Shirt And Collar Different Sizes

Ah, the joys of clericals! Soon-to-be-deacon I. writes in with a question:

I’m about to get ordained (God willing) as a deacon in the — Church, and am in the throes of purchasing my first clergy shirt and collars, amongst other things. Based on my measurements though, I need a size 13/13.5 collar and the collars of the shirts I’m looking at (long sleeve button down) run bigger than that. Add to this the cost, the emotional element, and the fact that I can’t try things on in advance and I’m in a bit of a pickle.

So, my two questions are:
1. Can/should you wear a shirt with a larger collar size (like a 14) with a smaller collar (like a 13.5)?
2. Assuming not, can a clergy shirt that is bigger be tailored to fit a smaller collar (this might be obvious but I have no idea)?

Any help or advice would be most greatly appreciated!

Many thanks for your time and for your awesome gift of a blog,


Now, PeaceBang’s tiny brain gets all confused when it comes to neck measurements and collars and stuff, so I hope I got this right. Please correct me in the comments if I blew it!

Dear I.,

Congratulations on your ordination to the diaconate. How exciting and wonderful!!

Now about shirt details:
I’m fairly confident that you should just go ahead and get the slightly larger collar so that it will work with your shirt. 1/2″ extra won’t look silly big around your neck but you’ll run into trouble if you have a collar that’s 1/2″ too small for the actual shirt. They won’t line up and you’ll have more than the usual pain in the ass situation trying to get the studs lined up.

Let me know if this helps, and above all DON’T FREAK OUT. It will all work out.

5 Replies to “Shirt And Collar Different Sizes”

  1. Your advice regarding the collar and shirt size is perfect. It is much easier to manipulate half an inch larger than half an inch smaller.

    Congratulations to this amazing Deacon-to-be. Remember to breathe, hold your head up and take everything in. You don’t need to follow the service with your nose in the bulletin, look around and feel the love that surrounds you!

    May God continue to bless you in this most exciting and humbling time!

  2. I actually prefer my collar to be about a half inch too big. I find that it’s more comfortable and cooler. And it looks ok.

    It is possible to adapt a larger shirt collar to work with a smaller clerical collar. I have been experimenting with adapting regular blouses to clericals – mostly ones with mandarin collars, which can be worn with the full clergy collar (aka dog collar). I like the full collar because it looks better with dresses. Anyway – I have found that the regular blouse styles have the collar ride lower on the neckline than a clerical shirt would. I pinned up those collars to fit inside my clerical, using safety pins and trying different arrangements until I found ones that worked. For me it’s a small tuck on about each side of the center back about one inch away from the center, and another small tuck on each shoulder seam. Once I was sure I liked the way the shirt wore during a Sunday morning, I hand stitched the ‘darts.’

    This method only works if you wear a jacket over your clerical. Each place where you take the collar in will leave a small bump just below the collar, which a jacket hides nicely. The better solution would be to remove the collar, adjust the shoulder seams to tighten up the neckline, and re-sew the collar to the desired length. Alas, that’s beyond my sewing skill!
    [Thank you, Ramona! – PB]

  3. My experience with Almy blouses is that they can easily take a collar that’s 1/2 inch either smaller or larger than the blouse band size without alteration. When first I had the same problem I ordered the 2 closest sizes in blouses and collars, mixed and matched until I found the best combination, and exchanged the 2 ‘wrong’ sizes for the ones that worked.

  4. Try Clergy Image–go to their Facebook page. They custom-make shirts for women, made out of cozy fabric that feels like jammies but looks professional. Womenspirit is also a good source for women clergy attire.

  5. Trevor Floyd company or Almy can make you a custom collar. You will want a smaller collar if you go with a knit clerical like those at clergy image.

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