The Skydiving Jumpsuit

Skydiving-Jumpsuit

The Living Daylights opens with James Bond and two other 00 agents parachuting to a training exercise on Gibraltar. They’re all wearing black skydiving jumpsuits, commando boots and parachute packs on their backs. Bond’s jumpsuit is probably made out of polyester. It has a zip front, a ribbed tall collar and ribbed cuffs. There is a flapped patch pocket on the upper part of each sleeve and a flapped patch pocket on the front of the upper thigh of each leg. The pocket flaps most likely stay closed with velcro. Bond wears the legs of his jumpsuit tucked into his boots.

Skydiving-Jumpsuit-2

Under the jumpsuit, Bond wears a black crew-neck T-shirt. The black leather commando boots have a plain toe, closed lacing and metal reinforced eyelets. Bond and the other 00 agents skydive with a black helmet and goggles.

Afghan Combat

Living-Daylights-Afghan

During the climax of The Living Daylights, James Bond dresses as one of the Mujahideen in Afghanistan whilst fighting as one of them and also to disguise himself. On top he wears a medium brown leather—probably sheepskin—waistcoat, and it has four buttons from the neck down to the waist, where it cuts away. He wears the waistcoat open. Underneath the waistcoat Bond wears a warm grey shirt that has a short point collar that is laid flat. The collar has a band but it doesn’t have a button. However, the top button on the shirt isn’t more than an inch below the collar. The shirt also has an open breast pocket on the left side, a narrow placket and square 1-button cuffs.

Living-Daylights-Harem-PantsBond’s harem-like trousers match the shirt’s warm grey. They aren’t harem trousers to the extreme that M.C. Hammer made popular at the time, but they are very baggy in the thigh, have a somewhat low crotch and are fitted at the ankle. The waistband gathers with a drawstring. Bond wears a black belt around his waist on top of the shirt but underneath the waistcoat to hold his combat gear. To complete the disguise Bond wears a black Afghan turban.

Living-Daylights-Commando-BootsBond’s black leather derby-style combat boots have rubber soles attached with a storm welt. The boots also have a whopping 14 eyelets, and by that I mean 14 on each side! They are all metal eyelets and there are no speed hooks. They are laced in a standard criss-cross method, but combat boots are often laced in other methods, like the “Army Lacing” method mentioned on Ian’s Shoelace Site. The criss-cross lacing that Bond’s boots are laced in isn’t the best choice for him in this situation because he needs to cut the laces open quickly. Straight lacing methods—there are a few different methods listed on Ian’s Shoelace Site—are best for cutting the laces open because the horizontal sections of the lacing can be cut very quickly with a knife. Different militaries may have different ways of lacing shoes, and Bond may be used to lacing his shoes a certain way. With straight lacing, Necros would have died even quicker, making for perhaps a less suspenseful scene. The boots are the only part of this outfit that isn’t costume. With the boots Bond wears tall black socks.

The Briefly-Seen Double-Breasted Dinner Suit

Living-Daylights-Double-Breasted

In the final scene of The Living Daylights we catch a glimpse of a peak lapel dinner suit on Timothy Dalton. Thanks to a Christie’s auction on 17 September 1998, we get to see that the dinner suit is actually double-breasted. Double-breasted suits were quite trendy at the time, especially the four- and six-button models that only fasten at the bottom button. That’s what Pierce Brosnan was wearing on Remington Steele. But Dalton’s dinner jacket has six buttons with the traditional two to button. The dinner jacket has double vents, four buttons on the cuffs and flapped pockets. The pocket flaps are the only inappropriate detail on the dinner jacket (and double vents, if you count those too), but typically the pocket slits are double-jetted and the flaps can be tucked in. The lapels and trouser stripe are trimmed in satin silk. The jacket has a claret-coloured lining.

Living-Daylights-Double-Breasted-2

The trousers are labeled “EIGENTUM, LAMBERT HOFER, WIEN, 1150 WIEN, HACKENGASSE 10″. Lambert Hofer is a clothier and tailor in Vienna that specialises in costume and evening wear. The dinner suit sold at Christie’s for £1,725.

The Advantages of Braces

Braces

Navy and green stripe braces with black leather ends, blue barathea braces with white goatskin ends, and printed silk braces with tan leather ends.

Not many people wear braces anymore. Sometimes called suspenders in America, braces are the most secure way to hold up one’s trousers. When wearing braces, your trousers stay at the same height all day long. They never sag, which can happen all too often with a belt or side adjusters. With a three-piece suit they also prevent a bit of shirt from showing underneath the waistcoat, like we see with Sean Connery in his fight scenes. If you’re worried about braces showing, nobody will ever know when you’re wearing a three-piece suit. They will also always be hidden when wearing a double-breasted suit. Another great advantage is that trousers can be worn a bit looser than with a belt, which is especially helpful to people who have health problems caused by too tight trousers. Braces require a higher-than-currently-fashionable trouser rise to work properly. Braces allow trousers to hang elegantly from the waist and can be a bit awkward on low-rise trousers.

