The Royal Oxford Shirt

Royal-Oxford-Shirt

Pierce Brosnan wears a royal oxford shirt with his charcoal suit in the opening scene in The World Is Not Enough

The royal oxford shirt should be more popular than it is. Though Bond has primarily worn poplin shirts throughout the series, Pierce Brosnan wears royal oxford shirts from Turnbull & Asser in Tomorrow Never Dies and The World Is Not Enough. All oxford cloths are basket weaves, from the finer pinpoint to the heavier standard oxford cloth, but the royale oxford is a more elaborate weave than the others and has a diagonal effect along with the basket weave look. Whilst royal oxford is the dressiest of the oxford cloths, it can be effectively made into both dressier and sportier shirts. Pierce Brosnan usually wears his with double cuffs, but in The World Is Not Enough he wears a royal oxford shirt with button-cuffs and an open collar with his herringbone linen suit.

Royal-OxfordRoyal oxford is just below poplin in formality and can be worn for the same purposes, whilst twills and other oxfords are all progressively lower in formality depending on the size of the texture. Unlike poplin, royal oxford irons very easily and doesn’t crease so readily. The floated yarns in the weave mean that it wrinkles less, but they also make royal oxford a softer cloth. If you’re used to non-iron shirts but want something more luxurious, a regular royal oxford shirt may be the best shirt to get. Royal oxford is also a heavier cloth than poplin, but the weave is open so it breathes very well. It is one of the most versatile shirtings whilst also being one of the most practical.

Polo Jumper and Golf Wear

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With spring here, the polo jumper is a great and versatile casual piece for the season’s mild weather. Pierce Brosnan wears a black polo jumper in The Thomas Crown Affair for a game of golf, and though they can be found in wool I doubt Thomas Crown would ever wear a jumper made of anything less than cashmere. Fine merino wool or cashmere is necessary for knitwear that has direct contact with the skin because anything coarser would get itchy. It has a rather full fit, which was the fashion in the 1990s. It looks unattractively baggy around the waist, and the current trend toward closer-fitting knitwear is one to follow. Polo jumpers that have a taller collar than ordinary polo shirts can be worn casually under a sports coat, and they go especially well with tweed like Sean Connery wears in Diamonds Are Forever‘s pre-title sequence. It’s hard to tell if Pierce Brosnan’s polo jumper has a collar tall enough to wear under a jacket, but the key is for the collar to not get lost under the jacket.

Thomas-Crown-Golf-2The golf trousers aren’t nearly as versatile as the jumper. No trousers are too loud for the golf course, but Thomas Crown’s trosuers are rather tasteful in a dark blue and red plaid. Still, they wouldn’t work anywhere but on the golf course. If you have a pair of trousers that don’t go with anything, wear them for golf. I have two pairs that qualify, but I have yet to take up golf. Brosnan’s trousers have a flat front and plain hems. They have belt loops but Brosnan wears them without a belt. The top of the jumper covers most of the trousers’ waistband, and the lack of a belt makes the jumper’s ribbed hem look neater.

The shoes are chestnut-coloured split-toe norwegian-front derbies, and they are very similar to what Sean Connery wore for golf in Goldfinger. They have leather golf soles with cleats, attached with a 360º degree welt. This type of welt is when the stitching goes all the way around the top of the soles, as opposed to typical welted shoes where the welt stops at the heel (called a 270º welt or breast-to-breast welt). The American maker Allen Edmonds use a 360º welt on almost all of their shoes, but this type of welt can be found on more casual styles from many other makers, American and English. It’s not as sleek as the breast-to-breast welt, but it’s great for more casual styles like these norwegians. These shoes also have a kiltie, which is the fringed and brogued piece of leather that covers the lacing and eyelets.

Norwegian-Golf-Shoes

Puffed Pocket Squares

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The puffed silk pocket square is the standard for those who wish to add a splash of colour in their breast pocket instead of the staid folded white linen handkerchief. To create a puff, lay the handkerchief flat and pick it up by pinching it from the centre. Slide it though your hand to gather it together, turn up the bottom and place the pocket square in your breast pocket. Once in the pocket you can adjust the pocket square to puff it up.

