Layer Cake: The Kilgour Navy Suit

Layer-Cake-Kilgour-Navy-Suit

In Daniel Craig’s “screen test” for James Bond, the 2005 film Layer Cake, he wears a ready-to-wear navy suit from Kilgour. The suit was designed by Kilgour’s creative director Carlo Brandelli in his signature style. Brandelli, a London-born fashion designer, interior designer and artist, joined Kilgour in 2004, left in 2009 and returned again in 2013. The style of the suit recalls traditional Savile Row but at the same time updates it with a distinctive sleek, modern look. The suit jacket has single-button front with the button at the waist, and the jacket’s quarters gently cut away below the button. It is cut with a clean chest, a nipped waist and lightly-padded shoulders with roped sleeveheads. The jacket is detailed with a single vent, slanted flap pockets and four buttons on the cuffs. The jacket’s buttons are made of black horn.

Layer-Cake-Kilgour-Navy-Suit-4The suit trousers have a medium rise so they sit only about two inches below the jacket’s button. The rise is high enough to prevent the shirt from showing the jacket’s single button. The trousers have a darted front, straight leg, slanted side pockets and “DAKS top” side adjusters with three mother of pearl buttons.

Layer-Cake-Kilgour-Navy-Suit-3Daniel Craig’s shirt is pale blue and has a moderate spread collar, double cuffs and a front placket.  Though the collar and cuffs are stitched 1/4-inch from the edge, the rather narrow placket is stitched 3/8″ from the edge. The placket is just like what Thomas Pink makes, and this shirt and the others in the film could possibly be from there. If this shirt isn’t from Thomas Pink, it is certainly English in origin. The navy tie has a raised woven honeycomb texture, which looks like the “Astaire” tie that Thomas Pink used to sell. Craig’s shoes are black leather high-vamp slip-ons with an elastic strip across the instep under the tongue.

The entire colour scheme of the outfit is very Bond-like, and all the blue brings out the best in Daniel Craig’s warm, spring complexion and blue eyes. Though the clothes are ready-to-wear, they fit well except for when the jacket’s collar stands away from the neck. Daniel Craig looks great in the English style and proves in Layer Cake that he can look very much the part of James Bond.

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The James Bond clothes and pose

In 2011, I wrote about the cream suit Daniel Craig wears in the final scene of Layer Cake.

Plastic Buttons

Grey plastic buttons on the three-piece glen check suit in Goldfinger

Grey plastic buttons on the three-piece glen check suit by Anthony Sinclair in Goldfinger

Plastic buttons are currently held to be less desirable than buttons made of natural materials, but when Sean Connery was James Bond in the 1960s they were the standard choice for lounge suits amongst England’s best tailors. Almost all of Sean Connery’s Anthony Sinclair suits in his 1960’s Bond films have thin, plain, glossy plastic buttons, and most of Roger Moore’s Cyril Castle suits and sports coats in Live and Let Die and The Man with the Golden Gun have the same type of buttons. Though it may seem illogical to put inexpensive plastic buttons on bespoke garments, there are reasons to why plastic buttons were used.

Connery-Plastic-Buttons

Dark grey plastic buttons on an Anthony Sinclair dark grey flannel suit in Dr. No. The smooth texture of the buttons does not fit with the fuzzy texture of the flannel cloth.

The uniform look of plastic buttons matches the clean look of worsted suiting, and some people believe that horn buttons look too rustic for a city suit. Plastic buttons also can be made in virtually any colour, so they are typically matched with or used in a slightly darker shade than the suit. In the 1960s and 1970s, synthetics were not so taboo in quality clothes the way that they are now. Tailors may also have liked how plastic buttons were thinner than other choices. Douglas Hayward, who typically used horn buttons, used grey plastic buttons on both Roger Moore’s grey flannel suit in For Your Eyes Only and on his grey tweed jacket in A View to a Kill since horn is not found in a flat medium grey, and he wanted to match the buttons to the suit. These grey plastic buttons, however, have a matte finish like horn instead of the shiny finish buttons that Sinclair and Castle used.

Plastic Buttons on Daniel Craig's suit in Casino Royale

Plastic Buttons on Daniel Craig’s Brioni suit in Casino Royale

Timothy Dalton’s suits in Licence to Kill, not surprisingly, have plastic buttons. Most of Pierce Brosnan’s and Daniel Craig’s Brioni suits—worn in GoldeneEye, Tomorrow Never Dies, The World Is Not Enough, Die Another Day and Casino Royale—also have plastic buttons. Not all plastic buttons are created equal. Brioni’s plastic buttons both look nicer and are more durable than the average plastic buttons. This is not to say they are just as good as natural materials, but the plastic buttons give the makers of Brioni suits the look they want.

Urea buttons on Timothy Dalton's suit in The Living Daylights

Urea buttons on Timothy Dalton’s Benjamin Simon suit in The Living Daylights

Timothy Dalton’s suit buttons in The Living Daylights are another kind of plastic, made from urea. These urea buttons mimic horn but often have a more pronounced grain. Unlike horn buttons, which due to nature can never be identical to each other, the grain of urea buttons will often match each others. If the buttons look like horn but are suspiciously identical, they can’t possibly be authentic horn. The grey buttons on the black-and-white pick-and-pick suit in Skyfall are similar fake horn in urea.

