White Collar and Cuffs

10
For-Your-Eyes-Only-White-Collar
Roger Moore wearing a navy bengal stripe shirt with a white collar and cuffs in For Your Eyes Only.

In the United States, the contrasting white collar and cuffs style has been all but tarnished by the 1987 film Wall Street. But it’s a classic style that has been around a very long time. It goes back to the days when collars were stiff and detachable, and men would pair white collars with a body of any colour. Now the collars come soft and attached. Some retailers call a shirt with a white collar a “Winchester” shirt—presumably named after the city in England, not the rifle—but I have not found an historical use of this term and believe it’s just a modern marketing term.

Bond wears shirts with a white collar and cuffs in For Your Eyes Only and A View to a Kill, made by Frank Foster. Though the style is best worn with double cuffs, Bond wears his with button cuffs. Likewise, a spread collar is the best collar to be in white, though point collars can work well too. White collars and cuffs are most stylishly paired with a body that includes white. Bond’s shirts have white in the form of bengal stripes, though it’s also common to see a white collar on an end-on-end shirt. Collars and cuffs typically wear out before the body of a shirt wears out, and the collar and cuffs of almost any dressier shirt can be replaced with white since it’s typically impossible to find the original cloth for replacements. And even if the original cloth is obtainable it’s not going to match a shirt that has been washed many times. Checks don’t mate so well with white collars because of the difference in formality and purpose. White collars are a rather dressy style and are excellent for morning dress. For everyday wear they work best with a suit or a dressier blazer but are best avoided wearing with other sports coats and without a coat or tie. And because of their daywear tradition they are best worn during the day.

A-View-to-a-Kill-White-Collar
Roger Moore wearing a pink bengal stripe shirt with a white collar and cuffs in A View to a Kill.

Though Bond only wears shirts with a white collar and cuffs in two films, Roger Moore wears them in his personal life, as well as in some earlier films and television, like in Street People and The Persuaders. In The Man Who Haunted Himself he wears a plain white detachable collar with a white self-stripe shirt. Pierce Brosnan occasionally wears shirts with a white collar—but not white cuffs—in Remington Steele, mostly with suits but occasionally with blazers.

Remington-Steele-White-Collar
Pierce Brosnan wearing a blue (probably end-on-end) shirt with a pinned white collar in the 1982 episode of Remington Steele titled “You’re Steele the One for Me”.

10 COMMENTS

  1. Good post, Matt. Nails the misconception that Bond wore these in the 1980’s to follow a trend (just like the other safari jacket/1970’s misconception). I like these style shirts and they look very classy with the right type of suit, or as you say, jacket. However, while the “FYEO” suit and tie are definitely charcoal grey the shirt always looked like some shade of dark navy blue to me?

    • Completely agree, David. I have one shirt with a white collar and a navy bengal stripe. It works well and I invariably get compliments on it. I don’t care for teh AVTK look, but the FYEO is near-perfect for the setting.

  2. I own a shirt like this and wear it occasionally. It’s not a bad look and I anticipate it making a comeback in the next couple of years given the direction in which current fashion trends appear to be moving (wider ties, wider lapels, double breasted suits, etc.).

    Although I can’t imagine Daniel Craig’s Bond in one of these, I wouldn’t have predicted tab collars either….

  3. I like white collars more than white cuffs, which just feel a bit fussy to me. A light blue bengal stripe with white collar but non-white button cuffs is one of my goto Summer shirts.

  4. Matt is quite right. Moderation is the key with these shirts. Unlike some I’ve seen, these shirts on Moore don’t try to combat the tie or suit. Without due care, the wearer can look more like Bozo than Bond. That pinned collar on Pierce Brosnan is a sharp look, which would also carry over well to Bond. It works best when the collar stiffening is removed, and holes are punched into the collar to take the pin. Maybe I should get my glasses checked – I had no idea Bond ever wore this type of shirt!

  5. I wasn’t a fan of Remington Steele during the period it originally was broadcasted. However, any time I get a chance to catch reairs on one of the nostaligic TV stations, I just have to watch and it’s ALWAYS because of Pierce Brosnan. My goodness, he must have been the most handsome man during the 80s. I just love to see him in this show because of his hair, suits, smile, looks. He so fn hot!

  6. “presumably named after the city in England, not the rifle”

    Named after the man who owned the shirt company who produced them in mid 1800s, who then used the profits to start his eponymous rifle company!

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