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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Whilst visiting Turnbull & Asser in July, employee Steven Quin brought some James Bond shirt patterns out of the archive to show me. Though they didn’t have Daniel Craig’s pattern on hand, they had two other Bond actors’ patterns.
Above is Pierce Brosnan’s pattern, showing the body and various collars. Though not shown in the picture, also included in Brosnan’s pattern envelope was a cocktail cuff pattern, in the same style as Connery’s cocktail cuff. They said Brosnan had a cocktail cuff shirt made for his personal wardrobe, though he didn’t wear one in any of his Bond films. Most of his shirts in the Bond films had Turnbull & Asser’s standard double cuffs
Though Turnbull & Asser no longer has Sean Connery’s pattern from the 1960s, they were able to show me his pattern from 1982, which would have been made for Never Say Never Again. Above you can see the button-down cocktail cuff pattern on the bottom right. Above the cuff are a collar band and two different collar patterns, the lower one being very similar to the Classic Turnbull & Asser collar. The upper collar was the one used mostly in the film, though the lower one may have been used as well.
And pictured below, in a corner at the bespoke shop, is a James Bond wall featuring three of the Bond ties that can still be purchased. Beneath the ties are two signed photos.
In 2001, Pierce Brosnan plays another MI6 agent with a far more relaxed fashion sense than James Bond in The Tailor of Panama. 1990′s trends in tailoring have carried over to the next decade, seen in Brosnan’s full-cut, button three suit made of tan linen. The cloth could be a linen blend, maybe with cotton, silk or both, since it doesn’t wrinkle as much as 100% linen ordinarily does. The button stance is high and the buttons are spaced far apart. The jacket has no vent, 3 buttons on the cuffs and flapped pockets. The trousers have a flat front and full-cut legs. Though the suit isn’t a fine example of tailoring, the loose, unstructured look can be quite comfortable in Panama’s tropical climate.
Brosnan wears a sky blue shirt, with a short point collar, open breast pocket on the left, a centre box pleat in the back and sleeves pleated at the shoulders. The rounded barrel cuffs fasten with one button but have a second button placed around the cuff to close the cuff with a smaller circumference. His monk shoes and belt are burgundy leather with brass buckles.
Brosnan’s outdated, casual style is well-fitted to his character Andy Osnard, who contrasts Geoffrey Rush’s Harry Pendel, the titular character. Roger Moore’s tailor in the 1980′s Bond films, Douglas Hayward, was author John LeCarre’s model for Pendel. Rush’s clothing was far more impressive than Brosnan’s and may be the subject of a future entry here.
How much should a man match his clothing for the day? Sean Connery’s James Bond wardrobe follows a simple system: navy ties with navy suits, navy or black ties with grey suits, and brown ties with brown suits. Shirts are white, light blue and cream. And the suitings are simple, in blue or grey with the occasional brown. The literary Bond has an even simpler system of dressing, which always matched a black knitted tie with a navy suit.
Lindy Hemming, the costume designer on all four of Pierce Brosnan’s Bond films, developed a system for dressing Brosnan, one with very carefully planned outfits that coordinate in both obvious and subtle ways. Hemming often used limited colour palates but combined the colours in unique ways. She incorporated the not-so-common combination of blue and brown into many of the outfits, and we saw that done in a few different ways. In one method she matches a charcoal suit with a navy and brown tie. We first saw that in Tomorrow Never Dies with the two-piece suit in Hamburg (above left). The diamond-pattern tie also picks up the light blue in Brosnan’s shirt. In the opening scene of The World is Not Enough, we see the blue and brown tie come back in a chevron pattern with the charcoal suit (above right). That suit appears to be solid charcoal but it actually has blue and brown threads in it, which is the reasoning for the tie’s colour. Logically, the suit in Tomorrow Never Dies would also have blue and brown threads.
The chevron tie from the opening scene of The World is Not Enough returns later in the film with what appears to be a medium grey suit. But upon a closer look, that suit is made up of blue and light brown yarns (above right). When those two colours in the right tones—opposites—are combined, they balance each other and the overall result looks grey. With this suit later in the film, Brosnan wears a blue tie with light brown ticks, also pulling out the colours in the suit. A white shirt helps to neutralise the suit’s colour, since if he wore a blue or cream shirt, one of the suit’s other colours would have been more noticeable.
Similar to the light blue and brown suit in The World is Not Enough, Brosnan wears a blue and sand Prince of Wales check suit (above left) for his visit to the office in GoldenEye. The blue and sand colours again balance each other and the suit looks almost grey. Here the tie is blue and light brown, to emphasize the two dominant colours in the suit. Though the tie is more blue, though the ivory shirt balances that out with more warmth. And the blue pocket handkerchief coordinates with both the suit and tie.
One suit we see in all four of Brosnan’s is the semi-solid (usually Birdseye) navy suit, which tones the navy down with a white. Hemming probably finds that Brosnan looks better in a muted navy rather than a rich navy (which looks great on someone like Roger Moore), and she accessorises those suit in two different manners. In GoldenEye (above left) and Tomorrow Never Dies (above middle), those suits are worn with ivory shirts. In GoldenEye the tie is navy, gold and cream, whilst the tie in Tomorrow Never Dies is a similar combination of navy and bronze. And there he goes a step further by matching the bronze in his tie with a light brown overcoat. In Die Another Day (above right), Brosnan wears a tie of navy and gold squares with his navy pinhead suit in a brief plane scene. So again, we see that combination of blue and brown tones.
Before Brosnan, James Bond had never matched his clothes so carefully. But like Connery’s Bond wardrobe, we see consistency throughout Brosnan’s Bond films. As a graphic designer I have a great appreciation for the Lindy Hemming’s colour matching, though it makes Bond look like he’s trying too hard. Should James Bond—or any man—match his clothes so carefully?