GoldenEye-Plaid-SuitIn GoldenEye, Pierce Brosnan wears solid pocket squares that pick up one of the colours in his tie. In the M’s office scene, Brosnan matches a medium blue pocket square to the medium blue squares in the tie (right). A light brown or gold pocket square would also have been a good choice to echo the tie’s light brown squares. In the Q’s lab scene he wears another medium blue pocket square that is lighter than but still echoes the base colour of his tie (top). It’s the easiest choice to match the tie’s base colour, but it would be more interesting if Brosnan matched his pocket square to the red or yellow in the tie. He again wears a medium blue pocket square with his navy birdseye suit in Russia, which subtly echoes the lighter blue in the birdseye weave.

In The World is Not Enough, Pierce Brosnan wears a rather unexciting grey puffed silk pocket square with his pinstripe suit, but it echoes both the grey in the tie and the suit’s pinstripes. It’s a smart match whilst at the same time is subtle enough that it doesn’t look too studied.

Remington-Steele-Pocket-SquareBrosnan was no stranger to wearing puffed silk pocket squares in GoldenEye. He consistently wore them in Remington Steele, but then he most often went for the uninspired method of matching the pocket square to the base colour of his tie, and he occasionally matched his pocket square to his shirt as well. There were some exceptions to that, like in the second season premiere “Steele Away with Me”. Brosnan uses a red pocket square to echo the pink spots on his tie (left). It complements the outfit without looking too studied. But this method of matching the pocket square doesn’t only apply to matching with ties. Pocket squares can also be effectively used to echo the colour of a stripe or check in a shirt or a suit. Brosnan also could have worn a yellow pocket square to echo the stripes in his shirt.

Moonraker-Pocket-SquareRoger Moore shows in Moonraker how not to wear a pocket square, with his cream suit in Rio de Janeiro. He wears a light brown pocket square that’s such a close match to the shirt it’s probably made from the same cotton (right). Daniel Craig’s matching light blue pocket square and shirt aren’t so bad because they’re in a very neutral colour, but Moore’s shirt and pocket square are far more noticeable. A pocket square should not be an exact match to any other part of the outfit—unless it’s white or otherwise very neutral—or else it looks amateurish and unstylish. It’s a shame that Moore’s only pocket square in his seven Bond films is a failure since Moore is otherwise one of the most creatively-dressed Bonds.

Matching a patterned pocket square with a patterned shirt or tie can be difficult because there can often end up being too much going on. Wearing a patterned pocket square that has the same colours as the tie is almost as bad as wearing a matching tie and pocket square. If you find yourself often without a tie, a patterned pocket square can often be the best thing since it can add the interest that is lost without a tie. And no, there is no rule about not wearing a pocket square without a tie.

The Thomas Crown Affair (1999): The Navy Peaked Lapel Suit

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Pierce Brosnan wears a number of beautiful suits from Milanese tailor Gianni Campagna in The Thomas Crown Affair (1999). The suits in the film were reported to be made of Super 150s wool. Higher Super numbers indicate a finer fibre but not necessarily a higher quality cloth. Finer fibres make for a cloth that has a softer hand, but the resulting cloth is often less durable, is more prone to creasing and shining, and doesn’t usually tailor as well. Quality has more do to with the way the cloth is woven and finished. Whilst finer wools are often thought to be better, a Super 120s cloth from a reputable merchant is far superior to a cheap Super 150s cloth. The Super number is unrelated to the weight of the cloth.

Thomas-Crown-Navy-Peaked-Lapel-Suit-2One of Pierce Brosnan’s many suits in The Thomas Crown Affair is a navy suit in a large herringbone weave, but since the cloth is a fine Super 150s the stripe effect from the herringbone weave is very subtle and can only be seen in certain lighting. The suit jacket buttons three, and though Brosnan only fastens the middle button, the lapels roll at the top button. It is cut with a clean chest and has straight shoulders with roped sleeveheads. Peaked lapels add an air of formality to this lounge suit, whilst also giving it a bit of a 1940′s Cary Grant look. Though peaked lapels are currently very trendy, the current examples are typically very narrow and on high button two jackets. This jacket has the most classic and elegant of proportions. It looks great on Pierce Brosnan, and it would look just as great now as it did in 1999. This jacket probably has double vents like the other jackets in the film do, though we don’t get a good look at the rear of this suit. Like the other suits in the film, the full-cut trousers most likely have reverse pleats. Brosnan wears the trousers with a belt.

