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.

Black Swimming Trunks

Casino-Royale-Black-Swimming-Trunks

Very little of Daniel Craig’s black swimming trunks in Casino Royale are seen. These trunks have a drawstring waistband, a thick white stripe on either side of the hips and a dark burgundy piece that curves from the bottom of the leg up to the waistband and over the seat, leaving a black semicircle at the bottom of the legs and seat. Like the light blue swimming trunks that Daniel Craig wears earlier in Casino Royale, the black trunks have a low rise, very short inseam and an overall tight fit that accentuates Daniel Craig’s “perfectly-formed arse”. Unlike the Skyfall swimming trunks, these have a long enough rise so that Craig doesn’t show buttock cleavage when he sits down. The maker of these trunks is unknown, and they were not made by La Perla like the light blue trunks earlier in the film.

Casino-Royale-Black-Swimming-Trunks-2

Sleeve Width

Jack-Lord-Felix-Leiter

There’s more to well-fitting jacket sleeves than the right length. Jacket sleeve width is an oft-forgotten aspect of fit, and a well-fitting sleeve subtly makes a jacket much more flattering. Compare Sean Connery’s James Bond to Jack Lord’s Felix Leiter. Whose sleeves look better? Connery’s sleeves neatly taper whilst Lord’s sleeves are very full from shoulder to cuff. Sleeves should taper to the cuff, and altering sleeve width can be a risky endeavour. The sleeve opening should be large enough to fit a double cuff with enough room for it to slide through easily. A sleeve that’s too tight is restricting and will crease readily. The sleeve’s width should also be in balance with other parts of the suit. A very tapered sleeve looks out of place on a suit with a full-cut jacket and wide trouser legs, but that doesn’t mean the sleeve should be as wide as the trousers legs are either. Connery’s sleeves mimic the taper of his trouser legs whilst Lord’s wide sleeves don’t mesh well with the rest of his outfit.

Daniel-Craig-Sleeves

Daniel Craig appropriately shows roughly 1/2″ of shirt cuff in Skyfall, though his jacket sleeves taper too much. The sleeves should drape more smoothly with the arms relaxed like this.

Sleeve length is the easiest part of the sleeve to alter—as long as buttonholes haven’t been cut—so there’s no excuse for sleeves that are too long. The jacket sleeves should end roughly at the wrist bone so they show 1/4- to 1/2-inch of shirt cuff when the arms are relaxed, and this applies to button cuffs and double cuffs. Showing shirt cuff is ultimately a personal preference, but it’s something James Bond does more often than not. Visually, it balances the shirt collar showing in above the back of the jacket collar. Practically, it protects the edges of the jacket sleeves and prevents fraying. Shirt cuffs and shirts are much cheaper to replace than an entire suit because of frayed jacket cuff edges.

A perfect sleeve

A perfect sleeve

Another thing related to the sleeve that people often mention is the armhole and that it should be high. A high armhole means that the armhole is short in height and the bottom of the armhole is high into the armpit. The armhole should be felt in the armpit, but it shouldn’t dig into the armpit. A higher armhole gives the arms more vertical motion, so even though it might feel tighter it is actually less constricting. The width of the armhole is also important, since an armhole that is too narrow will constrict movement and cause the upper sleeve to bind. The armhole cannot be altered, and most ready-to-wear suits have rather large armholes that can fit people of different shapes. Unfortunately that leaves the majority of men with an armhole that is often far too large.

The Dress Watch

Dr-No-Dress-Watch

A dress watch with black tie in Dr. No

James Bond is known for wearing sports watches like the Rolex Submariner and the Omega Seamaster with suits and black tie, but such watches should be worn only with sportswear and not with dressier outfits. The practice of wearing a sports watch with a suit is common now, but just because a watch is expensive and well-made doesn’t mean it goes well with all fine clothing. For dressy outfits exists the dress watch.

A dress watch with a suit in You Only Live Twice

A gold dress watch with a suit in You Only Live Twice

A dress watch is simpler, lighter and overall more elegant than a sports watch. Typically the case is thinner, the bezel is narrower, the crown is smaller and the dial is cleaner. Often it has a leather strap rather than a metal bracelet. Though we remember Sean Connery’s Rolex Submariner in the four Bond films, in most of Connery’s Bond films he also occasionally wears with his suits or black tie a gold dress watch from Gruen. This watch has a white dial and a black fabric strap. It may not be as iconic as or comparable in make to the Rolex, but it goes much better with the dressier clothing. Though Connery often commits the faux pas of wearing his Rolex diving with his suits, he only wears his Rolex once with Black Tie in Goldfinger’s opening scene. Bond has an excuse, however, in this case: he had just been diving!

After Sean Connery left the role, James Bond doesn’t again wear a dress watch until Roger Moore wears a two-tone Seiko undercover as James St. John Smythe in A View to a Kill. More recently, Daniel Craig’s Omega Seamaster Aqua Terra in some scenes of Skyfall is a sports watch, but its simple style means it can work with a suit in a pinch. It’s an elegant sports watch but a little clunky as a dress watch.

