How Bond Knots His Ties

Sean Connery's four-in-hand knot

Sean Connery’s four-in-hand knot

The four-in-hand tie gets its name from the method most typically used to tie it: the four-in-hand knot. James Bond more often than not uses this knot.  Sean Connery uses it in his Bond films from From Russia With Love to You Only Live Twice. Roger Moore, Timothy Dalton and Pierce Brosnan always use it in their Bond films. Daniel Craig ties a four-in-hand knot in Casino Royale and Skyfall. The four-in-hand knot is characterised by its long, asymmetrical shape. The asymmetrical shape skews the tie over to the side, adding either a touch of character or a bit of imperfection, depending on your taste. The four-in-hand knot is the smallest of the more typical tie knots, but its size varies considerably depending on both the width and thickness of the tie. A heavier tie will produce a wider knot, whilst a wider tie will produce a longer knot.

Pierce Brosnan most likely wearing his tie with a double-four-in-hand knot.

Pierce Brosnan most likely wearing his tie in a double-four-in-hand knot.

For an even larger four-in-hand knot there is the variation called the double-four-in-hand knot—also known as the Prince Albert knot or Victoria knot—which takes the four-in-hand knot and adds an extra wrap of the wide blade around the narrow blade. It’s asymmetrical like the four-in-hand but has the major advantage of being a more secure knot. Roger Moore and Pierce Brosnan likely used the double-four-in-hand knot at least occasionally.

“It was tied with a Windsor knot. Bond mistrusted anyone who tied his tie with a Windsor knot. It showed too much vanity. It was often the mark of a cad.”
-Ian Fleming (From Russia With Love, Chapter 25)

Though Ian Fleming’s Bond did not think highly of the Windsor knot, Sean Connery wore it in Dr. No and Diamonds Are Forever, as well as in the unofficial Bond film Never Say Never Again. The Windsor knot is a larger knot designed to mimic the thicker four-in-hand knots worn by the Duke of Windsor. It has a wide, symmetrical appearance, and on a wider tie the knot can end up very large. George Lazenby also uses a symmetrical knot on his ties, most of which are most likely tied in the smaller Half Windsor knot. His wedding tie, however, is tied in a true Windsor knot. Many find the bulbous Windsor knot—especially when tied with a wide, thick tie—vulgar, and they find that the symmetrical shape lacks the  character of the asymmetrical four-in-hand. Which knot do you prefer to use?

Sean Connery's Windsor knot in Dr. No

Sean Connery’s Windsor knot in Dr. No

There’s one mystery knot in the Bond series: the knot Daniel Craig uses in Quantum of Solace. It’s symmetrical and elongated, which would suggest that it’s a Pratt knot. However, a half-Windsor or a Windsor knot with a lighter-weight tie can make this type of knot. When Craig removes his tie before interrogating Mr. White, the tie has the seam facing the neck. That rules out the Pratt knot, which starts with the tie’s seam facing out. Which knot do you think is used in Quantum of Solace?

The Quantum of Solace tie knot

The Quantum of Solace tie knot

Noble House: Navy Pinstripe Suit

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Noble House, a novel by James Clavell, was adapted into a television miniseries in 1988 starring Pierce Brosnan. The miniseries also features other Bond actors, such as John Rhys-Davies from The Living Daylights and Burt Kwouk from GoldfingerYou Only Live Twice and the 1967 Casino Royale spoof. Brosnan plays Ian Dunross, chairman of the oldest and largest of the British-East Asia trading companies. The character’s suits would most probably be made by a tailor in Hong Kong, and it’s likely that the clothes for the miniseries were made by a tailor in Hong Kong since that’s where it was filmed. The Hong Kong tailoring looks like Savile Row tailoring minus the English flair. The miniseries featured a lot of nice tailoring which holds up rather well today, better than what Timothy Dalton was wearing at the time as Bond.

