Kerim Bey: Light Grey Suit

Kerim-Bey

Kerim Bey, played by Pedro Armendáriz in From Russia with Love, is not only one of the most charismatic characters of the James Bond series, but he is also one of the best-dressed. In a number of scenes he wears a light grey pick-and-pick wool suit, made of different shades of grey for more depth in the cloth than a solid light grey would have.

Kerim-Bey-2The suit jacket has straight shoulders, a clean chest and three buttons down the front. The buttons are spaced closer together than on a contemporary button three jacket, and the middle button is placed at the waist level. This jacket could look good either with the top two buttons fastened—the way Bey wears the jacket—or with only the middle button fastened. The lapels have a nice roll above the top button, but that roll would continue further down if only the middle button were fastened. The jacket has moderately narrow lapels, and a long collar makes the lapel notches smaller than usual for a more fashionable 1960s look. The jacket also has three buttons on the cuffs, jetted pockets and no vent. The suit trousers have a tapered leg with turn-ups, and, most likely, reverse pleats.

Kerim-Bey-3Bey wears a cream shirt with a spread collar, placket and double cuffs, and he shows a folded white linen handkerchief in his jacket’s breast pocket. He wears two ties with this suit. His first tie is charcoal grey satin with a pairing of a white stripe and a slightly wider black stripe going down from the Bey’s right shoulder to his left hip, opposite the traditional English direction. Bey wears this tie when he first meets Bond and on the Orient Express. The second tie’s stripes go the other direction, up from Bey’s right hip to his left shoulder. This tie has a silver satin ground with a thin black stripe, a wide dark grey stripe beneath it with a space in between, another thin black stripe with a wide dark grey stripe touching it beneath it, and a thin brown stripe spaced below. Bey wears the second tie when he discusses with Bond the plans to steel the Lektor. Bey’s shoes are black.

Kronsteen: The Navy Silk Jacket

Kronsteen, on the right

Kronsteen, on the right

Though Kronsteen, played by Vladek Sheybal in From Russia with Love, is one of the less memorable Bond villains, he is one of the more interestingly dressed. In his final scene he wears a stylish alternative to the navy blazer: a slubby navy silk jacket. The jacket is has a draped chest with gentle waist suppression and extended—but natural—shoulders with roped sleeveheads, all of which suggest an English tailor made this jacket. Though it may have a tradtional cut, it also has fashionable 1960′s elements. The jacket appears to be a button one at the front with three buttons on the cuffs, and the buttons are covered in the jacketing silk. The narrow lapels have a generous roll to expose less of the shirt, and they also have swelled edges. The jacket has an open patch breast pocket and open patch hip pockets.

Kronsteen-Navy-Silk-Jacket-2Kronsteen wears light grey worsted wool trousers to contrast the jacket. The trousers are cut with forward pleats, which balance well with the drape style of the jacket. His cream shirt is possibly silk and has a plain front without a placket. The shirt’s short point collar and double cuffs are stitched on the edge. Though black bow ties should best be kept with black tie, Kronsteen wears one as his signature look. It’s a narrow batwing shape, possibly in a barathea weave. It’s difficult to see Kronsteen’s shoes, but they are likely the same black lace-ups that he wears with his charcoal blue suit at the beginning of the film.

Kronsteen carries a pork pie Panama hat that goes well with the summery look of his silk jacket. Like a traditional Panama hat, it’s woven of cream-coloured straw and has a black ribbon. Though the bow tie and panama hat look rather costume-like together, with the right attitude some men could pull off this look today. And if the whole look is too much, a slubby navy silk jacket with patch pockets is a versatile warm-weather jacket that looks great dressed up or down, daytime or nighttime.

The Short Car Coat

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In From Russia with Love, Bond finds a navy wool car coat and peaked cap in a SPECTRE agent’s truck to wear on his maritime escape from Trieste to Venice. His lightweight grey suit isn’t enough to keep him warm during his trip across the water. The hip-length coat just barely covers the suit jacket, so it’s not the best for wearing over a suit. In a way, the coat is like a single-breasted version of a pea coat, if only it had slash pockets instead of patch pockets. It has four buttons, with the top button at the base of the neck and the bottom at the top of the hip pockets. The hip pockets are open patch pockets. The coat has a yoke across the upper back, a vent in back, swelled edges and lapped seams.