I do not plan to write more on James Bond’s watches because there is already a wealth of material available written by more knowledgable people than I. For a list of all of Bond’s watches, visit JamesBondWatches.com

Recovery

Casino-Royale-Recovery

James Bond recovers from Le Chiffre’s torture in Casino Royale wearing comfortable, loose clothing. The first outfit consists of a dressing gown over a jumper and t-shirt. The dressing gown is made of woven cotton in navy with a white grid check, and it has a shawl collar and a patch breast pocket. It probably has a belt and patch pockets on the hips, but we don’t see them since Bond is covered in a white towel below the waist. The light grey ribbed wool V-neck jumper has a full fit. Under the jumper, Bond wears a black crew-neck t-shirt.

Casino-Royale-Recovery-2

Bond later recovers in a light blue cotton dressing gown. This gown has collar but Bond doesn’t fold it over. Under this dressing gown Bond wears a dark grey crew-neck t-shirt and navy sweatpants. His shoes are brown trainers.

Casino-Royale-Recovery-3

As Bond’s recovery progresses he wears another outfit made up of parts of the previous two outfits. He again wears the light grey V-neck jumper from the first recovery outfit with the navy sweatpants from the second recovery outfit. Under the jumper he wears a white t-shirt, and white underwear peaks out above the trousers. His shoes are white trainers. The clothes in these three outfits are all worn for comfort and not style. One could say the jumper is too baggy or that James Bond should never wear sweatpants, but Bond is appropriately dressed for his situation, and he doesn’t look so bad either.

Folding the Pocket Square

The plain-weave glen check suit in From Russia with Love

Sean Connery’s and Daniel Craig’s Bonds are both fond of the folded handkerchief in their jacket breast pockets. Sean Connery’s Bond always wears white linen—it goes with everything—whilst Daniel Craig’s Bond matches his cotton handkerchief to his white and light blue shirts. Though silk handkerchiefs are made only to be used pocket squares, cotton and linen handkerchiefs can be used either as a pocket square or as something to blow one’s nose in. Folding a handkerchief to wear as a pocket square is relatively simple, but depending on the size of the handkerchief it may need to be folded differently to fit in the breast pocket. The handkerchief should be folded to fill the breast pocket without being so tight that it binds when you move around. Bond typically uses a rectangular fold know as the TV fold or the presidential fold, amongst other names.

Pocket-Square-Fold

Most breast pockets will fit a handkerchief folded to roughly 3 inches wide. That’s easy with squares around 11 to 12 inches and around 17 to 18 inches. For squares of both those sizes fold it in half right side over left, and then fold if in half again top to bottom. Now you should have a single folded edge along the top, and this will be the top edge of the handkerchief that shows outside the breast pocket. If your initial square measured around 11 to 12 inches just fold it in half right side over left and you’ll have the right size to put in your breast pocket. If your initial square measured more than 12 inches you’ll need to fold it in three sections, though you may need to make one of the three sections smaller to better fill the space in the breast pocket. Again, keep the outside edge a folded edge. In my visual demonstration above I’m using a 15-inch handkerchief.

So far I’ve left out the final steps of placing the handkerchief in the breast pocket. Before placing the handkerchief in the pocket you have the option to iron it flat, which can tame springy linen. Fold it in half again bottom to top and place it in the pocket with the amount you want to show. The handkerchief won’t sit at the bottom of the pocket, so to get it to fill the height of the pocket I hold the top in place whilst using the back end of a pen or pencil to push the rest of the handkerchief down into the bottom of the pocket.

Handkerchief-in-pocket

Bond keeps his handkerchiefs looking neat by keeping the edges of the handkerchiefs hidden, but dandies will show the edges of their handkerchiefs. Many are made with coloured borders that can be nice to show. If you choose to show the edges of the handkerchief, it looks best when the edges are rolled and sewed by hand. A machine-sewn edge should be kept hidden.

How do you like to wear your pocket squares?

SIS Tracksuit

Skyfall-Tracksuit

James Bond trains in a royal blue tracksuit in Skyfall, and it’s only Bond’s second of the series. The first is a velour tracksuit in A View to a Kill, and whilst this one isn’t as luxurious it’s more practical and appropriate for Bond. Despite being a Royal Navy officer, Bond wears a PTI (Physical Training Instructor) jacket of the British Army, issued by the Secret Intelligence Service (SIS) with a silver SIS crest on the upper left chest. There is a jetted zip pocket above the crest, and it’s the only outer pocket on the jacket. The jacket has a zip-front with set-in sleeves, a crew neck and ribbed elastic cuffs.

Skyfall-BaselayerThe matching trousers complete the tracksuit. They have ribbed elastic bottoms like the cuffs on the jacket sleeves. The legs have a rib sewn down the centre of each leg. The ribs give the legs a creased look—this type of cotton cloth won’t take a crease—so the tracksuit has a more military-like look. Some may think it looks affected but I think it’s a nice touch.

Skyfall-Tracksuit-2Underneath the tracksuit Bond wears a dark blue-grey long-sleeve, crew-neck shirt in a waffle knit. The shirt has regular shirt-style sleeves, and the narrow shoulders are emphasise Daniel Craig’s large deltoids. The sleeves have cuffs in a a finer knit but Bond rolls up the sleeves to the elbow. The shirt’s upper left chest has the same SIS as on the jacket. Bond’s socks are white athletic crew socks. The trainers are the Adidas Gazelle 2 model in Dark Indigo suede with Argentina Blue (pale blue) stripes. The soles are white rubber.