The Goldfinger Suit: A Three-Piece Glen Check

Goldfinger-Suit

Let’s go back to Goldfinger and take a look at everyone’s favourite, the grey and white glen check, tropical-weight three-piece suit made by Anthony Sinclair. Bond wears five suits in the film but this is the one that everyone remembers most. It’s not a solid light grey but as you can see in the close-up below it is really a fine glen check in dark grey and white. This fabric is woven in a 2×2 hopsack (basket) weave with a high number of ends and picks per inch. A diagram of the fabric can be seen in the illustration below. The jacket is Connery’s usual two-button with narrow lapels, this time with double vents, straight flapped pockets and a ticket pocket. The cuffs, as usual, close with 4 buttons. The shoulders are natural, the sleeveheads are roped and the chest has a little drape. The trousers have the typical double forward-pleated front with Daks tops. Unlike the suit trousers Bond wore in his first two films, the trousers in Goldfinger are finished with plain bottoms instead of turn-ups.

Goldfinger Glen Plaid

The waistcoat has 6 buttons, with only 5 to button. The bottom button is placed on the cutaway part so that it cannot possibly be fastened. The waistcoat has notch lapels and 4 welted pockets. The back is made in the same dark grey lining that the rest of the suit in lined in. There is a strap across the back for slight adjustments.

Goldfinger-Suit-2

A close-up of the glen check cloth

The shirt is white with a faint broken grey stripe and has a spread collar, a front placket and double cuffs with rounded corners. The tie is a navy silk knit, the kind with a square bottom. Bond wears a folded white linen handkerchief in his breast pocket. In our next entry we will take a closer look at the three-eyelet derbys that Bond wears with this suit.

Quantum of Solace Blue Suit

Quantum-Midnight-Suit

Let’s take a break from the 1960s and take a look at what Bond was wearing just two years ago in Quantum of Solace. We all know that in this film Bond wears suits by Tom Ford and much of the details have been described by costume designer Louise Frogley herself, most notably the shiny mohair tonic reminiscent of mod suits of the 1960s. She said, “It was extremely popular in the ’60s; all the Mods and all the wannabe Bonds wore it. I’m sure Sean Connery would have worn it at least once.” Conney’s Bond always struck me an an anti-mod, and in Goldfinger he even made a disparaging remark about the Beatles. Connery’s suits were always rather subdued and traditional; mohair tonic doesn’t fit the character. Bond’s suits weren’t supposed to stand out as Daniel Craig’s suits do. Tom Ford has a much flashier look overall than an English bespoke suit, and one that doesn’t fit Ian Fleming’s character.

There are at least four distinct suits featured in Quantum of Solace but for now we will focus on the one pictured above. At first glance it would appear that this suit is black but a few well-lit shots and promotional images show that the suit is actually a dark midnight blue, the same as his dinner suit. Black is not a traditional colour for a lounge suit and isn’t one that Bond wears often. The only time Bond wears a black suit is in Diamonds Are Forever, and it was the ideal choice for when mourning his “brother”‘s death. Midnight blue looks just about black (and sometimes blacker than black) but will shine blue under a bright light (see picture below). Black under a bright light will usually look brown or green. Midnight blue has a richer and deeper quality than black.

Quantum-Midnight-Suit-2

This suit has a three-button front but the lapel is rolled down to the middle button so it behaves like a two-button suit. The cuff has the five buttons that are typical of Tom Ford but Craig leaves the last button open. It’s an ostentatious practice that I usually don’t recommend, but as there is one more button than usual here undoing the last one makes the cuff look not so crowded. The pockets are straight with flaps plus a ticket pocket. The trousers are flat front with a medium rise, higher than the standard Tom Ford suits. The bottoms of the trousers have turn-ups (cuffs), and contrary to what many people say these days, turn-ups are fine with flat front trousers. Turn-ups and pleats are independent of each other and it all comes down to personal preference. Both Daniel Craig and Pierce Brosnan wore flat front trousers with turn-ups. The trousers also have buckle side-adjusters, placed on the waistband seam above the side on-seam pockets. All of the suits in this movie have the same features.

The shirt is a plain white poplin with a spread collar, double cuffs and no pocket. The tie is a blue and white basket weave. Bond’s shoes are the Church’s Philip model in black, which is a perforated cap-toe oxford (balmoral to the Americans).

