Driving in a Suit

Driving-Quantum

When you drive, do you wear your suit jacket or hang it up? James Bond always chooses to drive in his suit jacket because he’s usually in a hurry to get in or out of his car. Besides that, it just wouldn’t look elegant for him to remove his jacket to simply get in the car. There’s no need for Bond to remove his jacket in the car because the magic of filmmaking means that Bond’s suit won’t be wrinkled when exits his car. And since his suit only has to last for a small part of a single film he doesn’t need to worry about seatbelt abrasion. The problems of wrinkling and abrasion have become more noticeable to the average suit wearer with the rise in popularity of lighter cloth weights and higher super numbers, which both make the wool less wrinkle resistant and more prone to shining with abrasion.

Driving-Dr-NoBut what about the physical act of driving in a suit? A well-fitting suit shouldn’t constrict movement. The key to being able to move the arms is high armholes. That means the armhole is smaller and hugs the armpit. Feeling the bottom of the armhole in your armpit may give the impression of being constricting, but it is actually quite the opposite. A higher armhole means that less of the suit jacket moves when the arm is raised, and it helps the arm to move more independently of the rest of the jacket. A little ease over the shoulder blades also gives the arms more range of movement. Nevertheless, it helps to unbutton the jacket when driving.

Driving-TWINEThe higher armhole is demonstrated whenever Bond is driving. The jacket sleeve rides up to reveal most of the shirt cuff, which shouldn’t ride up as much as the jacket sleeve does. If the armhole is too low or the suit is too tight, the jacket sleeve will ride up more.

The same goes for riding a motorcycle as it does for driving a car, though James Bond is probably the only person who rides a motorcycle in a suit. In Skyfall, Daniel Craig wears a suit specifically made with longer sleeves for riding a motorcycle (below) so that the amount of shirt cuff that shows when he is riding is consistent with the amount that shows when he is standing with his arms at his side. It’s nonsensical to expect the same amount of shirt cuff to show no matter the arms positions, and I find it absurd that Skyfall’s costume designer Jany Temime felt that a special suit needed to be fitted for riding a motorcycle. Since the sleeves are expected to rise up when the arms are bent, it looks like the sleeves are too long. Plus, it’s a missed opportunity to show off Bond’s cufflinks!

Skyfall-Motorcycle

The Cummerbund

The cummerbund in Skyfall

The cummerbund in Skyfall

Though the cummerbund is a well-known part of black tie, Bond has only worn a cummerbund on a handful of occasions. Traditionally, one isn’t wearing a cummerbund because he’s wearing a waistcoat or a double-breasted dinner jacket, but those situations do not make up the rest of Bond’s black tie outfits. Bond is well-known for omitting the waist-covering altogether, but Bond wears the seemingly pointless piece of silk around his waist a few times.

According to Black Tie Guide, the cummerbund originated from coloured sashes that British officers wrapped around their waist in India. Now cummerbunds ordinarily come in the form of a piece of pleated silk—with the pleats worn facing up—in the front that connects in the back with a strap and buckle. The purpose of the cummerbund is to act as a formal waist-covering that wears cooler than a waistcoat. It covers the bottom of the shirt front and the trousers’ waistband, so it serves an aesthetic purpose if not a practical one. The cummerbund is not a belt and does not hold up the trousers, so there is no rule about not wearing a cummerbund with braces. Braces can be worn with a cummerbund just the same as they can—and should—be worn under a waistcoat. Bond wears both a cummerbund and braces in Licence to Kill and Skyfall.

Diamonds-Cummerbund

A fancy, coloured silk cummerbund in Diamonds Are Forever

The cummerbund is traditionally black and matches the bow tie in both colour and texture, but it can be other colours. Burgundy is the most common choice for a coloured cummerbund, but the bow tie should always be black no matter the colour of the cummerbund. Coloured matching bow tie and cummerbund sets are often sold and can be worn for “creative black tie” functions and high school proms, but if you’re trying to follow the elegant example that Bond sets the bow tie should always be black. After all, it’s called “black tie”. The only time Ian Fleming mentions Bond wearing a cummerbund it’s a “wine-red cummerbund” that he wears with his white dinner jacket and dress trousers in the Thunderball novel. Since the bow tie isn’t mentioned, we can assume that Bond wears a proper black bow tie. The first time Bond wears a cummerbund in the films it’s a fancy silk in burgundy and black in Diamonds Are Forever. It’s a flashier 1970s take on the “wine-red cummerbund” that Fleming writes about, but the bow tie is still black. It’s the only time in the series that Sean Connery wears any sort of waist-covering with black tie.