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Because Brosnan plays a business man he is dressed in a lot of stripes throughout the mini-series. Here we will look at one of his striped suits, a navy three-piece suit with alternating thick and thin pinstripes. The jacket is a button three, and although the lapels roll to the top button they still have a gentle, elegant roll. The shoulders are straight and built up with roping, but they aren’t as excessively large as the shoulders that were popular at the time. The jacket has 3 buttons on the cuffs, flapped pockets and a single vent.

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The suit trousers have double reverse pleats but with a somewhat trim leg for the era. The waistcoat is the weakest part of the suit. It has 6 buttons with 5 to button, but it is more like a 5-button with an extra button added on to the bottom since the bottom button is ill-spaced and looks like an afterthought. The waistcoat is also too long, and the buttons are placed to far apart, for a less elegant look. Brosnan wears the suit with a white shirt with closesly-spaced blue pencil stripes, and it has a point collar and double cuffs. Striped shirts can work well with striped suits if the scale of the stripes are much different, but they are very close here and somewhat clash. This is a recurring problem with the clothes in Noble House. The tie is navy with white polka dots, tied in either a windsor or half-windsor knot. He also wears a folded white linen pocket square, which is far more sober than the puffed silks he previously wore in Remington Steele. The outfit is more business than Bond with two striped pieces of clothing, but if either the shirt or suit was solid it would be a great outfit for Bond.

Navy Single-Breasted Overcoat

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With his charcoal serge suit in Die Another Day, Pierce Brosnan wears his second overcoat in the film. It is a navy full-length, single-breasted, button-three coat from Brioni. It has slanted flap pockets with a ticket pocket and four-button cuffs. Though we don’t see it from the back is most likely has a deep single vent. A navy overcoat may be the most versatile coat in a man’s wardrobe, and it looks great day or night. Bond has worn many navy overcoats throughout the series, starting with George Lazenby’s double-breasted three-quarter coat. But this is only the second time Bond wears a scarf in the series, the first being Bond’s masquerade as Sir Hilary Bray in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service. Here it’s solid grey, and he wears it draped around the neck.

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Charcoal Serge Suit

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In Die Another Day, Pierce Brosnan briefly wears a charcoal serge suit. It’s his typical Brioni button three suit with straight shoulders and roped sleeveheads. Charcoal serge is a great year-round cloth in a temperate climate. Serge is a basic four-harness twill weave with 45-degree wales on both sides. It’s great for suits and—in navy—blazers. Brosnan wears the suit with a white Brioni shirt that has a wide spread collar, double cuffs and a front placket. His mid-blue tie has a tiny pebbled or honeycomb pattern, similar to grenadine garza fina silk. But the tie’s texture is probably woven with floats instead. It’s tied in a four-in-hand knot. Brosnan enters the scene wearing an overcoat and scarf, which I will look at in more detail later.

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White Collar and Cuffs

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Roger Moore wearing a navy bengal stripe shirt with a white collar and cuffs in For Your Eyes Only.

In the United States, the contrasting white collar and cuffs style has been all but tarnished by the 1987 film Wall Street. But it’s a classic style that has been around a very long time. It goes back to the days when collars were stiff and detachable, and men would pair white collars with a body of any colour. Now the collars come soft and attached. Some retailers call a shirt with a white collar a “Winchester” shirt—presumably named after the city in England, not the rifle—but I have not found an historical use of this term and believe it’s just a modern marketing term.

Bond wears shirts with a white collar and cuffs in For Your Eyes Only and A View to a Kill, made by Frank Foster. Though the style is best worn with double cuffs, Bond wears his with button cuffs. Likewise, a spread collar is the best collar to be in white, though point collars can work well too. White collars and cuffs are most stylishly paired with a body that includes white. Bond’s shirts have white in the form of bengal stripes, though it’s also common to see a white collar on an end-on-end shirt. Collars and cuffs typically wear out before the body of a shirt wears out, and the collar and cuffs of almost any dressier shirt can be replaced with white since it’s typically impossible to find the original cloth for replacements. And even if the original cloth is obtainable it’s not going to match a shirt that has been washed many times. Checks don’t mate so well with white collars because of the difference in formality and purpose. White collars are a rather dressy style and are excellent for morning dress. For everyday wear they work best with a suit or a dressier blazer but are best avoided wearing with other sports coats and without a coat or tie. And because of their daywear tradition they are best worn during the day.