The White Dinner Jacket


Sean Connery’s white dinner jacket in Goldfinger is just as iconic as the black dinner suit that introduced Bond in Dr. No, and there’s no better choice of clothing for an evening in the tropics. Just like the dinner suit in Dr. No is actually midnight blue and not black, this dinner jacket isn’t exactly white but rather an off white or ivory. Wool can never be a perfect white and tends to yellow over time. This dinner jacket is most likely made in a tropical wool; it doesn’t make sense to make a white dinner jacket in anything heavier. The quintessential white dinner jacket has a shawl collar but in Goldfinger Bond’s dinner jacket has the equally acceptable peak lapels. The lapels are self-faced; a white dinner jacket should not have silk facings like on a black dinner jacket. The jacket closes at the front with 1-button and has 4 buttons on each cuff, all in shiny white mother of pearl. The lower pockets are jetted without flaps and the back is without vents. The trousers are midnight blue with double forward pleats and Daks tops. Like in Dr. No, Bond foregoes the cummerbund.

A really unique part of this outfit is the shirt fabric, a fancy white with a white satin stripe (close-up below). The shirt has a pleated front with mother-of-pearl buttons down the placket, a spread collar and mitred double cuffs. The large mitre cut in the corner of the cuff is about halfway to the fold. Bond wears the same shirt with his black dinner suit later in the film. The batwing-shaped bow tie is black satin silk.

And don’t forget the red carnation in the lapel. The stem sits in the buttonhole in the lapel and is held in place by a loop sewn behind the lapel.

The Hacking Jacket

For country pursuits there’s nothing better than a tweed hacking jacket. This jacket from Goldfinger is made up in a brown barleycorn, which looks like a pattern of upward-pointing arrows. A detailed diagram of the fabric can be found in my article for almost identical hacking jacket Roger Moore wears in A View to a Kill. Traditionally cut with slanted hacking pockets, a ticket pocket and a long single vent, it was designed for horseback riding. Bond wears this with light brown narrow cut, flat front wool cavalry twill trousers with frogmouth pockets and plain hemmed bottoms. On his feet is the quintessential country footwear: brown suede shoes. These are derby shoes, very similar to chukka boots in a style John Lobb Ltd. calls hilo shoes. They look just like chukka boots in the front, but they are cut lower like derby shoes. Effectively, they are chukka shoes.

The same jacket and trousers appear again in Thunderball (see picture below). In Goldfinger he wears an ecru shirt that has a faint, broken grey stripes and is made with a spread collar, front placket and double cuffs. The tie in Goldfinger is a light brown knit tie. In Thunderball he switches that out for a solid ecru shirt with a spread collar, front placket and 2-button cocktail cuffs. The tie in Thunderball is a dark brown grenadine tie.

Before Sean Connery wore the hacking jacket and cavalry twill trousers as James Bond, he wore it in Woman of Straw.

Connery’s Suit Trousers

Connery-Trousers

For this entry we will take a look at the trousers that made up all of Sean Connery’s Anthony Sinclair suits from Dr. No to You Only Live Twice. These trousers all have double forward pleats, the kind that open towards the fly. These are typical of English bespoke suits as opposed to the reverse pleats most people are accustomed to these days, which open towards the pockets. The pleats aren’t seen when the jacket is buttoned and serve to make the trousers more comfortable and drape better. The trousers have a long rise and sit at Connery’s natural waist. Suit trousers that sit at the waist rather than the hips help create a more unified looks. The suit jacket should flow into the trousers, and there should never be a gap showing shirt or tie between the jacket button and the top of the trousers. The legs are tapered down to the bottom for a military-like appearance and are finished at the bottom with turn-ups (cuffs) to weigh the trousers down and keep them looking neat.

Connery never wears a belt with his suits, as that would break the flow from the top to bottom of the suit. But he doesn’t wear braces (suspenders) either. Instead his trousers featured something known as “Daks tops,” invented by Simpsons of Piccadilly. With Daks tops the waist is adjusted by tabs on each side that button, and the tabs are connected to an elastic band that runs through a tunnel across to the back of the waist. With these tabs the waist can fit very precisely, and the elastic allows adjustment throughout the day as the waist expands and contracts. Most button side-adjusters have only two buttons on each side but Connery’s trousers have three. He also used one of the buttons on the left side of the trousers to secure his shoulder holster. The waistband is closed at the front with an extended tab that hooks in rather than buttons. An extended waistband keeps the front of the trousers straight and the absence of a button on the front looks cleaner.

