Anatomy of a Turnbull & Asser Shirt

Turnbull-Asser-Shirt

We all know Turnbull & Asser for making shirts for not only four of the six James Bond actors, but also for Bond creator Ian Fleming and the first Bond film director Terence Young. What makes a Turnbull & Asser shirt the special shirt that it is? There are many parts to it, but the most important part of any shirt is its collar. The Classic Turnbull & Asser Collar has a very special shape. Turnbull & Asser describes the collar as having a “unique outward flare to the collar point.” The collar curves the opposite way from most collars, since the edge of the collar that sits on the body flares outward from the point rather than curve in. Frank Foster thinks the shape is counterintuitive since it goes against the shape of the body, but I find that it lays against the body just fine.

Turnbull-Asser-Collar

The Classic Turnbull & Asser Collar

The collar is a very middle-of-the-road spread collar, not particularly narrow or wide. The points measure 2 7/8″, the back height measures 1 3/4″ and the collar band measures 1 1/8″ in front. There is 3/8″ tie space and the collar points sit 4 1/2″ apart. The collar is stitched 1/4″ from the edge, has a non-fused but moderately stiff interfacing, and has removable collar stays. Despite many Bond films featuring Turnbull & Asser shirts, the collar design is always made especially for the actor wearing it and James Bond never wears the Classic Turnbull & Asser Collar, except for maybe on the dress shirt in Die Another Day.

Turnbull-Asser-Button-Cuff

The signature three button cuff

Turnbull & Asser’s signature cuff is their three button cuff. The cuff is 3 1/4″ long and is cut with an elegant curve to the buttoning edge—it’s not a square. The three button cuff, as well as the rest of their cuffs, has a non-fused interfacing, but it’s lighter than the collar’s interfacing. Like the collar, the cuffs are stitched 1/4″ from the edge. Turnbull & Asser doesn’t put a sleeve gauntlet button on their ready-to-wear shirts, except for on the Sea Island cotton shirts. Their cuffs are attached to the shirt with gathers rather than the more typical pleats. Gathers look very elegant, but they make the sleeve more difficult to iron.

Turnbull-Asser-Double-Cuff

Turnbull & Asser’s Double Cuff

Like most English shirtmakers do, Turnbull & Asser places the link holes on their double cuff close to the fold rather than centred. The link holes are one inch from the fold. This allows the cuff to flare out a little—which can get it caught inside a narrow jacket sleeve—and it shows off the cufflinks better. What also can cause it to get caught inside the sleeve is the square corner. Most people regard the square corner as more elegant over the more functional rounded corner, which slides through the jacket sleeve better. The double cuff measures 5 5/8″ long when unfolded.

Turnbull-Asser-Turnback-Cuff

Turnbull & Asser’s modern Two Button Turnback Cuff

James Bond fans know Turnbull & Asser for their cocktail cuff, or the “Two Button Turnback Cuff” as they call it. They say they invented the cocktail cuff, but they aren’t the only ones who make that claim. The cuff they make now is different from the one Sean Connery wore in his Bond films. Their modern turnback cuff is contoured where it folds back, and the corner is not rounded as much. This cuff is 5 5/8″ long and folds 2 1/8″ from the base, unlike Connery’s cuff which folds closer to the middle.

The split yoke and shoulder pleats

The split yoke and shoulder pleats

Turnbull & Asser folds a narrow placket on their shirts, at 1 3/16″ wide. The stitching is 3/8″ from the edge, which matches the stitching at the sleeve attachment and at the base of the cuff. The placket has a fused interfacing to keep it crisp. There are six buttons down the front of the shirt, not including the collar. Turnbull & Asser uses mother-of-pearl buttons, of course, but I find that they are not sewn on with enough slack and can be difficult to button.

The hexagonal gusset

The hexagonal gusset

On solid shirts the stitching and buttonholes matches the shirt, but on semi-solid shirts with white in the weave and on shirts with white in the pattern, Turnbull & Asser uses white stitching and buttonholes. The tails of the shirt are curved, and to reinforce the base of the side seams Turnbull & Asser uses a hexagonal gusset. The gusset is white on ready-to-wear shirts and made in the same cloth as the shirt on bespoke shirts. The back of the shirt has a split yoke, which according to experts serves no purpose on a ready-to-wear shirt since it only helps with uneven shoulders. However, split yokes make striped shirtings look very nice by forming a chevron. Under the yoke the shirt has a pleat on either side to give ease over the shoulder blades.

Turnbull-Asser-Label

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