Q’s History Through Ties

Desmond Llewelyn says in the Licence to Kill DVD commentary, “I wear a different tie every time, and I have sort of the history of Q worked out.” Llewelyn brought his own personal history and affiliations—including military, college and sports club—to the character of Q, also known as Major Boothroyd. Q actually does not wear a different tie every time, though his numerous regimental and club ties subtly give the character a more specific personal background than even James Bond has.

I have not been able to identify all the ties. Please comment below if you know what the unidentified ties represent and the article will be appended. You can click on the images to see them larger.

From Russia with Love


The first time we see Desmond Llewelyn’s Q he is wearing a Brigade of Guards tie with his Prince of Wales suit. The Brigade of Guards tie has stripes in maroon and dark blue.



In the lab Q wears a Order Radleian Golf Club tie from Radley College with his brown tweed suit, which Llewelyn attended. The tie has red stripe with a narrower white stripe spaced below it.

On Her Majesty’s Secret Service


UNIDENTIFIED TIE #1: In the opening scene in M’s office, Q wears a brown tie with rose and purple stripes. We get a much better look at this tie in Diamonds Are Forever.


Q wears a light teal-grey textured tie at James Bond’s wedding. It is similar to Bond’s own tie.

Diamonds Are Forever


Q wears an Order Radleian Golf Club tie in his lab, which he previously wears in Goldfinger.


UNIDENTIFIED TIE #1: The brown tie with rose and purple stripes returns from the previous film, and we get a better look at it here. Q wears it in both the scene where Bond poses as Burt Saxby on the phone and at the casino.

The Man with the Golden Gun


Q wears the Order Radleian Boat Club (Mariners) tie from Radley College when Bond meets him in the lab to examine the gold bullet and later in the second scene on the RMS Queen Elizabeth. The tie is black with a red stripe and thin white stripes spaced above and below the red stripe.


UNIDENTIFIED TIE #2: In the first scene on the RMS Queen Elizabeth, Q wears a black tie with widely spaced pink stripes.

The Spy Who Loved Me


The Brigade of Guards tie that Q first wears in From Russia with Love returns during Bond’s briefing and again at the end of the film.


UNIDENTIFIED TIE #3: In Egypt and Sardinia, Q wears a red striped tie with white and black stripes. The stripes are in the reverse direction.



The Order Radleian Golf Club from Goldfinger and Diamonds Are Forever returns for the third and final time in the M’s office scene in Moonraker.


At the South American headquarters, Q wears a dark blue tie with a yellow stripe pattern. The stripes are in groups of three, with the middle stripe being narrower than the other two. Charles Day identified it as the 1st and 3rd Trinity College Boat Club Tie.


UNIDENTIFIED TIE #5: At the end of Moonraker, Q wears a tie with wide pink and black stripes. We get another look at this tie in Licence to Kill.

For Your Eyes Only


UNIDENTIFIED TIE #6: In his lab, Q wears a navy or black tie with a triple stripe pattern in white, red and pink. The order of the three stripes reverses each repeat.


The Order Radleian Boat Club from The Man with the Golden Gun returns in the final scene.



UNIDENTIFIED TIE #7: At the lab, Q wears a Navy tie with a white double-stripe pattern. Between each double-stripe is a white symbol.


Q yet again wears the Brigade of Guards tie when piloting the hot air balloon

A View to a Kill

14 Q A View-to-a-KIll-Khaki-Knitted-Tie

Q wears a khaki knitted tie with morning dress, possibly to signify service in the Royal Artillery. RA officers wear a khaki knitted tie as part of their service dress. Otherwise, a casual knitted tie looks out of place with formal morning dress.


At the end of A View to a Kill, Q wears his trusty Brigade of Guards tie.

The Living Daylights


When he helps Koskov escape, Q once again wears a Brigade of Guards tie.


In his lab with his three-piece Glen Urquhart check suit, Q wears a Newport Rugby Football Club. The tie is black with pairs of amber stripes, after the Newport RFC’s nickname, the “Black & Ambers”. The tie also has a motif of silver Prince of Wales’s feathers badges. The Prince of Wales’s feathers is a symbol of Wales that consists of three ostrich feathers emerging from a coronet. The tie also has a motif of red and green roses. Llewelyn played rugby for the club.

