I found some vintage collars at the Love Vintage Fair in Sydney. They are delicate, the fabric and yarn has yellowed with age and there are charming quirks like small pulls and runs. All signs of true vintage beauty being worn and pre-loved. All the more they were hiding in a huge pile of doilies and napkins at one of the stalls. It was very exciting pulling them out one by one of the lucky dip.
Collars were made like this so that they could be laundered and finished separately and attached to garments when necessary. Lost arts, drawn thread work, embroidery, lace-making, lace insertion were skills used to make them. Quiet skills that don’t require machines, just an idea and old, old techniques.
Replacing a collar was a way to extend the life of a garment and create a new look for a dress, a shirt or a jacket. It could transform by hiding worn edges, stains, add interest to, and represent a new mode. It was also a way to wear your skills, so that they could be appreciated outside of the home (not just relegated to doilies). These collars would have framed the faces of the women and girls that wore them, drawing attention to their faces.