Horn Buttons

Horn buttons on Sean Connery's hacking jacket in Goldfinger

Horn buttons on Sean Connery’s hacking jacket in Goldfinger

Real horn buttons are often a mark of a quality suit. They’re currently the standard at most Savile Row tailors and can be found on many of James Bond’s suits over the years. There are quality alternatives to horn buttons, such as corozo nut buttons—often preferred by the Italians—and mother of pearl buttons. Some of the best suits may have inferior alternatives for buttons, thus buttons have no bearing on the overall make of a suit. Quality buttons like horn have the power to improve the look of any well-fitting suit. Horn buttons typically come from ox or buffalo horn, and the buttons are cut out of the hollow part of the horn, whilst toggles—like on a duffle coat—are made from the solid tip.

Goldfinger Charcoal FlannelAnthony Sinclair presumably found horn buttons to be too countrified for most city suits and ordinarily used plastic buttons on his worsteds. But on some of his more rustic suits, like Sean Connery’s three-piece grey flannel suits in Goldfinger and Thunderball, he used grey horn buttons. Sinclair used light brown horn buttons on the hacking jacket in Goldfinger that match both the jacket’s rustic look and its colour. As standard practices amongst tailors changed, Sinclair put horn buttons on most of Sean Connery’s suits in Diamonds Are Forever. The buttons in that film usually match the colours of the suits as close as possible, and the buttons are polished horn for a less rustic appearance.

Lazenby-Tweed-Jacket-Horn-ButtonsGeorge Lazenby’s suits in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service all have horn buttons. The navy suits have black horn, the cream linen suit has beige horn, the glen check suit has dark grey horn, and the tweed three-piece suit and the houndstooth sports coat have medium brown horn. The black lounge coat Lazenby wears in the wedding scene has black horn buttons whilst the light grey waistcoat has dark grey buttons. Suit buttons ordinarily match the colour of the suit as closely as possibly, or at least aim to have little contrast. More contrast in buttons results in a less dressy look.

Like Sean Connery’s suits, most of the Cyril Castle suits that Roger Moore wears in Live and Let Die and The Man with the Golden Gun have plastic buttons. His beige sports coat in Live and Let Die, however, has matching beige horn buttons. The Angelo Roma suits in The Spy Who Loved Me and Moonraker mostly have non-horn buttons, but the brown tweed suit in Moonraker has medium brown horn buttons, which are a natural fit for the country suit.

Horn buttons on the dinner jacket in For Your Eyes Only

Horn buttons on the dinner jacket in For Your Eyes Only

Douglas Hayward, who made Roger Moore’s suits for For Your Eyes Only, Octopussy and A View to a Kill, uses dark brown or black horn buttons on navy and charcoal suits, beige horn buttons on his tan and light brown suits, and black horn buttons on the morning suit in A View to a Kill. The brown tweed sports coats have medium brown horn buttons. Hayward does not use horn buttons on his medium grey suits and sports coats.

Surprisingly, Hayward even puts horn buttons on his dinner jackets. The black dinner jackets in For Your Eyes Only and Octopussy and the midnight blue dinner jacket in A View to a Kill have black horn buttons. Horn buttons are paradoxically more refined and more rustic than the black plastic buttons that English tailors often used to use on dinner suits as a simpler alternative to covered buttons. Plastic button today on any item of clothing are seen as undesirable in favour of natural materials, but if horn buttons are to be worn on a dinner jacket they should ideally be the polished type. The dull horn buttons that Hayward chose for his dinner jackets, as beautiful as they are, look out of place. Hayward also uses beige horn buttons on the white linen dinner jacket in A View to a Kill, which could allow it to double as a sports coat. But again, the horn buttons are too rustic for even a white dinner jacket.

Tom-Ford-Horn-ButtonsTom Ford often mimics English styles in his suits, and the English practice of using horn buttons is present on his suits. Consequently, Daniel Craig’s Tom Ford suits in Quantum of Solace and Skyfall have mostly dark brown or black horn buttons. The grey pick-and-pick suit in Skyfall is the exception with grey horn-effect plastic buttons. There will be more to come on other types of button later.

