Gareth Mallory: Grey Suit Trousers with Braces

Ralph-Fiennes-Grey-Suit-Trousers

To contrast Daniel Craig’s fashionably-cut suits in Skyfall, Ralph Fiennes’s character Gareth Mallory wears four timeless suits made by modern tailor Timothy Everest. They have a trim, modern cut, but overall the suits have classic proportions with a jacket length that covers the rear and medium-width lapels. In a brief scene where M visits Mallory in his office, he is seen in dark grey suit trousers without his suit jacket. We know the trousers are part of a suit because the suit jacket can be seen draped over a chair.

The suit jacket is single-breasted and cut with straight, padded shoulders in the Savile Row tradition. Unlike on the blue chalk stripe suit that Mallory wears later in the film, this suit jacket has straight, flapped pockets and no ticket pocket. It has a single vent that is roughly 10 inches deep. It’s a shame that this suit jacket plays an extra in the scene instead of getting the leading role it deserves. Since Mallory has a high government position and is in his own office, he can appropriately leave his jacket off whilst meeting with M. However, the suit jacket would be better cared for on a hanger in the closet. Mallory must have a better place to keep his jacket. Hanging the jacket on the back of a chair is not a healthy way to take care of a meticulously-shaped bespoke suit jacket. However, if the suit jacket was stuck in a closet we wouldn’t even get a glimpse of it. Part of the film’s budget went to Mallory’s bespoke suits, after all, and by keeping the suit jacket in the back of the shot they make use of it. The same is done with his charcoal pinstripe suit jacket later in the film.

Notice the suit jacket on the chair behind M

Notice the dark grey suit jacket on the chair behind M

The trousers, for once, have the starring role of all the clothes in this scene. They have a flat front and single rear darts on either side. The trousers sit high at the waist, and they don’t need pleats to do so, though they look a little tight around the hips. The waistband has a long extension—to keep the front straight—and slide-buckle side adjusters. The trousers have slanted side pockets and a button-through jetted pocket on the right in the rear. The legs have a trim and tapered cut, but they aren’t tight like on Daniel Craig’s suits.

Ralph-Fiennes-Grey-Suit-Trousers-Rear

Mallory uses braces—known as suspenders to some Americans—to hold up his trousers, though he also uses the trousers’ side adjusters to keep the waistband close to the waist. The braces attach inside the waistband at the front and on extended tabs in the rear. The extension tabs allow the braces to sit higher like they would on the old-fasioned fishtail braces back, making the braces more comfortable. The tabs can be tucked inside the trousers if Mallory only wanted to use the side adjusters to hold up his trousers. Braces, however, are by far the most secure method of holding up the trousers. Mallory’s braces are navy with a navy embroidered fleur-de-lis braces motif and came from Ede and Ravenscroft. The braces have black leather ends and trimmings, which most likely match the shoes, and brass levers.

Mallory’s cotton poplin shirt is a deep sky blue, which slightly overpowers his light, cool, low-contrast summer complexion. The shirt has a moderate spread collar, double cuffs attached to the sleeve with pleats, and a narrow English-style placket that is stitched 3/8 inch from the edge. Mallory’s tie is navy with a raised woven purple lattice diagonally across the tie. Mallory ties it in a four-in-hand knot.

Ralph-Fiennes-Grey-Suit-Shirt-Tie

The Thomas Crown Affair: The Dinner Suit That Wasn’t Allowed

Thomas-Crown-Dinner-Suit

It has widely been said that Pierce Brosnan’s James Bond contract states that he “wasn’t allowed to wear a tuxedo in any other film” (read at IMDB). Rather than cut or alter a scene in 1999’s The Thomas Crown Affair that places Brosnan at a “black and white ball”, Brosnan sports a midnight blue wool dinner suit and improperly wears it with an open shirt collar and an untied white bow tie so that he is not wearing true black tie. The dinner suit is made by Milanese tailor Gianni Campagna, who made all of the elegant suits for The Thomas Crown Affair. The button one dinner jacket is cut with a clean chest and straight shoulders on the natural shoulder line, and it has black satin peaked lapels, jetted pockets, four-button cuffs and no vent. The buttons on the dinner jacket are black corozo.

The dinner suit has a matching midnight blue waistcoat, properly low-cut with three buttons and black satin shawl lapels. The dinner suit trousers are cut with double reverse pleats, in the Italian traditional.