Connery-Trousers-2

The trousers have on-seam side pockets and one rear button-through pocket on the right. The rear pocket would be placed on the left for those left-handed, and thus most ready-to-wear trousers have rear pockets on both sides. The trousers pictured above and below are both from a grey glen plaid suit worn in Dr. No.

Read more about Sean Connery’s suit trousers in a comparison between the suit trousers in Dr. No and From Russia with Love.

The Connery Bond Suit Jacket and the Dupioni Silk Suit

Charcoal-Silk-Suit

For this entry we will discuss the cut of Sean Connery’s suit jacket. Many call this the “Conduit Cut”, after tailor Anthony Sinclair’s premises on Conduit Street in London. Cyril Castle, Roger Moore’s tailor in the 1960s and 70s, was also on Conduit Street, and I don’t think it would be fair to not equally consider his contribution to the “Conduit Cut”. Sinclair’s and Castle’s jacket cuts were very similar, though while Sinclair was cutting 2-button suits for Connery, Castle was making 3-button suits for Moore to wear on The Saint.

Let’s get back on track and take a look at Sean Connery’s suit jacket. The example pictured is a button two, single vent jacket from a suit made of charcoal grey dupioni silk, worn in From Russia With Love. All of Sean Connery’s suit jackets have a 2-button front, and the button stance is lower than what is popular right now in 2010. The low button stance emphasizes his waist and the “V” shape of his torso. The waist is nipped in to give the jacket shape although I wouldn’t call his suits slim, just merely fitted. The chest is cut full with a bit of drape, and the shoulders are natural but look large due to Connery strong and masculine physique. There is a subtle roping at the sleevehead. The gorge (where the lapel and collar meet) is at a standard height, not too high as is typical today. Though the narrow lapels and pocket flaps date this suit to the 1960s, the cut of the suit overall is timeless.

The cut of the jacket isn’t as slim as those most people associate with the 1960s. The 2-button front was known to be popular in the 1960s in America, but in England the 3-button suit was still the norm. It wasn’t until the 1970s that the 2-button suit was fully accepted in more conservative circles there. Tomorrow we will take a closer look at the trousers that accompany these jackets.

The Grenadine Tie

Grenadine-Ties

A staple of the Connery Bond wardrobe is the dark solid tie. In Dr. No and From Russia With Love that tie was always a dark navy grenadine tie from Turnbull & Asser. Let’s not confuse that with the silk knit ties that he wears throughout Goldfinger. While the grenadine might look similar in texture to the knit tie, they are completely unrelated. I’m sure you’re familiar with the knit tie, which somewhat resembles a sock. It’s a tube of knit silk with a straight hem at the bottom, though some are made with triangular bottoms. It’s a casual tie (which might seem like an oxymoron these days) and disliked by many. Yet is was worn by the literary Bond and made it to a few films as well.

But for now we will discuss the grenadine tie. Grenadine silk is woven, not knit, and the tie is constructed like any normal tie: it has folds, an interlining and of course a triangular tip. It’s a luxurious silk, very delicate and much more formal than a knit tie. In black it makes an excellent funeral tie, and this is exactly what James Bond wears to the funeral at the beginning of Thunderball.

I know of two weavers of grenadine silk, Fermo Fossati and Seteria Bianchi, both in Italy. Most of the grenadine tiemakers get their silk from these weavers. There are two different types of grenadine silk: Garza Grossa (pictured above) and Garza Fina (below left), the former being the type that James Bond wore. Turnbull & Asser still makes Garza Grossa grenadine ties, and they can also be found at many other stores on Jermyn Street and elsewhere. You may also find “mock” grenadine (below right), which can still be very nice.