The Cummerbund

The cummerbund in Skyfall

The cummerbund in Skyfall

Though the cummerbund is a well-known part of black tie, Bond has only worn a cummerbund on a handful of occasions. Traditionally, one isn’t wearing a cummerbund because he’s wearing a waistcoat or a double-breasted dinner jacket, but those situations do not make up the rest of Bond’s black tie outfits. Bond is well-known for omitting the waist-covering altogether, but Bond wears the seemingly pointless piece of silk around his waist a few times.

According to Black Tie Guide, the cummerbund originated from coloured sashes that British officers wrapped around their waist in India. Now cummerbunds ordinarily come in the form of a piece of pleated silk—with the pleats worn facing up—in the front that connects in the back with a strap and buckle. The purpose of the cummerbund is to act as a formal waist-covering that wears cooler than a waistcoat. It covers the bottom of the shirt front and the trousers’ waistband, so it serves an aesthetic purpose if not a practical one. The cummerbund is not a belt and does not hold up the trousers, so there is no rule about not wearing a cummerbund with braces. Braces can be worn with a cummerbund just the same as they can—and should—be worn under a waistcoat. Bond wears both a cummerbund and braces in Licence to Kill and Skyfall.

Diamonds-Cummerbund

A fancy, coloured silk cummerbund in Diamonds Are Forever

The cummerbund is traditionally black and matches the bow tie in both colour and texture, but it can be other colours. Burgundy is the most common choice for a coloured cummerbund, but the bow tie should always be black no matter the colour of the cummerbund. Coloured matching bow tie and cummerbund sets are often sold and can be worn for “creative black tie” functions and high school proms, but if you’re trying to follow the elegant example that Bond sets the bow tie should always be black. After all, it’s called “black tie”. The only time Ian Fleming mentions Bond wearing a cummerbund it’s a “wine-red cummerbund” that he wears with his white dinner jacket and dress trousers in the Thunderball novel. Since the bow tie isn’t mentioned, we can assume that Bond wears a proper black bow tie. The first time Bond wears a cummerbund in the films it’s a fancy silk in burgundy and black in Diamonds Are Forever. It’s a flashier 1970s take on the “wine-red cummerbund” that Fleming writes about, but the bow tie is still black. It’s the only time in the series that Sean Connery wears any sort of waist-covering with black tie.

Built-In-Cummerbund

The built-in cummerbund in For Your Eyes Only

In For Your Eyes Only, Bond wears trousers with a sort of waistband that acts like a cummerbund. The waistband is very wide, flat silk that extends across the entire front and fastens with two buttons at the right side. It’s a little narrower than a real cummerbund, but it’s a clever design and acts like a built-in cummerbund. The same type of built-in cummerbund returns in Octopussy. It may not be a proper cummerbund, but it’s a step in the right direction.

Licence-to-Kill-Cummerbund

A flat cummerbund in Licence to Kill

The first time Bond has a traditional black, pleated cummerbund is in Licence to Kill. It’s one of the few redeeming qualities of the black tie outfit in that film. But actually there are two cummerbunds used. The one Bond removes is flat silk and is used with the purpose to conceal rope. But later when Bond wakes up at Sanchez’s villa and sees his dinner suit neatly hung up, it’s the traditional cummerbund with pleats.

Quantum-of-Solace-Cummerbund

The cummerbund briefly appearing in Quantum of Solace

When Bond wore his dinner suit without a cummerbund or waistcoat in Casino Royale, many people took note of it and started doing the same. Though Bond’s tradition of foregoing the waist-covering began from the start of the film series in Dr. No, it took 44 years for people to notice and make a big fuss over it. When Bond returned in Quantum of Solace two years later, the cummerbund returned. And Bond wore a cummerbund again in Skyfall despite the cummerbund not being very popular at the moment.

The cummerbund does not work well with the low-rise trousers that make up the majority of suit trousers today since the cummerbund should be worn up at the waist and not down at the hips. Some people say that the cummerbund should be used with such low-rise trousers to prevent the white of the shirt from showing between the jacket button and the top of the waistband, but that’s not a true solution for a poorly-designed suit. The cummerbund’s purpose is not to prevent that bit of shirt from showing. The jacket’s buttoning point and the trousers’ waistband in a well-fitting suit should not be very far from one another. The cummerbund should actually be mostly hidden under the jacket and only show just a little above and below the jacket’s button, if it shows at all.

