Felix Leiter: The Seersucker Suit

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Rik Van Nutter’s Felix Leiter in Thunderball wears a blue and white striped suit made of a thin, puckered cotton cloth called seersucker. The blue and white seersucker suit is an American warm-weather staple and an fitting suit for a CIA agent in the tropics. The stripes on Leiter’s suit are narrower than usual for seersucker, but they aren’t nearly as narrow as the stripes on the related pincord suit are.

Leiter-Seersucker-2Whilst Cec Linder—Van Nutter’s predecessor as Felix Leiter in Goldfinger—dresses all out in the American Ivy League style in a suit with natural shoulders and an undarted front, Van Nutter wears his American classic in an updated cut. His button three suit jacket has straight shoulders, a draped chest and a darted, suppressed waist. The lapels are a classic width and reach halfway from the collar to the edge of the shoulder. The jacket also has flapped hip pockets, double vents and three buttons on the cuffs. The suit’s buttons are made of mother of pearl. The suit trousers have reverse pleats, tapered legs and plain bottoms. The suit is more of a 1950s style than a 1960s style, but Leiter still looks cool and confident in it.

Leiter-Seersucker-3Under the suit Leiter wears a white shirt with a spread collar—another break from the traditional American style—and button cuffs. His black silk knitted tie is tied in a four-in-hand knot. He wears black shoes and a narrow black belt. The black accessories may be unimaginative, but they provide a needed gravitas to his otherwise casual outfit. Leiter carries with him a fedora-style straw Panama hat that has a tall C-crown and a black ribbon. Leiter’s black sunglasses look like they’re by Ray-Ban, but if anyone knows better than I do feel free to comment below.

Felix Leiter: The Tan Linen Suit

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Jeffrey Wright’s Felix Leiter may have proven to be the only one other than Jack Lord’s who can rival Bond’s style and cool demeanour. In Quantum of Solace he wears a tan linen suit that’s just as nice as any of Bond’s tropical suits. The suit jacket is probably a button two and has natural shoulders and a clean fit. The jacket also has open patch hip pockets, a welt breast pocket and a four buttons on the cuffs. The jacket’s buttons are a summery white mother of pearl. The suit trousers have a flat front and a plain hem.

Felix-Leiter-Tan-Linen-Suit-2Leiter’s white shirt has a button-down collar, front placket and rounded single-button cuffs. The button-down collar looks great open since the buttons keep the collar standing up, even with the first button of the shirt open. The button-down collar also identifies Leiter as an American, even though Cec Linder was the only Leiter to previously wear a button-down collar. The only part of this outfit that isn’t done so well are the shoes. They’re brown slip-ons with a rather bulbous toe and thick black rubber soles. But since they’re only seen in publicity stills and not in the film they’re not worth complaining about too much.

Leiter’s tan suit and white shirt outfit has similarities to the original Felix Leiter’s beige suit in Dr. No and, especially, James Bond’s tan linen suit in GoldenEye. The balanced proportions and classic fit of this suit make it one of the most timeless suits worn by any character in the Bond films.

Minister of Defence: A Flattering Three-Piece for a Corpulent Figure

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Minister of Defence Frederick Grey, played by Geoffrey Keen, is a recurring character in the six Bond films from The Spy Who Loved Me through The Living Daylights. He’s always well-dressed and very traditionally dressed for the city. Though his clothes are very sober and don’t particularly stand out, they’re remarkable in that they are always very flattering to his short and corpulent figure. Whilst tall and slim men don’t need much help to look good, a well-tailored suit can do wonders for the not so fortunate. The minister almost certainly wears bespoke suits, and they perhaps could be Geoffrey Keen’s own. For someone who is rarely in more than two brief scenes in each Bond film, it’s hard to imagine the film production would spend for a bespoke suit for each film. The Minister appears in two scenes in A View to a Kill, and he wears the same three-piece suit in both his scene at the beginning of the film and his scene at the end of the film.

Minister-of-Defence-A-View-to-a-Kill-2The Minister’s suit in A View to a Kill is dark warm grey with very closely-spaced light grey pinstripes, with about six stripes to the inch. The closely-spaced pinstripes have the effect of making the suit overall look more like medium grey. The suit jacket has a traditional English cut, with lightly-padded straight shoulders and roped sleeveheads. The chest is full cut to give the impression of a smaller waist, and the chest darts are placed further to the side than they typically would be to give a flattering shape to the Minister’s corpulent figure. The button two suit jacket has classic proportions—the lapel width, gorge height and button stance are evenly balanced and do not look dated. That balance is also key to flattering the Minister’s larger figure. The jacket has a single vent, three buttons on the cuffs and slanted hip pockets. The waistcoat has five buttons. The suit trousers aren’t seen, but double forward pleats and braces are likely.

The Minister's second appearance in A View to a Kill, with a light blue shirt and navy tie.

The Minister’s second appearance in A View to a Kill, with a light blue shirt and navy tie.

