Should a Shirt Collar Have Tie Space?

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Tie space not only divides the left and right side of a shirt’s collar, it also splits menswear devotees for those who notice it. It’s otherwise one of the most overlooked aspects of a collar’s shape. Tie space is the horizontal spread at the front of a collar between where the collar leaves meet at the top of the collar band. Not all collars have tie space, and some have ‘negative tie space’, where the right side of the collar overlaps the left side at the top.

A Frank Foster collar with about 3/8-inch tie space, highlighted in cyan

Tie space helps the tie look more integrated into the collar and appear as if the collar is growing out of the tie, if the tie is pushed up to the very top of the collar. Some may like how the tie breaks up the left and right side of the collar, while others prefer a collar without tie space that looks unbroken.

There are no rules as to what collars should or should not have tie space. Stiff or soft, attached or detachable, narrow or wide spread; any turn-down collar can have a wide tie space or no tie space at all. The narrower a collar’s angle is, the more purpose tie space has. Without tie space, a wider spread collar still provides ample space for a tie knot while a narrow point collar may hide the tie’s knot.

Sean Connery wearing a spread collar from Turnbull & Asser in Dr. No with tie space

With any collar narrower than an extreme cutaway collar, tie space gives the tie room to sit at the top of the collar band and helps the tie protrude attractively out from the neck. A collar without tie space may push the knot down from the top of the collar, revealing part of the collar band above the collar. The knot may also be forced downward and look limp.

Roger Moore wearings a Frank Foster collar with tie space in Live and Let Die

English collars almost always have tie space, and they frequently have a lot of it. American button-down shirts usually have tie space, but other American collars often do not. French and Italian collars commonly are made without tie space, but many examples from those countries also have tie space. Today, tie space tends to look more traditional while no tie space can look more modern or fashion forward, but a lack of tie space is an older design.

Tie space is more about framing the tie than it is about framing the face. Some people believe that tie space can make the neck look wider, which may or may not be desirable. But I think the effect is negligible.

Tie space also affects how far apart collar points sit. This likewise has little impact on the face because the angle of a collar spread matters more than the distance between the points. Tie space can allow for more space between collar points without a wider collar angle. For examples, the distance between the points of a semi-spread collar with tie space may be the same as the distance between the points of a slightly wider spread collar that lacks tie space. For a man who looks better in a point collar, tie space can attractively spread the points apart so they neatly tuck under the jacket’s lapels. This is a notable feature of the point collars that George Lazenby wears in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service and Daniel Craig wears on his dress shirt in Casino Royale.

Two shirts from Turnbull & Asser. Left: the Casino Royale dress shirt with large tie space. Right: a modern interpretation of the Dr. No shirt, with about 3/8″ of tie space

Tie space can vary from as little as 1/8 inch to as much as 1 inch. Most tie space is 1/4 to 3/8 inch. Most of James Bond’s collars have tie space. Out of all of Bond’s shirts, Frank Foster’s collars have the most tie space. All of Bond’s Turnbull & Asser shirts have tie space, and Daniel Craig’s evening shirt in Casino Royale has an especially large amount of tie space. Pierce Brosnan’s Sulka shirts in GoldenEye mostly have a little tie space. All of Daniel Craig’s Tom Ford shirts have tie space.

A Tom Ford shirt in Spectre with tie space

A few of James Bond’s shirts have little or no tie space. Roger Moore’s brown striped shirt with a two-button collar in Live and Let Die has no tie space. The cutaway-collar shirts from Brioni in Die Another Day have very little or no tie space. Brioni typically makes their collars without tie space, but the Brioni shirts Casino Royale have tie space.

Charcoal Pinstripe Suit
Pierce Brosnan’s Brioni cutaway collar in Die Another Day has little or no tie space

Though most of the shirts in GoldenEye have about 1/4 inch of tie space, the shirt that Brosnan wears when he arrives in St. Petersburg has no tie space in a few shots. If the shirt is from Sulka like most of the shirts in the film, it’s possible that Brosnan’s neck had shrunk and the collar button needed to be moved to make the collar smaller. It’s possible that the collar was loose and the tie was tightened to shrink the tie space. It’s also possible that Brioni made this shirt instead, and they had made some shirts without tie space for Brosnan to wear in promotional photographs.

The tie space has disappeared from Pierce Brosnan’s shirt in GoldenEye

There are a few occasions when Bond’s collar buttons were probably moved because his neck increased or decreased in size since the shirts were made. In Diamonds Are Forever, it’s clear that Sean Connery’s weight was fluctuating. In some scenes, it appears as if the collar button on his Turnbull & Asser shirt was moved to make the collar larger. This results in both more tie space and a wider spread angle.

Sean Connery’s collar in Diamonds Are Forever has a large amount of tie space, which may have been the result of moving the collar button to enlarge the collar.

