspired floral print, while Batsheva captured the attention of the style set with its pre-fall range of collared dresses.
The Duchess of Cambridge proved she got the collar memo during her latest virtual appearance, where she chatted with Armed Forces families to mark Remembrance week. The stylish royal donned a vintage-inspired satin ivory button-down blouse with ruched shoulders and a contrasting scalloped Peter Pan–style collar.The top, called the Boo Blouse, came courtesy of Ghost London (£79) and, unsurprisingly, is currently sold out on the fashion retailer’s website.
From chunky jumpers to patterned blouses and midi dresses, there are plenty of ways to add a supersized collar to your winter arsenal. Those looking to invest in stylish knitwear to see them through the colder months should try this Wool Blend Sweater (£49.99) from Zara, which features a contrast velvet collar with a bow and long balloon sleeves, while Shrimps’ Clara Collared Cardigan (£325) can be layered over the same T-shirt you’ve been wearing all season, to dress up your working from home outfit ahead of a video call.
Alternatively, anyone with a penchant for prints should look Topshop’s Contrast Collar Star Top (£15), which will look just as good worn with jeans as it will a pair of tailored trousers should you need to return to the office.
But, perhaps the easiest way to tap into the trend while instantly refreshing your existing wardrobe, is to invest in a detachable collar. From Ganni to The Vampire’s Wife’s recent collaboration with H&M, 2020 has seen collars become accessories in their own right.
The perfect antidote to your lockdown wardrobe slump, a detachable collar can be a great way to get more mileage out of your wardrobe and can be worn with everything from casual sweatshirts to a quilted coat. The high street offers plenty of affordable options, including this lace tie-up version (£14) from ASOS and this frilly denim style (£15) from Monki, but among some of our favourites are those handmade by Etsy sellers using Liberty florals.
So, instead of buying yet another It bag that is likely to gather dust at the back of your wardrobe, now is the time to invest in a new kind of accessory. One that is seasonless, lockdown-proof, easy to dress up or down and can help you craft countless looks with the clothes you already own and love.