Felix Leiter: Ivy League Style

Goldfinger Felix Leiter

The Americans’ traditional “Ivy League” style saw it’s peak in the 1950s and early 1960s and was popular amongst people from college students to older gentlemen to presidents. It’s only fitting that CIA agent Felix Leiter would dress this way. In Goldfinger, Cec Linder plays an older, less cool Leiter compared to Jack Lord’s Leiter, who is closer to an American Bond. Linder, who is actually Canadian, wears the classic American Brooks Brothers sack suit. This suit most resembles the Brooks Brothers model, though J. Press and Chipp are other makers who were famous for the sack suit. The most significant difference to the British lounge suit, and most suits sold anywhere today, is the lack of a front dart. That dart is the vertical seam down each side on the front that gives the waist shape in the front. Because of the lack of this seam the sack suit ends up fairly boxy, but a curved natural shoulder line humanises the suit’s boxy silhouette. The side darts and rear side seams still give the jacket a little shape, but that doesn’t translate to the front so much.

Goldfinger Felix LeiterFelix Leiter’s suit is light grey lightweight wool, either in sharkskin or in a very subtle Prince of Wales check with a subtle white windowpane The front of the jacket is a button 2 show 1—3 buttons total—since the lapel rolls to the middle button. The jacket has a single vent, flapped pockets and 2 buttons spaced apart on the sleeves. The trousers have a flat front and turn-ups, hemmed a bit short. Leiter wears a traditional American shirt, a light blue pinpoint oxford with a button-down collar and buttons cuffs. The American button-down collar has long points with the buttons placed higher than where the points would naturally lay so the collar rolls over. It’s a much more casual look than the English spread collar that meshes well with the more relaxed sack suit. The tie is the same that Connery wears later in the movie, a navy knitted tie. Leiter’s tie is lighter in colour and has a seam down the back that shows through on the front. Only a tiny bit of the shoes can be seen, but later in the film Leiter wears black oxfords. The shoes with this suit are probably the same style, but they may be burgundy instead. Linder also wears a cotton hat made of a blue and white seersucker. The hat has a short brim and two air vents on each side.

Goldfinger Felix Leiter

The colours Leiter wears may be the same as Bond’s, but the styles are an ocean apart.

11 thoughts on “Felix Leiter: Ivy League Style

  1. Quite Draper-esque, don’t you think?

    I always thought it was a bit of a shame that Jack Lord didn’t reprise his role, it would have been nice to have some continuity and make the Leiter character a recognizable one like M, Q, and Moneypenny. Really the only criticism I have about Goldfinger, (and it’s a minor one at that!) which is otherwise a perfect Bond film!

  2. Can we have some more reviews of Leiter’s suits? Probably see some interesting contrasts through the years as the character was reinterpreted.

  3. Hello Matt, thanks for a great article as always.
    Can we say that Grant’s suit in North by Northwest is an Ivy League style suit ? It doesn’t look like a typical sack suit -less boxy-, so I believe there some front darts. But the rest of the suit seems very American. What is your opinion ?
    Thanks in advance.

    • Cary Grant’s suit is more of an English-American cut, but not Ivy League in the least. It has darts in the front, so it’s not a sack. It’s straight shoulders and trouser pleats are opposite of the old Ivy League style.

  4. I too would have liked to have seen Jack Lord reprise the role of Felix Leiter. The only other actor who I liked in the Role was David Hedison who played the role twice, if fifteen years apart. Still I like the retro review of Felix Leiter’s dress sense in Goldfinger. Very much of the time if one looks at American movies of that time.

  5. Interesting how a British bespoke suit typically does not have front darts but can still manage waist suppression, whilst an American dart-free jacket seems to be designed to hang from the shoulders like, well, a sack. At least it is in wool. Ian Fleming seemed to believe Americans were addicted to synthetic fibres. Here is one scene where Bond is blending in with the locals and his contact is the one sticking out like a sore thumb. However, if the film Leiter was another action-man it would throw out the need for an MI6 man to be brought in at all.

    • Actually, almost all British suits do have front darts. I think Anderson & Sheppard and its disciple Edwin DeBoise are the only British tailors I’ve seen cut a suit without front darts. But typically most English tailors, from the military to drape cuts, use front darts.

  6. I think you’re right, I’m living in the past. But Anderson & Sheppard is the favourite house of the elite of UK society, so the dartfree jacket often adorns the great and the good. HRH The Prince Of Wales is said to have his civilian suits made by Anderson & Sheppard, but they’re too refined to trumpet this about.
    (Welsh & Jefferies supply his uniforms). Getting back to Felix Leiter:- Jack Lord in Dr.No appears in a smart white suit, just right for Jamaica. However, he seems to be very uncomfortable in it and doesn’t know whether his jacket should be buttoned or not. Am I the only one to notice this?

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