A shirt with cuffs and collar (usually white) that are a different colour to the body is not simple to wear well. Sometimes known as a contrast collar, it is more often worn badly than favorably.
It should be a slightly curious part of a man’s outfit, rather than something that glares. The key is to wear it with a tie that is dark enough or colorful enough to push the contrast collar into the backdrop.
White collar and cuffs hark back to the days when both items would be detachable. As the only items that would really be seen – the body buried beneath tie, waistcoat and jacket that was not removed – the collar and cuffs needed to be clean, smart and crunchy.
Being removable was very practical. The collar and cuffs wear out quickest, so having replaceable ones considerably prolonged the life of the shirt.
But the men that you see wearing them often look luridly, not to say cheaply dressed. That’s because the tie they choose is often too pale or too plain to draw notice. And the outfit becomes about the gap between shirt body and shirt collar.
So with a blue shirt with white collar, say, a pale blue tie or one with only a small geometric pattern is not going to be muscular enough. If it were replaced with a navy-blue tie with silver club stripe, notice would shift to the tie and away from the collar.
Aside from the fact that plain black will often look inexpensive, the lack of pattern ruined the combination. In contrast a slightly older man in the City wearing a dark grey tie against the same shirt, the tie patterned by silver paisley motifs. It was still subtle, but there was no question of the collar dictating.