Columbo’s Bathrobe

Columbo-Bathrobe

“It was a very amusing performance between you and the owner of this,” says Bond, referring to Countess Lisl von Schlaf (played by Pierce Brosnan’s wife Cassandra Harris) and Milos Columbo (played by Topol), respectively. And “this” is the red and black striped bathrobe that Bond is wearing whilst spending the night at Columbo’s beach home. Bond often borrows bathrobes and dressing gowns wherever he sleeps, since it’s not the kind of garment most people travel with. However, Bond didn’t come to Columbo’s home prepared with a change of clothes either. The red in the bathrobe brings out the best in Roger Moore’s spring complexion, and the colour was likely chosen by the costume designer to look better on Moore than on Topol, who has a cool, olive complexion. The bathrobe is made of a smooth velour that is very comfortable for lounging in, though it’s not the most absorbent as a bathrobe. The robe also has traditional details like a shawl collar and turn back cuffs.

Columbo-Bathrobe-2

Frogmouth Pockets

Connery-Goldfinger-Frogmouth-Pockets

Frogmouth pockets in Goldfinger

Frogmouth pockets, also called western pockets or full top pockets, were popular on trousers in the 1960s and 1970s. As opposed to traditional on-seam or slanted pockets that are accessed from the side, frogmouth pockets are accessed from the front like pockets on jeans. But unlike pockets on jeans, frogmouth pockets are not curved. They are slightly slanted down across the front, and offset down from the waistband so the pocket is in the middle of the hips rather than on top of the hips. On lower-rise trousers the frogmouth pockets don’t need to be offset from the waistband. Unlike side pockets, frogmouth pockets don’t flare open trousers that fit tightly across the hips. Frogmouth pockets aren’t very fashionable today, but with the popularity of jeans and tight trousers it’s surprising that the frogmouth pocket hasn’t made a comeback. Though the style naturally goes with today’s trends, they will continue to look dated to the 1960s and 70s unless they come back into mainstream fashion.

Moore-Frogmouth-Pockets

Douglas Hayward trousers in For Your Eyes Only

Sean Connery’s brown cavalry twill trousers in Goldfinger and Thunderball have frogmouth pockets, as do some of his casual trousers. Douglas Hayward, who made Roger Moore’s suits in his 1980s Bond films, put frogmouth pockets on Moore’s suit trousers. They can be seen on the grey flannel suit in For Your Eyes Only and on the black trousers worn with the white dinner jacket in Octopussy.

Connery-YOLT-Frogmouth-Pockets

Notice the dart above the pocket.

Whilst pleated trousers can’t have frogmouth pockets, both flat front and darted front trousers can. Frogmouth pockets and darts aren’t often seen together, but Sean Connery’s grey trousers in You Only Live Twice have a dart above the middle of the frogmouth pockets. Darts can also be along the front edge of the pocket, which is how the brown trousers in Goldfinger are made, and it may be the case for Moore’s Hayward trousers too. Roger Moore’s trousers in The Persuaders have offset jetted frogmouth pockets that cut through the front dart, which is in the middle above the trousers’ leg crease.

Kristatos: The Classic Double-Breasted Dinner Suit

Kristatos-Dinner-Suit

In For Your Eyes Only, Kristatos contrasts Bond’s single-breasted, notched-lapel dinner suit with a double-breasted, peaked-lapel dinner suit that’s slightly reminiscent of the dinner suits Bond wore previously in The Spy Who Loved Me and Moonraker. Not a whole lot of Kristatos’ black dinner suit can be seen. The dinner jacket has six buttons with two to button, and the jacket is cut with a narrow wrap so there isn’t a lot of space between the two columns of buttons. The cut is timeless with natural shoulders and a clean chest, and with its balanced proportions it wouldn’t look out of place today. It follows tradition with jetted pockets and no vent.

Kristatos-Dinner-Suit-2Kristatos’ shirt appears to be just an ordinary white shirt, especially since the shirt has regular mother-of-pearl buttons rather than studs. It is nevertheless an elegant shirt with its plain front. Though it’s not a proper dress shirt, it is an appropriate shirt especially considering the less formal casino environment. The collar is a long moderate spread collar. The bow tie is a classic black satin thistle.