Though the men at the ball surrounding Brosnan are dressed in proper black tie, Brosnan wears the nicest dinner suit and has by far the nicest shirt. Most of other men are following the 1990s fashion trend of wearing an attached wing collar with black tie, which is a modern imitation of the traditional stiff, detachable wing collar. Brosnan, on the other hand, wears a classic dress shirt from Turnbull & Asser with a spread collar. The shirt also has double cuffs, shoulder pleats and a pleated front with mother-of-pearl studs down the placket.

Thomas-Crown-Dinner-Suit-2

Brosnan, however, wears the shirt unbuttoned at the collar and open at inconsistently the first stud or both the first and second studs. Wearing the shirt open further distances it from a proper black tie outfit, which would breach his James Bond contract. And instead of a proper black silk bow tie, Brosnan drapes around his neck—rather that ties around his neck—a white cotton marcella bow tie, again to distance the outfit from black tie. A white bow tie should only be worn with the more formal white tie dress code and never black tie. Wearing an improper white bow tie with a dinner suit, wearing the bow tie untied and wearing the shirt collar open allows Brosnan to wear a dinner suit outside of the Bond series without breaching his contract.

At a black tie event, dressing as Pierce Brosnan does here is unacceptable. Since the dress code is black tie, that means a black bow tie is required. Anything else, such as a white bow tie or a black four-in-hand tie, violates the dress code—that is what traditionally sets apart the help from the guests. And wearing the shirt collar unbuttoned and the bow-tie draped over the neck is both sloppy and disrespectful to the host. On the other hand, someone as wealthy as Thomas Crown can sometimes make his own rules and dress however he wants to. He certainly could get away with it at a charity ball, though no amount of money should give a gentleman reason to disrespect his host by dressing sloppily and improperly.

Thomas-Crown-Dinner-Suit-3

Poll: Should Bond have worn a tweed jacket for Skyfall’s climax?

Skyfall-Barbour-Jacket-6

Should Bond have worn a tweed jacket for Skyfall's climax?

View Results

Loading ... Loading ...

Skyfall gives a few nods to past James Bond films to commemorate the series’ 50th anniversary, and the most notable of these nods is the return once again of the Aston Martin DB5 that Bond first drives in Goldfinger. In Goldfinger, Bond is first seen with the Aston Martin at the Stoke Park golf club in the English countryside and soon after in the Swiss mountains wearing a brown barleycorn tweed hacking jacket. The hills of Scotland where Bond takes the Aston Martin in Skyfall could have provided a great opportunity to bring back the tweed sports jacket. Instead, Bond wears a Barbour waxed cotton sports jacket.

Skyfall-Barbour-Jacket

The Barbour jacket in Skyfall is the limited edition by To Ki To, designed by Tokihito Yoshida. It is made in Barbour’s classic olive waxed cotton with three buttons down the front, flapped bellows pockets on the hips. It’s not the traditional Barbour with a zip front but rather a sports jacket like Bond’s tweed jacket in Goldfinger is, so it’s not as practical as the traditional Barbour jacket. Barbour calls the current version of the model the “Beacon Sports Jacket” and describes it as such:

The three-pocket waxed Beacon Sports jacket is an iconic blazer-style button through, inspired by the limited edition Barbour Sports Jacket worn by Daniel Craig in the James Bond film, Skyfall in 2012.

It’s an excellent choice Bond considering Barbour’s English heritage and the damp, cool Scotland location, and it’s about time Bond wore a Barbour. But at the same time, Bond has a long history of wearing tweed and it’s a shame Bond didn’t use this opportunity to wear it. Apart from the brown barleycorn tweed hacking jacket in Goldfinger and Thunderball, Bond wears a houndstooth tweed hacking jacket in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, a herringbone tweed jacket and a plaid tweed jacket in Diamonds Are Forever, a tweed-inspired lightweight plaid jacket in The Man with the Golden Gun, a donegal tweed suit in Moonraker, a brown tweed jacket in Octopussy, a grey tweed jacket and a brown barleycorn tweed jacket in A View to a Kill, a tweed-esque gun club check jacket in The Living Daylights and a charcoal windowpane cheviot tweed suit in The World Is Not Enough.

