The Difference Between Bond’s British and Italian Cutaway Collars

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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.

(Tóquio – Japão, 23/10/2019) Reunião Bilateral com o Príncipe Charles. Foto: José Dias/PR

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.

Charcoal Pinstripe Suit

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.

18 COMMENTS

  1. I’m a fan of cutaway collars. I have a neck that is both large (17.5″ or 44/44.5 cm) and long, so a larger, Italian style cutaway collar looks balanced on me. I can do an English style one, but long point collars and the current fashion for undersized spread collars both tend to leave my head looking, as Matt once said, like a balloon on a string.

  2. It was for the best Brosnan couldn’t do a fifth film – if his collar continued their widening progression he would’ve worn an extreme cutaway in his final outing LOL.

    >> best defined as a collar where the points are angled to the sides — more towards the shoulders rather than towards the chest.

    I’d never heard this before, but makes a lot of sense in classifying some of the collars. I guess that means a collar with a perfect 45 deg angle spread (from center line) would be straddling the border of cutaway vs. standard spread?

  3. Even though I tend to be an Anglophile in my sartorial tastes, I must admit that Brosnan’s spread collars have more heft and presence than Connery’s, and they go together better with the more substantial ties Brosnan wore (as opposed to Connery’s skinny ties).

  4. Excellent article, excellent topic ! Thank you.

    -. « Brosnan’s collar, however, is roughly the same height as Connery’s collars and has only slightly longer points. » Could you be more specific about the measurements please, even a guess ?

    -I thought the difference between Brosnan’s non fused T&A shirts and fused Brioni shirts was very subtle. There’s a big difference however in term of look and lightness between Connery’s shirts and any of Brosnan’s shirts. (Not sure about the Sulka though) Could it be that the Stay Flex from T&A is to account for it ? Giving the shirts a firm look that is very similar to the Brioni shirts.
    I have a RTW T&A shirt and I asked a shirtmaker to take out the Stay Flex in it, founding it uncomfortable. The collar became very similar to Connery’s.

    -How about a future article on how English and Italian tailors/high end brand cut their gorge and shape their lapels differently ?! It could compliment this one very well !

    • – The leaves are about 4.75 cm high in back, the bands are about 3 cm in front. Connery’s points are about 7.5 cm long, while Brosnan’s might be 8 to 8.5 cm long.
      – The stayflex in Brosnan’s T&A collars definitely gives it some of the fused look. Connery’s collars don’t have that, and they have a more old-fashioned look as a result.
      – I will look into the lapel differences. They do have a lot of differences!

  5. Incredible information.

    While not a regular wearer of all that is so lavishingly discussed here, I cannot stop coming back for further education and enlightenment.

    All the best.

  6. If I understand correctly, Bond’s Italian tailoring has mainly been Northern Italian (Roman, Milanese) where the shoulders are very strong and collars fairly stiffly fused, even more so than British tailoring which is usually associated with structure.

    It seems the current online menswear community associates Italian tailoring with Southern/Neapolitan makers. I know Neapolitan jackets are much lighter in terms of padding and canvas then British or Roman ones. What about the shirt collars? Are their interlinings also lighter?

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