The Spread Collar: A Classic James Bond Shirt

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Turnbull & Asser Spread
Turnbull & Asser spread collar in From Russia with Love

One of the standard collars amongst English and Italian shirtmakers is the spread collar, and it’s the collar Bond wears more often than any other. The spread collar covers a range of widths, from the balanced semi-spread collar to the wide cutaway collar. When a collar is called a ‘spread collar’, it is usually a wide collar where the points are ‘spread’ apart and point towards the arms. They’re great with a suit and tie, with a dinner jacket and bow tie, or open, as long as the collar isn’t too wide.

Frank Foster spread collar in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service

The spread collar is a defining look of Sean Connery’s James Bond. Turnbull & Asser made a wide spread for Sean Connery in all of his Bond films, and they made a similar collar for Pierce Brosnan in The World Is Not Enough. Frank Foster made some wide spread collars for Sean Connery in Goldfinger and for George Lazenby for the wedding outfit in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service. They also made spread collars for Roger Moore in For Your Eyes Only and a wide cutaway collar for him to wear with morning dress at the Royal Ascot scene in A View to a Kill. Brioni continued with a wide-cutaway spread for Brosnan in Die Another Day. Daniel Craig wears a short spread collar with his dinner suit in Skyfall.

Tom Ford made this spread-collar evening shirt in Skyfall

Spread collars are typically recommended for men with a narrower face, as the wide collar can help balance the face. Though men are usually advised to fill a spread collar with a large Windsor-knotted tie, Bond usually makes his ties in a four-in-hand knot. Filling up the collar space with a tie knot is not a necessity but merely a matter of taste. A large tie knot needs a large collar, either in height or in width, while a large collar does not need to be filled.

Roger Moore wearing a light blue spread-collar shirt from Frank Foster in For Your Eyes Only

Apart from the obvious differences of length, height and spread width, there’s the matter of tie space. It’s the quarter-inch to half-inch—or more—space between the collar leaves where the collar meets at the neck. Bond’s spread collars almost all have tie space, with the exception of the Brioni spread collars and Roger Moore’s brown stripe, two-button-collar shirt in Live and Let Die. Even with a very wide spread, a little tie space will help the knot to stay in place. Without it the knot often slips down and reveals the collar band above it because the collar leaves will push down the knot. A collar band with tie space is usually angled so the band will not show above the knot. Tie space plays just as large a roll in how large a tie knot can be worn with a collar.

Charcoal-Serge-Suit
Brioni cutaway collar with no tie space

13 COMMENTS

  1. My favourite collar style. I’ve had Foster make all of mine in the taller, moderate spread like Moore’s and they look terrific. This style also flatters someone with a longer rather than short neck where it wouldn’t work so well.

  2. I had these shirts bespoke at T&A and I think they are superb. Not cheap though and you need to order a minimum of six.

  3. Matt, what do you think the idea tie space is for a collar such as Connery’s in the first image? Despite how obsessive the online menswear community is, tie space is something that seems to be rarely discussed.

    • Connery’s tie space is about 1/2″. Tie space is rarely discussed, and when it is people usually just say that a point collar or button-down collar should have tie space and a spread collar should not. But tie space is beneficial on any collar style. Larger knots need more tie space, but an inch or more tie space can make it look like the collar is unfastened.

  4. Matt, I thought the collars Brosnan wore in Goldeneye were pointed collars, since pointed collars are supposed to have their collar points not covered by the jacket, contrary to spread collars. Do you have a better way to recognize pointed collars, since my method seems to be wrong ?

    • Shorter spread collars like Brosnan’s aren’t going to be covered by the jacket. Brosnan’s collar points just reach the jacket, unless he turns his body. Lazenby wore point collars that were covered by his jacket because the points were long enough and the collars had a lot of tie space. If it looks like the collar can be comfortably pinned, it’s a point collar. Brosnan’s collars are a bit too wide for pinning.

  5. Thorough and well put, Matt. Turnbull & Asser and Frank Foster:- nobody does it better, as the TSWLM theme song goes. I am yet to find a blogger who can nominate a shirtmaker who poses a threat to their standing. And Matt is quite right about what tie space can add to a shirt. I raved recently about Brosnan’s blue serge DAD suit, and now I see that the lack of tie space makes the Brioni shirt look like it is sawing into Brosnan’s throat like the torture chair in The World Is Not Enough.

  6. Matt, could you define a “moderate spread” in terms of the angle in degrees of the collar ends? I find it hard to decide when a collar is point collar, regular spread, moderate spread, etc. Some say a standard straight point collar is about 60 degrees in angle. A modrate spread collar would be around 90 degrees; do you agree? Furthermore, you state that “hey’re great with a suit and tie, with a dinner jacket and bow tie, or open, as long as the collar isn’t too wide.” So you can actually wear a medium spread collar under a normal suit jacket and even without a jacket? Do you think the jacket should cover parts of the (moderate spread or point) collar?

    Thank you in advance.
    Kind regards

    • It’s difficult to define. Roughly, a point collar is less than 60 degrees, a spread collar is about 60-120 degrees, with moderate being the narrower end and wide being the opposite end, and 120 degrees or more is a cutaway collar. A collar between 60 and 90 degrees is as medium as a collar can be and works well for anything. The jacket should cover points of the collar, which has to do with both spread width and point length. This has the kind of collar Bond has worn effectively with and without a jacket.

    • The spread collar is the most common collar these days. A narrow collar is usually called a ‘point’ or ‘straight’ collar. Very wide collars are called ‘cutaway’ collars. Anything in between is a spread.

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