Goldfinger-Hacking-Jacket

The tweed hacking jacket in Goldfinger

Scotland would have been a great place for Bond to wear a tweed jacket again, since Scotland is known for tweed, namely Harris Tweed. The cool, damp weather is perfect. Bond finds the Barbour jacket in the Skyfall Lodge, so he wears it for his showdown with Raoul Silva (Javier Bardem). But would a tweed jacket have been appropriate considering the context? Of course! A tweed jacket is harder-wearing than a waxed cotton Barbour jacket and just as great for action. If Bond could wear a sports jacket made of waxed cotton he could just as effectively have worn a sports jacket made of tweed. The cut of Bond’s Barbour jacket gives it no advantage over a tweed jacket either. Since tweed jackets are designed for country sports like shooting, they are very practical for a scene full gunfire. Tweed jackets are especially practical for shooting if they have bi-swing shoulder pleats and bellows pockets to store extra rounds. And a tweed jacket had the same details as Bond’s Barbour sports jacket, like the bellows pockets, it wouldn’t be any dressier. There’s nothing that Bond’s Barbour jacket did that tweed could not have done just as well, if not better.

Skyfall-Barbour-Jacket-2

Tweed is once again popular and not just for old men. Trendy shops like Topman (which provided Daniel Craig chinos’s in Skyfall) and H&M sell tweed or tweed-esque sports jackets. Other shops that provided clothes for Skyfall sell tweed sports jackets, like Acne Studios, Billy Reid and, of course, Tom Ford. Tweed is hardly a thing of the past, and if Bond wore a tweed jacket unfortunately-cut like his suit jackets in Skyfall he would look trendier than he does in his Barbour sports jacket. And we know from The Golden Compass that Daniel Craig looks brilliant in brown tweed. For a fashionable look, Bond could wear the collar of a tweed jacket turned up like he does with his Barbour. Many traditional tweed jackets have a throat latch that connects either side of the collar across the front when it is turned up, so turning up the collar of a tweed jacket would not be inappropriate.

For Bond to wear a tweed jacket instead of the Barbour sports jacket, he would need to wear something underneath it other than the Henley shirt and round neck jumper that he wears with the Barbour sports jacket. He could keep the jumper and wear a collared sports shirt under it instead of the Henley, or he could keep the Henley and wear a polo jumper over it instead of the round neck jumper. Either way, a shirt collar is necessary under a tweed jacket, both to prevent the tweed from irritating the neck and to prevent the oils on the neck from soiling the tweed. The rest of the outfit, however, would go perfectly with a tweed jacket in olive—like the Barbour—or in medium brown like Connery’s jacket in Goldfinger. The corduroy trousers, the pebble grain leather boots and the scarf would still go perfectly with a tweed jacket.

Skyfall-Barbour-Jacket-4

Overall, the Barbour sports jacket is a fantastic choice for Skyfall‘s climax, and it is certainly much classier than Pierce Brosnan’s tactical gear for battle. But a tweed jacket would have been just as appropriate for the character, the story and the location. Not using a tweed is a missed opportunity to further connect Goldfinger‘s Aston Martin scenes to the Skyfall‘s Aston Martin scenes, a well as connecting Bond’s country wardrobe from the past to the present.


Also, The Suits of James Bond is finally joining the internet age and now has Facebook and Twitter pages. Like us and follow us below:


Captain Nash’s Grey C-Crown Trilby

From-Russia-with-Love-Grey-C-Crown-Trilby-Hat

James Bond wears a different type of trilby than he ordinarily does during the climax of From Russia with Love with his dark grey pick-and-pick suit. It’s actually not even Bond’s own trilby, but it originally belonged to the British agent from Station Y, Captain Nash (William Hill). When Bond arrives in Zagreb to meet Captain Nash, Red Grant (Robert Shaw) finds him first, kills him, takes his trilby and briefcase and poses as him while wearing a grey and brown striped suit. After Bond kills Grant it becomes his turn to wear the trilby. “Nash” has an escape route, which is in reality just Grant’s escape route, and Bond follows it. Though wearing the hat is not part of the escape route, Bond wears it to loosely disguise himself as Nash. However, the hat is left behind under a rock during the escape after Bond shoots down the helicopter that chases him.