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With the car coat Bond wears a black peaked cap with a gold anchor embroidered at the front. Is he wearing the cap to let people know he’s the captain of this boat, is he wearing it to keep his head warm, or is he wearing it just for fun?

All Blue

FRWL-Navy-Suit

No, I’m not talking about the Miles Davis tune “All Blues.” Usually when Sean Connery wears a blue suit in the Bond films, everything else he wears is blue. Well, everything but the black shoes and white pocket handkerchief. The first time we see the monochrome blue outfit is in M’s office in From Russia With Love (above). He wears a solid navy suit with a matching solid navy tie and light blue shirt. A light blue shirt is very important since it provides contrast from all the dark blue in the suit and tie. Though both the suit and tie are navy, the tie is a little lighter than the suit. To some, this mismatch is not desirable, and it’s practically unavoidable when pairing two items that are very close in colour. Those people would say to avoid wearing things close in colour to avoid the mismatch. But it’s an integral part of the classic Bond look.

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Once again in You Only Live Twice (above) we see the same all blue outfit. This time the suit and tie are reversed: the suit is light navy and the tie is dark navy tie. Do you think it’s better for the tie to be slightly lighter or slightly darker than the suit? Ideally, it’s best to get them as close as possible, in not only the value (lightness or darkness of a colour) but also the hue (gradation of colour). A warm blue tie will not go well with a cool blue suit, even if they are similar in value. Connery brings back the all-blue look in Diamonds Are Forever (below), this time with blue pinstripes added. This time is Connery’s closest suit and tie match, and the tie is only a little lighter. I also can’t leave out the navy grenadine ties that Connery wears with his navy blazers—to which he always gets a close match with the tie—but with grey trousers there’s no longer a monochrome look.

Navy-Blue-Pinstripe-SuitRoger Moore starts out as Bond in Live and Let Die (below) wearing a blue suit, blue overcoat, blue shirt and blue tie (below). But does this outfit qualify as monochrome? Even though the tie is primarily navy, the red stripes technically disqualify this outfit from the all blue category, but for the purposes of pairing a blue tie with a blue suit, it’s all blue. The tie is the darkest navy of the outfit, followed by the overcoat and then the suit. They are all very similar.

Navy-ChesterfieldWe don’t see Bond wearing a blue monochrome outfit again until Daniel Craig becomes Bond. I’m not going to count the navy linen suit and light blue shirt worn in the black and white pre-title sequence, since the scene is black and white, and a large brown belt breaks up the blue. But the first suit in Quantum of Solace (below) is very similar to Connery’s pinstripe suit in Diamonds Are Forever. The suit is navy with light blue stripes, the shirt is pale blue and the tie is a pattern of mid blue and black squares. The blue and black of the tie combine to make it look navy overall. The tie does not to completely disqualify the outfit from being all blue, but it doesn’t have the 100% monochrome look of Connery’s classic outfits either. The patterned tie is much easier to pair with the suit than a solid navy tie is.

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The navy-on-navy look is something Bond has inspired many to copy, but it’s not easy to get right. And whether Bond gets it right or not is up to you. If you attempt this look, it helps to have multiple solid navy ties in your collection and good lighting to figure out which one works best with the outfit.

Warm-Weather Glen Plaid Suit

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Sean Connery’s second black and white plaid suit in From Russia With Love is almost identical to the glen plaid suit in Dr. No. The cloth is woven in a plain weave, making it better suited for warmer weather than the more traditional twill-weave Glen Urquhart check suit Connery wears earlier in From Russia With Love. The scale of the pattern on this suit isn’t as fine as the similar check in Dr. No, but all the details are the same except for pocket flaps being present on this suit. The button-two suit jacket has natural shoulders with roped sleeveheads, a draped chest and a nipped waist. It has double vents and four-button cuffs. The suit trousers have double forward pleats and turn ups.

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Connery’s pale blue shirt is from Turnbull & Asser and has a spread collar, front placket and two-button cocktail cuffs. He wears a navy grenadine tie, tied in a four-in-hand knot. He wears a white linen folded pocket handkerchief, black socks and black derby shoes. His hat is a brown felt trilby.

