Mandarin Collar

AKA: band collar, stand collar, banded collar, Chinese collar, cadet collar, Nehru collar (jackets only apparently), military collar

How to say it: man-da-rin

Traditional Features: 


  • short, unfolded collar that sits straight up from the neckline
  • rises between 2cm and 5cm
  • corners can be square or rounded
  • generally the front edges just barely meet, but can overlap too


…of the style: The mandarin collar is the Western interpretation of the traditional collar worn by Mandarin people in Imperial China. The style originated in the Manchurian region of China during the Qing Dynasty (1644-1912) and apparently spread to the rest of the country when the Qing Empire defeated the Han Empire in the 17th century. The new rulers outlawed the Han style of clothing, forcing the public to adopt the Qing style which included a tunic featuring the mandarin collar.

The collar style continued be worn through the Chinese revolution in 1911/12 but really hit the height of its popularity (albeit a somewhat forced popularity) with the introduction of the Mao suit in the mid 20th century when all the citizens of the People’s Republic of China wore the suit to rid the country of the class system.

NB: All the articles I have read have said that the Mao suit had a mandarin collar, but in all the images I have seen of Mao suits, they all have a folded over collar, so I am not sure which is right, perhaps there were two styles?

The Mao suit crossed over into western culture and during the 1960s and 70s was popular among intellectuals. Around this time the Nehru jacket, which had a mandarin style collar, was also popular in the West, and extended the popularity of the mandarin collar into the realm of suits and black tie.

Towards the end of the 20th century the popularity of Mao suit declined as Western dress became more favoured in China, but this was not the end of the mandarin collar. The style had become part of the western designers arsenal and was regularly applied to men’s and women’s clothing, ranging from runway collections to uniforms for the armed forces of many countries.

In the 1990s the style had small comeback as a trend in itself due to the popularity of ‘traditional’ Chinese clothing for women (like the Cheongsam), and men adopted a tie-less approach to formal wear for which the tall, mandarin collar was perfect. These trends did not last long, but they reminded the public of the versatility of the mandarin collar and nowadays the style can be seen in one collection or another almost every season

…of the name: The style is based on the clothing style of the Mandarin people of Imperial China, hence the name. This is also where the term Chinese collar originates.

The term band collar or banded collar is used as the collar is a single band that runs around the neck of the garment.

The use of the term Nehru collar comes from Jawaharlal Nehru who popularised a jacket with a mandarin collar during his time as Prime Minister of India from 1947 – 1964. (Check out the post on the Nehru Jacket here)

This style of collar is also often called a cadet collar as it is used on the uniforms of many armed forces and is worn by cadets in these forces.

For more info on Mandarin Collars try Wikipedia,, Raindrumscm or check out the Fairchild’s Dictionary of Fashion

Random Facts

  • This style of collar on a shirt is called a mandarin collar, but when it is on a jacket it is apparently called a Nehru collar.

21st Century Mandarin Collars

In the 21st century the mandarin collar is seen mainly on shirts and blouses, although it has graced the necklines of dresses, jackets and swimwear too. Perhaps not as tall as in Mao’s day, the shorter mandarin collar is a nice change to the folded collar and is often adorned with beading, embellishments or embroidery.

alice and olivia aosis

Alice + Olivia, Oasis

red valentino lanvin

RED Valentino, Lanvin


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