Captain Nash holding the grey trilby

Captain Nash holding the grey trilby

So what makes this trilby so much different than the tribys that Sean Connery’s Bond usually wears? Instead of brown, this trilby is dark grey and has a narrow grey grosgrain ribbon around the base of the crown. Also, Nash’s trilby has a taller crown blocked in the C shape, unlike the centre dent that Bond prefers. The C-crown, also known as the teardrop crown, is the shape where the back of the crown is like a bowl (the C) and the front comes to a point. The centre of a C-crown is also domed, but it;s only slightly domed on Nash’s hat since it was shaped by hand. The front point of the crown necessitates that the front of the hat has a large pinch. Since the back of the crown is wider than the front when blocked with a teardrop shape, the back of the hat is consequently lower. On Nash’s hat the back is much lower than the front. The crown of a trilby can be blocked in many styles, so a hat with the more typical centre dent could be transformed into a hat more like this.

From-Russia-with-Love-Grey-C-Crown-Trilby-Hat-2Like most trilby hats, the British version of the usually-larger-brimmed fedora, Nash’s trilby has a tapered crown and a short brim. The brim is roughly two inches wide, bent down at the front and curled up at the back. It is finished with a raw edge. Inside, Nash’s hat has a tan leather sweatband around the base and a white silk lining. The maker of the trilby is unknown, though Lock is certainly a possibility.

We don’t get to see Nash wearing the trilby, but Grant and Bond wear it differently. Grant wears it back on his head, as if it’s slightly too small on him. Bond, on the other hand, wears the hat more forward and lower in front. Just a guess, but perhaps Nash does not wear the hat because it was only purchased in Bond’s size, which didn’t fit Nash.

Red Grant wearing the grey trilby

Red Grant wearing the grey trilby

Brioni and a Disciple, Angelo Roma

Pierce Brosnan in a Brioni pinstripe suit in The World Is Not Enough

Pierce Brosnan in a Brioni three-piece suit in The World Is Not Enough

Brioni is very well-associated with making James Bond’s suits in the five films from GoldenEye to Casino Royale, tailoring both Pierce Brosnan and Daniel Craig under supervision of costume designer Lindy Hemming. But years before Pierce Brosnan took over the James Bond role in 1995, Brioni’s style came to the Bond series in 1977 when Angelo Roma provided Roger Moore’s suits for The Spy Who Loved Me, and then again two years later in Moonraker. Angelo Vitucci, a former manager of Brioni Coutoure and Brioni model, started Angelo Roma. Angelo Roma is not to be confused with the more famous and adventurous Roman fashion house Angelo Litrico, You can read more about Angleo Vitucci’s time with Brioni in this article and this article in the Sydney Morning Herald.

Angelo Vitucci brought Brioni’s Roman silhouette to his own suits. The Roman silhouette is based closely on the English military and equestrian cut popularised by tailors like H. Huntsman, Henry Poole and Dege & Skinner, and it is defined by powerful, straight and padded shoulders, often with roped sleeveheads, a clean chest and a suppressed waist. Though the style of Roger Moore’s suits in The Spy Who Loved Me and Moonraker is eclipsed by wide lapels and flared trouser legs, the cut of the suit jacket is classic and not far removed from classic examples of Brioni’s tailoring. In the image below on the right, I’ve narrowed Moore’s lapels to a balanced width—as well as narrowed the tie and shortened and widened the collar—to demonstrate what a classic cut the suit has. Compare it to the original suit on the left below.

Angelo-Comparison

Roger Moore wearing a grey dupioni silk suit Angelo Roma suit in Moonraker

The suit in the altered image essentially has the same look as a classic Brioni suit. If the gorge (the seam where the collar meets the lapels) wasn’t so curved, it almost looks like it could be from Savile Row! English tailors typically cut their gorges straighter than the Italians, though some Italians also cut their gorges very straight. It’s amazing what a difference just the width of the lapels makes to the perception of the chest size and shoulder width. The balanced lapel width gives Moore a more masculine chest without making him look barrel-chested like in his suits in The Saint do. Angelo Vitucci is quoted in a 1954 article in the Panama City News-Herald about Brioni tailoring:

“‘Mainly,’ comments Signor Vitucci, ‘our suits are designed to camouflage figure faults, like bow legs or other unfortunate handicaps.’ No cuffs on Brioni’s trousers. It’s not a matter of saving cloth but saving appearance. Uncuffed trousers, explains Angelo, give a clean, uncluttered look and are more hygienic besides, since they do not catch dust.”