Licence to Kill


Q is first seen in Bond’s hotel room wearing his Brigade of Guards tie.


He wears a black tie as part of a chauffeur disguise.


In one of Q’s scenes in Bond’s hotel room he wears a Guards Armoured Division tie. This navy tie has a motif of a white “ever open eye” inside the red outline of a shield. Llewellyn’s character in the 1950 Terence Young-directed film They Were Not Divided served in the Guards Armoured Division.


UNIDENTIFIED TIE #8: Whilst assisting Bond on a boat, Q wears a navy tie with red, grey/grey-blue and white stripes. The stripes are in the reverse direction.


UNIDENTIFIED TIE #5: The tie with wide black and pink stripes from the end of Moonraker returns.



GoldenEye features the seventh and final appearance—as well as the fifth consecutive appearance—of Q’s Brigade of Guards tie.

Tomorrow Never Dies


As part of his disguise as an Avis car rental salesman “Quentin Quigley”, Q wears a black tie with printed red hexagon-like shapes and white lines. This tie is likely just part of the disguise and not relevant to Q’s background

The World Is Not Enough


UNIDENTIFIED TIE #9: When working on the Q boat, Q wears a navy tie with an unknown red motif.


UNIDENTIFIED TIE #9: In his Scottish castle lab, Q wears a navy tie with a large yellow motif.


In publicity stills for GoldenEye and The World Is Not Enough, Q wears a Royal Welch Fusiliers tie. It is a brighter red and blue than the Brigade of Guards tie, and the red stripes are twice as wide as the blue stripes. Llewelyn served in the Royal Welch Fusiliers during the Second World War.

Can anyone help identify the ten unidentified ties? Llewelyn mentioned a two ties in the Licence to Kill DVD commentary that are likely the ties that can’t be identified. One is for Trinity College of Cambridge, which Llewelyn attended. The other is for Malpas Cricket Club (MCC), for whom Llewelyn played cricket.

Vijay’s Double-Breasted Navy Blazer


Easily one of the most likeable characters of the Bond series, Octopussy‘s Vijay, played by tennis player Vijay Amritraj, is a British agent undercover at Kamal Khan’s sports club as a tennis pro. He dresses appropriately for a man at a country club in a navy worsted double-breasted blazer, beige trousers and a day cravat.

Notice the tennis racquets on the blazer's button

Notice the tennis rackets on the blazer’s buttons

Vijay’s blazer has six buttons in the traditional configuration of two to button. The buttons have a low stance. The shanked buttons are brass, each engraved with a pair of tennis rackets fitting for the character. The blazer is likely English ready-to-wear, cut with straight shoulders, roped sleeveheads, a lean chest and a suppressed waist. It has long double vents, three buttons on the cuffs and flapped pockets.

The beige wool flannel trousers are cut with a straight leg and likely a flat front. Vijay’s white poplin shirt has a point collar, rounded single-button cuffs and a placket stitched 3/8″ from the edge. The placket identifies this as an English shirt. Under the shirt, Vijay wears a textured silk day cravat in grey with 1/4″ red stripes widely spaced.


Vijay’s shoes are black leather horse-bit slips, which Roger Moore wears in his 1970s Bond films but not in Octopussy. The stunt driver of the Tuk Tuk taxi, however, wears light brown trainers that fasten with two velcro straps.

Strangways: A 1950s Silk Suit


Kingston-based British agent John Strangways, played by Timothy Moxon, is talked about far more than he is seen. He appears in the opening scene of Dr. No and is soon killed. His death brings James Bond to Jamaica and is the reason for Bond’s first cinematic mission. From the looks of his suit, it would appear that Strangways hadn’t returned to England for quite some time to update his wardrobe. His suit has a full cut dating it to the 1950s.