Striped Ties

The Royal Navy Regimental Tie

The Royal Navy Regimental Tie

Roger Moore’s James Bond is the only one who wears striped ties. Until Moore became Bond, all of James Bond’s ties were solid. The only exception is the tie Bond wears as Sir Hilary Bray, but since it is Sir Hilary’s own tie and part of a disguise it don’t count. Bond’s own first non-solid tie of the series in Live and Let Die is quite appropriate since it’s a Royal Navy regimental stripe. Striped ties often come with an affiliation, and Q’s Brigade of Guards tie in From Russia With Love is another example of that. Regiments, colleges, universities, clubs and more have their own colours and stripe patterns, and only people who are affiliated with such ties should wear them. Regimental-striped ties are typically woven in a repp weave, and the stripes are woven, not printed.

Moore-Double-Breasted-Blazer-4In almost all British striped ties the stripes go up from the wearer’s right to left. The ascending stripes help draw the eye upward, and they harmonise with the left-over-right buttoning of men’s clothing. American striped ties take British patterns and change the direction, descending from the wearer’s right to left. When the stripe direction is changed the tie’s affiliation is lost and anyone can rightfully wear it.

Not all stripes have an affiliation. Moore’s brown-striped tie in The Spy Who Loved Me likely does not have an affiliation. The Italian striped ties in Moonraker, whilst following the American direction, are printed silk and have little in common with the regimental striped ties. Moore also wears striped ties in The Man with the Golden Gun (with his navy blazer, picture above) and in For Your Eyes Only (with his navy chalkstripe suit, pictured below). These ties may have an affiliation, but I am unaware of what they may be. If anyone knows what those ties represent, please comment below.

Moore-Navy-Chalkstripe-Suit

Kristatos: The Suede Trench Coat

Kristatos-Suede-Trench-Coat

Aris Kristatos, played by Julian Glover in For Your Eyes Only, keeps wearing a suede trench coat in warm grey. It’s a full-length coat that hits below the knee, but unlike most trench coats which have raglan sleeves, this has set-in sleeves. There are actually ten buttons like would be found on the standard trench coat, and the buttons are grey horn. The coat has the usual trench coat details like a self belt, shoulder straps and angled pockets with buttoned flaps. It has straps around the wrists that close with brass buckles instead of the typical leather. There are yokes across the upper back and upper chest for dryness during snowfall. Most trench coats instead have the yoke only in back and a storm flap in front.  The most noticeable part of this coat is the black fur on the collar and the revers. And for warmth, the coat is lined in black fur.

Kristatos-Suede-Trench-Coat-Back

Underneath the trench coat Kristatos wears an olive green double-breasted blazer. It has six white metal buttons with two to fasten. Under the blazer he wears a red cashmere polo neck jumper. The combination of the red jumper and the green blazer hints that Kirstatos is affiliated with the Soviets, something we don’t learn until later in the film. Green and red were often found together on Soviet military uniforms, just with the red limited to accents. We briefly see a little bit of his trousers, which appear to be light grey in a shade similar to the trench coat. Kristatos wears tan leather gloves, most likely lined with cashmere for warmth. Bond, Kristatos and Ferrara all politely remove their gloves to shake hands. Unless the weather is extremely frigid, gloves meant for warmth should be removed for a handshake.

Kristatos-Suede-Trench-Coat-Polo-Neck

Two Bathrobes

Blue-Terrycloth-Bathrobe

In For Your Eyes Only, Bond wears two bathrobes aboard the research vessel Triana. After being painfully pulled through the water in his t-shirt and cotton trousers, Bond dons the most comfortable thing he can: a terrycloth bathrobe. Bond has worn terrycloth bathrobes starting in Dr. No, but they are likely never his own. This one his most likely found in a closet on the ship. The prussian blue terrycloth has a pile of very long, absorbent loops that dry him and keep him warm. It’s not luxurious but it serves its purpose. The robe has raglan sleeves and a shawl collar, and there are three stripes of the cloth missing the pile around the collar. Though we don’t see much of this bathrobe, it most certainly has a belt around the waist, and it probably has patch pockets under the belt.

White-Velour-BathrobeThe second robe is a more lavish white velour, the kind you might find in the closet at a luxury hotel. Velour is knitted and has a fine cut pile, which is very soft but not so absorbent. Some are lined in terrycloth to be a more absorbent bathrobe, but if not it’s great for lounging around. Like a more classic dressing gown it has a shawl collar, a belted waist, a patch breast pocket, two patch pockets below the belt and set-in sleeves with turnback cuffs. Like the blue bathrobe, this robe is most likely not Bond’s own and probably belonged to Sir Timothy Havelock, the owner of the Triana.

White-Velour-Bathrobe-2