Barathea braces are great for year-round wear and wool boxcloth braces are great for winter. Striped grosgrain braces can be worn whenever a regimental striped tie is appropriate, and fancy printed silks are great for almost any occasion. Since braces aren’t meant to be seen, you can really wear any braces you want to. You can pick your braces as you pick your lining, to match or to contrast. But the leather ends, like a belt, should match the shoes. That is unless the ends are white goatskin, which goes with everything. Proper braces button on, not clip on, and are preferably not elastic in the front. Braces do, however, always have elastic in the back. If that elastic wears out—and if the braces are properly cared for the elastic will wear out before the front parts do—it can be replaced.

Ralph-Fiennes-Braces

Ralph Fiennes in Skyfall wearing navy fleur de lys braces and attached to tabs in the back of his trousers.

Braces and a belt should never be worn together since they are achieving the same goal, so it’s okay to wear your trousers with empty belt loops if you’re wearing braces. It’s better to not have belt loops if you’re wearing braces, but side adjusters are best if you want the option to not wear the trousers with braces. For trousers only worn with braces they can be cut with a “braces back” that is higher than in the front. For a similar effect, cloth tabs can be sewn into the back so the braces attach higher in the back than in the front, but they can be tucked away for when not wearing braces. Ralph Fiennes wears such a style in Skyfall. Buttons for braces are typically found inside the waistband on trousers with belt loops or side adjusters. On trousers just meant for braces the front buttons are often put on the outside for additional comfort.

Daniel-Craig-Braces

Daniel Craig in Casino Royale wearing white silk moiré braces with black tie.

James Bond has worn braces with black tie in four films: The Living Daylights, Licence to Kill, Casino Royale and Skyfall. In Daniel Craig’s Bond films he wears white moiré braces with braided ends, traditional for eveningwear. Timothy Dalton wears white braces as well, but in The Living Daylights we clearly see that they clip on. Clip-on braces don’t attach to the trousers in as many places as button-on braces, meaning the trousers won’t drape as well and won’t be as secure. Clip-on braces can also potentially damage the cloth of the trousers. If Dalton were wearing a cummerbund it would hide the unsightly clips from view when the jacket is open. Some people believe there is a rule that a cummerbund and braces should not be worn together, thinking that it’s the same as wearing a belt and braces. But there is no such rule. Whilst a belt holds up one’s trousers, a cummerbund does not. It’s there to cover the waist, just as an evening waistcoat does. Whilst Bond has only worn white braces with black tie, black is equally acceptable.

Do you ever wear braces?

Dress-Braces

Left to right: White silk moiré braces and ivory silk fleur de lys braces, both for evening wear.

Bratislava Suit and Coat

Timothy Dalton Grey Flannel Suit

In the Bratislava winter in The Living Daylights, Timothy Dalton recalls classic James Bond suits with his medium grey flannel suit. It’s a shame we don’t see more of this suit since it’s one of the best-fitting suits in the series, from the little we see of it. It’s clearly not the same as the rest of the Benjamin Simon suits that Dalton wears throughout the film and probably is from a different brand. What really stands out are the narrow, natural shoulders that really flatter Dalton’s build. We don’t see much of the suit, but the jacket is probably a button two. The jacket also has wide lapels, but with a classic gorge compared to the low gorge on Licence to Kill‘s wide lapels. A publicity still reveals that this suit’s trousers have double reverse pleats instead of the classic English forward pleats that the rest of his suits have. Dalton wears the trousers with a black belt.

Timothy Dalton Navy Overcoat

Dalton wears a white shirt with a spread collar, barrel cuffs and a placket front. His tie is solid navy and tied in a four-in-hand knot. His shoes are black. Over the suit, Dalton wears a dark navy, full-length overcoat. The overcoat has a 1980’s low gorge and low button stance, probably with three buttons. The low button stance exposes more of the chest, and the low gorge means that folding over the lapels won’t cover the neck, making the coat not as effective at keeping out the cold as it could be. But still, the coat fits well. It has a vent, flapped pockets and three buttons on the cuffs. Though the clothes are not bespoke, they are some of Dalton’s more impressive clothes of the film due to their decent fit and classic Bondian style.

