No tie is more Bondian than the solid tie, particularly in a dark colour. While the knitted tie may be the most quintessential James Bond necktie, there are many other variations on this Bond wardrobe staple. Bond often wears solid ties instead of loud patterns to not draw attention to his wardrobe. In today’s world where the tie is ever decreasing in popularity, the solid tie can be a subtle way to still wear a tie without standing out as the only man wearing a tie.
Men often use the tie to show their personality, but Bond uses the solid tie to tell people as little about himself as possible. The solid tie is more secretive than it is boring. And the solid tie does not have to be boring; there are many variations that can add interest to this wardrobe staple.
The knitted tie is the original Bond tie, the one that Fleming’s James Bond wears in black silk in the novels. Bond also wears black knitted silk ties in the films, as well as in other coloured silks and wools. This kind of tie normally has a square bottom with a ribbed hem like other types of knit garments, though many makers now knit them with a triangular hem so they resemble more ordinary ties. The knitted tie is great for Bond because it’s the perfect travel tie as it is easily rolled up in luggage. It is the least formal of all ties, which shows that the Bond of the books isn’t much of a dandy, and it pairs better with sportier jackets and suits than it does with a more formal worsted or mohair suit. All six of the actors who have played Bond on screen have worn at least one knitted tie in the role.
Sean Connery wears a grenadine silk tie in all of his Bond films apart from Goldfinger. Its texture resembles the knit tie but is woven rather than knitted and is much more formal. Because it is a woven tie, it is constructed like any other woven tie and has a folded triangular bottom. It’s an all-purpose tie that can be worn in just about any situation that calls for a tie, from relaxed sports coats to the dressiest suits. Only two weavers in Como, Italy produce grenadine silk, Fermo Fossati and Seteria Bianchi, because only they have the antique Jacquard looms that can make this type of leno- or gauze-weave silk. Grenadine silk comes in it in large and fine weaves, but Bond prefers the larger weave, though its open weave makes it rather delicate.
The repp (or rep) silk tie is woven with a subtle crosswise rib, but because ties are constructed on the bias (diagonal) to drape better the rib is diagonal on the tie. The repp tie has a fairly matte surface. James Bond has worn plain repp ties in a few Roger Moore films as well as in The Living Daylights and Spectre. Like the grenadine tie, the repp tie is an all-purpose tie, but its tighter weave means it is hard-wearing.
There are other ribbed weaves that produce a similar effect. The faille weave is very similar and has a flat rib, which contrasts with the repp’s round rib. Ottoman silk is similar to repp but has a more pronounced rib. If you see a tie with a crosswise or lengthwise rib, that means it was woven with a diagonal-rib twill weave because ties are cut on the bias. Twill ties often have a similar matte look to repp or ottoman, and they often have an even flatter surface. All of these ties can be worn interchangably with a repp tie.
4. Fancy Rib
If you crave more excitement than a simple repp or other subtly ribbed tie but still like a solid tie, a fancier rib can be a nice alternative. Sean Connery wears ties with ribs of varying widths in Diamonds Are Forever, though a tie with fancier ribs like this one looks slightly dressier than a more subtly ribbed tie.
The satin silk tie is the most formal of all ties due to its smooth and shiny surface, and Roger Moore was a big fan. Such a tie is most appropriate in the evening and is best worn with a dressier worsted wool, silk or mohair-blend suit. A shiny satin tie can look rather ostentatious during the day.
6. Jacquard Weave
A Jacquard loom is able to produce all sorts of patterns, and in the case of solid silk it can weave unique textures. In the case of Roger Moore’s solid black tie in The Man with the Golden Gun it produced a honeycomb-like texture. Fancy textured ties can be worn like fancy ribbed ties. Plainer textures are more versatile than more intricate weaves, which often look dressier.
The shantung silk tie, woven in a plain weave, is a luxurious tie due to its unique slubs, which appear diagonally on a neck tie. Shantung silk ties can vary in formality depending on how shiny they are; shinier shantung silk is almost as formal as a satin tie whilst matte shantung silk might look less formal than a repp tie. The slubs give shantung silk an unusual look that may be difficult to pull off.
Thanks for another great article, Matt. I’ve wondered in the past what the difference is between repp, twill, and Ottoman.
What’s the best way to wear a shantung tie, in your opinion? Does its slub by texture make it a bit more casual or informal?