Built-In-Cummerbund

The built-in cummerbund in For Your Eyes Only

In For Your Eyes Only, Bond wears trousers with a sort of waistband that acts like a cummerbund. The waistband is very wide, flat silk that extends across the entire front and fastens with two buttons at the right side. It’s a little narrower than a real cummerbund, but it’s a clever design and acts like a built-in cummerbund. The same type of built-in cummerbund returns in Octopussy. It may not be a proper cummerbund, but it’s a step in the right direction.

Licence-to-Kill-Cummerbund

A flat cummerbund in Licence to Kill

The first time Bond has a traditional black, pleated cummerbund is in Licence to Kill. It’s one of the few redeeming qualities of the black tie outfit in that film. But actually there are two cummerbunds used. The one Bond removes is flat silk and is used with the purpose to conceal rope. But later when Bond wakes up at Sanchez’s villa and sees his dinner suit neatly hung up, it’s the traditional cummerbund with pleats.

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The cummerbund briefly appearing in Quantum of Solace

When Bond wore his dinner suit without a cummerbund or waistcoat in Casino Royale, many people took note of it and started doing the same. Though Bond’s tradition of foregoing the waist-covering began from the start of the film series in Dr. No, it took 44 years for people to notice and make a big fuss over it. When Bond returned in Quantum of Solace two years later, the cummerbund returned. And Bond wore a cummerbund again in Skyfall despite the cummerbund not being very popular at the moment.

The cummerbund does not work well with the low-rise trousers that make up the majority of suit trousers today since the cummerbund should be worn up at the waist and not down at the hips. Some people say that the cummerbund should be used with such low-rise trousers to prevent the white of the shirt from showing between the jacket button and the top of the waistband, but that’s not a true solution for a poorly-designed suit. The cummerbund’s purpose is not to prevent that bit of shirt from showing. The jacket’s buttoning point and the trousers’ waistband in a well-fitting suit should not be very far from one another. The cummerbund should actually be mostly hidden under the jacket and only show just a little above and below the jacket’s button, if it shows at all.

SIS Tracksuit

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James Bond trains in a royal blue tracksuit in Skyfall, and it’s only Bond’s second of the series. The first is a velour tracksuit in A View to a Kill, and whilst this one isn’t as luxurious it’s more practical and appropriate for Bond. Despite being a Royal Navy officer, Bond wears a PTI (Physical Training Instructor) jacket of the British Army, issued by the Secret Intelligence Service (SIS) with a silver SIS crest on the upper left chest. There is a jetted zip pocket above the crest, and it’s the only outer pocket on the jacket. The jacket has a zip-front with set-in sleeves, a crew neck and ribbed elastic cuffs.

Skyfall-BaselayerThe matching trousers complete the tracksuit. They have ribbed elastic bottoms like the cuffs on the jacket sleeves. The legs have a rib sewn down the centre of each leg. The ribs give the legs a creased look—this type of cotton cloth won’t take a crease—so the tracksuit has a more military-like look. Some may think it looks affected but I think it’s a nice touch.

Skyfall-Tracksuit-2Underneath the tracksuit Bond wears a dark blue-grey long-sleeve, crew-neck shirt in a waffle knit. The shirt has regular shirt-style sleeves, and the narrow shoulders are emphasise Daniel Craig’s large deltoids. The sleeves have cuffs in a a finer knit but Bond rolls up the sleeves to the elbow. The shirt’s upper left chest has the same SIS as on the jacket. Bond’s socks are white athletic crew socks. The trainers are the Adidas Gazelle 2 model in Dark Indigo suede with Argentina Blue (pale blue) stripes. The soles are white rubber.

Navy Topcoat

Navy-Topcoat

Daniel Craig wears an elegant, though somewhat unremarkable, navy topcoat from Tom Ford in Skyfall over his glen check and navy herringbone suits. At a three-quarter length, it’s like a longer, heavier suit jacket that isn’t cut away in front. It has three buttons to show on front, but Daniel Craig fastens only the middle button like a suit jacket in the topcoat’s first appearance. He fastens the middle and bottom buttons in the topcoat’s second appearance. It’s difficult to tell if Daniel Craig is leaving buttons open as a fashion statement or because the coat is too tight to comfortably close the top button. It doesn’t look bad the way he wears it, but at the same time it looks affected. If he’s wearing a topcoat because it’s cold outside, why not make the most of the coat and fasten all of the buttons? Unlike on a button three lounge coat (a.k.a. suit jacket), the buttons on an overcoat fall in a straight line. Thus visually the straight line is preserved by either fastening all of the buttons, like how Connery wears his topcoat in Thunderball, or fastening none, like Pierce Brosnan does in GoldenEye.