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Roger Moore wearing a pink bengal stripe shirt with a white collar and cuffs in A View to a Kill.

Though Bond only wears shirts with a white collar and cuffs in two films, Roger Moore wears them in his personal life, as well as in some earlier films and television, like in Street People and The Persuaders. In The Man Who Haunted Himself he wears a plain white detachable collar with a white self-stripe shirt. Pierce Brosnan occasionally wears shirts with a white collar—but not white cuffs—in Remington Steele, mostly with suits but occasionally with blazers.

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Pierce Brosnan wearing a blue (probably end-on-end) shirt with a pinned white collar in the 1982 episode of Remington Steele titled “You’re Steele the One for Me”.

The Moving Button Stance

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A flattering button stance just below the waist on Sean Connery in From Russia With Love

The button stance of a lounge coat—whether it be a button one, button two or button three jacket—is determined by the position of the button placed at the waist. That would be the single button on a button one jacket, the top button on a button two jacket and the middle button on a button three jacket. On the traditional six button double-breasted with two to button, the button stance is at the middle row buttons. There’s no absolute rule as to exactly where this button is placed, but it should be at or just below the waist. The button functions best around the waist since that’s where the body pivots. Alan Flusser writes about the ideal button stance in Dressing the Man: “The placement of the coat’s waist button should divide the body so that the torso and legs appear at maximum length.” Some tailors, like Anderson & Sheppard, have a system that measures exactly where that button should be, whilst others eyeball the position. The position of the waist button is placed first and the others around it. Some like to place the button on a button one jacket lower than the top button on a button two, which can sometimes provide a better visual balance, but that’s more relevant with today’s trend toward a higher button stance.

1973

A well-placed button stance on a well-proportioned jacket in Live and Let Die

Throughout the 1960s and 1970s, the button stance was very consistent on all of Bond’s suit coats and sports coats  and placed about one to two inches below the waist. This is a lower stance than what is most commonly seen today, but it flows well with the body. It comfortably hugs the jacket around the waist, and being a little lower than halfway down the jacket it emphasizes V-shape of a man’s torso and makes him look more athletic.

A View to a Kill Tan Suit

A very low button stance on an otherwise classic-cut suit in A View to a KIll

In the 1980′s the button stance on Bond’s suit jackets lowered a bit more to follow the trend made popular by Armani. Thankfully that’s the only trend of the 1980′s Roger Moore’s suits saw. A very low button stance gives the suit a more relaxed look than a higher button stance and further emphasizes a the torso, but it does at the cost of making the legs look shorter. Though Roger Moore has longer legs that can work with this style, on the majority of men it’s not as flattering. Moore’s double-breasted jackets by Douglas Hayward in the 1980s had the same low button stance as the single-breasted jackets. As opposed to the single-breasted jacket with a low button stance, the low-buttoning double-breasted jacket is flattering to the shorter man because of the long, sweeping lapel.

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A fashionably low buttoning, button-three suit in GoldenEye

Timothy Dalton’s suits mostly continued with the lower 1980′s button stance. Brosnan’s suits in the 1990s also had a low button stance, but it was balanced by a longer jacket length. For Die Another Day in 2002 the button stance is raised to higher than Bond’s suits had ever buttoned before. The fastening button is now exactly halfway down the jacket at the waist, though it doesn’t flatter Pierce Brosnan so much now that his waist is larger than his small chest.

Quantum of Solace: Dark Charcoal Suit 2

The modern button stance: higher on the waist.

