1. Types of Clerical Shirts
A considerable number of people aren't aware of the existence of 2 types of clergy shirts, which are neckband shirts and tab-collar shirts. The tab-collar shirt, which also referred to as "Roman collar shirt" or "Roman clergy shirt", may have a high collar with a square opening at the throat in front into which can be slid a small white neck piece that frequently made of a kind of pliable plastic. In contrast, the neckband shirt has a thin cotton white wrap around the neck similar to the mock-turtleneck style of shirt. Variations include the conservative black shirt with a full detachable neckband made of soft white polyethylene and held on to the inner shirt with metal collar studs.
Prior to 1859, it is the norm that men's clergy shirts have no fixed collar attached but a simple neckband considering the fairly expensive cost of brand-new clothing back then. It is recorded in history that it's Rev. Donald Mcleod, a minister of the Presbyterian Church, who invented the clerical collar shirt. Afterward, the innovative design was gradually spread out and adopted by other Christian denominations such as Catholic churches, Anglican churches, and Eastern Orthodox churches. Another vision of the origin of the clerical collar shirt is dating back to the late 18th century. It is said that it's first used among Protestant priests in the UK. With regards to its Catholic origin, concrete evidence revealed in the 2 portraits of the cardinal of the Catholic Church, Blessed John Henry Newman, suggests that the typical style of the clerical collar shirt we recognize today has appeared sometime in his life between 1801 to 1890. In a nutshell, those Catholic clergy shirts we refer to as "Roman clergy shirts" became widespread among Roman Catholic deacons at some point in the late 1800s.
3. The Comfort Level
According to an experienced priest who asked not to be named, there is a broad scope of clerical supply houses in the market, offering different types of clergy shirts. Some retailers even split the category of the clerical shirt into the "Anglican" shirt with wider tab collar openings and "Roman" shirt with more narrow openings. However, from the perspective of the customers, the comfort level of the shirt is the factor that has real significance rather than the width of the neck opening. That's the reason why there is still an overwhelming number of clergy prefer to wear the traditional detachable full-length cloth collar instead of choosing the seemly plausible convenient easy-to-clean white plastic band. After all, bearing with the way the plastic felt around the neck is reluctant for certain clerics, especially during the summer time. Additionally, clerics may merely wear the cassock with no collar needed. Alternatively, a clerical dickie (cassock rabat) which is worn under the cassock is a simple option as well to eliminate the whole layer of clothing. At last but not least, always order a neck size which is half a size bigger than you normally wear will save you a lot of trouble.