A cutaway collar is a wide spread collar, and sometimes a very wide spread collar. There’s some difference in opinion in how wide a collar should be to be called a cutaway collar, but it may be best defined as a collar where the points are angled to the sides — more towards the shoulders rather than towards the chest.
The cutaway collar is either considered a classic English style or a modern Italian style of collar, and the more extreme cutaway collars are a trend of the last decade. Bond-villain actor Mads Mikkelsen can be spotted wearing extreme cutaway collars in his 2013 series Hannibal. The collar looks best on someone with a narrower face, as the wide collar can visually widen a wider face.
The British Cutaway Collar
James Bond wears less extreme versions of the cutaway collar in a number of films, starting with the first film Dr. No. This is the classic British cutaway or wide spread collar, though it was a slightly rakish style in Britain when Bond first wore it in 1962.
The influential Duke of Windsor had already established such wide spread collars in the postwar era, and Bond’s collars in Dr. No continues with wide collars in the same English tradition. Hawes & Curtis made the Duke of Windsor’s wide collars to accommodate his large tie knots, which were not Windsor knots but instead large four-in-hand knots due to the ties having thick linings.
Today, Prince Charles is an avid proponent of the British cutaway collar, and his shirts are made by Turnbull & Asser. Though it was originally designed to suit the Duke of Windsor’s larger tie knots, Prince Charles wears his ties with small knots. As he and Sean Connery show, there’s no need to fill the wide collar with a large tie knot.
The British cutaway collar is customarily made with a sewn interfacing, which is usually medium-soft to medium-firm. It often has a gentle roll, except for the starched detachable kind that is traditionally worn with morning dress. Despite the spread width being able to fit a tie-knot of practically any size, it has tie space like any other collar. The collar’s wide spread makes the neck look shorter than a collar with more forward points because it makes the collar look lower.
Sean Connery’s shirt collars in most of his 1960s Bond films are British cutaway collars that very similar to Prince Charles’ collars, and most of Connery’s are also made by Turnbull & Asser. Connery’s collar is most similar to their Regent collar, usually scaled up about 1/8 inch. He wears shirts with this collar with his suits, blazers and dinner jackets. The collar is particularly flattering to Connery’s chiselled face, and it balances his large stature well too.
Though the cutaway collar is generally considered a more formal collar, in You Only Live Twice Sean Connery wears a pink linen cutaway-collar shirt in a casual manner with the collar open and without a tie. He flattens the collar against his collarbone to make it look like a camp collar. Though this is an unorthodox way to wear a cutaway collar, it sits neatly against his chest and shoulders and still frames the face nicely.
The cutaway collar is also slightly unconventional to wear with dinner jackets, as Connery does in all of his Bond films. They harmonise particularly well with his narrow batwing bow ties. However, in Diamonds Are Forever because almost half the bow tie sits below the collar rather than over it, it frames the bow tie in an awkward way. Wearing a cutaway collar for black tie is not against the rules and more of a matter of personal taste. Semi-spread and point collars are more common evening dress shirt collars.
The British cutaway collar returns in A View to a Kill in a traditional setting for it: morning dress. Roger Moore wears a Frank Foster shirt with a cutaway collar with his grey morning suit. This collar has longer points than Connery’s collars have and sits higher at the back of the neck than Connery’s collars do. But because it sits low in front, the tie’s small four-in-hand knot looks elegant in a Prince Charles manner. A stiffer, but non-fused, interfacing gives this collar a more formal look than Connery’s collars have and makes it a more appropriate collar for morning dress.
The Italian Cutaway Collar
In Die Another Day, Pierce Brosnan revives the cutaway collar for Bond via his day shirts from Brioni. This collar has a different look than Bond’s British cutaway collars due to a wider spread, less tie space and a fused interfacing. This is the widest collar that Bond wears in the series.
While tie space can provide the tie knot a comfortable place to sit in a narrower collar and allow it to arch away from the collar, tie space is not necessary on a cutaway collar. Many men prefer not to have any tie space in a cutaway collar, though a little is often provided so the collar leaves don’t end up overlapping each other. Brosnan’s Brioni collar has less than 1 cm of tie space, less than Bond’s English cutaway collars.
Italian cutaway collars are often larger-scaled than British cutaway collars, with longer points and a higher band. Brosnan’s collar, however, is roughly the same height as Connery’s collars and has only slightly longer points.
The fusing in Brosnan’s Italian collar gives it a much different character than Connery’s collars have. Overall it looks firmer and is thus more formal, though in practice both are just as appropriate to wear with a suit. It curves around the tie knot in a different way; while Connery’s collar rolls in a relaxed manner, Brosnan’s collar looks more deliberately shaped. When wearing the collar open without a tie, the fused Italian collar stands up stronger.
The differences in the fused interfacing versus sewn interfacing have similar effects no matter the collar shape, but it is interesting to see how they perform differently with the cutaway collar.