The Minister’s shirt in his first scene is cream and has a classic English spread collar with a quarter-inch of tie space and button cuffs. With the cream shirt he wears a navy tie with white dots, tied in four-in-hand knot. The Minister’s shirt in his second scene is light blue with a more moderate spread collar, and his tie is navy, again tied in a four-in-hand knot.

Sir Godfrey Tibbett: The Light Grey Morning Suit

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In A View to a Kill, Sir Godfrey Tibbett, like Bond, wears the morning suit variation of morning dress where the morning coat, waistcoat and trousers match each other. Tibbett is played by Patrick Macnee, who is best-known for playing the dandy John Steed in The Avengers, and Macnee still looks effortlessly stylish as Tibbett. Tibbett’s suit is light grey, woven of grey and white yarns, and it could possibly be pick-and-pick. Light grey is the classic shade for the morning suit, more so than the much darker grey that Bond’s morning suit is. The morning suit is less formal than non-matching morning dress, and it’s best worn for less formal occasions. Royal Ascot is thus the ideal place to wear a morning suit.

Bond-Q-Tibbett-Morning-DressThe morning suit’s coat is cut and detailed the same as the more traditional black morning coat. It is a body coat with a waist seam for a close fit, and it is cut away in the front skirt below the button and curves around to the tails in back. Tibbett’s morning coat has the traditional single button link closure and peaked lapels, and it is cut with a clean chest and straight shoulders. It has three buttons on the cuffs and a breast pocket. The single-breasted waistcoat has six buttons—the bottom is left open—and no lapels. The buttons on the morning coat and the waistcoat are polished grey horn.

Bond-Tibbett-M-Morning-DressTibbett’s white shirt is a regular formal shirt with a spread collar and—like on M’s shirt with morning dress—button cuffs. Button cuffs don’t belong with morning dress, and some would argue that attached soft collars don’t belong with morning dress either. At least Tibbett’s wider spread collar is more formal than the narrower point collars that M and Q wear. Tibbett a grey and white printed spitalfields tie, and it is tied in a windsor knot. He wears the same light grey felt top hat with a black ribbon and white carnation in his lapel that the other men wear, but his brown, unlined suede gloves are an interesting change.

Sir Godfrey Tibbett’s morning suit concludes this series on morning dress. I’ll write about Zorin’s charcoal grey herringbone morning suit at a later date.

Q: Morning Dress with a Double-Breasted Waistcoat

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Like M, Q wears a black morning coat to Royal Ascot in A View to a Kill. The morning coat has a link closure, which I wrote about in the description of M’s morning coat. Q leaves his morning coat open and the inner button of the link clousure is left dangling, but both the outer and inner buttons are present unlike on M’s coat, which is missing the outer button. There are four buttons on the cuffs, and the coat’s buttons are either plastic or polished horn. Q’s morning coat is cut with natural shoulders, and as usual they are a little too wide for him. Q’s trousers are dark grey striped, though the stripes aren’t as bold as they traditionally should be. They are cut with a high rise and traditional English double forward pleats and have a plain hem.

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Many consider the double-breasted waistcoat to be the most elegant style of waistcoat for morning dress, but it’s just as equally appropriate as the single-breasted waistcoat. Q’s taupe waistcoat has six buttons with three to button. The buttons are spaced close together and in a keystone formation. The buttons are mother-of-pearl, which is common for morning dress waistcoats. The waistcoat has peaked lapels, and the peaks are very low on the chest. The bottom of the waistcoat is cut straight across, and the length just covers the waistband of the trousers. The length of the waistcoat is very important because when it’s too long it throws off the proportions of the body, and the right or wrong length is more noticeable in a waistcoat cut straight across the bottom. A shorter waistcoat and high rise trousers is much more flattering than the longer waistcoat and low rise trousers that are seen today.

Look for the dangling link button sticking out on the shank from Q's jacket.

Look for the dangling link button sticking out on the shank from Q’s jacket.

The light brown knitted tie closely matches to the waistcoat in colour but not in dressiness. A knitted tie is the least formal of all ties and thus isn’t suitable with morning dress, which is the dressiest of daytime clothes that people still wear today. Q wears a regular white formal shirt with his morning dress, which has an unflatteringly short point collar and double cuffs. Like M, Q also wears a white linen handkerchief in his breast pocket, and he wears his in a straight fold. Q’s shoes are black derbies with an apron toe, and, like his tie, they aren’t as dressy as shoes should be for morning dress. Q follows the others in his group and wears a white carnation in his lapel and a light grey felt top hat with a black ribbon when he is at the race . However, Q is the only man in the bunch who does not wear gloves.

