James Bond’s Striped Shirts

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Roger Moore’s Bond is the James Bond best-known for wearing striped shirts, though other Bonds also wear them on occasion. Though Bond primarily wears solid shirts, his striped shirts add a little variety to his wardrobe. The most Bondian stripes are the most simple stripes.

This article will define the stripes that Bond wears and a few other common stripes. Many stripes have multiple names, and American and British names are sometimes different. Turnbull & Asser is a reliable source to define many of these names in the English school of shirting, and because of their history with James Bond I am mainly using their names as the primary terms for this article.

Hairline Stripe

The hairline stripe is a fine pattern with a repeat of only four yarns wide with each stripe only two yarns wide. It is just as much a semi-solid as it is a stripe since it looks solid from a distance. It has the formality and versatility of a solid coloured shirt. Roger Moore wears a blue hairline stripe shirt in Octopussy with his navy double-breasted suit (pictured above). Brooks Brothers calls this a “pencil stripe” because the stripes are fine like the line of a pencil. The term “pencil stripe” comes up frequently for a number of different kinds of stripes.

Pinstripe

A pinstripe on a shirt is a fine stripe spaced apart on a lighter ground. Turnbull & Asser calls this a “classic stripe”, which does not have any inherent meaning. This is also sometimes called a “pencil stripe” for the same reason as that hairline stripe sometimes is.

Fine Bengal Stripe

A bengal stripe can come in many sizes, and the fine bengal stripe is narrower than the standard bengal stripe (a width on which the Americans and British cannot agree) but wider than a hairline stripe. Roger Moore wears a blue shirt of in a fine bengal stripe with his blazer in The Man with the Golden Gun (pictured above). This is a dressy stripe that is appropriate to wear with a blazer or a suit. This stripe is sometimes known as a “dress stripe” or a “pencil stripe”.

Bengal Stripe

For Your Eyes Only Charcoal Suit

The bengal stripe the most popular shirting stripe, and it is a pattern of alternating equal-width stripes of a colour and white. The British use this moniker when each stripe approximately 1/8-inch wide while some Americans only consider a 1/4-inch wide stripe to be a bengal stripe. The “fine bengal stripe” above is finer in relation to the British bengal stripe. The bengal stripe is the most common of James Bond’s striped shirts and is worn by Roger Moore’s Bond in The Man with the Golden Gun, For Your Eyes Only (pictured above) and A View to a Kill. This is a dressy stripe that is appropriate to wear with a blazer or a suit.

When in an oxford cloth, this is often known in America as a “university stripe” because of it’s popularity with Ivy League university students in the mid 20th century. Some Americans flip the bengal stripe and candy stripe names.

Pencil Stripe

This spaced-apart stripe is sometimes known as a “pencil stripe” or a “pinstripe”, but it is thicker and wider than the pinstripe above. Turnbull & Asser calls this a “half bengal stripe” because the coloured stripe of this pattern is half the width of a bengal stripe, but the repeat is the same size as the bengal stripe’s repeat. Roger Moore’s pyjamas in Octopussy, made of cotton shirting, are this kind of stripe. This is a dressy stripe that is appropriate to wear with a blazer or a suit.

When the narrow stripe is white and the ground of the shirt is a colour, this is sometimes called a “ground stripe”.

Candy Stripe

The candy stripe is a wider variation of the bengal stripe and is also known as a “butcher stripe”, though the butcher stripe may also be a wider stripe. Stripes of this scale are what some Americans call a “bengal stripe”. The candy stripe may or may not be equally wide in the white and coloured stripes, with the white stripe often slightly wider than the coloured. Shirts in stripes of this width and larger become sportier than finer stripes. Wide stripes still are appropriate with a suit, though they are more dandy. Sean Connery wears a sporty camp shirt in a candy stripe in Thunderball (pictured above) while Roger Moore wears a dressier candy stripe shirt in Live and Let Die (pictured below).

Awning Stripe

The awning stripe is the largest of the classic colour-and-white shirt stripes and starts where the candy stripe leaves off. The term “butcher stripe” also may be used for this stripe. The awning stripe is too bold for James Bond, even in a casual shirt. It is best worn with blazers and is a bold choice to wear with suits. Roger Moore wore a shirt of awning stripe scale (pictured above) in Street People, though this stripe is fancier than an awning stripe with darker pinstripes bordering the wide stripes.

Multi Stripe

A multi stripe is a more complex stripe made up of stripes in multiple widths, groups of stripes, or stripes of more than two colours. Roger Moore’s brown-striped shirt (pictured above) in The Spy Who Loved Me is such a shirt, and these are best paired with suits and blazers, depending on the scale of the stripe.

Shadow Stripe

A shadow stripe is when a subtle stripe abuts one side of a bolder stripe. The subtler stripe appears as the shadow of the primary stripe. This is a more fashion-forward kind of stripe to wear with a suit. This kind of stripe is occasionally called a “highlight stripe”.

Self Stripe

Self stripes are a shirting of a solid colour with the stripe woven into the cloth. When in the form of a white-on-white stripe it is more formal than a solid white shirt. Sean Connery wears a white-on-white self-stripe shirt with his dinner suit in Thunderball (pictured above). This can work well with either a dinner jacket or a dressy suit.

Satin Stripe

The satin stripe is a formal self stripe where the stripes are woven into the cloth in a shiny satin weave, giving the shirt a flashy look. Sean Connery’s dress shirts in Goldfinger (pictured above) have satin stripes. The satin stripe is best saved for black tie or for clubbing.

Dobby Stripe

Dobby stripes are fancy stripes woven into the shirts with a dobby loom. Sean Connery wears shirts with a broken dobby stripe throughout Goldfinger (pictured above with the tweed hacking jacket). This kind of subtle but more unique stripe was popular on English shirts in the 1960s. Dobby stripes come in all sorts of patterns and textures and can be more creative than the conventional stripes listed above. Both cheaper and more expensive shirtings can be found woven with dobby stripes.

Other Stripes

Not all stripes can be categorised or be given a universal name. The stripes above all have multiple names, sometimes based on where you are in the world and sometimes just because a brand wants to call it something unique. This article serves as a guide of the most common types of stripes, but it cannot cover every stripe in existence nor is it the telling anyone that their name for a stripe is right or wrong.

12 COMMENTS

  1. Out of curiosity, but where would the striped shirt worn by Roger Moore in the Spy who loved me with his blazer fall under? Or rather what stripe is it closest to?

  2. The shirt with the blue awning stripe from Street People is made from silk because Foster made me one (with matching rather than contrasting collar like Moore’s) in the same fabric last year.

  3. Connery’s striped shirt in Thunderball remains my favourite casual summer shirt of all the films. Paired with the linen pants looked classy and timeless.

  4. Which category are the Casino Royale Brioni striped shirts closest to ? I thought they were quite interesting. Isn’t the train shirt a white self-on-self stripe shirt, but with an added thin stripe in between ?

  5. Great topic, Matt. Funny I was just thinking about Moore’s stripes this weekend as I picked out my Easter outfit.

  6. Matt, would you call the Frank Foster shirt Moore wears with the grey suede blouson in A View to a Kill a Bengal stripe? Or something different?

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