The Semi-Spread Collar: A Classic James Bond Collar

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Daniel Craig wearing a semi-spread collar from Tom Ford in Quantum of Solace

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.

Die Another Day Dinner Suit

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.

12 COMMENTS

  1. I initially detested Lazonby’s pink shirt + navy tie combination . . . Now, I’m seeing a sort of studied nonchalance about the look. In my eyes there is no comportment of those colours and no attractive clash either, but that might be the point of it. I might have gone for a very muted dark forest green tie (to whatever degree that shade of green can be ‘muted’), but . . . I concede that I may have made a mistake in doing that!

  2. Thanks Matt for covering this sartorial detail of no little importance.
    The semi-spread is indeed the best collar type that we can adopt, and whose longevity throughout the last 6 decades has been abundantly tested.
    I recently had to modify the length of my collars, as I really wanted to make sure that the tips (most of the time at least) fit properly by staying under the jackets’ lapels, and don’t ‘stick out’, a bit like in Lazenby’s example here:
    https://www.bondsuits.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/11/Navy-Herringbone-Suit.jpg
    or by leaving an unnecessary gap between the collar tips and the lapels .
    One may also question what is the correct height of a collar, and how to adjust its shape to one’s neck and facial morphology.

  3. I really love the semi spread collar. It’s the collar I go for to play it safe and it always looks best with my oval shaped face. Though I’m still experimenting with band height and collar point length (maybe 3 or 3.5″ for me), I like my collar point spread about 4″ apart. If a point collar is 3″ apart and a spread collar is 5″ apart, the semi spread once again is the perfect middle ground. I absolutely hate the extremely narrow point collars like you see in stuff like Goodfellas or the really wide spread collar that makes it look like you’re being choked.

  4. IMHO the point collar and semi-spread collars are squarely in classic style parameters and as Matt opines can suit just about anybody . that being said the extremes of ‘spread’ or super elongated point collars such as worn by past movie stars (Leslie Howard come to mind) can be viewed as pushing the boundaries. Of course it can work but should be explored cautiously, think Roger Stone ?! . What I object to with regard to spread collars is when it is used in conjunction with an obnoxiously huge Windsor knot (my perception) which contrasts the slim lines of the collar, a little like the giant butterfly bow ties seen even today which makes wearers look like clowns ! And don’t even get me started on ‘Karl Lagerfeld’ ‘s collars ! LOL.

  5. Another interesting piece of clothing that is worn by every Bond actor making it an interesting read on this blog!

  6. Very reliable information. Little details like collar designs oftentimes can be overlooked. The proper collar for an individual’s face shape can improve an attire. Does the literary Bond every cover which collar he wears? I know he unfortunately wears short sleeves but what collar do you think he wears. This topic was very interesting and informative.

    • Interesting question but I don’t recall Fleming getting into detail about Book Bond’s collars. I believe his original intent was for Bond to be a boring faceless entity who could be plugged into various adventures but little by little Fleming started to add details (many of them from his own idiosyncrasies like short sleeve shirts and how he “abhorred” shoelaces!) which the reading public latched onto and enjoyed so Fleming added more of this stuff as the series unfolded. He used to keep a file folder of ‘useless information’ tidbits of trivia etc that he would incorporate into his stories when it was time to write the next book. We don’t even know for sure if Bond wore two- or three-button suits (Matt has speculated two which was probably in step with the era) so unless a particular outfit / disguise was in the story I doubt whether Fleming was much concerned with shirt collar details.

      • One can only speculate that Bond’s collar would be inspired by the ones of his creator. The only revealing picture I found is this one:

        https://jamesbond007.se/eng/event/ian_fleming_day_2020

        Unfortunately, his four in hand knot is somehow ‘lost’ in the too wide gap, which would necessitate a half-Windsor (or a full Windsor, if it were not deemed ‘suspicious’) to fill it.
        It seems that collar stays were an item Fleming happily disposed of, revealing a propensity for less formality, in line with the short sleeves (oddly enough not frowned upon by M) or the abominable sandals with suits (not apoplexy-inducing with the same above mentioned character )

      • Yeah good points. I certainly can’t imagine Fleming – nor Book Bond by extension – having much time for collar stays. I don’t recall if cufflinks are ever mentioned in the books even when Bond is getting into his formal rigs. Even though I’m not a fan of cocktail cuffs I can see how they might appeal to Fleming / Bond so I don’t mind their inclusion in the early films. Details like Moore’s button down cocktail cuffs and Craig’s tab collar shirts would certainly be a brigade waaay too far for our man.
        As for the sandals with a suit in Nassau – I remember scowling when I first read that as a young teen decades ago then had to recalibrate my thinking that it was written in the very early sixties and the character was a child of the twenties like my dad so that gave it some context / mitigation. Along with that you just have to accept some of the Fleming weirdness like the business with pyjama coats!

      • Stan, I see nothing wrong with that tie knot with that collar. There were far worse examples of tiny four in hand knots during that time. Looks to me like he might need to tighten his necktie against the collar more than anything else. Fleming probably wouldn’t even use the half-Windsor given how decidedly un-fussy he was.

      • i swear that i’ve read a Fleming interview where he elaborates on Bond’s clothes more. i can’t find it now of course. Perhaps they met him at his office in London, and then went to lunch?

  7. ‘Wrong’ would maybe be a little far-fetched. But for someone whose novelised projection “..takes a ridiculous pleasure in what he eats and drinks”, it might seem odd to witness such a selective fussiness, and indulge in such a rather loose tie knot (not to mention the above repeated facts).
    As much as he used (or was it only ‘M’) to frown upon a full Windsor knot, a half-Windsor does not take much more time to tie, and specifically prevents this gap, which is not a pure joy to look at.
    As for sandals, given Fleming’s rather traditional extraction and upbringing, as rebellious as he may have been, it will still remain an oddity to me.

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