Marnie: A Glen Check Suit Appropriate For Bond

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In honour of Sean Connery’s 84th birthday earlier this week, let’s look at a glen check suit he wears in Alfred Hitchcock’s Marnie that’s quite befitting for James Bond. The lightweight black and white glen check cloth is in a hopsack weave, and it’s very similar to the cloth of the glen check suit that Connery wears in Goldfinger. However, the two-and-two—or puppytooth—section of the glen check has a smaller repeat. The cloth is approximated in the diagram below.

Marnie-Glen-Check

The button three suit jacket has narrow lapels that roll through the top button but not down to the middle button. The jacket is cut with a full chest, natural shoulders and roped sleeveheads, and it has no vent, three buttons on the cuffs and pockets with very narrow flaps. The buttons are grey horn, as opposed to the grey plastic buttons that are on Sean Connery’s worsted Anthony Sinclair suits for Bond. Not much of the trousers can be seen, but they most likely follow the other suit trousers in the film and have double forward pleats, turn-ups and button-tab side-adjusters.

Marnie-Glen-Check-1

The white shirt—it looks cream, but I suspect that’s due to the way the film is treated because all of the colours have been warmed—has a spread collar, rounded single-button cuffs and a placket stitched close to the centre like on Frank Foster’s shirts. The narrow black repp tie—which isn’t as interesting as the textured dark grenadine ties Sean Connery often wears as Bond—anchors the overall light-coloured outfit by giving the outfit the necessary contrast to flatter Connery’s cool, high-contrast complexion. Because the tie is so narrow, it’s difficult to tell if the symmetrical knot he is using a Windsor or Half Windsor knot. Connery secures his tie with a tie bar that is mostly obscured by his jacket, slightly angled downward and placed about an inch below the jacket’s top button.

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Button Cuffs

Roger-Moore-One-Button-Rounded-Cuff

The button cuff, also known as the barrel cuff, is certainly the most forgettable of all shirt cuffs. They lack the personalisation that double cuff have from cufflinks and the flare of the cocktail cuff. But they are, nonetheless, worth discussing. They’re certainly the most versatile, since they can be worn casually and with a suit. They don’t, however, go well with anything more formal than a suit. Button cuffs can have one, two or three buttons and rounded, mitred (angle cuff) or square corners. The ordinary button cuff has one button with rounded corners. Because the cuff can pivot on a single button, the rounded corners look best on top of each other when the cuff pivots. Rounded corners follow the cuff’s pivot. George Lazenby wears rounded one-button cuffs in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, Roger Moore wears them in Octopussy and A View to a Kill, Timothy Dalton wears them in The Living Daylights, and Pierce Brosnan wears them on a few shirts in GoldenEye. One-button cuffs are typically shorter than other cuffs, around 2 to 2 1/2 inches, though Roger Moore’s cuffs from Frank Foster are around 3 inches long. Moore’s cuffs are also more rounded, which, when combined with the larger size, make the cuffs look quite elegant.

Daniel-Craig-One-Button-Square-CuffSquare corners look better on cuffs with multiple buttons, since the multiple buttons prevent the cuff from pivoting and ensure the edge will always be continuous. When a square-cornered one-button cuff pivots, the corners end up awkwardly juxtaposed on top of each other. Bond, nevertheless, occasions wears a square one-button cuff. Pierce Brosnan’s blue shirt in Tomorrow Never Dies and Daniel Craig’s black shirt in Casino Royale have square one-button cuffs.

Timothy-Dalton-One-Button-Mitred-CuffMitred one-button cuffs fit somewhere between the rounded and square cuffs. They look more elegant than square one-button cuffs, but they don’t have the rounded corner to follow the pivot of the cuff. Roger Moore’s black shirt in Moonraker, TImothy Dalton’s formal shirts in Licence to Kill, and Daniel Craig’s floral shirt in Skyfall have mitred one-button cuffs.

Roger-Moore-Two-Button-Mitred-CuffAdding a second button to the cuff usually means that the cuff will be larger. The second button also keeps the cuff more rigid, which makes the two-button cuff slightly dressier than the single-button cuff. When the cuff has a square corner, the rigidity that the second button provides ensures that the edge of the cuff will always stay continuous around. Roger Moore wears a brown striped shirt with square two-button cuffs in Live and Let Die. A mitred corner is another elegant option for the two-button cuff, and Roger Moore wears mitred two-button cuffs on his formal shirts throughout For Your Eyes Only. Like how Roger Moore’s rounded cuffs are extra round, his mitred cuffs have a deeper cut to exaggerate the style.

