The shirt’s collar is one of the most important parts of a man’s outfit because it frames the face. Whilst fit ranks paramount for all parts of a man’s outfit, the collar’s shape and proportions rank equal to its fit. The width of the spread between the collar points is often mentioned, but collar height and point length are equally important. The three most basic collar styles are the spread collar, the semi-spread collar and the point collar. A wider collar is slightly dressier than a narrow collar, but James Bond has worn collars of all widths for different purposes throughout the series.
The Spread Collar
The spread collar is the wide, classic English collar. It may also be known as an English spread collar or a semi-cutaway collar. A wider collar such as the spread collar best flatters and balances people who have an angular jaw like Sean Connery, Roger Moore and Daniel Craig. On the other hand, the wide spread collar emphasises a wide face and should be avoided by people with a very round face or square jaw.
Sean Connery wears a spread collar, usually made by Turnbull & Asser, in all of his James Bond films except Dr. No (which is discussed below), and the collar flatters his angular jaw. George Lazenby wears a spread collar on his Frank Foster shirt for the wedding outfit due to the more formal nature of the black lounge coat. Pierce Brosnan brings them back again on his Turnbull & Asser shirts in The World Is Not Enough. The spread collar is Bond’s favourite collar to wear with black tie, even when he wears other collars with his regular suits.
The Point Collar
The point collar has the narrowest spread of the three basic collar. It is sometimes also called a forward point collar or a straight collar. Americans may call this a classic collar. The button-down collar is usually a variation on the point collar with a softer or no interfacing and buttons that hold down the collar points. The point collar best flatters men with a round face or square jaw, whilst it would extended a long face or an angular jaw.
Bond has worn very few point collars in the series. Many of George Lazenby’s Frank Foster shirts in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service have point collars, but a large amount of tie space prevents the collars from looking too narrow. It isn’t the ideal collar for Lazenby, but it doesn’t look bad on him either. Roger Moore’s Frank Foster shirts in The Spy Who Loved Me and Moonraker also have point collars, and even without being oversized, the collars are too narrow for Moore’s angular jaw.
The Semi-Spread Collar
The collar that almost any man can look good in is the semi-spread collar. It is a moderate spread collar that is narrower than classic spread collar but wider than a point collar. Some call this the “Kent collar”, after Prince George, Duke of Kent, though the Duke of Kent typically wore a wider spread collar, and some makers call their spread collar a “Kent collar”. Some in England also call this the classic collar, proving that there is no consensus on that term. When the collar spread is around a 45º angle is can be described as neither narrow nor wide, which makes the semi-spread collar a rather neutral collar. It’s the safest collar for any situation and won’t offend conservative dressers on either side of the pond.
The semi-spread collar is the collar James Bond wears most often throughout the series. However, it works best for people with an oval face like George Lazenby, Timothy Dalton and Pierce Brosnan. George Lazenby wears semi-spread collars on some of his Frank Foster shirts in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, Roger Moore wears them on his Frank Foster shirts in Live and Let Die and The Man with the Golden Gun, Timothy Dalton wears them on his shirts in The Living Daylights, Pierce Brosnan wears them on his Sulka shirts in GoldenEye and Daniel Craig wears them on his Brioni shirts in Casino Royale and his Tom Ford shirts in Quantum of Solace.
Height and Point Length
The height of the collar and the length of the collar points should always be considered, especially since there is a considerable variety available. Today, collars with a short height and shorts points are trendy because they complement the narrow lapels that are also popular. However, most men are not flattered by such skimpy collars. A short collar with short points flatters a man with a short neck and an overall smaller head. On most men, however, a short collar will make their neck look awkwardly long and their head look too large in proportion to the rest of their body. Timothy Dalton’s undersized spread collars in Licence to Kill are not a good choice for him. Whilst his neck looks fine with a short collar height—a slightly taller collar would still be better—his head looks large against the short collar points. Apart from in Licence to Kill, Bond has avoided wearing short collars.
On the other hand, a collar that is too tall with points too long will overwhelm the face. A short neck will disappear under a tall collar, and a long points shrink the head. Roger Moore is known for wearing tall collars with long points. These large collars work for Roger Moore, and not just in the context of his wide lapels. His neck is long and his head is fairly large. In Live and Let Die, Moore wears a spread collar that is so tall it fastens with two stacked buttons. Few men have such a long neck that they truly need a two-button collar, but the second button provides a necessary rigidity so it can withstand the pressure from a tie. Daniel Craig’s tall Brioni collars in Casino Royale shorten his neck, though the point length is a good medium. The long Tom Ford collar points in Quantum of Solace make Craig’s head look a little small.