Navy-Topcoat-3The coat is cut with straight and narrow shoulders, and the front is darted for a shaped silhouette. The cuffs button three, and like on his suit jacket, Daniel Craig leaves the last button open. The coat has straight, flapped pockets, a welted breast pocket and a deep single vent. Whilst it’s a very nice coat, a fly that hides the buttons could have made this a more elegant coat.

With the coat’s second appearance on a London rooftop, Craig wears black leather gloves and a medium grey cashmere scarf in a parisian knot. The parisian knot is tied by folding the scarf in half, draping it over the neck and inserting the dangling ends of the scarf together through the loop created at the folded end. The parisian knot works best with longer, lighter scarves. Folding the scarf in half takes up a lot of length, and in a heavier scarf the knot can end up very bulky. Bulkiness, however, can be a benefit in very cold weather. The parisian knot is an easy and effective way to wear the scarf, and Craig tucks the ends into his coat. The scarf and gloves show that this is a colder scene than the earlier one, and Craig also flips up his collar for extra protection from the cold. But again, if it’s that cold outside why does he leave the top button open? The most logical reason would be that the topcoat is too small—like most of the tailored clothes in Skyfall—to properly close.

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Gareth Mallory: The Double-Breasted Suit

Mallory-Double-Breasted

Gareth Mallory, played by Ralph Fiennes, wears a double-breasted suit after becoming the new M in Skyfall. The double-breasted suit, however, makes him look more like Bill Tanner in For Your Eyes Only than the first two Ms. Today the double-breasted suit is a more traditional look, and that’s likely why costume designer Jany Temime dressed Fiennes in this suit for this scene instead of the more contemporary two- and three-piece suits he wears prior to becoming M. Another thing that makes this suit look more traditional is the soft, heavy navy woollen flannel chalkstripe cloth. Heavier cloths look more old-fashioned than lightweight cloths. Since Bond has just come in from the cold and has hung up his overcoat, M’s choice of a heavy flannel suit is clearly a very practical one.

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The suit jacket has the classic arrangement of six buttons with two to button, and Mallory buttons only the top of those two buttons. The jacket also has double vents, four-button cuffs and flapped pockets. This suit has the same straight shoulders with roped sleeveheads that Mallory’s other suits in the film have, but a fuller chest and wider lapels contribute to its more traditional look. It has a classic Savile Row cut: nipped at the waist and flared at the skirt. Whilst the suit is a little old-fashioned, it isn’t outdated and it looks great on Ralph Fiennes. It’s made by Timothy Everest, who typically makes more fashion forward suit.

Not much is seen of the suit trousers, but they are likely the same flat-front, tapered-leg trouser with braces he wears throughout the film. Mallory wears a cornflower blue shirt with a spread collar and double cuffs. His red ribbed silk tie is tied in a four-in-hand knot. James Bond has also worn a similar outfit of a flannel navy chalkstripe suit with a blue shirt and red tie, thought Bond’s suit was a three-piece suit and not double-breasted. He wears this outfit for his meeting with Sir Hilary Bray in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service.

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The Navy Small Herringbone Suit

Navy-Small-Herringbone-SuitDaniel Craig’s Tom Ford suit in the final scene of Skyfall is dark navy in a small herringbone, or mini bone, weave. The small herringbone weaves gives the cloth a narrow self-stripe look whilst being one solid colour. Like the other three lounge suits in Skyfall, the jacket is a button three with straight, narrow shoulders, a single vent and gently sloped pockets. Craig leaves the last button open on his button three cuffs. Like all of the suits in Skyfall, the jacket is short and doesn’t completely cover his buttocks, and the chest is tight, causing it to pull open where it isn’t designed to. Though such a fit is currently fashionable, until a few years ago these were marks of a poor fit. The collar on this suit jacket does not hug the shirt collar, which is another mark of a poor fit.

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Click the photo to enlarge and look for the pick stitching on the edge of the lapels.