Brioni appears to have changed their mind about trouser turn-ups when they made Pierce Brosnan’s trousers. Though James Bond’s relationship with Italian tailoring started with a disciple of Brioni, Brioni finally came to the James Bond series sixteen years after Moonraker in GoldenEye.

Charcoal Windowpane-Cream Shirt

Pierce Brosnan wearing a charcoal windowpane Brioni suit in GoldenEye

The excellent book Dressed to Kill: James Bond, The Suited Hero names Checchino Fonticoli as Brioni’s master tailor who fits Pierce Brosnan in his suits for GoldenEye. He was capable of altering Brioni’s house style to make just the right look for James Bond in the 1990s. Lindy Hemming’s is quoted in the book saying, “I wanted a company which was capable of tailoring in the Savile Row manner”. Brioni’s Roman style is certainly reminiscent of military Savile Row tailoring as I mentioned above, though, as stated in the book, Hemming also wanted the suits to look current just as Anthony Sinclair’s suit did in the 1960’s:

“We discussed style and proportion and came up with a very modern jacket shape; although classic, it is slightly longer and looks good with three buttons as well as two. I also wanted to incorporate traditional details such as ticket pockets which would suggest that the clothing might have come from Savile Row.”

Whilst Savile Row tailors, especially those in the military tradition, would probably not make their suit jackets as loose as Pierce Brosnan’s were in GoldenEye and Tomorrow Never Dies, Hemming’s choice of Brioni was more for their ability to produce a large number of suits quickly than it was for their Italian style. As well as ticket pockets, Brosnan’s Brioni suits mostly have double vents and slanted pockets to carry on the illusion of an English suit. Hemming is also quoted in Dressed to Kill saying, “This man [Bond] must look immaculate, not strange or foppish or too fashionable.”

At the time, Brosnan’s suits could have been more fashionable if the trousers had triple pleats (like the trousers with his navy blazer in GoldenEye) or quadruple pleats instead of classic double pleats. But Lindy Hemming failed in not making Brosnan’s suits too fashionable since they have very full cut in his first two Bond films. The tight-fitting suit trend now as Daniel Craig wears in Skyfall makes the loose cut of Brosnan’s suit jackets even more apparent.

Hamburg-Charcoal-Suit

Pierce Brosnan wearing a charcoal flannel Brioni suit in Tomorrow Never Dies

Though Daniel Craig’s Brioni suits are cut trimmer like an English suit, they lack the English details that costume designer Lindy Hemming put on Brosnan’s suits, like the ticket pockets, slanted pockets and, usually, double vents. Craig’s Brioni suits have straight pockets and, on all but one, single vents, which are still classic styles and ultimately have no bearing on a suit’s style. Whilst Brosnan’s Brioni suits are characterised by their long, loose cut and low button stance, Craig’s Brioni suits have a trimmer cut and classic button stance like Moore’s Angelo suits, and a very high gorge. It’s difficult to draw direct comparisons between Moore’s, Brosnan’s and Craig’s Italian suits since they all reflect their contemporary fashions, but they all are tied together with the straight, padded shoulders and clean chest that define the Roman tailoring that Brioni made popular.

Charcoal-Blue-Suit

Daniel Craig wears a charcoal blue Brioni suit in Casino Royale

Recuperating in Pencil Stripe Pyjamas

Octopussy-White-Pyjamas

At the end of Octopussy, James Bond is recuperating aboard Octopussy’s boat in India after sustaining injuries when jumping out of an aeroplane. Whilst recuperating, Bond is comfortably dressed in fine cotton pyjamas in white with a grey pencil stripe. The pyjama shirt has an open patch breast pocket on the left side and two larger patch pockets on either side of the lower front. It has a camp collar and a straight hem. The pyjama shirt’s wide, straight sleeves are three-quarter length with wide cuffs that are the same width as the sleeve. The buttons down the front are white translucent plastic. Unlike the straight pyjama shirt sleeves, the matching pyjama trousers have a tapered leg that is full in the thigh and narrow at the ankles.

Octopussy-White-Pyjamas-2

It’s too bad that these pyjamas are only briefly seen in Octopussy, since two-piece pyjama sets of a shirt and trousers are not something Bond often wears. We later see Bond wearing pyjama sets in Licence to Kill and in Die Another Day. Sylvia Trench wears one of Bond’s pyjama shirts at Bond’s flat in Dr. No. The literary James Bond preferred long pyjama coats instead of two-piece pyjama suits, as stated in Casino Royale and Diamonds Are Forever. Though two-piece pyjama suits aren’t the prescribed James Bond nightwear, they are classic and still appropriate for the character.

