The distinctive collar was a traditional feature on the gowns and tunics worn by Mandarins during the Qing Empire and it is from here that the association between the two was born.
In its original form, the collar was the height of sophistication; Mandarins were associated with and immersed in poetry, literature and Confucian learning, however, as the mandarin collar arrived and proliferated across the western world in the early 1900s its popularity diversified to straddle various levels of formality.
Blue collar workers who had no need for a tie soon realised that, when compared with a traditional collar, the mandarin was far more breathable and therefore functional when it came to a day of hard labour under a hot summer sun. At around the same time, the practicality was also realised by various militaries and the mandarin collar became the staple of soldiers on all sides.
At the formal end of the spectrum, the mandarin collar was popular for its adaptability. At the beginning of the 20th century, dress shirts would often feature a mandarin that could be dressed up with a collar of the wearer’s choice. It is one thing to be able to undo a bow tie as an evening progresses but to remove a collar and be left with the simplicity of a mandarin collar on a crisp white shirt is another level of suave.
As the decades passed the popularity of the mandarin grew with a significant peak alongside the emergence of the Nehru collar in the 60s with wearers including The Beatles, Sammy Davis Jr and even Bon.
However, in our humble opinion, there is one wearer of the mandarin that stands apart from the rest. A young Leonardo DiCaprio showed us what the mandarin is all about when he played Jack Dawson in Titanic. We’ll let the images speak for themselves.
For us, it is the versatility of the mandarin that makes it an essential for any wardrobe. Sticking with Dundas’ classic linen and the signature shape of our shirts the Dundas Mandarin is designed to suit any occasion; whether worn loosely for a day on the beach or buttoned up with a jacket to head out for dinner, the Dundas Mandarin is understated and yet distinctive.