Strangways’ suit is made of silk and is the natural silk colour, which is a light beige. The jacket has a full cut with drape in the chest and a nipped waist. The shoulders are soft and natural, and in following the drape cut they are slightly extended. The jacket has two buttons on the front with a medium stance. The lapels are slightly on the narrow side, and they have a low buttonhole. The welt breast pocket has a steep slant and is placed low on the chest. The hip pockets are difficult to see, but I believe they may be open patch pockets. There are three buttons on the cuffs and no vents. The suit trousers have forward pleats—likely two on each side—and very full, tapered legs with plain hems.


With the suit Strangways wears a white shirt with a short spread collar and button cuffs. His tie is deep red with a subtle tonal pattern and is tied in a four-in-hand knot. It has a crest or some decoration embroidered on the top, though I can’t tell what it is. He also wears a white linen handkerchief stuffed into his breast pocket.

Strangways’ shoes are perhaps the most adventurous part of his outfit. They’re casual two-eyelet desert boots in tan suede with crepe soles. Though they are less formal than the rather informal suit, they fit the relaxed country club setting.


Tiger Tanaka’s Grey Suits


M’s Japanese counterpart in You Only Live Twice, Tiger Tanaka, dresses more like James Bond than M. Tanaka, played by Tetsuro Tamba, likely wears Japanese-tailored suits in a style that appear to be inspired by what Sean Connery wears as James Bond. It is also possible that the suits are English-tailored. Tanaka wears a charcoal grey lightweight wool two-piece suit when he first meets Bond, and later he wears light grey lightweight pick-and-pick wool suit.


Like Bond’s suit jackets, Tanaka’s suit jackets have two buttons with a low stance, a full chest, suppressed waist and narrow lapels. Like many of Bond’s suit jackets in other films, Tanaka’s jackets have straight, jetted hip pockets. Both the charcoal grey and light grey suit jackets have three buttons on the cuffs. The charcoal grey jacket has a single vent whilst the light grey jacket has no vents.

Tanaka’s suit jackets differs from Bond’s primarily in the shoulders. Whilst Bond’s jackets have soft shoulders, Tanaka’s jackets have extended, straight shoulders to give him the look of a man in power. The jackets’ shoulders, however, are too conspicuously built out. Building up the shoulders can indeed make a man look more powerful, but it must be done in moderation. The jackets look big on Tanaka, and indeed they have the intention to make him look bigger, but they still have mostly a neat fit. There is excess drape in the back, but it was likely accepted due to the desire for a full cut.


Tanaka’s suit trousers have pleats like Bond’s suit trousers have, but Tanaka’s trousers have a single reverse pleat instead of double reverse pleats. The waistband has an extension with a hook and eye closure. There are likely adjustable tabs at the sides since Tanaka needs neither a belt nor braces. Compared to Connery’s more traditional tapered legs with turn-ups, Tanaka’s suit trousers have more fashionable straight legs and plain hems.

With both suits Tanaka wears a white shirt with a spread collar and double cuffs. The ties that Tanaka wears with each suit are printed and held against the shirt with a silver tie bar. With the charcoal grey suit, the tie is a navy and burgundy print, with the two colours fading into each other. With the light grey suit, the tie is a light grey geometric print. Tanaka knots his ties with a windsor or half windsor knot. Tanaka also wears black slip-on shoes and a white folded linen handkerchief in his breast pockets, an item Bond stopped wears a few years earlier.


The Psychologist’s Houndstooth Check Suit


Dr. Hall, the psychologist in Skyfall played by Nicholas Woodeson, is one of the best-dressed men in the film. Woodson wears glasses and facial hair as Dr. Hall to give him a more psychologist-like look, and in turn his bald head, facial hair and thick, arched eyebrows make him resemble an older Sean Connery. That may or may not have been intentional.


Dr. Hall’s three-piece suit is a black and white houndstooth check in a lightweight flannel wool. It’s a country pattern in city colours, making it appropriate for Dr. Hall’s more relaxed profession but not out of place in London. The literary Bond chose to wear his black and white houndstooth suit—most likely a two-piece—in the country, where it is equally appropriate.