Q’s Glen Urquhart Check Suit in The Living Daylights

Q-Glen-Urquhart-Check-Suit-The-Living-Daylights

Q has a long tradition of wearing glen check suits, starting with Desmond Llewelyn’s first appearance as Q in From Russia with Love. Most of the time the suits have a button three jacket, and the suits are often three-piece suits. The suit Q wears in his lab in The Living Daylights is very similar to the suit he wears in From Russia with Love in that it’s a three-piece black-and-white glen check suit with a button-three jacket, cut in a very classic and very English style.

This suit is a black-and-white Glen Urquhart check with a light blue overcheck. The suit jacket has natural shoulders with slightly roped sleeveheads, and it is cut with a little drape in the chest and a gently suppressed waist. The jacket’s natural shoulders go against the trend in the late 1980s for large, extended, padded shoulders, yet Q has very large shoulders himself and more than a little padding would look completely unnatural on him. His natural shoulder line is almost horizontal! The jacket has slanted flap pockets with a ticket pocket, but Q wears the flaps tucked in. However, in a continuity error sometimes the left pocket flap is untucked. Like most classic English tailoring in the 1980s, the suit jacket has double vents. The jacket is detailed with four buttons on the cuffs, and the suit’s buttons are black plastic.

The suit’s waistcoat has six buttons, and Q follows tradition by leaving the bottom button open. The suit trousers are full-cut without pleats or turn-ups. Non-pleated trousers were not very popular in the late 1980s and make Q look outdated to those who followed fashion trends at the time. It’s quite the opposite of what most people think today about trouser pleats, however, the full cut of Q’s trousers through the thigh would still make him look old-fashioned today. Q’s trousers don’t necessarily look outdated so much as they look sloppy.

Q-Glen-Urquhart-Check-Suit-The-Living-Daylights-Tie-2With the suit, Q wears a sky blue shirt with a spread collar, front placket and double cuffs. His regimental tie is black with a double gold stripe. The tie 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. Though I don’t know exactly what this tie represents, I suspect it represents a Welsh regiment of the British Army, going by the badge and welsh actor Desmond Llewelyn’s service in the British Army during World War II. If anyone knows what this tie represents, please leave a comment below. Q also wears an identification tag pinned to his lapel.

Q-Glen-Urquhart-Check-Suit-The-Living-Daylights-3Q’s tobacco suede two-eyelet derbys are an interesting choice of footwear for a Glen Urquhart check suit worn in London. The English are known for wearing black shoes with their suits in town, so wearing light-coloured suede shoes with his suit is a dandyish, but stylish, choice. The contrast between the shoes and the suit is unfortunately accentuated by Q’s unstylish choice of black socks. Grey or coloured socks would be a better choice to link the shoes with the rest of the outfit. Q is not intended to be a fashionable or particularly stylish character, though he is well aware of the way he is dressed and there is always plenty of charm in his outfits.

Classic Style and the Suit’s Ideal Proportions

Pick-and-Pick-Suit-5

What is the standard to which we compare all suits? What makes lapels narrow or wide, a jacket long or short, or a button stance low or high? Style theorists—and I use this term loosely—talk about timeless suits that we should only be wearing, but what makes a suit timeless? Does this timeless suit even exist? Every decade of the past one hundred years has had its mark on the suit, though people will often cite the 1940s as the golden age of the suit. But most suits from the 1940s would now look outdated. James Bond was not yet around in the 1940s, so it’s not really a decade relevant to this blog.

Throughout every decade there have been tailors and clothing shops that did their best make and sell clothes that are ignorant of trends. From the 1980s to the end of the last decade, the American institution Brooks Brothers hardly took fashion trends into consideration. English shops like Pakeman, Catto & Carter and Purdey haven’t bowed to current fashion trends. But even many Savile Row bespoke tailors have considered and still consider fashion trends. They made narrower lapels in the 1960s and wider lapels in the 1970s, but never went to the extremes of fashion houses. Now, many of them are making trousers with a lower rise than they ever did before, and the drape cut is practically gone. The former Conduit Street tailors like Sean Connery’s Anthony Sinclair and Roger Moore’s Cyril Castle certainly kept up with fashion trends—especially the latter—but they kept classic proportions in the back of their minds and did not let fashion make their suits unflattering to the wearers.

