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