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Patterns of the Past: Exploring the Early 1960s Italian Collar Shirt

I’m a big fan of vintage men’s shirt patterns, and I find many of the styles—particularly the camp collar shirt—to be timeless. While most of us are familiar with the camp shirt, the Italian collar shirt style had a briefer run and is largely forgotten.

Blue-and-white print men's short-sleeve Italian collar shirt on a dress form
This Italian collar men’s shirt, vintage Simplicity 3875, is made in a lightweight cotton poplin print from Mood Designer Fabrics.


Two 1950s pattern envelopes showing men's Italian collar shirts
Simplicity 3875 and Butterick 2305, both from the early 1960s, are Italian collar shirt patterns.

What is an Italian collar?

An Italian collar consists of a separate undercollar piece and an upper collar cut in one with the shirt facings. In his book, The Shirtmaking Workbook (Quarry Books, 2015), David Page Coffin has a chapter about this style. He also has a Pinterest board with images of shirts and shirt patterns in this, as well as related styles.

The Shirtmaking Workbook by David Page Coffin book cover
The Shirtmaking Workbook by David Page Coffin includes information about men’s Italian collar shirts.

Inside page of The Shirtmaking Workbook about Italian collars

Men's black-and-white print Italian collar shirt
The Italian collar style has the upper collar cut as one with the front facing, similar to a shawl collar. This shirt, made using vintage Butterick 2305, is an embroidered cotton voile from Mood Designer Fabrics.

The Italian collar shows up in men’s sewing patterns in the late 1950s and early 1960s. It may have originated in Italy, though I have no proof.

I own two Italian collar shirt patterns, Simplicity 3875 and Butterick 2305. Both appear to be from the same period, judging from the artwork and the pattern price of 50 cents. I’ve made both patterns, and the style and fit are similar.

Italian collar shirt patterns compared

There are notable differences in how the shirts are constructed, however. I’m always fascinated by the different ways patterns were drafted from pattern company to pattern company, in the days when the…

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  1. floraspy | | #1

    Thank you for the article. I believe New Look 6598, a women's shirt pattern still in print, has this type of collar. It's fun and quick to make!

  2. User avater
    [email protected] | | #2

    Thanks so much for your article. Imagine my surprise when I discovered I actually own the New Look #6598 women's shirt pattern! I love different collar styles, as well as sleeves, so when I find an interesting pattern, I buy it, even if it doesn't get attention right away. Having enjoyed your article, I plan to get this ready to wear before Spring arrives!

  3. osewviolet | | #3

    I love the different colors of gingham used to make the shirt. It gives me ideas for large scraps I am trying to use up.

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