I also wondered what your thoughts are on tie colours. Navy and black are very Bondian, but are there other colours that you think would be fitting? Burgundy? Shades of grey? Dark bottle green?
I’d say for a solid tie brown or dark brown is another Bond favourite colour.
Sean wears a knit one in Goldfinger and a grenadine one in Thunderball (both with that smashing hacking jacket.) He also wears a grenadine one in Diamonds are Forever.
Roger wears a brown knit in Moonraker, Timothy a brown knit in The Living Daylights and Daniel a brown knit in Spectre.
Good point! But only with brown or brown-tone outfits, no?
Is a post on lapels coming anytime soon?
A Japanese mens magazine brought it to my attention.
I wore a knit tie for the first time in my life last April. It’s much more difficult to tie an even knot than on a smoother silk tie. It took me at least six times and lots of swear words before I got it even passably acceptable.
Yeah, I just couldn’t get mine to look right. I much prefer grenadine if I want that textured look.
My personal favourite is the Kazan tie.
Matt, what are your thoughts on a shantung / grenadine tie like the ones Viola Milano occasionally offers? It looks like a very casual tie to me.
I have a shantung grenadine tie, and I think it’s really nice with an especially unique texture. Mine isn’t quite as textured as that one, so I think it can work with a suit. That one I’d probably pair with a sports coat or blazer, but not a suit.
Matt, I know Turnbull and Asser offers “lace silk” ties, but where does that belong? 4 or 6? Has Bond ever worn any of these?
That’s in category 6. There’s a tie in Die Another Day that’s similar to the T&A Lace tie, but I think it’s something else.
I’m a big fan of the T&A lace ties. I probably have more of those than the grenadines… much more durable
Good stuff as always. But a quick questions. I noticed in the latest shots from Italy, Daniel Craig is wearing a blue shirt with a button-down collar.
Is this the first time Bond has worn a button-down collar?
This is the first time that James Bond has worn a button-down collar with a tie. Roger Moore wore two button-down-collar shirts casually in A View to a Kill.
How great you posted this. As an addendum we will be posting a video of James Bond ties on the YouTube channel from our chat with Daniel Stroupe of T&A.
I have recently gotten into ties, but have found that people get taken back when I wear ties to casual events such as dinner with friends. It’s like they feel under dressed.
But I always err on the side of caution and go over dressed with a tie, than under dressed with just my dressing gown. An exaggeration, but you get my point.
Pete, the knitted tie is perfect for these occasions when you want to wear a tie but think you’ll be overdressed. Wool ties can do the same in winter (Bond wears a wool or cashmere knit tie in The World Is Not Enough) and linen ties in summer. Solid ties in general are great when dressing down because they don’t draw attention to themselves. The key is to look natural in a tie, and I think solid ties in muted colours are the easiest to wear.
Agreed with Matt. My knitted ties get all sorts of compliments in the office as well. People tend to be more accepting of the casual ties, like knits and casual wovens, than more formal ones. Especially when the occasion or dress code is ambiguous but you’d rather be dressed up.
Good article again; now I would observe that plain tie are back in fashion since in Europe, at least, we see a lot of officials wearing exclusively solid tie mostly in dark blue; pattern looks like twill or something. So these days men seem facing the choice either to go without tie or when a tie is required by circumstances the tie of choice is solid.
I live in Rome and work on my own as a professional engineer. My work environment is quite informal, naturally no dress code and very few suits and ties around…But, you know, I have the hobby of dressing like James Bond, with an Italian flair. So I always wear a silk knitted tie, mostly solid. It works quite well: it IS a tie, and therefore draws some attention, but keeps that sporty looks that makes me feel at ease. I own dozens of knitted ties and I am a fanatic!
I absolutely love your (00)7 articles and I find myself reading this series again and again. Have you considered putting all the (00)7 articles into a category or tag? The keyword search only gets you to a few, so just a suggestion.
Yes, I can do that.
Any thoughts on the best places to buy neckties, Mr Spaiser?
Turnbull & Asser and Drake’s have some of the best. Sam Hober online is also excellent.
Helpful, thank you! Do you have a view on seven-fold ties and ties without tipping? The latter doesn’t seem as Bondian to me.
Has Bond ever worn light colored satin ties, or only black ones ? Would they qualify as « Bondian » ties ?
He wore a lighter blue satin tie with his blazer in The Man with the Golden Gun:
One of my all-time favorite Bond outfits!