Though it’s on all of the suits in Skyfall—and most of the suits in the entire James Bond series—the pick stitching along the edge of the lapels and on the pockets is especially visible on this suit. It’s more visible on this suit because the cloth is solid and lightweight. The pick stitch—also called a prick stitch—is a handmade running stitch along the edges that, when executed well, should be almost invisible. It keeps the edge firm and prevents it from puffing up. To be more fashionable, some tailors use a heavier or contrasting thread to make it more noticeable.

Craig wears a light blue shirt with a tab collar, front placket and double cuffs. It looks like grey because of the warm lighting that desaturates the blues and gives the scene an older feel. His folded cotton pocket handkerchief matches the shirt. His tie, tied in a four-in-hand knot, is in a small basket-weave pattern of either mid grey and black or mid grey and dark navy. The latter would make more sense with the outfit overall, but it’s difficult to tell.

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An Elegant Pattern

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Continuing on the topic of tie weaves, let’s look at some more recent ties in the series. The Tom Ford ties in Skyfall, like the ones that came before in Quantum of Solace, are some of the nicest of the series. Craig has never been dressed in a tie of questionable taste, which places him alongside George Lazenby and Timothy Dalton. Though Dalton’s ties are very forgettable, he never wore anything that could compete with Sean Connery’s wide pink tie in Diamonds Are Forever or Roger Moore’s colourful striped tie in Moonraker. Two of the Tom Ford ties in Skyfall hint back to the classic grenadine ties Sean Connery wears in his Bond films. Though these ties are not solids like Connery’s grenadines, the weave somewhat mimics a grenadine weave, with tightly woven sections between floated yarns. There are no twisted yarns. The tie is woven with a different colour in the warp than in the weft, and it creates an intricate and elegant pattern. The first one (top) is silver on black, worn with the pick-and-pick suit at the beginning of the film.

Skyfall-Blue-Tie

The second tie is charcoal on light blue-grey (above), worn with the charcoal rope stripe suit. Though the colours are different, reversing the dark and light in the warp and weft gives each tie its own look. Like how Sean Connery wears only grenadine and knitted ties in his Bond films, Daniel Craig only wears neat-pattern ties in his. Craig’s typical ties have the same subtlety of Connery’s ties but with more interest in the pattern than in the weave. These ties have both interest in the pattern and texture, with a good balance of each.

The Fancy Rope Stripe Suit

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The nicest part of every Tom Ford suit in Skyfall is the suiting. The proper use of the term “suiting” is to describe the cloth a suit is made from; it’s not another word for a suit or multiple suits, like the way some brands have recently started using the term to sound more sophisticated (they don’t!). Tom Ford puts far more importance on the quality of his suiting than most fashion designers do. This suiting from Skyfall looks like a basic charcoal with a narrow-spaced grey rope stripe, but it’s a little fancier than that. The cloth is twill-woven, except on either side of each rope stripe there is a plain-woven section framing the stripe. It adds a subtle dimension to the cloth whilst still keeping it classic.

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The cut and style of this suit is the same as the other suits in the film. The fit is tight and short, with narrow, straight shoulders. The jacket buttons three and the narrow lapels roll at the top button, though the tight fit in the chest pulls it open down to the fastened middle button. It is not a three-roll-two like the Quantum of Solace suits. The buttons are placed lower than on most current suits, which is both bad and good. The bad part is that it emphasises how short the jacket is, and the buttons look very low on the jacket. But the good part is that the middle button fastens exactly where it should: at the waist. The button at the waist means that not as much shirt can show above the trousers as on the typical “slim fit” suit, and it helps the jacket to move better with the body. A lower button stance also makes the chest look stronger, which is why a high button stance is rarely a good thing. The flapped hip pockets are on a shallow slant, and the cuffs have three buttons with last one left open. There is a single vent at the rear. The suit trousers have a flat front and are cut with a low rise and narrow leg, and they have a short hem with turn-ups. The trousers have side adjusters with slide buckles and an extended waistband with hook closure.

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Bond’s pale blue poplin shirt—also made by Tom Ford—has a soft tab collar, a placket down the front and double cuffs. A pale blue cotton handkerchief folded in the pocket matches the shirt. The tie is made in the same weave as the black and silver tie worn with the pick-and-pick suit earlier in the film. This one is a pattern of light blue-grey and charcoal. The shoes are the black Crockett & Jones Highbury model, a 3-eyelet derby with Dainite rubber studded soles. The Dainite soles are useful in the scenes where this suit is worn because they provide the extra needed traction over traditional leather soles.

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