Extreme Collars: Cutaway, Narrow Point and Beyond
The extreme collars, such as the cutaway collar and narrow point collar, are for those who want to make fashion statements. The spread collar is sometimes called a cutaway collar, but the cutaway collar term is ordinarily reserved for the especially wide examples. Some may call the wide cutaway collar a Windsor collar. Like the spread collar, the cutaway can only look good on someone with a very angular face. But even the most angular faces will still look best in a regular spread collar. Rather than widen a narrow, angular jaw, the contrast from a cutaway collar may start to emphasise it. Likewise, the roundest faces will not be flattered more by a very narrow point collar than by a classic point collar. A very narrow collar cannot balance the weight of a large head and will end up looking like a balloon on a string.
These extreme collars have only been worn occasionally in the Bond films. Sean Connery wears cutaway collars on his Turnbull & Asser shirts throughout Dr. No, Roger Moore wears a cutaway collar on his Frank Foster shirt with morning dress in A View to a Kill and Pierce Brosnan wears Brioni shirts with cutaway collars in Die Another Day. Pierce Brosnan’s collars get wider with every Bond film he does, though the cutaway collar is certainly too wide for his oval face. The extreme cutaway collars that are trendy today are more severe than James Bond’s examples, whilst Bond’s cutaway collars are more like the collar originally made popular by the Duke of Windsor.
The tab collar that Daniel Craig wears on his Tom Ford shirts in Skyfall is like a variation on the narrow point collar. A narrow point collar would not flatter Daniel Craig’s angular face, but the his tab collar is a little different. The curve around the tie softens Craig’s angular jawline, and the collar points flare out below the tab to give the collar some needed breadth. If the collar just went straight down without the curves and flare it would not be the least bit flattering to Daniel Craig’s face. Still, a spread collar is a better choice for Daniel Craig’s angular jaw.
Hi Matt, fashion aside, the most important thing is to listen to what your shirt-maker suggests.
Excellent post that’s cleared up any confusion I had about the different collar types and what Bond has and hasn’t worn. Keep it up Matt!
Well done, Matt. Excellent article. It seems that the semi-spread and spread collar styles are out in front at the moment. These would be my personal favorite overall and when I am having my shirts made I always look for this style with a tall spread or semi-spread and long points (3.5 inches average) as my neck is long and I have a reasonably large head. For me, this collar style looks very timeless and classy and you can’t really go wrong with it (unless you have a short neck). I had to persuade Frank Foster of this initially which was odd as he constructs collars to match the client’s face. Interestingly, I have noticed that many Italian shirt makers construct their shirts with this stacked double button at the neck which you refer to.
Nice review with lots of detail. Not to disagree, but to expand: I personally find elegance in creating a symmetrical “X” that doesn’t torture the arms at the crux and so they enter and leave in a straight line through the centre. Ie: a printed X, not a cursive one. In effect on a man: the line of the top edge of the collar rim comes into the collar button (the button being the aforementioned crux) then the line flows on down the inside edge of the opposite side’s point. It sounds odd in text, but refer the photos of Connery and Moore above looking smooth – in comparison to the tortured line in Lazenby (and Craig’s second) shot. The depth of the point should then continue until the point terminates at the edge of the jacket. The illusion still works with tie gaps of varying nature.
This elegant X therefore depends not only on the gentleman’s physique but also on the harmony of the lines of the shirt and jacket. A good reason why one should think of one’s suit as a suite, not just buy/wear bits of clothing independently.
P.s: I find button down or tab collars bizarre – why (or when) did they need such anchoring?
Unrelatedly, my school uniform required detachable rounded collars for wear with our suits (with a knit tie) and 20 years on I still love the look/feel when appropriate but bloody hard to source.
Will, button-down collars just affect a more casual appearance. Without a tie, however, they keep the points from disappearing under jacket lapels. As for the tab collar, it’s the same effect as wearing a collar pin or bar. Does everything need a purpose? After all, neckties, lapels, and pocket squares are purely vain when you get down to it, but we still wear them 100 years later because they look good.
That’s a good point. Well found, I agree
Great post, Matt. Among other things, I didnt realize that Connery wore a cutaway collar in Dr. No. I think it looks better than the more extreme modern examples.
Also, some of you may have already seen this, but here is a shot of the collar that Bond will wear in SPECTRE:
Nice, conservative Bondian outfit, but the pants still look too tight. The collar is a big improvement over the tab collars from Skyfall, though.
To me the coat is problematic, too. It is, as in Skyfall, too short and too tight (and what about this odd manner of buttoning it like a suit jacket ??).
And the model may be classic in the style (Chesterfield single breasted), but not in the cut…
I miss his full-cut, classic length, belted raincoat in Casino Royale.
I agree about the collars. The tie looks a bit wider, so hopefully the lapels have gained some width as well.
