Skyfall’s Tab Collar

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A tab collar is a point collar with a tab that connects the two sides of the collar underneath the tie. Though tab collar is British in origin, it tends to be shunned by the British these day. Most collars other than the spread and cutaway collars are. The Prince of Wales (Edward) was the first to wear the tab collar, and he wore both pointed and rounded variations. Following its introduction, the tab collar was popular in the 1920s and 1930s. It saw a revival in the 1960s and last saw some popularity during the early 1990s in the United States. Throughout Skyfall, James Bond wears Tom Ford shirts with a tab collar, a first for the character. Bond’s tab collar has a button tab, though more traditional ones fastened with a stud. Some makers in the 1980s and 90s used a snap fastener for the tab. The collar usually has a soft interfacing like a button-down collar so it can curve around the tie. However, Tom Wolfe, who today often wears tab-collar shirts made by Alexander Kabbaz, wears a tall, stiff tab collar like some of the originals were. Some tab collars can take collar stays for a stiffer look, though Bond keeps his soft with an elegant roll.

The tab collar does more to frame the tie than to frame the face. They work best with the classic four-in-hand knot because of its small size. The collar pushes the knot and the whole tie out from the neck and body to create an elegant arch. The similar pinned collar achieves the same goal. A collar pin is much flashier, a style we often saw on Pierce Brosnan in the early Remington Steele episodes. The biggest disadvantage to the tab collar is that it can’t be worn without a tie. But in Skyfall, Bond always keeps his tie on to preserve the tab collar’s neat appearance.

25 COMMENTS

  1. I actually own a few tab collar shirts since the latest Doctor Who starting wearing them a season ago. Aside from the necessity of wearing a tie with it, the biggest problem I’ve found is that it is absolutely essential that the tie you wear makes a SLIM four-in-hand knot.

    I’m currently wearing a knit tie ala Connery in Goldfinger with a tab collar, and this one is still somewhat awkwardly jutting out from the collar simply because of how thick the knot is. And I normally wear at least a half-Windsor knot due to my (lack of) height and store bought ties’ length. It really cuts down on the numbers of ties I own that can be worn with these shirts.

  2. Hello Matt,
    Although I never was a fan of the tab collar, finding it pretentious, I think it suits Daniel Craig and complements his face well. I might even want to try and find such a shirt. And I love the shade of blue of the shirt.
    A former Minister of Culture in France has the habit of wearing the tab collar sans tie, which is absolutely ridiculous.
    I remain however a fan of the spread or semi-spread collars. Bond’s collar never looked better than with Turnbull and Asser on Sir Sean or Foster in Sir Roger’s first two Bonds. George Lazenby’s point collar and Sir Roger’s in ’77 and ’79 were inferior according to me.
    Best regards,

    • I find that tab collars need to have longer points. Collars in the 90s often suffered from short points, which make the head look huge. What helps is when the points are flared out. A rounded collar also solves the problem and looks very elegant.

  3. I liked the look in the movie and even noticed it when I watched it. But where can one find a shirt like that? Is it just totally custom?

    • I read today that Selfridge’s now carries the exact shirs by Tom Ford seen in Skyfall. Apart from that I’m not sure where else to find them, but another reader of this blog may know.

      • Brooks Brothers has a tab-collar shirt, though I hesitate to recommend them since they only offer the shirt in non-iron treated cotton. Online, the collar looks a bit too small.

    • Jeremy Hackett is a fan of the tab-collar and the style (both pointed and rounded, along with a pin collar or two) featured prominently in the SS13 runway show, so I think we an expect to see some in Hackett shops next year.

  4. Leonardo da Vinci once said “Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication”.

    I agree for the most part with Eric’s assertion that Connery’s Turnbull and Asser shirts and Moore’s Foster shirts (in my opinion the FYEO, Octopussy and AVTAK shirts, bar the button down ones worn open neck in the last film, are perfect also) are vastly superior to these finicky, fiddly looking things.

    • David why don’t you like the button downs? I like them with Foster’s high collar stand…

      Incidentally, Roger Moore wore a tab collar out and about in the 80s, not sure if he ever did on screen. Also Matt how about a post or two on Moore in HAPPY ANNIVERSARY 007 – an official documentary in which he is clearly dressed as Bond (though, ironically, not in the usual way!)?

    • At the risk of sounding like a broken record, I agree with David. The tab collars are un-Bond like, especially in his current “rugged” incarnation. Furthermore, they don’t flatter Craig’s broad, craggy face.

      • I couldn’t agree more with you. This collar (which has also too short points, in my opinion), combined with too narrow suit and overcoat shoulders, only make Craig’s head appear bigger. In QOS, the tall spread collars he wore were much more elegant and flattering to his face.

      • True – the QOS collars were very nice – tall semi-spread collars flatter just about everybody.

  5. Can’t claim to be particularly keen on the tab collar, either. It is both fussy and slightly informal at the same time and doesn’t seem appropriate with a suit. I’m not keen on the american fashion for button down shirts with suit and tie for the same reason.

    I think the Prince of Wales used to wear this type of collar for less formal or country clothes (that still took a tie) back in the day. That would work better but these days most of us would simply forgo the tie altogether.

    The stiff tab collars you mention sound interesting and possibly a better fit with a suit.

    That said, they don’t offend me.

  6. James, to be honest I never cared too much for button down collar shirts overall although I do have a couple in my wardrobe and I do agree that Foster’s ones were better than most as they had more volume. Moore seemed to take to them for a few years in the mid 1980’s alright. Excellent idea the Anniversary Programme. I have this on VHS from the time it was first broadcast in 1987 and haven’t seen it since. I seem to recall he wore a nice trench coat for one scene. What do you think, Matt?

    Dan, keep sounding like a broken record!

  7. After re-watching the movie yesterday I’m almost positive one of the sky blue shirts is a button-under. In the first scene where Bond wears a suit since the pre-title sequence, (I think it’s dark grey or charcoal but this I can’t remember exactly, although it’s not the pinstripe) you can clearly see the round imprint in the fabric of what appears to be buttons under the collar wings. I can’t recall ever reading about it, but perhaps it’s possible the collar has a tab and buttons?

    • That outfit is the one pictured here. He’s wearing the dark grey plaid suit under the overcoat. Perhaps the collar was flapping around so they added buttons to hold it down.

  8. Matt, could you name me some British makers who currently make bespoke tab Collar shirts ? Preferably Jermyn Street . I am in London for 2 weeks. And if l could find some one who makes tab collar shirts with breast pockets then all the better.

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