Thomas-Crown-Navy-Peaked-Lapel-Suit-3Brosnan’s cornflower blue shirt from Turnbull & Asser has a spread collar and double cuffs. The silver tie is probably also from Turnbull & Asser. Brosnan ties the tie in a four-in-hand knot with a dimple. Like the suit, the tie is in a herringbone weave. It’s not the same weave as the tie he wears in The World is Not Enough, which is a pointed twill weave that looks like a chevron pattern rather than a herringbone. To not clash with the texture of the suit, the tie’s herringbone is larger than the suit’s herringbone. Also, the herringbone in the suit is subtle enough that it nothing will really clash with it.

Open-Collar Shirts

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For most people today, ties are limited to wearing only for special occasions. A formal shirt—dress shirt to the Americans—is meant to be worn with a tie, but it’s common now to wear them with the collar open. James Bond has worn his collar open as far back as You Only Live Twice and as recently as Skyfall. In You Only Live Twice, Sean Connery folds his collar flat to behave more like a camp collar. Otherwise, Bond lets his collar stand up more naturally.

The two-button collar

Since the formal shirt’s collar is meant to be worn with a tie, it doesn’t always look right when worn open. Wide cutaway collars are too formal to be worn open, but narrow collars open don’t work so well either. Some people will disagree, but I think a middle-of-the-road spread collar is best, which is the type of collar James Bond usually wears open. Small, flimsy collars worn without a tie make an equally flimsy impression. A taller, firmer collar is most effective when worn open. Roger Moore’s 2-button collar in Live and Let Die is a great example of this, as is Daniel Craig’s large Tom Ford collar in Quantum of Solace.

Button-Down-CollarIn A View to a Kill, Roger Moore’s open-collared shirts have a button-down collar, a rather casual style that’s best worn without a tie. The buttons keep the collar points anchored to the shirt, propping up the collar. Hidden button-down collars are a similarly effective option for those who don’t like the look of a button-down collar. Yet another option is magnetic collar stays. Some will say that only a button-down collar, and never a spread or point collar, can be worn without a tie.

Collar-Outside-JumperWhen wearing a jumper it’s often debated whether to wear the shirt collar inside or outside the jumper’s collar. Roger Moore wears his collars outside a V-neck jumper in The Spy Who Loved Me and outside a crew-neck jumper in For Your Eyes Only. Pierce Brosnan does the same with his crew-neck jumper in GoldenEye. Currently it’s more fashionable to wear the collar inside the jumper, like Timothy Dalton does in The Living Daylights. When wearing a jacket, the shirt collar should stay inside the jacket’s collar, not over it like in Moonraker.

Open-Collar-Grey-SuitThe placement of the first button under the collar makes a difference as to how well the collar stands up. A higher first button keeps the collar standing up better. Turnbull & Asser’s first button is 3 inches from the bottom of the collar. Frank Foster’s first button is a mere 1 3/4 inches from bottom of the collar, which considerably helps keep the collar stand up. Roger Moore fastens all buttons under the collar on his Frank Foster button-down shirt in A View to a Kill (see image above), and it shows how high that first button is. However, that top button is ordinarily too high for Moore to keep fastened. When he wears his collar open, he typically also leaves open the first button, if not both the first and second buttons. Timothy Dalton in The Living Daylights, Pierce Brosnan and Daniel Craig also leave the first button open on their shirts.

In Licence to Kill, Timothy Dalton keeps his top button fastened, showing that he’s not as relaxed as Bond usually is with an open collar (see image below). Though dark lounge suits aren’t worn well without a tie, more informal summer suits and sports coats can be worn without a tie more effectively. It’s common to see men dressing in a dark suit and open collar for business these days, and in a professional setting only the collar button should be open. Unbuttoning more isn’t appropriate for men in a professional setting, especially when there’s chest hair present.

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Brogues

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The Church’s Chetwynd brogue, the shoe Pierce Brosnan wears in GoldenEye. Brosnan’s shoe is a darker brown than this.