Traditional striped trousers and the odd choice of apron-front derby shoes

Traditional striped trousers and the odd choice of apron-front derby shoes

M: Morning Dress

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M in Morning Dress, on the right, with his grey felt top hat on his desk

Since Royal Ascot is next week, we’re going to look at M’s, Q’s, and Sir Godfrey Tibbett’s morning dress in A View to a Kill. I already wrote about Bond’s morning dress in A View to a Kill a few years ago. M’s (Robert Brown) morning dress will be the first in this morning dress series, since his is the most pedestrian. The morning coat—known as a cutaway to the Americans—is a type of tailcoat worn for formal daytime occasions, and it is almost always single-breasted compared to the double-breasted evening tailcoat. The front skirt cuts away to the tails in the back. It looks almost like a long suit jacket that is cut away in front, but it has a waist seam like the evening tailcoat and other body coats. M’s black morning coat is the classic model with a single button link closure and peaked lapels. The link closure is traditionally two shanked buttons on a chain with a buttonhole on each side of the front, and when the link button connects the two side the front edges meet instead of overlap. It looks like there are two buttons on the front side by side, and it gives the jacket a more symmetrical look since one side isn’t overlapping the other. It’s somewhat like a cufflink, though it doesn’t pull the two sides of the jacket so closely together. M’s link closure is made a little differently. His coat has a regular single button on the right side with a corresponding buttonhole on the left side, but there is also a button on a long thread shank sewn on the backside of the jacket behind where the regular button sewn. To complicate things, M’s jacket appears to be missing the regular button attached to the front of his coat and only has the button that comes from behind, so I cannot use M to illustrate the way the link button properly looks. M morning coat buttons are black horn, and there are three buttons on the cuffs. The coat has a welt breast pocket but no other pockets.

M-Morning-Dress-2Under the morning coat M wears a medium grey button six waistcoat. Waistcoats with morning dress are traditionally light colours—light grey, light blue, buff and cream—and sometimes made of linen, but M’s medium grey worsted wool waistcoat still provides enough contrast for the same effect. Since M’s waistcoat is wool, it’s possible that he took it from one of his three-piece suits. It’s not ideal to use a waistcoat from a suit, but as long as it’s light enough in colour it works. M’s trousers are hardly seen, but they look like they are solid grey in a shade darker than the waistcoat. Most likely they follow morning dress tradition and have some sort of pattern. They aren’t the bold grey and black “cashmere stripe” pattern, which is the most formal of morning dress trousers. Most likely they are a fine houndstooth pattern in black and white, which could appear as solid grey from a distance. Checks in black and white are just as traditional for morning trousers and are great for the less formal of morning dress occasions like Royal Ascot. Because the three pieces of M’s morning dress do not match, it cannot be called a “morning suit” like Bond’s all-matching morning dress can be called. The black coat with separate waistcoat and trousers is more formal and more traditional than the morning suit.

M-Bond-Morning-DressM’s shirt is an ordinary white formal shirt and not the most appropriate shirt for morning dress. It has a point collar and button cuffs. Though detachable collars are no longer a necessity with morning dress, a more formal wide spread collar like what Bond wears is preferable to M’s point collar. Double cuffs are also preferable to button cuffs, but M’s button cuffs mostly stay hidden inside the jacket sleeves. M wears an amethyst-grey lightly-ribbed silk tie, tied in a four-in-hand knot. M wears all of the traditional Royal Ascot morning dress accessories: a light grey felt top hat with a black ribbon, thin and unlined light grey gloves with a button at the wrist, and a white carnation boutonniere. Of the four men in morning dress, M and Q are the only ones wearing handkerchiefs in their breast pockets. M’s handkerchief is white linen and folded with three points peeking out.

Though M doesn’t completely follow morning dress protocol, he makes due with what he has and his clothes fit well. His outfit might not be perfect, but he is still elegantly dressed for the race.

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.

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Q’s Town and Country Style

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Who is wearing the trendier suit in Goldfinger, James Bond or Q? Except for narrow lapels and covered buttons, Bond’s blue suit is classic in every way. Q’s (Desmond Llewelyn) solid brown tweed suit, however, has many features that date it to the 1960s. Like Bond’s suit jacket, Q’s suit jacket has narrow lapels, but it also has narrow pocket flaps that are placed rather low. The short double vents are another 1960s detail. But perhaps the most outdated part of the suit is the way the quarters are cut. The front of the jacket cuts away below the waist as it ordinarily would, but the curve of the front edge into the hem has a very small radius that’s almost—but not quite—a sharp corner.

Q-Goldfinger-2The suit’s overall silhouette, however, is a classic button two jacket with natural shoulders and just a little drape in the chest. The jacket also has swelled edges and 2-button cuffs. The trousers likely have single or double forward pleats, which were the common suit trouser styles in England at the time. They are finished with turn-ups. Q’s suits almost always have fit problems, and on this suit the collar stands away from the neck and the sleeves are too long. This is because actor Desmond Llewelyn has round shoulders and needs his jackets to be cut longer in back to be balanced. He’s not an easy man to fit.

Q’s cream shirt has a spread collar and double cuffs. His tie is black with narrow burgundy stripes and a narrower white pencil stripes below each burgundy stripe. If it is a regimental tie, can anyone identify it? His shoes are brown, which match the overall town-and-country look of the outfit.

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