Pierce-Brosnan-Three-Button-CuffThree-button cuffs aren’t as popular as one- and two-button cuffs, but they are Turnbull & Asser’s signature cuff style. Considering how Turnbull & Asser made so many shirts for James Bond, the cuff only appears once in the series. Pierce Brosnan wears them on the blue royal oxford shirt he wears with his cream suit in The World Is Not Enough. The three-button cuff doesn’t behave any differently than a two-button cuff, but it needs to have a square edge. A rounded or mitred edge would require extra length beyond the button, which would make a three-button cuff excessively long.

Yukata at Tanaka’s Home

Bond-Tanaka-Kimono

Of all the cultures James Bond visits, he outwardly shows the most appreciation for Japanese culture in You Only Live Twice. He follows many of the Japanese’s customs even before he “becomes” Japanese. As a guest at Tiger Tanaka’s home, Bond wears a yukata and slippers. The yukata is a casual kimono made of cotton, and the name “yukata” means bathing clothes. Bond does indeed wear a yukata at the baths at Tanaka’s home.

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Bond’s yukata is a printed pattern of grey on white that resembles trees and water. It has a shawl collar and the front parts overlap left side over right side across the body. The yukata is held closed around the waist with a black sash called an obi, and it’s tied in back. The yukata’s length reaches the ankles, and the wide sleeves end at the middle of the forearm. Tiger Tanaka’s yukata has all of the characteristics of Bond’s yukata, but his has a light grey ground with closely-spaced indigo lengthwise stripes and wavy black crosswise stripes that create a scale-like pattern. Bond wears dark brown slippers, and Tanaka wears cream slippers.

Since I know little about Japanese garments and have never worn them, I found most of my information on the yukaka Wikipedia entry. If anyone knows more about these Japanese garments, feel free to comment below.

Navy Silk Dressing Gown

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James Bond briefly wears a navy silk dressing gown in Thunderball that he likely found in his large, luxurious room at the Shrublands health clinic. It has a shawl collar, turnback cuffs and a belt around the waist. The dressing gown is clearly sized for the average shorter man, since the sleeves end at the middle of Sean Connery’s forearm, and the length reaches the middle of his thighs. At 6’2″, Connery needs a longer dressing gown than what most men need. Though it’s too short, the gown’s shoulders are also much too large. Dressing gowns are often made as one size to fit all, but they don’t always have to fit poorly. Compare this dressing gown to the much better-fitting example in Goldfinger.

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Driving in a Suit

Driving-Quantum

When you drive, do you wear your suit jacket or hang it up? James Bond always chooses to drive in his suit jacket because he’s usually in a hurry to get in or out of his car. Besides that, it just wouldn’t look elegant for him to remove his jacket to simply get in the car. There’s no need for Bond to remove his jacket in the car because the magic of filmmaking means that Bond’s suit won’t be wrinkled when exits his car. And since his suit only has to last for a small part of a single film he doesn’t need to worry about seatbelt abrasion. The problems of wrinkling and abrasion have become more noticeable to the average suit wearer with the rise in popularity of lighter cloth weights and higher super numbers, which both make the wool less wrinkle resistant and more prone to shining with abrasion.

Driving-Dr-NoBut what about the physical act of driving in a suit? A well-fitting suit shouldn’t constrict movement. The key to being able to move the arms is high armholes. That means the armhole is smaller and hugs the armpit. Feeling the bottom of the armhole in your armpit may give the impression of being constricting, but it is actually quite the opposite. A higher armhole means that less of the suit jacket moves when the arm is raised, and it helps the arm to move more independently of the rest of the jacket. A little ease over the shoulder blades also gives the arms more range of movement. Nevertheless, it helps to unbutton the jacket when driving.

Driving-TWINEThe higher armhole is demonstrated whenever Bond is driving. The jacket sleeve rides up to reveal most of the shirt cuff, which shouldn’t ride up as much as the jacket sleeve does. If the armhole is too low or the suit is too tight, the jacket sleeve will ride up more.

The same goes for riding a motorcycle as it does for driving a car, though James Bond is probably the only person who rides a motorcycle in a suit. In Skyfall, Daniel Craig wears a suit specifically made with longer sleeves for riding a motorcycle (below) so that the amount of shirt cuff that shows when he is riding is consistent with the amount that shows when he is standing with his arms at his side. It’s nonsensical to expect the same amount of shirt cuff to show no matter the arms positions, and I find it absurd that Skyfall’s costume designer Jany Temime felt that a special suit needed to be fitted for riding a motorcycle. Since the sleeves are expected to rise up when the arms are bent, it looks like the sleeves are too long. Plus, it’s a missed opportunity to show off Bond’s cufflinks!

