How to Wear a Shirt Under a Sweater Like James Bond

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When a man wears a sweater or jumper over a collared shirt, there’s always the debate about whether he should wear his shirt’s collar inside or outside the collar of his sweater. There are a few guidelines to follow but there’s not only one way to wear a shirt collar with a sweater. There are many conflicting opinions on how to wear a shirt collar with a sweater, but here are how and why Bond wears his sweaters and shirt collars the way he does.

Shirt Collar with a Crew-Neck Sweater

James Bond wears three crew-neck sweaters in the series over collared shirts. In For Your Eyes Only and GoldenEye he wears a grey fisherman’s sweater and a navy cable-knit sweater, respectively, with the shirt collar outside of the crew neck. In The Living Daylights, Bond wears his shirt collar inside the neck of his dark grey sweater.

Wearing the collar inside tends to look more modern while outside looks more old-fashioned. Inside can look neater, while outside looks more relaxed. Outside also shows off the shirt collar, which frames the sweater and the face. If wearing he shirt collar outside of the sweater, the collar needs to be large enough that it sits neatly and stays in place.

Shirt Collar with a V-Neck Sweater

The Spy Who Loved Me is the only time James Bond wears an unbuttoned shirt collar with a V neck. Here it’s a black V neck over a black silk shirt with a large two-button point collar for a casual afternoon look.

Bond wears his shirt collar outside of the V neck because it’s more natural for both the sweater and the shirt. He’s wearing his collar with stays, so the collar stands up high and sits neatly. If he wore the collar inside it would flatten the collar and create a lump under the sweater. The only neat way to wear a shirt collar inside a V-neck is to wear a button-down collar.

Polo with a V-Neck Sweater

On a few occasions, Bond wears a polo under a V-neck sweater. He does this on two occasions in Goldfinger: the first is with a grey polo under a burgundy sweater from Slazenger for a game of golf. The second is a black polo under a black sweater for sneaking around at night. On both occasions, Bond lets the polo’s collar sit over the sweater. If he tucked the collar inside, it wouldn’t stay in place and the sweater would end up swallowing the polo. Letting the collar sit naturally on top of the V-neck looks neater throughout the day. He does the same thing again in Never Say Never Again with a grey V neck over a striped polo.

Tie with a Sweater

Skyfall is the only time Bond wears a tie with a sweater, when he dresses up as a chauffeur with a black sweater from John Smedley over a white shirt and black tie. In this case, the shirt’s collar and the tie should always be tucked inside the sweater. When wearing a shirt and tie with a V neck, it looks best if the shirt collar’s points finish just under the V neck. If the collar points are too long the V neck won’t sit neatly. If the collar points are too short it leaves a sloppy gap or worse, they become untucked liked Bond’s do in Skyfall. V necks and cardigans are the best sweaters to wear with a tie, while crew necks usually end up hiding the tie’s knot and look lumpy as a result.

Shirt with a Cardigan

Wearing a an open-collar shirt with a cardigan depends on the cardigan. With a regular cardigan without a collar, it should be treated like a V-neck sweater. In On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, Bond wears a cardigan as part of his Sir Hilary Bray disguise. It looks as if he tries to keep his shirt collar tucked inside of the cardigan, but the collar points end up on top of it.

In Quantum of Solace, Bond wears a black shawl-collar cardigan from Tom Ford. With a shawl collar, the cardigan must be worn like a jacket and the shirt collar should always stay tucked inside. While a shirt collar outside of a jacket collar looks disco, a shirt collar outside of a shawl-collar cardigan will only look sloppy.

27 COMMENTS

  1. Great post!

    It would also be interesting to cover Bond, and other relevant characters such as M, wearing Day Cravats. Apart from Brosnan in GE, I can think of Lazenby and Lee in IHMSS and Moore in AWTAK.

  2. Outstanding information Matt. I lovethe look of a crew neck sweater with a collar dress shirt tucked into the sweater. I also love the look of the shawl collar cardigan. Craig’s QOS ensemble looks amazing and this attire remains my favorite casual ensemble that Craig’s Bond wears within the films. I have a black shawl collar cardigan that looks identical as Bond’s.

    I have a question regarding some sweater ensembles that Bond does not wear. First, with cardigan vests and sweater vests, should they follow these similar tips that you mentioned above? Also, Matt what is you opinions on wearing knitwear with suits, blazers, and sports coats?

    • I think a crew or v-neck in a fine gauge merino is a practical and smart looking layering option under a suit jacket or blazer, so long as the other rules listed by Matt regarding the shirt collar are followed. I generally go with a navy or grey pullover.

    • I avoid knitwear as much as possible but particularly under tailored jackets. I’d rather add an invisible layer beneath the shirt like a vest or under armor top for warmth than compromise the fit and appearance of the suit. The sweater vest or v neck is what I call the ‘Cyril Figgis look’. You never see Archer doing likewise!

