All Black: Suit, Shirt and Tie

Tomorrow-Never-Dies-Black-Suit

Though he doesn’t wear this in the movie, Pierce Brosnan wears a black suit with a black shirt and black tie in stills for and on half the advertising materials for Tomorrow Never Dies. At the time it was really cool to match your shirt and tie, and wearing everything in black was even cooler. Now it’s mostly worn by young men trying to look hip, or it’s worn as a uniform in a jazz orchestra. It’s very showy and not at all elegant, more appropriate for a Bond villain than for Bond. Thankfully we never see this look on Bond in any film. Since the entire outfit is so dark, it’s difficult to make out the details. The suit is Brosnan’s usual button-three from Brioni. The silhouette is recognisable from the straight shoulders and roped sleeve heads. The slanted hip pockets have flaps, and there are four buttons on the cuffs. The trousers are worn with a belt and have turn-ups. The black shirt has a point collar, and since the collar is different than the collar on the shirts in the film I cannot tell if the shirt is made by Turnbull & Asser. The tie is solid black, most likely satin silk. The shoes are black, but the style is difficult to make out. The toe has a very chiselled shape, unlike any of the Church’s shoes Brosnan wears in the film.

Though it’s a look that should be avoided, Brosnan executes it as well as it can possibly be done. What’s most difficult is making sure that the three blacks do not clash with each other. Not all blacks are the same; some may have a hint of green whilst others may have a hint of purple. It’s not uncommon now to see celebrities wear a black suit and black shirt sans tie, and I find that is more successful than with a tie when it is worn in a casual evening setting. But in that case, a dark grey shirt would be a way to improve that type of outfit and still keep it all dark. I must admit, there is something cool about wearing all black, but wearing a black suit, a black shirt and a black tie is not the best way to do it.

One of my VHS box sets from 1999, released shortly before The World Is Not Enough. It came with GoldenEye, Tomorrow Never Dies and some Connery and Moore films. At the time I got this, I though the all-black look was cool.

One of my VHS box sets from 1999, released shortly before The World Is Not Enough. It came with GoldenEye, Tomorrow Never Dies and five others. At the time I got this, I though the all-black look on James Bond was cool.

You can dimple your tie

Pierce-Brosnan-Dimple

Pierce Brosnan usually dimples his ties.

Some people insist that a tie must always be tied with a dimple, but Bond shows that it is not always necessary. There are many advantages to putting a dimple in your tie. The dimple helps to neatly fit the wide blade of your tie neatly through a tight tie knot and it helps the tie arch out from the neck. The thicker and narrower the tie the more difficult it is to get a dimple in the tie.

Daniel-Craig-Dimple

Daniel Craig often dimples his ties, and he even gets a small dimple in his narrow Skyfall ties.

Without a dimple the tie will end up with a fold at one side or both sides of the knot, like in Connery’s example below. That’s how Connery’s ties usually are, and it goes well with the stylishly asymmetrical look of the four-in-hand knot. Ties as narrow as Connery’s (3 inches wide or less) are difficult to dimple.

Sean-Connery-Tie-Side-Fold

Connery’s tie has a fold at the side.

There’s no right or wrong to dimpling a tie. Pierce Brosnan and Daniel Craig are the Bonds who most often dimple their ties, but it’s not something they do consistently.

Roger-Moore-Dimple

One of the rare occasions Roger Moore has a dimple in his tie is in A View to a Kill, perhaps due to the extra formality of the occasion. Moore also wears his ties with a dimple a few times in Moonraker.

Hospital Pyjamas

Hospital-Pyjamas

In Die Another Day, Bond is held by MI6 in a secured hospital room wearing pyjamas provided for him. A hospital gown would be expected for a scene like this but it’s much better to see Bond in pyjamas. The pyjamas are very basic. The shirt has four buttons, a breast pocket and long sleeves without cuffs. The trousers have a drawstring waist. The outfit is like a combination between pyjamas and scrubs, probably made in the same light blue cotton/polyester material and made with the same cheap construction.