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Could it be herringbone flannel?

Blue-Herringbone-Flannel-Suit

The exact cloth of Sean Connery’s blue suit in Goldfinger and Woman of Straw is a difficult one to make out. It’s a heavy cloth and has a mottled appearance, so it’s certainly a woollen. But is it tweed or flannel? It has a subtle stripe effect that suggests the cloth is woven in a herringbone weave, so I thought it could be a herringbone tweed. But in herringbone tweeds the weave is well-defined and easy to see. In a woollen flannel, however, the nap mostly obscures the weave, which is the case with Connery’s blue suit. So, could it be herringbone flannel?

Fox-FlannelI never saw or even heard of herringbone flannel until a reader of The Suits of James Bond who is a fan of the Connery Bond suits found a Fox Brothers herringbone flannel cloth in his search for a cloth to replicate the blue suit. Fox Brothers is one of England’s most well-known manufacturers of flannel, and their Char Blue Herringbone Jacketing flannel is a close match to what Connery’s blue suit in Goldfinger is made of. The cloth is a 500/530 gram or 18 oz weight and is featured under Fox’s jacketing range. It is based on a cloth from the 1930s, when practically all suits were made from heavier cloths than what most suits are made from today. Though it’s labelled a jacketing, it makes a good suiting for cold weather. It would have been a more typical weight for a winter suit in the 1960s when Connery wore his suit. Connery’s blue suit indeed looks to be quite heavy, especially compared to his usual lightweight worsteds. However, I’d guess that Connery’s suit is made from a cloth slightly lighter than this one. The herringbone pattern on Connery’s suit looks larger than this cloth’s pattern, and his suit is a richer blue than Fox’s char blue. Whilst it may not be a perfect match, it is the closest I’ve seen to Connery’s suit and gives insight to what Connery’s suit is likely made of.

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The Fox Brothers cloth is code FS405 B2237/84 and can be purchased online at The Merchant Fox.

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.

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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.

A Mostly Classic Ivory Dinner Jacket

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Whilst an ivory dinner jacket is appropriate in a Monte Carlo casino, it’s not so appropriate in a Las Vegas casino unless you’re James Bond. Bond wears one in Diamonds Are Forever at a Las Vegas casino where most people dress down. Apart from Bond’s wide bow tie and the wide pocket flaps on his dinner jacket, this is a classic warm-weather black tie outfit. It looks especially traditional compared to the flamboyant black dinner jacket Bond wears later in the film. The ivory dinner jacket has the same cut as the other Anthony Sinclair jackets in the film have: a clean chest and natural shoulders with roped sleeveheads.

Diamonds-Ivory-Dinner-Jacket-2The button one dinner jacket has medium-width peaked lapels with a very high gorge. Today you can find examples of peaked lapels where the peaks rise up above the shoulders, but the peaks on the dinner jacket are about as high as peaks can tastefully be. The jacket’s hip pockets are slanted with large flaps, a utilitarian pocket style that is out of place on a dinner jacket. The slant gives easier access to the pockets on horseback, and flaps keep items inside the pockets. However, the benefits of slanted and flapped pockets are unnecessary on a dinner jacket, and such a sporty pocket doesn’t have the elegance of a straight jetted pocket. The dinner jacket also has deep double vents, which are another practical sporting element added to this dinner jacket that breaks from tradition, but Bond’s dinner jackets have often had double vents. There are four buttons on the cuffs, and all of the buttons on the jacket are white mother-of-pearl.

Diamonds-Ivory-Dinner-Jacket-3With the jacket, Bond wears black trousers with a darted front, tapered legs and a satin stripe down each leg. The white-on-white stripe shirt from Turnbull & Asser has a spread collar, double cuffs and pleated front with mother-of-pearl buttons down the placket. Connery’s bow ties always followed the trendy width, and his wide black satin silk bow tie in Diamonds Are Forever is no exception. Since Bond keeps his jacket buttoned, we can’t tell if he wears a cummerbund with this dinner jacket like he does with his black dinner suit later in the film. In the unlikely event that he is wearing a cummerbund here, it probably isn’t the same fancy cummerbund that he wears with the black dinner suit. He wears the same black patent leather two-eyelet derby shoes that he later wears with the black dinner suit.