An Unused Cream Suit in Quantum of Solace

Quantum of Solace Cream Silk Suit

The medium grey suit made for Daniel Craig in Quantum of Solace isn’t the only suit that didn’t make it to the final film. A cream silk hopsack Tom Ford suit made for “Daniel Craig Bond 22“, as a label indicates, is currently for sale on eBay (click to see listing). The suit is made in the same Regency Base B model as the other suits in Quantum of Solace, and all of the details match.

Quantum of Solace Cream Silk Suit LabelThe suit jacket has three buttons on the front with the lapel rolling to the middle button. The lapels are a classically proportioned 3.5″* wide. The jacket is cut with a clean chest and a suppressed waist. The shoulders look straight rather than pagoda shaped like on Craig’s suits in the film, but that most likely has to do with the way the suit fits the mannequin rather than Daniel Craig’s body. The jacket has flapped pockets with a ticket pocket, 10″* double vents and five buttons on the cuffs. The last cuff buttonhole is longer than the others, and the corresponding button is placed misaligned from the other buttons to be seen peaking out under the top part of the sleeve.

Quantum of Solace Cream Silk Suit TrousersThe trousers have a flat front, slide-buckle side adjusters, two rear pockets and two darts on each side in the rear. The side pockets are on the side seam, which curves forward to the top. The trouser legs have 1.5″* turn-ups. The buttons on the suit are mother of pearl.

Quantum of Solace Cream Silk Suit ButtonholeThe quality of the handwork that goes into making a Tom Ford suit really gets lost on film. The hand-sewn Milanese buttonhole on the lapel is one of those fine details that is not apparent on screen, but up close it’s almost a work of art. This suit was made in one of Zegna’s three factories in Switzerland.

Quantum of Solace Cream Silk Suit Label 2The suit is tagged an Italian size 50 R, which numerically converts to a 39 R in UK and US sizing. The jacket’s chest measures 21 inches armpit to armpit, the jacket’s length from the bottom of the collar to the hem is 30 1/4 inches, and the shoulders are 19 inches wide. These measurements are consistent with an athletic and trim-fitting 40 R. The trousers measure 32 inches around the waist, have a 10-inch rise in the front, a 33-inch inseam and a 17-inch leg opening. The inseam length is surprisingly long for a man who is 5’10” tall and wears his trousers with no break, but his legs are long compared to his torso.

Quantum of Solace Cream Silk Suit CuffsI would guess that this suit was made to be an option for the Bolivia arrival scene, since it’s best worn during the daytime in a warm climate. It would have suited the locale extremely well. It also would have better flatted Daniel Craig’s complexion better than the dark, cool brown suit that he wears instead. But as others have pointed out, the dark clothes that Bond wears throughout Quantum of Solace fit his mood better than this cream suit would have. It’s a shame that this beautiful suit, along with the medium grey suit, didn’t make the cut for the film.

*Thanks to Jovan for asking the seller for measurements not listed.

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.

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.

A Well-Cut Suit from a Cut Scene

Quantum-Cut-Scene-Grey-SuitA scene deleted from the end of Quantum of Solace has James Bond in a grey suit that isn’t used in the final cut of the film. The suit is made of a medium weight serge wool, with light grey in the warp and charcoal in the weft. The resulting medium-dark grey is more flattering to Daniel Craig’s light, warm spring complexion than the dark suits he wears throughout the final cut of the film are. This suit, however, does not give Bond the meaner look that the dark suits give him.

The grey suit is made by Tom Ford in the same Regency model that the other suits in the film are made in. The suit jacket has three buttons with the lapels rolled to the middle button, which gives the suit a button two silhouette. It has slightly-pagoda-shaped shoulders with pronounced roping at the sleeveheads. The cut is clean through the chest and suppressed in the waist. The jacket also has straight flapped pockets with a ticket pocket, double vents and five buttons on the cuffs. The suit trousers have a flat front and side adjusters. Under the suit, Bond wears a white Tom Ford shirt with a spread collar and double cuffs. The Tom Ford tie is navy with a pattern of small white dots, tied in a Windsor knot.

Below I’ve illustrated how this suit is more flattering on Daniel Craig than a darker suit is. The image in the middle is of the grey suit from the cut scene, unaltered by myself. On the left I darkened the suit to be a deep charcoal grey like the suit he wears in London in Quantum of Solace. The dark suit, especially with contrast of the white shirt, overpowers his complexion and washes him out a little. It’s not really that bad, but it could be a lot better. On the right I’ve kept the suit medium dark grey but turned the white shirt into sky blue to show how the outfit could further be improved. A sky blue shirt, like the shirts Daniel Craig wears in Skyfall, is the best on Daniel Craig. Not only does the sky blue flatter his skin tone, it also brings out his most important feature: his blue eyes.

Suit-Shirt-Comparison

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!

Skyfall-Motorcycle

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.