The full brogue is a versatile shoe that can be worn from casual wear to business wear. The full brogue is set apart from lesser brogues by the wing tip. It has perforations—called “broguing”—along every seam, a medallion on the toe and a heel counter. Though the classic full brogue is an oxford—a shoe with closed lacing, called a balmoral to the Americans—they can just as often be found in a derby—blucher to the Americans. There are even monk, boot and slip-on brogues. Pierce Brosnan wears the Chruch’s Chetwynd model, a full-brogue oxford, in brown. In GoldenEye he wears them with his double-breasted navy blazer and beige trousers, but he also dresses them down with a navy jumper and tan moleskin trousers. A pair of these was sold at Christies on 19 December 2007 for £1,080. A pair of black full-brogue oxfords in the Church’s Douglas model from The World is Not Enough was sold at Christie’s on 12 February 2001 for £1,528. The complex style of the full brogue works best with rustic, heavier clothes and less so with city business dress, but the latter can still be done. In Diamonds Are Forever, Sean Connery wears black full-brouge derby shoes with his black, light grey and navy pinstripe suits.

Diamonds-Are-Forever-Derby-Brogues

Sean Connery’s full-brogue derby shoes

Pierce Brosnan also wears a dressier variation called the semi-brogue in GoldenEye with his navy birdseye suit. The semi-brogue is the same as the as the full brogue with one big exception: it has a regular cap toe instead of a wing tip. Otherwise the shoe has broguing along all the seams, a heel counter and a toe medallion. This shoe is better for business suits than the full brogue, but the complex detailing on the shoes means they are still not ideal for dressier occasions. Brosnan’s semi-brogue oxford is the Church’s Diplomat model.

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The Church’s semi-brogue Diplomat model in GoldenEye

The simplest brogue is the quarter brogue, also called a punch-cap-toe. In Quantum of Solace, Daniel Craig wears the Church’s Philip quarter brogue oxfords with his suits. This shoe is almost as dressy as the stitched cap-toe oxford and can be worn in the most formal, and least formal, of suit-wearing occasions.

Quantum-of-Solace-Quarter-Brogue

Daniel Craig’s Church’s Philiip quarter-brogue oxfords in Quantum of Solace

There are other brogue styles that Bond does not wear. The austerity brogue is a wing-tip shoe without any perforations. There is also the longwing brogue, in which the wings extend around the entire shoe. The longwing, which is popular in American, has derby-style lacing and is the most casual of all brogues. Finally, I can’t leave out the ghillie brogue, which is mostly worn with Scottish highland dress and has no tongue.

Darted Trousers

Darts on the front of Roger Moore's trousers, in-line with the crease

Darts on the front of Roger Moore’s Cyril Castle trousers in The Man with the Golden Gun, in-line with the crease. Click the image for a closer look.

The one style of trousers that people never talk about is the darted front. We always hear about pleats versus no pleats, but darts are left out. A dart is essentially a pleat that is sewn shut, but it’s not very noticeable. All trousers have darts in the rear, one or two on each side over the pocket—or over where the pocket would be if there is none. For medium to high rise trousers, a dart in the front is better than a plain front so the trousers can better curve over the hips. Only high-end ready-to-wear brands and bespoke tailors seem to appreciate the effectiveness of darts in the front of trousers

Darts on the front side of Daniel Craig's Brioni trousers

Darts on the front side of Daniel Craig’s Brioni trousers in Casino Royale. Click the image for a closer look.

Trouser darts in front are not as deep as trouser pleats are, and there is only one on each side instead of two. Though darts don’t provide extra cloth for the trousers to expand when sitting like pleats do, they help curve the trousers over the hips. They also can help the problem of side pockets that flare out on flat front trousers. Some tailors place the dart where the main pleat would be on pleated trousers, and some place it less noticeably off to the side. I cannot say in which place the dart is more effective. Can you still call trousers with a dart in front “flat front”? Maybe. With a dart the front is no longer flat, it is curved.

Darts on the front side of Pierce Brosnan's trousers in Die Another Day. Click the image for a closer look.

Darts on the front side of Pierce Brosnan’s trousers in Die Another Day. Click the image for a closer look.

I have most certainly labelled some darted trousers as flat front because it’s difficult to see darts on screen. Now that I have the series on Blu-ray, I can better see those kinds of details. but not in every example. It appears that Lazenby’s dinner suit trousers have darts, but those are the only suit trousers we see without a jacket. All of Roger Moore’s Cyril Castle—the tailor who made Roger Moore’s suits in Live and Let Die and The Man with the Golden Gun—trousers have darts, which are in-line with the trouser crease. Castle gives Moore’s trousers very long front darts, which most likely help the fit at the expense of a clean look. Pierce Brosnan’s and Daniel Craig’s Brioni trousers that don’t have pleats have darts, and Brioni places them closer to the side pocket. Anthony Sinclair made his darts the same way for Sean Connery in Diamonds Are Forever.

