A 1960s trend that has resurfaced in recent years along with the skinny tie, the tie clip is piece of men’s jewellery that adds a bit of fun and a unique elegance to wearing a tie.
The tie clip is both a decorative and a functional accessory that is worn across the blades of a tie that holds the two blades together and secures them to the placket of a shirt. A tie clip, also called a “tie clasp”, clips the tie to the shirt from the wearer’s right side and through the front opening of a shirt between the buttons to prevent the tie from swinging around. It can also help the tie elegantly arch away from the neck. The tie clip is especially useful when the tie does not have a keeper to hold the narrow blade in place behind the wide blade.
A tie bar is like a tie clip that only slides onto the tie without a spring the clips it. The tie pin or tie tack is another piece of jewellery with a similar function that pins the tie to the shirt, though it can leave a hole in tightly woven ties and shirts. The tie clip or bar is better for the health of your clothes, though they can leave an indent in certain ties.
James Bond only wears a tie clip on one occasions in the films: he uses one in Goldfinger to secure his brown knitted silk tie to his shirt with his barleycorn tweed hacking jacket. He wears the tie clip only about two inches above the top button of his hacking jacket, which means it is mostly obscured under the jacket. Occasionally we see a sliver of it between his jacket’s lapels. The tie clip is more visible in behind-the-scenes photos when he wears it a little higher. We can see in some of these photos that it is decorated with a dark lengthwise bar in the middle of it and is just longer than the width of the tie. This means that the tie clip is too long, but it still works.
Because Connery’s tie clip is hardly seen, we are possibly not even meant to see it. It may just be there to keep the tie in place rather than serve as a decoration. This low position is commonly said to be incorrect because the tie clip is obscured, but it still functional at this position. The tie clip should ideally be positioned around the middle of the tie (up or down a couple inches), so not much tie will be free to hang below the tie clip. If the tie clip is placed too low it won’t help the tie arch away from the neck and the clip will be hidden under the jacket, and if the clip is placed too high it won’t do much to hold the tie against the body and can distract from the face. Too low is better than too high.
The ideal position of the tie clip varies depending on the position of the jacket’s top fastening button, typically about a quarter to half of the distance up from the jacket’s opening to the shirt’s collar. There is flexibility here. Today’s usual advice for tie clip placement is too high. Today’s trends make it difficult to both display the tie clip and wear it in a functional position. With trousers worn low, ties are worn longer to make up for the low trouser rise. Jackets with a high button stance have a small opening to display the tie clip and force the tie clip up higher. With the tie clip up higher, too much of the longer tie is left free to swing and the effectiveness of the tie clip is diminished.
With the 1960s’ lower button stance and higher trouser rise compared to today’s fashions, the tie clip could be placed in a more functional position—just below the middle of the tie—and still be visible, which is not possible with today’s fashions.
With the hacking jacket is the only time Sean Connery wears a tie clip in Goldfinger. A tie clip should not be worn with a waistcoat, since the waistcoat serves the same purpose as the tie clip by holding the tie in place.
Because tie clips were trendy in the 1960s, it should be no surprise that Sean Connery wears them in other 1960s roles and was no stranger to the tie clip before Goldfinger. He wears them throughout Marnie, which was released before Goldfinger earlier in 1964. He also wears one in The Frightened City, a 1961 film he made before he was James Bond. A few other characters in the Bond films wear tie clips, such as Tiger Tanaka and Mr Osato, both in You Only Live Twice.
James Bond also wears a tie clip in Ian Fleming’s novel Live and Let Die when he “had to submit to a certain degree of Americanization at the hands of the FBI”. Far removed from his own preferences, Bond acquires “a ‘Swank’ tie-clip in the shape of a whip”.
While the tie clip is by no means a Bondian look, is the tie clip appropriate for James Bond? The character generally avoids extra jewellery, and while the tie clip serves a function it is nevertheless an unnecessary and fussy piece of jewellery. On the other hand, the function it serves can keep a tie from getting in the way during a fight. For someone who likes to wear ties but doesn’t want them getting in the way, the tie clip is a very useful accessory.