Shanghai’s “Fake Collars”

17 Jan 2012

I’ve been living in Shanghai a while now, but it wasn’t until just recently that I ever heard of Shanghai’s “fake collar” shirts (假领子). Technically, the collar is not fake at all; the collar helps to create the illusion that the wearer has on a full shirt under a sweater, when in fact he/she does not. They even have little straps on the sides to keep them in place!

Naturally, this calls for pictures:

fake-collar-2 fake-collar-1 fake-collar-3

According to this website, these “fake collars” are a Shanghai creation. My mother-in-law (a Shanghai native) proudly explained to me that they were invented to preserve a well-dressed appearance in a truly Communist age when neither clothing nor fabric were cheap. “We all wore them,” she said. “We could buy quite a few jia lingzi for the same price as one shirt.” When worn under a sweater, they create the impression of full, proper attire. Quite innovative! (Reminds me of all the ways I used to fake having taken a shower when I was little.)

These things were common from the 60’s through to the 80’s, but have long since fallen from favor, now that ordinary people actually have a little bit of money. Apparently you can still buy them in Shanghai, somewhere on Sichuan Road. I’ve gotta get my hands on one of these. (They also just might make for an interesting souvenir!)

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John Pasden

John is a Shanghai-based linguist and entrepreneur, founder of AllSet Learning.

Comments

  1. Isn’t that a Dickie?

  2. Funnily enough, these made an unrelated (non Chinese) appearance on last week’s 30 Rock!

  3. Or, in the U.S., called a “dickey” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dickey_(garment)). Hope that didn’t ruin it for you. 😉 Still, the history of them in Shanghai is pretty cool!

  4. I had honestly never heard of a “dickey” before. But looking at pictures, aren’t they a little different? This topic is definitely not within my own expertise…

  5. I guess that a Funeral Home could use this kind of item for the presentation of the dressed body to the family.

  6. You know, detachable collars were the norm for men’s dress shirts until the 1930’s in the US and Europe. They’re still sometimes used in white tie attire. Not only are they cheaper, but they’re a lot easier to iron and clean.

    These are more like collared sports bras, though… 文化差异

  7. Where can I order The Shanghai’s Fake Collars for men ?

    Thank You,
    André

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