The button two suit jacket has wide and straight shoulders, slightly narrow notched lapels, straight flapped pockets, double vents and four buttons on the cuffs. The waistcoat has either five or six buttons. The trousers have a trim leg, but they are hardly seen. The suit’s buttons and buttonholes are both black.

The poplin shirt is white with a blue and black grid check, which slightly clashes with the suit’s check because of a similar scale. The shirt’s texture is much smoother than the suit’s texture, and the pattern is far less intense than the suit’s pattern, so the shirt still works with the suit. The shirt has a moderate spread collar, single button cuffs and a front placket. Dr. Hall’s navy tie has white and purple polka dots, and he ties it in a four-in-hand knot.


Bill Tanner: Double-Breasted Charcoal Flannel Suit


Though Bernard Lee’s M generally wasn’t a fan of double-breasted suits—but he wears one in Dr. No—his chief of staff Bill Tanner prefers them. James Villiers plays Tanner in For Your Eyes Only to take M’s place for the one film whilst M is on leave, as a result of Bernard Lee’s death. Tanner wears two double-breasted suits of the same style in For Your Eyes Only: a charcoal rope stripe suit, which was already covered here two years ago, and a charcoal flannel suit. The charcoal flannel suit and the rest of the outfit have a very conservative approach. The suit is most likely made by an English tailor.


The jacket has six buttons with two to button, but Tanner fastens only the bottom button in the manner attributed to Prince George, Duke of Kent. The middle row of buttons is made to fasten as well as the bottom row that Tanner fastens. Though the button stance is slightly lower than what is common today for English tailors, it’s only about an inch lower. A higher button stance, however, is better if the wearer chooses to only fasten the bottom button. The jacket has a classic British military cut with straight, padded shoulders with roped sleeveheads, similar to what Dege & Skinner or Gieves & Hawkes make. The jacket has a clean chest made fuller by leaving the middle row of buttons open, a gently shaped waist and a flared skirt. It is detailed with flapped pockets, deep double vents and three buttons on the cuffs. Neither lapel has a buttonhole.


Tanner wears two different shirts and ties with this suit. The first shirt is medium blue end-on-end with white stitching to bring out the white in the shirt’s weave. The shirt has a spread collar, placket and double cuffs with the link holes placed close to the fold. The collar, cuffs and placket are stitched 1/4 inch from the edge. Tanner wears a solid navy tie without a discernible weave, tied in a four-in-hand knot. The colours of this outfit recall a common combination that Sean Connery’s James Bond often wears with his charcoal flannel suits. Tanner also wears a navy and white striped silk pocket square with a thick navy border, which is stuffed casually, but elegantly, into his suit jacket’s breast pocket. The navy in the pocket square picks up the navy in the tie whilst the white stripes bring out the white in the end-on-end shirt.


The second outfit is not as nice as the first. The shirt is a complicated shadow stripe pattern of grey and maybe other colours on a cream background. The shirt’s warm tone does not flatter Tanner’s winter complexion. It has a moderate spread collar and sleeves too short to be seen. The tie is solid burgundy, likely repp, and tied in a four-in-hand knot. He does not wear a pocket square with this outfit.

Charles Robinson: A Navy Three-Piece Suit with Red Stripes


Colin Salmon plays M’s aide and Deputy Chief of Staff Charles Robinson in Tomorrow Never Dies, The World Is Not Enough and Die Another Day, but it’s not until his third and last Bond film that he is dressed almost to a level of elegance equal to James Bond’s. That is not to say that he is dressed like Bond. Robinson is dressed in Die Another Day in a much flashier manner in a navy three-piece suit with red chalk stripes. The suit is most likely from an English brand, judging both by the jacket’s cut and the presence of a ticket pocket.

