Skip to Content

Apparently, I’ve been ruining shirt collars because of one little mistake.

Note: I was doing laundry yesterday and remembered that I did not always know I should unbutton shirt collars. It’s a serious habit for me now, but I figured a republish of this reminder might be helpful!

Hopefully the rest of you have been smarter laundry-doers than me, but just in case you haven’t….

For the last few years, I’ve noticed that Mr. FG’s work shirt collars have been wearing like so:

why is my dress shirt collar wearing out

The problem wasn’t on the edge of the collar like you’d expect.

And for the longest time I could not figure out what the problem was.   But then I remembered how when the shirts come out of the wash, the collar is usually laying cock-eyed like this:

how to ruin a shirt collar

Rather than like this:

how to not ruin shirt collars

Basically, the collar is wanting to straighten out in the wash, but since the buttons are trying to hold it in place, the collar ends up bending at an odd spot.

And the edges of the cock-eyed collar were getting rubbed raw in the wash.


Plus, because the collar was getting bent in the wrong places, the stiffness of the collar was becoming compromised.

Obviously, the solution is to just unbutton the collar buttons before putting the shirt in the wash.   That way the collar can move freely and it won’t wear thin as it’s washed and dried.

how to keep dress shirt collars safe in the wash

I feel pretty silly for not having realized this until now, and I’m kind of bummed out that some of Mr. FG’s dress shirts are kind of unwearable for work now, simply because of the collar issues.

Such a waste.

But better late than never, I say! And now that I’ve figured this out, his current work shirts are safe.


P.S. I browsed around the internet to see if I’m the only person this has happened to, and most of what I came across said to unbutton things to reduce wear on the button stitching.   So I guess even if your shirt collars are weathering all right, it’s still a good idea to unbutton before washing.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.


Thursday 15th of June 2023

One other consideration. Never had this happen to my shirts before maybe 10 years ago. I suspect cheaper materials are being used in shirts today. It also happens on the sleeves where you cannot ‘unbutton’ the doubled up material that make up the sleeve. There is “shrinkflation” and what I’ll call “cheapflation” everywhere. I believe this is yet another example. Good luck.


Sunday 23rd of April 2023

I never expected to find an answer to why my collars were doing this. Thanks all! I even took the advice of flipping the collars over and resowing them. Not easy for a guy like me who has never sown before. I got my mother's old Dressmaker sowing machine (from the 1960s) out of the attic and figured it out. Far from perfect, but no one can tell. Saved three shirts!

Chris McEnery

Friday 25th of September 2020

What causes casual shirt collars to fray?


Friday 15th of July 2022

@Chris McEnery, I would very much like to know the answer to that! My husbands shirts are frayed after about 2 months of wear. I am learning to turn collars, but you can only do that once....

Wei Liu

Friday 19th of June 2020

Hi, thank for sharing.

However, this is only the one side of the story. This must be what the washer/dryer told you: "It's you problem not us". :-)

The washer and dryer may still have issues? Do you think it's more wear from washer or dryer? Are thy too old? If you do what you suggested, the wear will only move to the edge of the collar.


Monday 9th of March 2020

Good tip!

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.