Hospital-Pyjamas-2

Remington Steele: 80s Style

Remington-Steele-1986-Suit

Here’s a dark grey semi-solid suit that Pierce Brosnan wears in the 1986 episode of Remington Steele, “Suburban Steele.” It’s not a style for anyone to aspire to, except perhaps Timothy Dalton in Licence to Kill. It’s done in the same 1980s style, with large shoulders, a full cut, a low button stance, low-gorge and reverse-pleat trousers, but it’s better executed. Pierce Brosnan was wearing mostly double-breasted suits in the later seasons of Remington Steele, but a few single-breasted suits stuck around.

Remington-Steele-1986-Suit-2

Though it’s not oversized in comparison to the suits in Licence to Kill, it still has a fashionably full cut. The jacket has a button two jacket with flap pockets, three-button cuffs and no vents. The lapels are a little narrower than Dalton’s, but they aren’t much better. The trousers have double reverse-pleats and plain hems.

Remington-Steele-1986-Suit-5

Brosnan wears a white English shirt with a moderate spread collar, double cuffs, no breast pocket and front placket. The tie is dark plum with red polka dots, tied in a four-in-hand knot. He wears a puffed pale yellow silk handkerchief with red polka dots in his breast pocket. The muted colour palate of the tie and pocket square are very much of their time, but the outfit is still well-coordinated. His belt and slip-on shoes are black.

Remington-Steele-1986-Suit-4With a black knitted tie and white linen pocket square, Timothy Dalton could have worn a suit like this in Licence to Kill and brought Bond’s fashion into the 80s in a more elegant and more Bondian manner.

 

Dressing for Heat in Vietnam

Tomorrow-Never-Dies-Blue-Shirt

Though Pierce Brosnan didn’t go too far into oversized 1990s fashions in his tailoring, the dark blue linen shirt he wears in Tomorrow Never Dies has a fashionably full fit. A full fit is more practical in hot weather than today’s popular slim-fit is. However, Brosnan’s shirt is simply too large with the shoulder seam down his arms. The shirt’s point collar with edge stitching was fashionable at the time, and other details include square 1-button cuffs, a button-through breast pocket on the left, no front placket, shoulder pleats and a rounded hem. The shirt is made by Angelo Litrico. The black cotton and lyrca blend jogging trousers have an elasticated waist. The blue plimsoll trainers are made by Trax, and Brosnan wears them without socks. This outfit is the low point in Brosnan’s Bond clothing. It could have been done much better, simply with a better fitting shirt and chinos instead of stretch trousers.

Tomorrow-Never-Dies-Blue-Shirt-2

This outfit in both its entirety and just the shirt alone have been auctioned at Bonhams in Knightsbridge. On 6 March 2007 the shirt sold for £660. On 16 June 2009 the whole outfit sold for £1,200 and the shirt alone sold for £1080.

Remington Steele: Navy Blazer

Steele-Flying-High-Blazer

from “Etched in Steele”

To make up for the poorly received white dinner jacket, here’s a classic navy blazer that Pierce Brosnan wears in the first season of Remington Steele. It’s still not a perfect outfit, but Brosnan wears this staple very well. It’s a button two jacket with narrow pagoda shoulders, a clean chest and a close fit through the body. The chest fits a little too tight, since it bows open easily. It has swelled edges, flapped pockets with a ticket pocket, four-button cuffs and deep double vents. The buttons are shinier and less yellow than the typical brass, so they are likely gold-plated. Here we will look at two of the six episodes in the first season that feature this blazer: “Steele Belted” and “Etched in Steele.”

Steele-Flying-High-Blazer-2

from “Etched in Steele”

In “Steele Belted” the trousers are light grey wool with a flat front, and the shirt is sky blue with yellow and dark stripes. In “Etched in Steele” the trousers are dark grey with double reverse pleats, and the shirt is pale blue. Both shirts are the same style. They have a short point collar worn with a collar bar, and rounded double cuffs worn unfolded with the cufflinks only in outer holes. This would signify that his shirts were bought ready to wear and they could not obtain shirts with a long enough sleeve for his collar size. Later in the first season Brosnan starts wearing different shirts where he could wear the double cuff properly.

