About Matt Spaiser

I am a graphic designer in New York. If you have any questions about James Bond's clothing feel free to send me an e-mail.

The Rocketeer: A Purple Dinner Jacket

Rocketeer-Purple-Dinner-Jacket

1991’s The Rocketeer is one of the few films to feature Timothy Dalton in well-tailored 20th century clothing. Since the film takes place in 1938, what Dalton wears is more costume rather than clothing. However, not all of the clothing is accurate to the late 1930s. Dalton plays movie star and Nazi villain Neville Sinclair, who wears a muted dark purple dinner jacket that is fitting for his character. Purple is quite an unusual colour for a dinner jacket, but it’s not unusual for a smoking jacket, an ancestor of the dinner jacket. I don’t know if purple dinner jackets were popular in the late 1930s, but purple had seen a rise in popularity a few years before The Rocketeer was made. Jack Nicholson famously wore a purple suit as the joker in Batman two years earlier, and Miami Vice popularised purple and lavender clothes for men. A purple dinner jacket is less formal than the traditional black or midnight blue jacket, which makes it an acceptable—but nevertheless flashy—choice for a night out as Sinclair wears his.

Rocketeer-Purple-Dinner-Jacket-2The purple dinner jacket is cut with straight shoulders, roped sleeveheads and a clean chest. The jacket is full-cut, but it still fits well and isn’t a size too large like the jackets in Licence to Kill are. The jacket drapes elegantly without any extra folds of cloth. The wide, dark purple silk peaked lapels elegantly roll down to the jacket’s single button. The buttons are covered in the same dark purple silk that the lapels are faced in. The jacket has no vent, jetted pockets and three buttons on the cuffs. The black trousers have double reverse pleats and the traditional black silk stripe down each leg.

Rocketeer-Purple-Dinner-Jacket-4The black brocade waistcoat is one of the least historically-correct parts of this outfit. The waistcoat has five buttons with the bottom left open, peaked lapels and a full collar. A proper evening waistcoat, which is low-cut with three or four buttons, would have been worn at the time rather than a high-buttoning daytime-style waistcoat in a fancy evening cloth. Sinclair’s white-on-white stripe dress shirt has a point collar, double cuffs and a placket with two black onyx studs. His bow tie is black barathea silk in a batwing shape. His shoes are patent leather.

Rocketeer-Purple-Dinner-Jacket-3Sinclair also wears a red boutonnière pinned to his lapel. Besides looking unsightly, pinning a boutonnière to a silk lapel can easily damage the facing. Ideally, the boutonnière’s stem should be stuck through the lapel’s buttonhole and held in place by a loop sewn on the back of the lapel. One should only resort to pinning a boutonnière when the lapel has no buttonhole. But there is a buttonhole hiding behind Sinclair’s boutonnière, so he has no excuse for pinning it to his lapel.

The Skydiving Jumpsuit

Skydiving-Jumpsuit

The Living Daylights opens with James Bond and two other 00 agents parachuting to a training exercise on Gibraltar. They’re all wearing black skydiving jumpsuits, commando boots and parachute packs on their backs. Bond’s jumpsuit is probably made out of polyester. It has a zip front, a ribbed tall collar and ribbed cuffs. There is a flapped patch pocket on the upper part of each sleeve and a flapped patch pocket on the front of the upper thigh of each leg. The pocket flaps most likely stay closed with velcro. Bond wears the legs of his jumpsuit tucked into his boots.

Skydiving-Jumpsuit-2

Under the jumpsuit, Bond wears a black crew-neck T-shirt. The black leather commando boots have a plain toe, closed lacing and metal reinforced eyelets. Bond and the other 00 agents skydive with a black helmet and goggles.

Sea Island Cotton

Turnbull-Asser-Shirt-Connery

Sean Connery wears a pale blue Turnbull & Asser shirt in From Russia with Love that is probably made of Sea Island cotton.