I also have concerns about the fit of the pants, but I think it’s a given that the suits will be closely fitted. I’m just hoping that the jackets doesn’t pull as much as we saw in Skyfall.
I, too, miss the longer, more luxurious coats of past movies, but I could live with this one if only the trousers weren’t so horrid.
Do you think having a beard, even a fairly short one, would alter the perception of one’s face and effect how well a collar wears on someone?
It depends on the length and shape of the beard. Whilst the beard can soften the lines of an angular jaw, it also lengthens the face. Thus the point collar is not usually a good choice, whilst a cutaway collar may be too severe for the beard’s softer lines.
That’s a bit funny since I have always believed that just a classic collar is the Kent — the most conventional and simple one.
What is the name for M’s collar in the QoS photo?
Since it’s a one-piece collar, I would call it a camp collar if it were on a man’s shirt. I think women may call it a “notched collar”.
I’ve always tended to the cutaway end of the shirt collar spectrum. In the 90s narrower collars were fashionable but spread collars and Windsor collars have tended to be my choice. That said, I don’t like the extreme cutaway collars that have become fashionable recently – I don’t think they do anyone any favours.
Club/penny collars or tab collars are, it seems to me, only really collars anyone wears as for variation. I own an example of both but neither is a collar type I’d regularly wear.
It seems the terminology is the thing with collars. Charles Tyrwhitt have (slightly) different names for the variations.
Their “classic collar” is a semi-spread collar rather than a spread/semi-cutaway as I’ve called it. For everything else it’s about equivalent to what I wrote.
Fantastically interesting article, thanks Matt
As well Charles Tyrwhitt shirts there’s W.H. Taylor who also refer semi-spread as the classic. And the Spread collar is called simply the spread collar.
T.M. Lewin’s classic collar is a mid height spread collar. Charles T’s Semi cutaway is a spread collar too. They all have different definitions.
To me the classic/semi spread is perfect as I have a short neck and large head. So it’s very flattering on me. I love look of the spread collar in theory, like when you see it dressed on a body form, but like Matt says only certain shapes of the human male physique can pull this off.
Great Post Matt! Didn’t realize how much the collar height has significance.
Very educational article, Matt.
My personal preference is actually spread or a slightly cutaway collar but I’m not too picky about shape when I purchase a shirt. With the current slimfit trend, it’s already pretty hard to get a shirt with a reasonably sized collar (at a reasonable price) OTR. I find thin collars makes my rather large head look even larger.
I have a very basic sartorial question: one should always wear collar points within their collars, no matter the style, correct? Or are they optional or useless in some cases?
Collar stays should usually be worn with collars meant for them, which are any collars that don’t have anything holding the collar in place (like a button-down, tab or pin). There are exceptions, like Cary Grant’s soft point collar in North By Northwest. That collar was designed to be worn without collar stays, but the typical collar worn without stays won’t lay so neatly.
Just throwing in my two cents – I’ve had luck wearing shirts without stays in casual environments, if the collars are on the smaller side.
I agree with this. With a tie, however, stays are necessary.
Out of curiosity, as semi-spread and spread collars have come more into fashion, is there any rule of thumb about a collar’s relationship to the lapels of a jacket?
I.e., a spread or semi- seems to abut the inside edges of a jacket’s lapels, whereas a point collar (my old stand-by) usually leaves a little gap between collar and jacket. (You can see a similar effect in Craig’s tab collars in Skyfall.) Is it more about face shape, or should the angle/cut of lapels facctor into things?
The points of semi-spread collars and wider collars than that should always meet the edge of the jacket. Collar point length and lapel width have followed each other in fashion. Short collar points are popular right now since they match the narrow lapels that are popular. Likewise, Roger Moore’s long collar points in the late 70s matched his wide lapels. 2 3/4″ collar points are fairly standard for spread collars and can always reach the jacket’s lapels, and lapels should never really get narrower than that anyway. A collar smaller than that would be too small for most men’s heads. Does this make sense?
Yes, I think it does! Thank you!
So the fact, say, Craig’s collar doesn’t abut the inside edge of the jacket/lapes isn’t a factor so much as that the point length and lapel width are in proportion.
It’s interesting that the article mentions that men with necks tall enough to require two collar buttons are rare. I myself fit that description, but I tend to see a lot of men (often very thin) who could benefit from a bigger and higher collar (and of course a less skinny shirt overall) than what is fashionable right now. For all my formal shirts I use a two button classic spread collar, wich I find works best for me. With casual shirts bought OTR I can go for a softer, shorter collar, often button-down, but with a tie I find the tall spread necessary.