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Shirt Darts

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Darted Turnbull & Asser shirt in From Russia With Love

Darts on the back of a shirt are currently more popular than ever now that people like wearing their clothes tighter. When darts are used, two are typically placed at the back towards the sides. They start above the waist and may extend down to the bottom of the shirt or as far as needed. Most often shirts are shaped as much as possible with the side seams and back darts are used when needed. Traditionally darts are not used on men’s shirts, but can often be found in both the backs and fronts of women’s shirts. But it’s completely acceptable for men to have darts on the back of their shirt for a more shapely and less blousy look. Darts are rarely found on ready-to-wear shirts because the closer fit they provide is very specific to the person wearing the shirt. However, they can easily be added to the shirt if taking in the side seams is not enough.

Turnbull & Asser put darts on Sean Connery’s shirts because of his large drop rather than for a close fit. Without darts, a shirt on someone as athletic as Connery would be much too large around the waist. Connery’s shirt also shows that pleats and darts on the back can work well together.

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Darted Frank Foster shirt in Octopussy

Frank Foster used darts for George Lazenby and Roger Moore’s shirts to achieve a closer fit. Foster fits his shirts much closer than most English shirtmakers, but the clean, streamlined look is perfect for James Bond. The back is shirred under the yoke for fullness across the shoulder blades, and the darts take in the fullness at the waist. Daniel Craig’s dress shirt in Casino Royale is darted, and his Tom Ford shirts in Quantum of Solace and Skyfall are also darted.

Darted Tom Ford shirt in Quantum of Solace

Darted Tom Ford shirt in Quantum of Solace

Q’s Introduction

Q Prince of Wales Suit

Skyfall is released today in the UK, and a new quartermaster is introduced. But let’s take a look back 49 years ago. From Russia With Love introduced Desmond Llyewlyn’s famous Q character, and he went on to appear in 16 more Bond films. He’s first seen in M’s office wearing a 3-piece Prince of Wales check suit and looking the best-dressed he ever was in the series. It’s his own suit—the budget didn’t allow for minor characters’ wardrobes—made in a Savile Row style and probably bespoke. The Prince of Wales check cloth is black and white with red lines framing the pattern. The jacket is a very traditional button three with padded shoulders, a full chest and a nipped waist. It has flapped pockets, three buttons on the cuffs and a single vent. Q wears the jacket unbuttoned except for in a close-up shot, a continuity error. When he has it buttoned, only the middle is fastened.

Q Prince of Wales Suit

The suit’s waistcoat has six buttons with five to button and the trousers have forward pleats. Q wears a cream shirt with a spread collar and a Brigade of Guards regimental tie with navy and maroon stripes. Director of From Russia With Love, Terence Young, directed Llewelyn in a 1950 film called They Were Not Divided. Lewellyn played a Guards Officer and Young himself was a former Guards Officer. The tie is surely a nod to the film they did together 13 years earlier.

Q Prince of Wales Suit

Whilst Bond’s suit is influenced by 1960s fashions with its two buttons and narrow lapels, Q’s suit doesn’t belong to any era.

Casual Dinner in a Charcoal Flannel Suit

From Russia With Love Flannel Suit

Bond and Kerim Bey are overdressed for the Gypsy camp

In From Russia With Love, Bond wears a charcoal flannel suit to dinner at the gypsy camp. This is a typical Anthony Sinclair suit: a lower two-button style, natural shoulders with roped sleeveheads, a little drape and a nipped waist. This suit jacket has double vents, four buttons on the cuffs and flapped pockets. The trousers have double forward pleats with button-tab waist adjusters and turn-ups.

From Russia With Love Flannel Suit

The shirt and tie are also the usual. The pale blue Turnbull & Asser shirt has a spread collar, a placket, rear darts and cocktail cuffs. The tie is a navy grenadine. At the beginning of the evening Bond starts out with a white linen handkerchief folded in his breast pocket but removes it to wipe his hands. Later in the evening he puts it back in. In a continuity error, Bond wears two pairs of shoes with this suit: black 2-eyelet derbies and black slip-ons. His socks are black with a red band around the top. Or the red band could be something else.

From Russia With Love Flannel Suit

A Gypsy girl repairs Bond’s shirt