James Bond has a long history of wearing Sea Island cotton. Ian Fleming wrote in his novels that Bond wears a “dark blue Sea Island cotton shirt” in Moonraker, “dark blue Sea Island cotton shirts with collars attached and short sleeves” in Diamonds Are Forever, a “white sea-island cotton shirt” in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service and “sea island cotton underpants” in The Man with the Golden Gun. Sean Connery’s Turnbull & Asser shirts were likely made of Sea Island cotton poplin, and some of Pierce Brosnan’s Turnbull & Asser shirts auctioned with his suits at Bonhams were made of “Sea Island Cotton Quality” royal oxford.

Sea Island cotton is an extra-long staple cotton, and due to the fibre’s fine diameter and long length it has a silky look and feel. Sea Island cotton is also a very strong fibre, which is what allows it to be made into finer shirtings. It is typically spun in a 140 yarn count. Originally it was grown on the Sea Islands of South Carolina and Georgia in the United States, but now it is grown in the British West Indies. Turnbull & Asser has not sold genuine Sea Island cotton shirts for some time and now sells “Sea Island Quality”, which is extra-long staple cotton grown in Egypt. Turnbull & Asser’s”Sea Island Quality” shirts are at the top of their ready-to-wear range.

Though Sea Island cotton is both durable and has the silkiest feel of all cottons, there are downsides. It doesn’t have much body, and in a poplin weave it can be somewhat translucent in white. Because Sea Island cotton is so fine, it is very difficult to iron and wrinkles easily. Underpants, like what Bond wears in The Man with the Golden Gun novel, may be the best usage for Sea Island cotton since they touch one of the most sensitive parts of the body, and it doesn’t matter if they wrinkle.

Ian Fleming’s Pea Coat

Fleming-Pea-Coat

Though Ian Fleming never included the pea coat as part of James Bond’s wardrobe in his novels, Fleming himself wore a pea coat as a Royal Navy officer during the Second World War. This pea coat was sold at Bonham’s on New Bond Street in London on 22 November 2011 for £13,750. The dark navy double-breasted coat has eight buttons with four to button. It has single-button cuffs, and the shawl collar and vertical outside front pocket welts are trimmed in a ribbed knit stretch fabric. The buttons are made of black horn, and the lining is scarlet.

According to the auction listing, Commander Fleming wore this pea coat during the Dieppe Raid of 1942 whilst he was serving in the Naval Intelligence Division. The coat was later given to Ivar Bryce, a friend of Fleming’s since his school days at Eton. Bryce’s middle name was Felix, and Fleming gave his name to Bond’s ally and best friend CIA agent Felix Leiter. The pea coat was shown at For Your Eyes Only: Ian Fleming and James Bond Exhibition, which celebrated the centenary of Ian Fleming’s birth, at Imperial War Museum London from April 2008 to March 2009. You can see more about the pea coat at the auction listing on Bonham’s website.

It wasn’t until the film Casino Royale that the film Bond wears a pea coat. Later, the film Bond wears another pea coat in Skyfall. Though the pea coat doesn’t have any earlier history with Bond in the films or the books, it’s quite an appropriate casual coat for a former naval officer, and Fleming himself wore one.

Mischka’s Circus Outfit

Mischka-Circus-Uniform

James Bond’s wardrobe in Octopussy is full of disguises, from the Colonel Toro uniform to the “Octopussy’s Circus” jacket to the gorilla suit to the clown suit. The disguise he spends the most time wearing in Octopussy is the outfit he takes from knife-throwing assassin Mischka (played by David Meyer) after he kills him. Like the clown suit, the outfit Bond takes from Mischka is also a circus costume. It would be quite a silly-looking outfit if it weren’t for the circus, but it’s tame compared to the clown suit.

Mischka-Circus-Uniform-2The main piece of the outfit is a crimson red polyester or nylon tunic that is long enough to almost cover the bum. It has a high collar that closes at the left side, and there is a roughly 9-inch placket that extends down the front of the shirt from the collar fastening to allow a head to fit through the collar. The sleeves are full cut, and the square single-button cuff is attached to the sleeve with shirring. A wide black belt with two rows of flat brass studs and a large two-prong brass buckle worn over the tunic around it gives shape to the outfit.

