Not being very experienced in modern men’s dress clothing, imagine my confusion when I found two flat metal strips with a point on one end at the bottom of my washing machine. They belonged to my friend Brenn, who came over to do a load quick and forgot to take them out. After learning that they are to keep collar points stiff and better shirts have pockets sewn in especially for them, I found that Ryan did have some shirts with stays in the collar – just regular plastic though. Brenn upgraded his collar stay game from plastic to stainless steel thanks to advice from a mutual friend, Woody, and this post is inspired by them.
Collar stays are a descendant to stiff removable collars favored by the Victorians. (See, those I’m familiar with!) Stiffened collars were removable, and allowed men to go longer between laundering the whole shirt; just replace the collar. The stiffening in the collar also caught dirt and sweat better, and kept it from penetrating the fabric for easier washing. When the ability to wear a shirt just once then launder it (ie – washing technology made the process cheaper and easier), collars were incorporated on the shirts. You wouldn’t want to stiffen a whole shirt to make a nice neat collar – in comes the collar stays. (If you want a little more in depth information, check out Stewart Hershey’s blog post!)
Ryan’s thin plastic ones didn’t last long, cracking or getting lost. So I decided to laser cut him one. It is personalized with the same message as inside his wedding ring – jen <3 ryan (because I do!).
In researching the ideal size to make a stay, I was reminded that better ones were made in stainless steel. Plain metals can’t be marked with my CO2 laser, but this gave us a chance to try out a special marking spray. There are a couple different brands, but we used TherMark, and I’m kind of in love. It sprays a powder over the metal that the heat of the laser turns black and fuses to the metal.
The powder washes off easily, and we couldn’t scratch the markings off with a fingernail. Maybe it’s the hidden romantic in me, but I think the “Mr. & Mrs.” or something more personalized would be an amazing wedding gift.