The button two suit jacket has padded shoulders with a slight pagoda effect that is emphasised by roped sleeveheads. The jacket has a clean chest and a gently suppressed waist. The pockets are straight with a ticket pocket. The waistcoat has five buttons down the front, and Robinson leaves the bottom button open. The waistcoat, however, is too long and reaches far below the waist. The length is a common problem with ready-to-wear waistcoats. Waistcoats are made too long to make up for people wearing their trousers too low, but waistcoats weren’t originally designed to be so long and thus are unable to fit the body well below the waist. The waistcoat’s buttons are also too far apart. Robinson’s suit trousers have a straight leg and probably a flat front. Apart from the waistcoat, the suit fits very well. The waistcoat gives this suit away as ready-to-wear.


Robinson’s pink poplin shirt appears to be from Turnbull & Asser. The shape of the collar—mostly the inward curve of the outer edge—matches the shape of the Classic Turnbull & Asser collar and the double cuffs have the link holes very close to the fold, just as Turnbull & Asser makes theirs. The shirt also has a narrow front placket. The pink in the shirt pulls out the suit’s red stripes.

The red tie also coordinates with the suit’s red stripes. The tie has horizontal ribs, which means the tie is woven with a 45-degree twill weave. Since good ties are cut on the bias (cut on a 45-degree angle to the cloth’s warp and weft threads), a 45-degree twill wale will either become horizontal or vertical. Robinson’s tie has a fine yellow windowpane pattern. The tie is tied in a windsor knot with a dimple. Robinson’s black shoes have too heavy a sole to be worn with this elegant suit, a problem that is hardly noticeable when the shoes only have a couple seconds on screen.

Whilst Robinson isn’t perfectly dressed, he is one of the best-dressed men in Pierce Brosnan’s Bond films.


Columbo: Three-Piece Dinner Suit


With New Year’s Eve coming up shortly, let’s look at more black tie inspiration. Milos Columbo, played by Topol in For Your Eyes Only, looks elegant in his three-piece dinner suit. It was most likely tailored by the same man who made who made Columbo’s blazer, Conduit Street tailor Robbie Stanford. The button one dinner jacket has straight shoulders with roped sleeveheads, a clean chest and a suppressed waist. The lapels and collar are very unique in that lapels have horizontal peaks like the Tautz lapel, and the edge of the collar is angled up to form a notch. There are three buttons on the cuffs. The jacket’s buttons are black horn, just like on Bond’s dinner jacket.

Columbo’s dinner jacket unfortunately has two very noticeable faults. The pockets are slanted and have flaps, and the flaps are made worse with a satin silk facing. Slanted pockets are not appropriate on a dinner jacket because of their sporting origins, and bulky pocket flaps are at odds with the dinner jacket’s elegant minimalism. Columbo’s dinner jacket also has double vents, which would be okay if they were a moderate 10″ length like James Bond’s are in the same scene. However, Columbo’s vents are about 14″ long, a quite excessive length since they almost reach the waist. Double vents this long unnecessarily flap about and are especially inelegant for a dinner jacket. Both the pocket style and the vent length are carried over from 1970s fashions, but the dinner jacket does not look like something from the 1970s overall. Though the details are not ideal, they don’t detract from the jacket’s beautiful cut.

Notice the very deep vents, approximately 14" long

Notice the very deep double vents, approximately 14″ long

With the dinner suit, Columbo wears an elegant low-cut, button three, black silk waistcoat. The waistcoat’s U-shaped opening is less common than the V-shaped opening, but it is just as classic. The waistcoat accomplishes its job of covering the waist, whilst it shows off as much of the shirt from as possible. The U-front waistcoat is almost like a cummerbund in that it is hardly seen—or not even seen at all—when the jacket is buttoned. Columbo’s waistcoat has covered buttons in the same silk as the waistcoat’s front, and it does not appear to have lapels.


Columbo wears a white dress shirt made by Frank Foster with a spread collar, pleated front and double cuffs. The shirt’s placket is stitched close to the centre, and it closes with smoke mother-of-pearl buttons, which were also on the shirt Columbo wears with his blazer later in the film. The double cuffs are secured with large, round black cufflinks that have Columbo’s dove emblem in white, and the holes in the cuff are positioned off-centre towards the fold. Columbo’s black silk thistle-shaped bow tie matches his lapels.


The dove cufflinks, plus a number of gold rings.