Mischka-Circus-Uniform-3Over the tunic, Bond wears an open black leather waistcoat that Mischka used to keep his knives. The open design provides easy access to the knives. Below the tunic, Bond wears his own navy straight-leg suit trousers from earlier rather than Mischka’s tighter black trousers worn inside tall black boots. Bond wears his own black slip-on shoes, though the stuntman who plays Bond on top of the train wears black side-zip boots.

Get Smart: A Creative Three-Piece Suit

Get-Smart-Navy-Pinstripe-Three-Piece-Suit

The 1960s was an adventurous time for men’s tailoring. Though Sean Connery’s James Bond wears some of the most conservative suits of the decade, Roger Moore’s suits in The Saint and Patrick Macnee’s suits in The Avengers show more creative tailoring. Most American tailors weren’t quite as audacious as some of the English tailors, but Don Adam’s tailor for Get Smart showed a lot of inventiveness. Adams played Maxwell Smart, an incompetent secret agent whose clothes were far more sophisticated than his manner. In the first episode of Get Smart’s second season “Anatomy of a Lover”, Adams wears a unique navy three-piece suit with a narrow-spaced pinstripe. Not uncommon for 1966, the jacket has only one button on the front. It is tailored with straight shoulders, roped sleeveheads, a draped chest and no vent. The jacket has a short length, which both follows the 1960s trends and makes the 5’9″ Adams look taller by extending the perceived length of his legs. The jacket is detailed with jetted pockets and single-button cuffs to match the single button on the front of the jacket. The jacket has a royal blue lining.

Get-Smart-Charcoal-Pinstripe-Three-Piece-Suit-2

The lapels and collar is where this jacket strays from convention. Though the jacket has the narrow lapels that were typical of the era, the lapels are peaked rather than notched. Today it’s not uncommon to find narrow peaked lapels on single-breasted jackets, but it wasn’t a popular trend of the 1960s. But there’s more that makes this jacket truly unique. The pinstripes on the lapels and collar interestingly follow the direction of the stripes on the front of the jacket. Ordinarily the stripes on the lapels follow the angle of the lapels and the stripes on collar follow the direction of the stripes on the back of the jacket. The stripes on the collar and lapel are superbly matched, which is made easier by the stripes’ narrow spacing.

Get-Smart-Navy-Pinstripe-Three-Piece-Suit-4The suit’s waistcoat has five buttons, two pockets and a straight bottom. The back of the waistcoat is made in a royal blue lining, but the inside of the waistcoat is lined in white. The suit’s trousers have a darted front and frogmouth pockets. The wide waistband extends across the front and is split in the rear to better contour to the back. The trousers are supported by navy boxcloth braces with black leather ends. Boxcloth is a heavy felt-like woollen that makes for very warm braces. Unlike on other braces, the excess length hangs down in front rather than being taken up underneath out of sight.

Get-Smart-Charcoal-Pinstripe-Three-Piece-Suit-3Adam’s pink pinpoint oxford shirt has a pinned collar and double cuffs. The pinned collar is made with eyelets for a pin to pass through, and the pin has a knob that unscrews on one end to pass through the holes in the collar. Though the collar is small, it is in proportion with both the jacket’s narrow lapels and the size of Adams’ head. The black tie has pink dots that match the shirt, and it is tied in a four-in-hand knot. Adams tucks his tie into his trousers so it doesn’t extend below the bottom of the waistcoat. A puffed red silk handkerchief in his breast pocket loosely coordinates with the lighter pink shirt. Adams’ shoes are black slip-ons and his socks are navy to match his trousers.

Though Ron Postal is credited as the costume designer in many episodes throughout the series, his names is not mentioned in this episode’s credits. It is still possible that he was involved in creating this outfit since nobody else is credited for the clothes. Between the peaked lapels, unique stripe direction on the lapels and collar, pink shirt with a pinned collar and boxcloth braces, Maxwell Smart sports quite the dandified look, and he is certainly not a secret agent who blends in to the crowd.