  3. Must be reading my mind, today I wore a V-neck over an open-collar shirt, points sitting neatly outside the sweater, though I must admit the inspiration came from a casual look of Don Draper’s!

  4. An interesting article Matt. I was wondering what your thoughts are on people wearing dress shirts over turtleneck sweaters or turtleneck sweaters over dress shirts? This is not something that Bond ever did but I have seen people do this before.

    • Turtlenecks should generally never pair with other shirts, but I think Roger Moore wore one well with a V neck in For Your Eyes Only because the turtleneck was thinner than the V neck

    • Dress shirts over turtlenecks is a great look if you’re trying to emulate Walowicz from ‘The Big Bang Theory’ or a NYC cop in wintertime. I think David Soul was also a fan during his tenure on ‘Starsky and Hutch’
      It shouldn’t matter what you wear UNDER a turtleneck as long as it’s not visible.

  5. I occasionally wear a dress shirt under a turtle neck and flip the collar up so they’re visible. I’m not saying this is a classic menswear way to do it, nor that it’s for everyone. But I’m a little extravagant and work in fashion, and I think it frames the face in a nice way.

    • I was going to mention above how I’ve never seen this habit in real life but I’ve seen pics of this and think it looks absolutely ridiculous. I didn’t bother posting at the time as I thought that purveyors and perusers of this blog would never stoop so low!
      For the sake of your children don’t do this!!

  6. Okay, okay, listen to me –

    Someone, anyone, try the following – sweater with cocktail cuffs, and the sleeve end of the sweater is tucked into the cocktail cuffs.

    Begin the controversy!

    P.S. – I’m drunk, but not entirely out of my mind, when I thought of this.

    • I already do something similar to this with my button cuff shirts, turning up the ribbed cuff of the sweater and the shirt cuff. I also button the gauntlet so it sits in place. It’s a pretty cute look paired with a skirt!

    • Folks, I can’t tell you how surprised and glad I am that this idea was taken with much grace.

      I’m not a sweater guy, but I just might be, for sh!& and giggles.

      Also, Giselle, the idea might just break women’s fashion industry, which is a huge W, if you ask me.

      • I wouldn’t say it would break the women’s fashion industry. I’ve seen other gals besides me doing it. But I would love for proper cocktail cuffs to come back into fashion for all genders. The closest thing I’ve seen recently, at my store, was a shirt-dress in the women’s section that had long square cuffs with the button further toward the gauntlet, meant to be either worn as is or turned back. I have mixed opinions on that. I don’t think it will look very tidy, but at the same time they probably don’t intend it to be.

      • Giselle,

        It takes time to change something, and it takes initiative. Also, right the wrongs should be part of the course of action. Just because it can be excused as “aesthetic”, “subjective”, or “artistic”, does not mean it’s right, and we have to stand our grounds. I’ve made kids in my classes dress better, as well as draw better, and those who took my words never fail. It takes a stand and integrity, even for dressing.

        Oh boy, wasn’t that heavy handed. LOL!

      • “I’ve made kids in my classes dress better, as well as draw better, and those who took my words never fail. It takes a stand and integrity, even for dressing.”

        You and I must agree to disagree here. Unless someone specifically asks for my advice, I find it in poor taste to tell them what they “should” be doing with their clothing. I used to do that, thinking I was doing them a service. It had me rightfully labelled a know-it-all and a snob. It’s more effective to wear good fit, style, and colour and serve as role model to inspire others in that way. After all, a number of men, women, and non-binary people have influenced my style without them dictating to me what I “should” be wearing.

      • Giselle,

        Hardly was I ever called a know-it-all or snob with what I did. It takes a certain tone to certain cases, and they vary significantly. I don’t always come to people; sometimes, people come to me, significant people, too. As well, I always explain why what was presented was right or wrong. It takes logic and reasoning, and a whole lot of them.

        I get where you’re coming from, but honestly, my take is that unless someone was being incredibly obnoxious, calling someone a know-it-all or snob because they’re correcting something just goes to show the person just completely lost it, in a bad way.

    • Eh, no thanks. I tried a shirt with cocktail cuffs and I just didn’t care for them. Getting the sleeve of a sweater or suit jacket stuck in the cuffs is why I wouldn’t like it. I’d much rather just have plain barrel cuffs or french cuffs.

      • Reid, your shirt and coat size might just not be the best combo. I have never had that problem with mine, cotton or pure silk.

    • I never thought of doing it, instead I always end up frustrated by how my cocktail cuffs bunch and leave lumps in my jumpers. I’ll have to give it a try!

      • Tim, remember this so-called “Spretzatura” thing that used to dominate the internet like it’s what God intended? I think this is better than that.

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