A wonderful posting. I have a question on Turnbull and Asser shirt collar. They have several collars and the most traditional collar is the so-called T&A collar. Does this fall into the spread collar or semi-spread collar? Their regent collar seems to belong to the spread collar category. Do you believe Sean Connery and Pierce Brosnan opted for regent collar instead of T&A collar? What about Prince Charles? He’s been wearing T&A shirts, but his collar seems neither T&A or regent…
The classic Turnbull & Asser collar is a spread collar whilst the Regent is more like a traditional cutaway collar. The Dr. No collar is similar to the Regent collar whilst Connery’s other collars are similar to the classic Turnbull & Asser collar. Pierce Brosnan’s collars in Tomorrow Never Dies and The World Is Not Enough are two different collars. The former is a semi-spread whilst the later is a spread, so neither are as wide as the Regent. Both are unique in design made just for him, though the Tomorrow Never Dies collar was based on a collar design made especially for the New York store’s bespoke manager Robert Gillotte. The collars in Die Another Day are cutaway collars shaped very similar to the Regent, but those shirts are made by Brioni.
Price Charles has his own collar called the Prince of Wales.
Love this article. I want to add a semi- spread collar to a size 36 shirt I am making for my son. GQ says that what I must use on the shirt. I do love that look and think my fashionable 31 year old son will love it too!
What is a good length from the seam at the collar stand to the collar point? I cannot seem to find a pattern that provides this. Help?! Thank you.
Email works well too. Most appreciated!
Thanks for this article. Very interesting but I think you do a little mistake on the T&A classic collar. This collar has never been wear by any James Bond from the beginning. Perhaps Turnbull & Asser made a special one for Sean Connery, but usually his collar’s shirts looks more as their regent collar.
I don’t believe I made any mistake. The collar in Dr. No looks similar to the Regent collar, but the rest of the collars are more like the Classic collar. The collar pictured at the top of this article isn’t as wide as the Regent collar. Robert Gillotte of Turnbull & Asser is sure that the collar in Diamonds Are Forever is the classic collar, which was made a little taller for the 1970s.
Does Tom Ford make shirts in a shorter length? I am only 5ft 5.5 in, and I would think that the shirt and the collar is too long if I were to buy a typical Tom Ford shirt? I have always worn shirts that sort of bunch up when I wear them, so I think that problem would be fixed if I were to wear a shirt with a shorter length and collar point length, so would Tom Ford be able to make me a shirt that flatters my body type, because I am short? I think the right proportions on a suit and a shirt would work the best for me, with the lapels of a suit being 3 inches(either notch or peak) and how what type of shirt collar should I wear with this suit if it is 3 in peak lapels, and how long should the shirt’s collar points be? Would Tom Ford be able to make a shirt like that?
If you want to get a made-to-measure shirt from Tom Ford, they can make you exactly what you need. An average collar point length around 2.75-3 inches should suit you fine. Your height has no bearing on the size collar you need.
I wear tall collar dress shirts; should I still use the four in hand knot or the half winsdor? Also, how long were the collar points on the dress shirts he wore in octopussy when discussing the Faberge egg? I plan to tell my shirt cutter this here in the Phillipines. Thank you again mr.Spaiser I’m sincerely passing on the knowledge to my newborn, seriously I really am.
You can use any knot you wish so long as the knot ends up large enough to fill the height of the collar band. Different knots end up different sizes depending on the width and thickness of the tie. Roger Moore’s collar points are around 3 1/2 inches long.
Thank you for the information
This it’s one of those votes where the lower
your result number the better dressed and discerning you are
I shun short lived trends such as cut away collars and short suits
I prefer Kent Collar punted and tall.
Thank you for those graphics, Matt. It is very useful to define the spread of collars by angle. By my rough measurements, the spread collar in your graphic has an angle of 50 degrees between the line of the placket and the collar point.
All of Harvie & Hudson’s formal shirts have exactly the same angle as the spread collar in your graphic. They call this the ‘Kent collar’, which is further evidence of your point that there is no consensus on these terms. Their shirts also have longer, more substantial points.
Harvie & Hudson claim to be the last remaining family-run business of their kind on Jermyn Street. I was talking to one of the Hudsons on the shop floor. When I mentioned that it is increasingly difficult to find a spread collar with substantial points, they reflected that as the open-collar look becomes ever more ubiquitous, mainstream brands are turning to more cutaway collars and shorter points.
Where does the so-called “neapolitan” collar fit in to all this?
I’m not sure if the effort required would be worth it but I would like to see these collar characteristics varied on the same set of faces (like in an infographic). It seems that the same collar can flatter a facial shape as it becomes more extreme in one dimension up to a certain point but, beyond that point, it starts to exaggerate rather than complement.
I notice with The Point Collar shirt worn by Lazenby, there is a strange collar roll on the right side of his collar, compared to the stiffer and straighter look of the left collar. I notice this asymmetrical detail on some dress shirts I see?
That can happen if your collar is symmetrical and your body isn’t, or if you don’t wear collar stays.