Daniel Craig’s suits in Casino Royale and Quantum of Solace stick with the same balanced button stance, halfway down the jacket. As opposed to Pierce Brosnan, this button stance is great for Daniel Craig, and it works well for most people. The button stance in Skyfall has gone against the current trend and moved down slightly, but it looks a lot lower than it is because the jacket is shorter. And because the jacket is shorter, if the button were placed in the middle of the jacket it would be too high. That’s the mistake most fashionably short jackets make. They position the button in the middle of the jacket, which would be fine on a traditional-length jacket but ends up being too high for the person wearing it. Actually, in the second half of the previous decade it was fashionable to place the button stance on a traditional-length above the waist, and that trend has still carried over with some makers. It’s especially unflattering with the low-rise trousers that are so often paired with that style jacket because it shows shirt below the waist button. But now the bottom of the jacket has come up to, putting the high button in proportion with the jacket. Not following the trend and keeping the button stance low on Daniel Craig’s suits in Skyfall was one of the better decisions made by the film’s costumiers. However, keeping the button stance at the lower, traditional height emphasizes how short the jacket is.

Grosgrain Lapels

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Grosgrain lapels on a dinner jacket with a faille bow tie

The most common facings for lapels and other trim on a dinner suit is satin silk, but an elegant alternative to satin is grosgrain silk. James Bond has worn dinner suits grosgrain in four films, from Tomorrow Never Dies to Casino Royale, and maybe in others. Grosgrain is a plain weave with crosswise ribs that are created due to a heavier weft than warp. Its most common form is in ribbon, and it can be found around the base of the crown on many hat styles. When a dinner suit is trimmed with grosgrain silk you’ll find the grosgrain trimming on a the lapels and on the stripe down the trouser leg, and on also covered buttons if the dinner suit has them. Pocket jettings shouldn’t be trimmed in silk. Whilst satin silk has a very glossy appearance, grosgrain silk has a rather matte finish but still contrasts nicely with cloths ranging from a classic wool barathea to a warm-weather mohair blend. I’ve been told it’s difficult to find grosgrain in wider widths, thus a ribbed cummerbund is typically made of a similar weave called faille, which has slightly heavier ribs. Faille is a decent match for grosgrain, though the finer grosgrain is better for lapels. The bow tie in the photo above is faille, whilst the lapels are grosgrain. If you’re having a dinner suit with grosgrain facings made for you, the same grosgrain silk can be used to make a perfectly-matched bow tie to go with it.

The image below from Die Another Day shows Pierce Brosnan wearing a midnight blue dinner suit with black grosgrain facings. Midnight blue and black facings are both acceptable for a midnight blue dinner suit, but a midnight blue bow tie to match might just be impossible to find ready-to-wear.

Die Another Day Dinner Suit

Leather Jacket in Combat

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In Tomorrow Never Dies Bond dresses warmly in a brown leather coat and two jumpers for the snowy Russian border. The coat is car coat length with a zip front and belted waist. The two lower patch pockets have an inverted box pleat and a flap. There is a welted slash pocket on either side of the chest, and sleeves have button-straps. Under the jacket Bond wears a dark blue, heavy wool, mock neck jumper with a zip to the neck. And under that he wears a thinner black, ribbed wool polo neck jumper. The olive trousers have cargo pockets on the sides of the upper thighs. Bond also wears black, cashmere-lined leather gloves and black boots.

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Bonhams in Knightsbridge put two of the brown leather coats up for auction on 6 March 2007, but neither coat sold. Of the two lots the first also contained the black polo neck jumper, the green combat trousers and a black ski jumper. The listing follows:

A leather jacket, black polo neck sweater, a black ski jumper and green combat trousers, the brown leather ¾ length jacket, with black acetate lining, labelled inside “Angels & Bermans, The Costumiers to the Entertainment Industry”, inscribed in an unknown hand in blue ink “1997 TOMORROW NEVER DIES PIERCE BROSNAN” with further material detail label, the black ski jumper of elasticated cotton with zip to neck, the black polo neck of pure wool, with label inside “1997 TOMORROW NEVER DIES PIERCE BROSNAN“, the khaki military style combat trousers, with military label to inside bearing various inscriptions

The black ski jumper in the lot was not used in film, and the blue jumper from the film was not part of this lot. The coats appear to be identical in both lots except the coat in the larger lot is missing the belt and the coat sold alone is described as having a lining in “heavy cotton.” Both lots were put up for auction again on 16 June 2009. The first lot including the coat, two jumpers and trousers sold for £6,000 and the second lot with just the coat sold for £1,320.

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