There’s one shirt collar that looks good on every man and never goes out of style: the semi-spread collar. The semi-spread collar is the world’s most standard collar. It’s neither a wide collar nor a narrow collar. While it lacks the traditionalism of the point collar and nattiness of the spread and cutaway collars, it’s always a reliable choice. James Bond has turned to it more often than any other collar.
The spread between the semi-spread’s collar points appropriately forms a 90-degree angle, though it can be a little more or a little less. While a collar’s spread is most often defined by the distance between the collar points, it’s not an accurate descriptor because the length of the points and the amount of tie space can affect the distance between the points but not the shape of the collar. It’s ultimately the angle of the collar that defines its shape.
The collar’s moderate spread means it’s flattering on almost everyone. While some men may still benefit from wearing a narrow point collar or a wide spread collar, the semi-spread won’t look bad on anyone.
In London’s Jermyn Street, the semi-spread collar is often called a ‘Classic Collar’, though that term is usually reserved for a narrower point collar in America. Some call this the “Kent collar”, after Prince George, Duke of Kent, though the Duke of Kent typically wore a wider spread collar. Giving collars names that don’t describe the shape of the collar is a marketing tool rather than a reliable system. The name ‘semi-spread’ describes that the points are somewhat spread apart, but not as much as a full spread collar.
The turning point from a point collar to a semi-spread collar is that the latter is too wide for a collar pin. Unlike a point collar, when worn with a jacket and tie its points should sit at or just under a jacket’s lapels without an awkward gap. It can work well with a necktie, a bow tie or open without a tie.
In typical proportions, the semi-spread collar does not make a statement. Its only statement is that the wearer is someone with reliable taste. Someone who wears it knows that they don’t need to go to extremes to look good.
However, the semi-spread collar doesn’t have to be ordinary. Some of Bond’s semi-spread collars, particularly the ones that Frank Foster made for Roger Moore, have been scaled up with a high band and long points (having a leaf that is about 2 1/8 to 2 1/4 inches high in the back with points of approximately 3 1/2 inches long) to make a statement. Such collars still have the balanced spread that a semi-spread collar has, but the higher collar with longer points provides Bond with a more powerful look as well as one that balances Moore’s neck and overall 6’1” height. A collar that sits high on the neck makes a man look taller and gives him more presence.
Pierce Brosnsn’s semi-spread collars in Tomorrow Never Dies are also made to a larger than average scale, but not to the degree that Moore’s are.
James Bond’s Semi-Spread Collars
George Lazenby introduced Bond to the semi-spread collar in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service. While most of his collars in the film are point collars, he wears two shirts—a pink shirt with his cream suit and a light blue shirt with his blazer—that have semi-spread collars. These collars are on the narrower end of the semi-spread spectrum, particularly as they have little tie space. Frank Foster made these shirts.
Roger Moore wears semi-spread collars in most of his Bond films, all made by Frank Foster. The collars vary in their proportions, starting out larger than average in Live and Let Die and growing even larger in The Man with the Golden Gun. After switching to point collars in his next two films, he again wears semi-spread collars in his 1980s films.
Moore’s collars in A View to a Kill are mostly semi-spread collars, but the collar he wears with morning dress is a wide spread or cutaway collar. The collars that he wears with his sports coats look like spread collars, but they may be the same collars he wears with his suits and dinner suits if Moore’s neck was slightly smaller in these scenes. If someone’s neck shrinks, the collar will sit lower on the neck and cause the spread to widen. Slight changes in one’s neck size can cause big changes in how the collar sits on the neck and thus how wide the spread is.
Sean Connery wears semi-spread collars from Turnbull & Asser in Never Say Never Again. He wore wider spread collars from them in his 1960s and 1970s Bond films, but wider collars were out of fashion in the 1980s. Compared to what Moore was wearing at the time, Connery’s collars have a much shorter height and look more typical for the era, though the points are slightly long to balance Connery’s height.
Timothy Dalton continues wearing semi-spread collars in The Living Daylights for a classic British look.
Pierce Brosnan brings back the semi-spread collar in GoldenEye on his shirts from Sulka. Following 1990s fashions, the collars have short points and thus appear narrower than Moore’s collars.
Turnbull & Asser returned to the EON Bond series after a 26-year gap for Tomorrow Never Dies with a semi-spread collar. In this film Pierce Brosnan wears a collar based on their ‘Prince of Wales’ collar but with a raised height. It’s not raised to the extremes of Roger Moore’s collars but it has slightly more presence than the standard collar design. This collar returns on the evening shirt in The World Is Not Enough.
In Die Another Day, Brosnan wears Turnbull & Asser’s ‘Classic T&A’ collar on his evening shirt, a unique semi-spread design where the outer edge of the leaf curves in towards the points.
Daniel Craig starts his run as James Bond wearing semi-spread collars. His Brioni shirts in Casino Royale, which he wears with a suit and tie, have a semi-spread collar. This collar sits fairly high on Craig’s neck but makes him look slightly stiff.
The Tom Ford shirts in Quantum of Solace have a similar semi-spread collar to the one in Casino Royale—known as their ‘Classic Collar’—but it sits slightly lower on his neck and makes him look more relaxed. It also has slightly longer collar points that give him more presence.
James Bond hasn’t worn the semi-spread collar since 2008. while it has not fallen out of fashion since then, Bond has since opted to wear narrower and less typical point and tab collars. However, the classic status of the semi-spread collar means that it’s likely to return to the Bond series, perhaps when Bond returns again.