Ask several people what meaning goes along with putting a collar on someone, and you’ll get at least as many different answers as people asked. I’ve been mulling over how I feel about collars and would like to offer this structure, with varying levels of significance. This includes items that are worn as a ‘collar’, not restricted to items that attach around the neck.
As just a base item of jewelry worn, a decorative collar is just that – decoration. It need have no more meaning than any other necklace, bracelet, or ring. It may be a signal to others to say ‘I’m kinky’ or at least ‘I’m different’, but wearing it is about the person wearing it, and no one else. This is equivalent to any regular piece of jewelry someone might wear because it’s pretty or looks good with the outfit.
Scene Collar, Play Collar
This is a collar put on for the duration of a scene or for some other determined period of time. It’s an agreement between the person wearing it and the holder of the collar, but only for so long as they are wearing it. When it comes off, that agreement is done (for that time). Others may see the collar on and recognize it as a claim over that person. The vanilla equivalent would be wearing someone’s dog tags or class ring. Almost any piece of jewelry (necklace, bracelet, anklet) is suitable for a scene collar; a dog collar or a pair of cuffs works well, too.
Consideration Collar, Attachment Collar
This collar is worn whether or not the person collared and the collar-holder are together. Rules should be negotiated about when it is worn and when – if ever – it can be taken off. This collar implies a serious attachment and a responsibility to one another even if you are not physically together. Personally, I feel that any limits on how the collared person may act when away from the collar-holder (chastity, play restrictions) should come with at least this level of attachment. People outside the relationship should see this collar and respect the dynamic’s importance in that person’s life. The vanilla equivalent would be an engagement ring; promises have been made for at least the near future, but in reality, it’s easily reversible by simply taking the ring/collar off and returning it. Again, almost any piece of regular jewelry works here; something purchased or made for this purpose is even better. Some piercings might be acceptable at this level if desired.
Commitment Collar, Permanent Collar, Ownership Collar, Slave Collar
As commitment approaches something permanent, a ceremony often marks the change from a Consideration Collar to a Commitment Collar. The actual physical collar may not even change, but the meaning behind it does. This is equivalent to a wedding band; it implies an attachment not just for now, but for the long-term future. This is the level where a locking collar becomes appropriate – the wearer cannot remove it easily; it has some implied permanence. After being at this level for a while (years), a tattoo even might become an option.
Examples from my own life
- With my kitten, I put bells on his collar when he is with me and take them off when he leaves. Those are our Scene Collar.
- As a Scene Collar, my first lifestyle boyfriend bought me a red leather dog-collar. I mostly wore it when it matched an outfit I wore to the club, or when he told me to wear it. I put it on or took it off as I felt like.
- Boss braided a Consideration Collar for me to wear on a daily basis once we were quite serious, including moving in together – and I still actually wear that one a lot of the time.
- When Boss formally collared me, ceremony and all, he gave me a formal chain collar. We also added a locking eternity collar to my collection. I wear one of my collars anytime I am not at home.
- We married on the five-year anniversary of our collaring. I wear his wedding ring (and he mine) 24/7. And I have a tattoo of his design on my thigh.