Grenadine

Cocktail Cuffs

Turnback cuffs in Dr. No

Casino Cuff, Flowback Cuff, Neapolitan Cuff, Milanese Cuff, Portofino Cuff. Some even call it the “James Bond Cuff.” You might know it as any of these names, but Turnbull & Asser calls it the 2-Button Turnback Cuff and Frank Foster calls it the Cocktail Cuff. I’m partial to the cocktail cuff name myself. Terence Young, the director of Dr. No, From Russia with Love, and Thunderball dressed James Bond as he dressed himself. They shared the same tailor, Anthony Sinclair, and the same shirtmaker, Turnbull & Asser, and Young himself wore cocktail cuffs.

Turnbull & Asser turnback cuffs in From Russia With Love

Turnbull & Asser turnback cuffs in From Russia With Love

I’ve read many things about the origins of the cuff, and most people say that they were designed for the James Bond movies and designed for evening wear. Others say they were invented by Frank Foster (including Foster himself), and in fact he made some of Connery’s shirts in Dr. No. Yet another story says they were invented for David Niven by Ede & Ravenscroft or Hawes & Curtis. If cocktail cuffs were designed for the James Bond films, they were not initially intended for evening wear but for only with lounge suits and sports coats. Sean Connery only wears cocktail cuffs with evening wear in Thunderball, his fourth Bond film. He wears them with lounge suits in all of his Bond movies except Goldfinger (in which he wore double cuffs with everything). Except for Thunderball, Connery always wears double cuffs with his evening wear. In You Only Live Twice and Diamonds Are Forever, Connery leaves the second button of his cocktail cuff open and let the cuff roll back a bit more.

Live-and-Let-Die-Turnback-CuffsRoger Moore wears cocktail cuffs on his Frank Foster shirts with his lounge suits and sports coats in Live and Let Die and The Man with the Golden Gun, and wears them with evening wear in The Man with the Golden Gun and in Moonraker. He also wears them with with lounge suits (and perhaps evening wear too, I can’t remember) in the final season of The Saint, and in The Persuaders he wears a single-button cocktail cuff with extra buttons to keep the turn-back in place, similar to a button-down collar. Moore goes back to the 2-button cuff for Bond, but the cuffs are cut differently in Live and Let Die than the ones that are in The Saint and The Man with the Golden Gun, though your really have to know what to look for.

Frank Foster turnback cuffs in The Man with the Golden Gun. Notice the design has changed since Live and Let Die.

Then there is Connery in Never Say Never Again, which I don’t include as part of the James Bond series. Connery wears the same button-down cocktail cuff that Roger Moore wears in The Persuaders, with both lounge suits and evening wear.

Cocktail cuffs can also be seen on Don Adam in the first season of Get Smart and on Dick Van Dyke in the last three seasons of The Dick Van Dyke Show. Martin Landau occasionally wears them in Mission Impossible. Peter Sellers wears them in What’s New Pussycat. I once spotted game show mogul Mark Goodson wearing them on an appearance on Family Feud. Peter Ustinov was also a fan. A lot of jazz musicians were very style-conscious in the 60s and too can be seen sporting cocktail cuffs.

There are about as many ways to design cocktail cuffs as there is to design collars, and creating an attractive and unique cuff is just as difficult as it is when making a collar. The turnback should be integrated into the design of the cuff and not look like it was merely stuck on. There really is no practical purpose to the cocktail cuff so at the very least it should look nice. The ends of the cuff should be rounded. If the ends are cut square they will easily get caught inside the sleeve of your jacket and the cuff will need frequent adjusting.

Turnbull-Asser-Turnback-Cuff

The image to the right is how Connery’s Turnbull & Asser 2-button turnback cuff looks unfolded. Turnbull & Asser’s cuff for Connery is designed to roll back and not just fold back. However, the cuff they make today is not the same as this one.

Frank-Foster-Cocktail-Cuff

Next is Frank Foster’s cocktail cuff unfolded, as seen in The Man with the Golden Gun and Moonraker. Foster’s cuff folds back neatly, and it’s very clear exactly where the cuff is designed to fold.

Wrong-Cocktail-Cuff

The last design shows how not to cut a cocktail cuff. The corners are the top of the base section of the cuff will curl back while the corners at the end will get caught inside the sleeves. The makers of these usually put a heavy fusing inside so they don’t curl back, though that’s not a good solution for a poor design. Many online shirt makers make the cuffs like this, but most reputable makers save this design for women’s shirts.

This covers the essentials about the cocktail cuff (or whatever you like to call it) but if you have any questions feel free to ask.