Bilbao-SuitA suit with balanced, classic proportions is generally the most flattering suit, since it considers the wearer’s body first and foremost. Alan Flusser writes about this in considerable depth in his book Dressing the Man. Pierce Brosnan’s suits in The World Is Not Enough excellently illustrate the principles of a timeless suit with balanced proportions, and I will be using the suits from that film to illustrate what makes the suits look so timeless. This timeless look is what I compare all other suits to. The suits in Die Another Day and Casino Royale have similarly timeless proportions, and the suits in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, Octopussy and A View to a Kill come close.

Pierce Brosnan’s suits in The World Is Not Enough are all classically cut and styled in the Roman cut, which is derived from the English military cut. The charcoal suit in Bilbao and the pick-and-pick suit in Azerbaijan are the most basic of all the suits in the film, and thus they are the best to demonstrate what makes a classic suit. The suit jackets are made in the most classic of all jacket styles, the button three. They are cut for the lapel to gently roll over the top button, but they can still button at the top. The jackets have double vents at a medium length of around 10 inches. Double vents, single vents and no vents are all classic styles, though single vent is the sportiest style and no vent is the dressiest style. A vent length of 8 to 10 inches is the most classic since it is long enough to be useful but not too long as to cause unnecessary flapping about. The exception to vent length is for a longer 12-inch single vent on a hacking jacket since it splits open better on horseback. Besides the double vents, Pierce Brosnan’s charcoal and pick-and-pick suit jacket also have straight pockets with flaps and four buttons on the cuffs, which are the standards for suit jackets.

Pick-and-Pick-Suit-9What is the classic length of a jacket that we compare all other lengths to? The jacket length is ideally one half the distance from the base of the neck to the floor. For people with a longer torso than their legs, the jacket length should be long enough to cover the bum. For most people, the bottom of the jacket lines up with the thumb knuckle. This length keeps the body looking balanced and neither top-heavy nor bottom-heavy. A longer jacket can make a man look shorter, whilst a shorter jacket can give the man leggier, more feminine proportions.

The part of the jacket that changes most with fashion is the width of the lapels. Ideally, the lapel width should be roughly half the distance from the collar to the edge of the shoulder, which ordinarily ends up being between 3 and 3 1/2 inches. This lapel width splits up the chest evenly. Though wide lapels have the effect of making the shoulders look wider, they can make the chest look smaller. Narrow lapels do the opposite. Extremes of either lapel width throw off the balance of the body. Pocket flap depth ordinarily follows lapel width and is around three quarters of the width of the lapel. The best lapel gorge height—where the notch is—is just as important to balance as the width of the lapels.  A gorge that is too low shortens the lapel lines and brings the eye away from the face, but it has the benefit of giving the chest more presence. On the other hand, a gorge that is too high makes the chest look weak, so the right placement is key.

Pick-and-Pick-Suit-6

The button stance has a big effect on the look of a jacket and a man’s perceived height and strength. The button stance is at the button that fastens, which is the middle button on a jacket with three buttons and the top button on a jacket with two buttons. A button stance that is too high makes a man look taller by extending the perceived leg length at the expense of a smaller-looking chest. A low button stance does the opposite. Pierce Brosnan’s button stance in The World Is Not Enough has the perfect balance and is about an inch lower than midway from the top of the jacket to its hem. The button stance should also correspond to the natural waist, which is typically about an inch above the navel. The body bends at the waist and placing the button stance there helps the jacket move better with the body.

A jacket’s shoulder width and amount of padding should be balanced to the person and not be too wide or narrow, or too built-up. But this is one thing that can vary within the realm of classic style. Pierce Brosnan’s shoulders on his Brioni suits in The World Is Not Enough are straight, built up with a lot of padding and slightly extended past his natural shoulders. But the shoulders are not overdone and actually balance his build. Something less dramatic could work just as well and look equally classic. The fullness of the chest and amount of waist suppression have the most allowance to vary within classic style, as long as they aren’t so tight that they put stress on the jacket or so loose that the jacket looks sloppy. Brosnan’s suit jackets in The World Is Not Enough have a clean chest with a gently suppressed waist.