Jacket Cuff Button Styles

Have you thought about how many buttons should be on the cuffs of your jacket? There are neither rules nor even general conventions that determine how many buttons should be on your jacket’s cuffs. Some makers vary the number of buttons on their jackets based on the number of buttons on the front, if the jacket is single- or double-breasted, or if the jacket is a suit jacket or odd jacket. The current standard around the world is to have four buttons on the cuffs off any type of jacket. This has long been the standard for English tailors, but now it’s the most common number of cuff buttons on Italian and American suits. Anthony Sinclair made almost all of Sean Connery’s jackets with four buttons on the cuffs. Angelo Vitucci put four buttons on the button two jackets he made for Roger Moore in The Spy Who Loved Me and Moonraker. Douglas Hayward used four buttons on the two dinner jackets and blazer in A View to a Kill. Timothy Dalton’s navy pinstripe suit and dinner jackets in The Living Daylights have four buttons on the cuffs. All except one of Pierce Brosnan’s and all of Daniel Craig’s Brioni jackets—seen in the five films from GoldenEye through Casino Royale—have four buttons on the cuffs. Four cuff buttons is the most common number of buttons that Bond wears on his jacket cuffs, but the number Bond’s cuff buttons has varied over the years.

Three is the next most common number of buttons on the cuffs for James Bond. George Lazenby’s dinner jacket, navy blazer and most of his suit jackets in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service have three buttons on the cuffs. Angelo Vitucci used three buttons for Roger Moore’s double-breasted jackets: the dinner jackets in The Spy Who Loved Me and Moonraker and the skydiving blazer in Moonraker. Vitucci also put three buttons on the cuffs of the single-button cream suit. His sleeve buttons followed a system: his four-button cuffs echoed the even number of buttons on the front of a button-two jacket, whilst his three-button cuffs echoed the three rows on the front of the double-breasted jacket and the button one jacket’s odd number on the front.

Douglas Hayward put three buttons on all of Roger Moore’s jackets in For Your Eyes Only and Octopussy and on the suit jackets and tweed jackets in A View to a Kill. Timothy Dalton’s grey herringbone and beige suit jackets in The Living Daylights have three buttons on the cuffs, and all of his jackets in Licence to Kill have three buttons on the cuffs. Three-button cuffs were common in the 1980s, and at that time they were the standard on Italian suits. Pierce Brosnan’s tan Brioni suit jacket in GoldenEye is oddly the only jacket of his four films that has has three buttons on the cuffs. Three-button cuffs returned to the series with the Tom Ford suits in Skyfall. Those are designed for only the first two buttons to fasten. The last buttonhole is a little longer than the others.

Five buttons

Five buttons on the cuffs of Daniel Craig’s navy striped Tom Ford suit jacket in Quantum of Solace. Notice the last, unused buttonhole is larger.

On the Quantum of Solace suit jackets by Tom Ford, the last buttonhole is longer like it is in Skyfall. These suit jackets, however, have a total of five buttons on the cuffs. There is no precedent for five buttons on a jacket’s cuffs, and it’s quite an excessive number of buttons. Then again, three or four cuffs could just as easily be seen as excessive if there wasn’t a tradition of having three or four buttons on the cuffs.

Two-button cuffs on a jacket are something Bond has only worn a few times in the series. Bond has only worn two-button cuffs on odd jackets, and the style is seen by some as less formal than having three or four buttons on the cuffs. The first appearance of this style is on the Anthony Sinclair navy blazer in Dr. No. Sean Connery later wears two tweed jackets in Diamonds Are Forever with two-button cuffs. Timothy Dalton’s gun club check jacket in The Living Daylights is the last jacket of the series to feature two-button cuffs. The two-button cuff was popular in the 1950s and 1960s on suit jackets and odd jackets in America. The classic Brooks Brothers button two show one jackets have two buttons on the cuffs, spaced apart, like on Felix Leiter’s suit in Goldfinger.

One-button jacket cuffs, a 1960s trend, are slightly more popular with Bond than two-button cuffs. George Lazenby wears a number of jackets with this style in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service; his cream linen suit jacket, his light blue suit jacket and his houndstooth check jacket all have a single button on the cuffs. Cyril Castle made many of Roger Moore’s dinner jackets, suit jackets and odd jackets in The Saint and The Persuaders with a single button on the cuffs, and they often have a turnback “gauntlet” cuff. The single-button gauntlet cuff made it to Roger Moore’s navy overcoat in Live and Let Die and his white silk dinner jacket in The Man with the Golden Gun. On Moore’s one button cuffs, the button is slightly larger than the standard 24L cuff buttons, but it’s not as large as the button on the front would be.