The Button Three Lapel Roll

The World is Not Enough Button 3

The most traditional number of button for the front of a suit jacket is three. But there are a few different ways the lapels can be cut and sewn to control the way the lapel rolls. On inexpensive, fully-fused suits, the lapels don’t roll and are pressed flat above the top button. This is something that James Bond never wears. The opposite of that style would be the “3-roll-2″ style, where the lapels act just like on a button two suit and roll down to the middle button. The top buttonhole is also finished on the reverse side, since that’s the side that is visible. This style is most commonly seen in American sack suits, but it’s not limited to that cut. Cary Grant famously wore that style in North By Northwest, and Bond wore it in Quantum of Solace (pictured below). Some see it as an affected style since the top button can’t close, but it’s a well-established classic.

Quantum of Solace Button 3

The most common type of button three amongst well-made jackets has the lapel gently rolling from at or just below the top button. Most of Bond’s button three suits are in this style. It looks very elegant with only the middle button closed, but the top can be closed as well. We first saw this style on Bond in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service. George Lazenby fastens both the top and middle buttons (pictured below), and the top button breaks the roll. If he only fastened the middle button, the lapel would roll through the top button. Sean Connery’s button three sports coats in Diamonds Are Forever have similar lapels, but he only fasten the jacket at the middle button. Roger Moore wore a few suits in this style made by Douglas Hayward in the 1980s with a lower button stance, and Timothy Dalton wore a navy pinstripe suit in this style in The Living Daylights. Pierce Brosnan most famously wore this style made by Brioni throughout all of his Bond films (pictured top). Daniel Craig’s Brioni suits in Casino Royale followed in the same 3-button style, though a more fitted cut meant that the lapels spread open a bit wider. Every Bond after Lazenby fastens only the middle button, which is usually—and most effectively—placed at the waist to act as a fulcrum for both visual balance and to match where your body pivots. The latter is especially important for action since a button that is placed too low or too high would be restricting.

On Her Majesty's Secret Service Button 3

Daniel Craig’s suits in Skyfall (pictured below) also have a lapel that rolls from the top button, as you can easily see when the jackets are unbuttoned. But because the jackets are so tight the chest is pulled open more than it looks like it was designed to be. The revers are shown a little bit below the button but not all the way down to the middle button like on the Quantum of Solace suit. If you look at the image of the buttoned suit below you’ll notice that the lapel roll ends at the top button and below that it is just pulled open because it’s too tight.

Skyfall Button 3

A lapel that rolls needs canvassing to give it shape and body, which is why some makers just sew canvas in the lapels and fuse the rest of the front. The amount of roll is controlled by the cut of the lapel, where the lapel is attached to the collar and how the innards of the suit are constructed. And a lapel roll isn’t just limited to the button three jacket. Sean Connery’s button two jackets had elegant rolls, especially starting in From Russia With Love as the lapels got narrower. In comparison, Roger Moore’s button two jackets had more typical, flatter lapels.

Beige Suit in Tangiers

Score one for Timothy Dalton. I find this beige wool gabardine suit from Benjamin Simon worn in The Living Daylights to be Dalton’s most successful of the series for a number of reasons. Most importantly the suit fits well, but it’s also a classic style. The jacket’s shoulders are straight and padded, but not built up or out too much as most of his other suits are guilty of. The only problem with the suit is large armholes that impede arm movement. That’s what causes the shoulders to raise when the arms are raised, and most off the peg suits are plagued with this problem.

The jacket is a classic 2-button with double vents, flapped pockets and 3-button cuffs. The trousers have classic double forward pleats that recall Connery’s trousers.

It’s well known that Timothy Dalton is not comfortable dressed up, and here he forgoes the tie. Without a tie he looks more comfortable, and it’s okay to wear a casual suit—like one made of beige gabardine—without a tie. The darker business suits that Dalton wears in Licence to Kill don’t work nearly as well sans tie. His cream shirt has an undersized spread collar, a placket front and 1-button cuffs. Dalton wears brown slip-ons and a brown braided leather belt.

Pagoda: The Other Natural Shoulder

When most people think of natural shoulder suits, it’s the soft shoulder that curves down at the ends to follow the shoulder into the arm. But we often forget that the shoulder has a concave shape too, though some men don’t have a shoulder like this. The pagoda shoulder suit emphasizes that concave part of the shoulder but doesn’t curve down at the end like some other natural shoulder suits do. Instead the shoulder line curves out, often ending with a roped sleevehead to emphasize the concave shape. Usually this type of shoulder has padding on the end to keep the shape, but some tailors may achieve this look with just proper sewing and canvas. It’s not a very common type of shoulder, but it’s found on Tom Ford’s Regency model that Daniel Craig wears in Quantum of Solace. Some of Timothy Dalton’s suits in The Living Daylights also featured a pagoda shoulder.