Pick-and-Pick-Suit-8Just as the amount of fullness or tightness in the body of the jacket can vary within the realm of classic proportions, the amount of fullness and tightness in the trouser legs can vary too. Naturally, the fullness of the trouser legs should be in proportion of the fullness of the jacket. A jacket with a full chest needs to be balanced by trousers with a full thigh. If the jacket tapers a lot at the waist, the trousers shouldn’t be baggy. Just like a jacket should not be so tight that is pulls, the same goes for trousers. Other than that, anything goes for the width of trouser legs. Pierce Brosnan’s suit trousers in The World Is Not Enough fit neatly through the thigh and taper gently to the turned-up hem, which mimics the clean but not dramatic cut of the jacket. The front of the classic suit trousers can have pleats or darts (like most of Pierce Brosnan’s suit trousers in The World Is Not Enough), or be plain.

There is, however, a proportionate standard for the trouser rise. Like the jacket’s button stance, the trouser rise needs to work with the shape and movement of the body. There is a reason why classic suit trousers rise to the natural waist, like Pierce Brosnan’s suit trousers do. The waist is the narrowest part of the body and should be emphasised. Placing the trouser waist there does just that. The trousers have nowhere to fall down when they are at the narrowest part of the body. And by wearing trousers at the waist instead of at the hips, the legs look longer. The trouser rise should also correspond to the jacket’s button stance so that the shirt and tie don’t show below that jacket’s fastened button. It makes the suit look more fluid and the whole body look taller and slimmer.

Bilbao-Suit-5

There is still plenty of room for creativity in a suit with balanced proportions. Just because a suit follows this classic formula doesn’t mean it has to be boring. The silhouette, the most defining aspect of a suit’s design, can vary considerably and still be balanced. Though Pierce Brosnan’s suits in The World Is Not Enough have straight, padded shoulders, the shoulders are just as proportionate and as classic as the natural shoulders on Roger Moore’s Douglas Hayward suits. Smaller stylistic details can also make a big difference. Sleeveheads can be roped or flat. The shape of the gorge can curve in different ways or not curve at all. The amount of belly in the lapels can vary. The quarters and pocket flaps can be more rounded or more squared for much different looks.

Though fashion notoriously messes with the suit’s classic proportions, tailors may also alter these proportions to better suit people with extreme body types. For instance, a very tall man may benefit from a lower gorge (lapel notch) so he looks more grounded, and a short man can benefit from a higher gorge that lengthens the lapel lines. A man with a large head can benefit from extended shoulders so his head looks more balanced with the rest of his body. A short man can benefit from a shorter jacket length that will make his legs look longer. But any of these taken to the extreme like fashion has often done over the years is ultimately not flattering.

Pick-and-Pick-Suit-4Classic proportions aren’t just about the suit. We all know that the width of one’s tie should match the width of a jacket’s lapels. However, the shirt collar also needs to be in proportion with the lapel and tie width. The shirt collar point length can match the width of the lapels, though in practice the collar points are typically a little shorter than lapel width. It is more important that the collar match the shape and size of one’s head rather than the jacket’s lapels. Pierce Brosnan’s collar has roughly 2 3/4 inch points, but his lapels are around 3 1/2 inches wide. The size of the cuffs should correspond to the size of the collar. Brosnan’s cuffs are around the same 2 3/4 inches deep as his collar points.

It’s not just the point length of a shirt collar that can match the jacket’s lapels. The angle of a shirt collar’s spread should roughly correspond to the jacket’s gorge height and angle. A narrower point collar points to a lower notch whilst a wider spread collar points to a higher notch. Pierce Brosnan’s moderately wide spread collars in The World Is Not Enough roughly follow the angle of the lapel gorge and end at around the same height of the lapel notches. But more important than matching the gorge angle, the collar spread should inversely match the width of the face. Pierce Brosnan’s face, however, is neither wide nor narrow, so he can look good in almost any collar. The height of a collar is determined by the length of one’s neck and has no relation to the proportions of other parts of the outfit.

When some of the suit jacket’s proportions are tailored to best suit the person wearing the suit, and the suit, shirt and tie are well-designed to be in proportion with each other like Pierce Brosnan’s are in The World Is Not Enough, the entire of the outfit will be classically proportioned and most flattering. The clothes in The World Is Not Enough escape the clutches of fashion trends and look just as great today as they did fifteen years ago.

For more about the classic proportions of a suit, read Alan Flusser’s book Dressing the Man.