Roger Moore wears a style of cuff in Live and Let Die and The Man with the Golden Gun that resembles a one-button cuff but actually has two buttons. It’s called the flared link cuff and has the sides of the cuff “kissing” instead of overlapping as they ordinarily would. The end result is a button on either side that has the effect of a double-sided cufflink. There’s only a buttonhole on the outer end of the cuff, and a button is sewn to either side on the inner end of the cuff. The flared cuff adds an interesting flair to Roger Moore’s suits, and it is supposedly Moore’s own idea. He first wore the cuff on a few suits in The Persuaders. Patrick Macnee earlier had this style of closure added to a suit cuff in The Avengers that originally had no buttons. James Bond has never worn a jacket without cuff buttons, but Patrick Macnee wears a few suit jackets without cuff buttons in The Avengers, and Roger Moore wears a suit jacket without cuff buttons in The Man Who Haunted Himself. These jackets have a vent without an overlap at the end of the sleeve so it doesn’t look like the buttons were forgotten.

An illustration of the flared link cuff

An illustration of the flared link cuff

Cuff buttons can be spaced in various ways. Most English jacket have the buttons touching or with a little bit of space between them. Cuff buttons on Italian suits are often done the same way, but many Neapolitan tailors overlap the buttons in a “waterfall” style. Older American suits sometimes had the buttons spaced a full button-width apart. The space from the last button to the edge of the cuff is also something to consider. Today, the standard is to place the centre of the last button 1 1/2″ from the edge, though on Bond’s suits before the 1990s the last button was typically 1 1/4″ from the edge.

In Memory of Richard Kiel

Jaws-Three-Piece-Suit

With great sadness, on Wednesday 10 September we lost Richard Kiel, the actor who twice played the henchman Jaws in The Spy Who Loved Me and Moonraker. I’ve never heard Roger Moore speak of anyone so kindly and with so much respect as he does for Richard Kiel. When I saw Roger Moore speak at Book Revue in Huntington, NY in 2008, a child asked Moore, “What was Jaws like in real life?” Moore responded, “Well, Jaws in real life is seven-foot-two, and he’s what I call a gentle giant. He is such a nice man, so kind, and we were in Canada a few years ago. Every time he would bring up the subject of UNICEF so I could talk about it. A good man.”

Jaws-Three-Piece-Suit-2Only a month ago I wrote about Jaws’ azure double-breasted blazer in The Spy Who Loved Me, but now let’s look at his more tasteful charcoal chalkstripe three-piece suit that he also wears in the film. It’s a very conservative suit for 1977, and Jaws appropriately wears it for two meetings with his boss, Karl Stromberg. In comparison to the other clothes he wears throughout the film, the three-piece suit is the only outfit that makes him look like a truly menacing character. A man of Jaws’ size must certainly have his suits made for him, and the same tailor or costumier who made the azure blazer probably made the suit as well. The single-breasted suit jacket has the same large, imposing shoulders that the double-breasted blazer has, but it has much more shape through the body for an elegant look. The jacket is a button two with a medium button stance and wide notched lapels. A slightly long jacket helps to anchor Jaws at the cost of emphasising his towering height. The jacket pulls at the button, which may be the result of Jaws’ body type being difficult to tailor. His jacket sleeves are also too long, covering the top of his hands. The jacket is detailed with slanted, flapped pockets and double vents. The suit’s waistcoat most likely has six buttons and the trousers have a slightly flared leg with plain hems.

Jaws-Three-Piece-Suit-3Jaws’ light grey shirt is an unconventional choice that flatters his cool winter complexion. It has a fashionably large point collar that has a generous amount of tie space. The shirt’s placket is stitched 1/4″ from the edge to match the collar and cuff stitching. Jaws’ tie is black with a red diamond motif that has a small black square in the centre of each diamond. He ties it in a four-in-hand knot. Jaws’ shoes are black.