Steele-Belted-Blazer

from “Steele Belted”

In “Steele Belted” Brosnan wears a solid burgundy repp tie and a burgundy satin silk pocket square. The square is not exactly the same as the tie, but it’s a bit too close. However, it’s not an offensive combination either. In “Etched in Steele” the tie is a red repp tie with thin yellow and blue stripes, and the pocket square is solid red. Brosnan knots his ties in a Windsor knot. The ties are narrow enough and light enough that a Windsor knot doesn’t overwhelm the small collar. Pierce Brosnan is almost never seen without a pocket square in Remington Steele, and it’s something he carried over to GoldenEye. But in Remington Steele he often—but not always—plays it too safe by matching the pocket square to the base colour of his tie. Finishing the outfits are black shoes and a black belt.

Steele-Belted-Blazer

from “Steele Belted”

Remington Steele: White Dinner Jacket

Steele-White-Dinner-Jacket

I’m almost a week late, but last Thursday Pierce Brosnan celebrated his 60th birthday. In honour of that let’s look at one of his off-white dinner jackets from Remington Steele. This one is featured in the third season episode “Maltese Steele,” which takes place in the Mediterranean country of Malta. With the exception of pocket flaps, Brosnan wears a classic white dinner jacket. The jacket is cut with straight, narrow shoulders that flatter Brosnan’s build. It buttons one, and the button stance is at a higher classic height as opposed to the fashionably lower 1980′s button stance. The back has no vents, which is classic for a dinner jacket but looks sloppy with Brosnan’s habit of putting his hands in his trouser pockets. There are two buttons on the cuffs, and the buttons are all mother of pearl.

Steele-White-Dinner-Jacket-2

Brosnan’s habit of putting his hands in his pockets only looks okay with double vents.

The black trousers are cut with a trim leg and are worn with a belt, an unfortunate feature on all of Pierce Brosnan’s black tie trousers in Remington Steele. Though Brosnan wears a black cummerbund, it’s missing in one shot and the belt buckle is revealed. The white dress shirt has a point collar, double cuffs and a white-on-white stripe bib with a placket. It is worn with three studs down the front and matching cufflinks, which are black onyx set in gold. Brosnan wears a colourful madder handkerchief with a red ground stuffed in his breast pocket with the corners spilling out in a very dandyish way. He wears his usual black leather slip-on shoes, not patent leather.

Steele-White-Dinner-Jacket-3

The Spread Collar

Turnbull & Asser Spread

Turnbull & Asser spread collar

The standard collar amongst the English shirtmakers is the spread collar, and it’s the collar Bond wears more often than not. If it’s wider than a point collar and narrower than a cutaway it’s safe to call it a spread collar. A moderate spread flatters almost everyone and is always a safe choice. They’re great with a suit and tie, with a dinner jacket and bow tie, or open, as long as the collar isn’t too wide.

Frank Foster

Frank Foster moderate spread collar

Turnbull & Asser made a wider spread for Sean Connery, whilst Frank Foster typically made a rather moderate—but tall—spread for Roger Moore. Sulka made a smaller, moderate spread for Pierce Brosnan in GoldenEye, and Turnbull & Asser made a similar spread for Tomorrow Never Dies. For The World Is Not Enough they made a wider spread, and Brioni continued with the wide spread for Die Another Day. Daniel Craig wore Brioni shirts with a more moderate spread in Casino Royale and a similar collar from Tom Ford in Quantum of Solace.

Apart from the obvious differences of length, height and spread width, there’s the matter of tie space. It’s the quarter-inch to half-inch—or more—space between the collar leaves where the collar meets at the neck. Bond’s spread collars almost all have tie space, with the exception of the Brioni spread collars and Roger Moore’s brown stripe, double-button-collar shirt in Live and Let Die. Even with a very wide spread, a little tie space will help the knot to stay in place. Without it the knot often slips down and reveals the collar band above it because the collar leaves will push down the knot. A collar band with tie space is usually angled so the band will not show above the knot. Tie space plays just as large a roll in how large a tie knot can be worn with a collar.

Charcoal-Serge-Suit

Brioni spread collar with no tie space