Darts on the front side of Sean Connery's Anthony Sinclair trousers in Diamonds Are Forever. They are easier seen when wet. Click the image for a close look.

Darts on the front side of Sean Connery’s Anthony Sinclair trousers in Diamonds Are Forever. The darts are easier seen when wet. Click the image for a closer look.

Pleated Trousers

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Sean Connery wearing trousers with double forward pleats

Though pleated trousers may not be currently fashionable, every James Bond except Roger Moore has worn them. There are essentially two different kinds of the pleats, forward pleats and reverse pleats. Forward pleats fold in and reverse pleats fold out. Reverse pleats are the type of pleats that were most popular from the 1980s to the early 2000s. Forward pleats are associated with English style whilst reverse pleats are associated with Italian style. In America the popularity of each style was more evenly split in the 1930s-1950s, and again in the 1980s when pleats became popular again. By the 2000s, most makers switched to reverse pleats with only a handful left making the traditional forward pleats.

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Sean Connery wearing trousers with double forward pleats

Forward pleats are sometimes called “inverse pleats” or “tuc pleats” (at Paul Stuart), and I recently heard someone call them “straight pleats.” They are even sometimes called “regular pleats” even though they haven’t been the regular pleat style for some time now. Because they are the opposite of what became the standard pleat style, some people incorrectly call them reverse pleats. On forward-pleated trousers, the pattern for the trousers is extended from the crotch and inside of the leg twice the depth of the pleat, usually down to the knee. The added fullness is neatly kept to the inside of the leg. When there is a second pleat, the extra cloth is taken from the outer edge on the hips. Sean Connery wears double-forward-pleated trousers with all of his suits in the 1960s, during a time when pleats were becoming increasingly less popular. But Connery isn’t the only Bond to have worn forward pleats. George Lazenby’s tweed suit trousers have forward pleats, and some of Timothy Dalton’s suits in The Living Daylights have forward pleats.

Daniel Craig wearing trousers double reverse pleats Pierce Brosnan wearing trousers double reverse pleats

Daniel Craig wearing trousers with double reverse pleats

Reverse pleats are the standard pleats today, or at least they were a few years ago before pleats completely went out of fashion. Reverse pleats first appear on Bond in The Living Daylights. Pierce Brosnan’s suit trousers in GoldenEye and Tomorrow Never Dies all have reverse pleats, and the herringbone linen suit trousers in The World is Not Enough have them too. Daniel Craig’s dinner suit trousers in Casino Royale have double reverse pleats, which are the last pleated trousers that Bond wears. The extra cloth for reverse pleats is all taken from the outside of the leg. This gives the trousers a baggier look, which goes well with full-cut jackets. Though Bond’s pleats typically come in pairs, Timothy Dalton wears trousers with triple reverse pleats in Licence to Kill, and Pierce Brosnan wears trousers with triple reverse pleats with his blazer in GoldenEye. Whilst the second pleat on double-pleated trousers helps to keep the main pleat closed, a third pleat on the side only adds extra fullness. That fullness was very popular from the late 1980s to the mid 1990s, but in Dalton’s case it serves no practical purpose. When full-cut trousers were popular during that time, not only were triple-pleated trousers popular but other pleat styles were too. Some trousers had box pleats and inverted box pleats, usually with an additional reverse pleat towards the side.

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Timothy Dalton wearing trousers with double reverse pleats

The purpose of pleats is a practical one, both to allow the trousers to expand when seated and to better fit the curves of the hips. The second purpose doesn’t apply to the currently fashionable trousers that sit low on the hips. Forward pleats usually look trimmer than reverse pleats, though reverse pleats are easier to fit ready-to-wear. When forward pleats pull open, the crease no long hangs straight down. When reverse pleats pull open, the front crease is still straight down. Poorly-fitted trousers with reverse pleats thus look better than poorly-fitted trousers with forward pleats. But in my experience, well-fitting trousers with forward pleats are the most flattering. Forward pleats are more slimming because they draw the eye inward instead of outward.

Pierce wearing trousers double reverse pleats

Pierce Brosnan wearing trousers with double reverse pleats

Though trousers pleats are currently out of fashion, there’s no denying the advantages. The common aversion to pleats today is that people associate them with baggy trousers. But when well-fitted, trousers can be trim whilst at the same time having the practical advantage of pleats.