In A View to a Kill, Roger Moore had lost some weight compared to his previous few films. In the M’s office scene, it appears as though the collar button on his Frank Foster shirt was moved to shrink the collar, resulting in no tie space and a narrower collar angle.

Roger Moore’s Frank Foster collar in A View to a Kill lacks its usual tie space, which suggests the collar button may have been moved to make his collar smaller.

Collars may pivot when they have one button, so the tie space on a specific collar may vary depending on how tight or loose the collar is, or how tightly the tie is worn. A looser collar will rotate inwards and consequently have less tie space compared to the same collar that fits more snugly. On a two-button collar, the shape of the collar is locked so that it will always have the same amount of tie space. The two-button collar in Live and Let Die is able to lock in a perfect lack of tie space.

Roger Moore’s two-button collar from an unknown maker in Live and Let Die has no tie space.

A large amount of tie space demands a larger tie knot. This is why George Lazenby can wear a chunky half-Windsor knot with his point collars on his Frank Foster shirts in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service. While a point collar with less tie space necessitates a smaller tie knot, Lazenby’s tie space in this case provides room for a wider knot. It is more important to fill a wide tie space with a large tie knot than it is to fill a wide spread angle with a large tie knot.

George Lazenby wearing a Frank Foster collar in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service with a significant amount of tie space

When a collar has tie space, it is important that the band is shaped well at front so it does not show above the tie. When a collar band is 1 inch tall or higher, if its top line continues straight across the tie space, it is more likely to show above the tie. Instead, the collar band may be curved down, angled down or scooped down from where the leaf ends to the end of the collar band. Sean Connery’s Turnbull & Asser shirts have a curved band. Modern Turnbull & Asser shirts, like Daniel Craig’s dress shirt in Casino Royale, have an angled band. Roger Moore’s Frank Foster shirts often have a scooped front band, which is particularly effective at lowering a higher collar band below a tie know.

The collar band on Roger Moore’s Frank Foster shirt in The Man with the Golden Gun scoops down at the front so it doesn’t show when he wears a tie.

Tie space is ultimately a matter of taste. James Bond’s taste generally favours tie space, no matter the collar type.

Do you like or dislike tie space? Share your opinion below.

15 COMMENTS

  1. To be honest I’ve never stopped to consider the tie space on a collar, but I learn stuff in every post here! Having read this, I agree that it’s essential to how the tie integrates with the collar and shirt. Unless you’ve got a pretty wide spread in the collar or you’re tying a fairly narrow half-windsor knot, you’re going to need a bit of space so the knot isn’t overshadowed by the collar. Ideally the knot is kinda the star of the show here, with the collar framing it and hiding the sides of the knot.

    It’s almost like it creates the illusion that the tie springs forth spontaneously from the collar of the shirt when the collar frames the knot with the right proportions. I think that adds a bit of flair, without going so far as the knot swelling up over a collar bar 80’s nonsense.

  2. I’m solidly in the “the more tie space the better” camp. My shirt tastes have been very much honed by admiring Moore’s Bond collars, with their tall and strong look, balanced with strong ties and knots. You can’t get that look without tie space.
    That said, I recently saw a picture of you wearing your Mason and Sons pink shirt end-on-end shirt on Instagram, Matt, (cream linen suit, navy tie, very Lazenby) and I was taken by it and by how little tie space there was. I couldn’t deny that there was something striking and rakish about it. I still don’t think they’re for me, but I can appreciate that there’s value in that look.

    • Wearing that Mason & Sons shirt without tie space the day after wearing a Budd collar with a lot of tie space was something that inspired me to write this blog. I wanted to figure out why I prefer the tie space so much more.

  3. What about shirts worn without ties, does the tie space make any difference then?

    I must say I’d never even considered tie space, so thank you for this unexpected insight!

    • Without a tie, tie space makes little difference. However, if you’re looking for a certain collar angle and you want the points to rest on your body a certain way, collar space can help achieve that.

  4. I couldn’t agree more, Mr. Spaiser? Is the range of a 1/4 of an inch to 1/2 an inch of tie space the sweet spot?

    Based on those pictures and those of yourself, I would think yes. Please enlighten me? Thank you. :)

  5. Interesting read Matt. Definitely prefer a little tie space myself, I find that for me it just makes everything look more neat and balanced with spread or semi spread collars which is what I wear.

  6. I never realized how big collar points the Casino Royale dinner shirt collar had, yet despite Craig’s rather chiseled face it looks terrific on him, paired with the bowtie, framing his face and not overwhelming his neck. Great job, T&A !

  7. I’ve come to realize I really like a good amount of tie space. I find it frames the tie knot better and it makes it much easier for the tie knot to sit well. As well, as a bit of vanity and individuality, with Italian-inspired tailoring having taken over my profession and people wearing small collars, a larger English style collar with a good amount of tie space makes one stand out in an understated and elegant way.

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