Cocktail Cuff

Turnback cuffs in Dr. No

Casino Cuff, Flowback Cuff, Neapolitan Cuff, Milanese Cuff, Portofino Cuff. Some even call it the “James Bond Cuff.” You might know it as any of these names, but Turnbull & Asser calls it the 2-Button Turnback Cuff and Frank Foster calls it the Cocktail Cuff. I’m partial to the cocktail cuff name myself. Terence Young, the director of Dr. No, From Russia with Love, and Thunderball dressed James Bond as he dressed himself. They shared the same tailor, Anthony Sinclair, and the same shirtmaker, Turnbull & Asser, and Young himself wore cocktail cuffs.

I’ve read many things about the origins of the cuff, and most people say that they were designed for the James Bond movies and designed for evening wear. Others say they were invented by Frank Foster (including Foster himself), and in fact he made some of Connery’s shirts in Dr. No. Yet another story says they were invented for David Niven by Ede & Ravenscroft or Hawes & Curtis. If cocktail cuffs were designed for the James Bond films, they were not initially intended for evening wear but for only with lounge suits and sports coats. Sean Connery only wears cocktail cuffs with evening wear in Thunderball, his fourth Bond film. He wears them with lounge suits in all of his Bond movies except Goldfinger (in which he wore double cuffs with everything). Except for Thunderball, Connery always wears double cuffs with his evening wear. In You Only Live Twice and Diamonds Are Forever, Connery leaves the second button of his cocktail cuff open and let the cuff roll back a bit more. Roger Moore wears cocktail cuffs on his Frank Foster shirts with his lounge suits and sports coats in Live and Let Die and The Man with the Golden Gun, and wears them with evening wear in The Man with the Golden Gun and in Moonraker. He also wears them with with lounge suits (and perhaps evening wear too, I can’t remember) in the final season of The Saint, and in The Persuaders he wears a single-button cocktail cuff with extra buttons to keep the turn-back in place, similar to a button-down collar. Moore goes back to the 2-button cuff for Bond, but the cuffs are cut differently in Live and Let Die than the ones that are in The Saint and The Man with the Golden Gun, though your really have to know what to look for.

Turnbull & Asser turnback cuffs in From Russia With Love

Then there is Connery in Never Say Never Again, which I don’t include as part of the James Bond series. Connery wears the same button-down cocktail cuff that Roger Moore wears in The Persuaders, with both lounge suits and evening wear.

Frank Foster turnback cuffs in Live and Let Die, which are similar to the Turnbull & Asser style

Cocktail cuffs can also be seen on Don Adam in the first season of Get Smart and on Dick Van Dyke in the last three seasons of The Dick Van Dyke Show. Martin Landau occasionally wears them in Mission Impossible. Peter Sellers wears them in What’s New Pussycat. I once spotted game show mogul Mark Goodson wearing them on an appearance on Family Feud. A lot of jazz musicians were very style-conscious in the 60s and too can be seen sporting cocktail cuffs.

Frank Foster turnback cuffs in The Man with the Golden Gun. Notice the design has changed since Live and Let Die.

There are about as many ways to design cocktail cuffs as there is to design collars, and creating an attractive and unique cuff is just as difficult as it is when making a collar. The turnback should be integrated into the design of the cuff and not look like it was merely stuck on. There really is no practical purpose to the cocktail cuff so at the very least it should look nice. The ends of the cuff should be rounded. If the ends are cut square they will easily get caught inside the sleeve of your jacket and the cuff will need frequent adjusting. The image below is how Connery’s Turnbull & Asser 2-button turnback cuff looks unfolded:

Turnbull-Asser-Turnback-Cuff

Turnbull & Asser’s cuff for Connery is designed to roll back and not just fold back. However, the cuff they make today is not the same as this one. Next is Frank Foster’s Cocktail Cuff unfolded, as seen in The Man with the Golden Gun and Moonraker:

Frank-Foster-Cocktail-Cuff

Foster’s cuff folds back neatly, and it’s very clear exactly where the cuff is designed to fold. The next design shows how not to cut a cocktail cuff.

Wrong-Cocktail-Cuff

The corners are the top of the base section of the cuff will curl back while the corners at the end will get caught inside the sleeves. The makers of these usually put a heavy fusing inside so they don’t curl back, though that’s not a good solution for a poor design. Many online shirt makers make the cuffs like this, but most reputable makers save this design for women’s shirts.

I think this covers everything about the cocktail cuff (or whatever you like to call it) but if you have any questions feel free to ask.

41 thoughts on “Cocktail Cuff

    • I know it’s a bit late in the game, but cocktail cuffs can be ordered on any shirt from the website shirtsmyway.com. Standardized sizes are available, as well as tailored measurements. I’m not certain how widely they ship, however (i.e. continental U.S. or elsewhere).

  1. Udeshi specialises in them. New & Lingwood often has some. Occasionally Turnbull & Asser offers some RTW. You might find some from Ben Sherman, Finamore Napoli, Domenico Vacca, Borrelli, Charvet, Poggianti, Reiss, Baracuta, Opalona, or Profuomo. YMMV

  2. This is one item that I don't like. Have tried them a couple of times but just don't get it. Prefer either barrel cuffs for regular or french for more formal occasions. But that's just me!

  3. Matt,

    Have you noticed that professor Dent also wears a shirt with a turnback cuff in Dr No? I have never noticed it before but was viewing it the other day and accidentially freeze framed the movie at a moment where the cuffs of the good professor were visible. Wonder if he was borrowing one of Connery's shirts?

    (The scene I'm referring to is the one where Bond is at the Queens Club with the gentlemen who last saw Strangways alive)

    S

  4. I never noticed that Dent was wearing turnback cuffs too. Thanks for pointing that out. But his cuff is a little different than Connery's, most noticeably the buttons are spaced farther apart. It's a different shape overall and suggest a different shirtmaker. It looks more like Roger Moore's cuffs from Frank Foster. The clothes in that scene differ a lot from the rest of what he wears in the movie. It is possible that the clothes at the Queens Club were his own and the rest were from the wardrobe department. Desmond Llewelyn had mentioned having to wear his own clothing, so it may have been the same for Anthony Dawson in this scene. He probably saw Terence Young or Connery with this cuff and through he'd wear the same.

  5. Check out Deo Veritas (online MTM shirt maker — deoveritas.com). They also offer cocktail cuffs…gonna try them out soon. Will let you guys know how it turns out.

  6. The Deo Veritas cocktail cuff seems to put the button too far away from the fold. The cuff will not keep it's shape this way. The only way that it might work is if the cuff is very stiff, but that is not a good solution. A good cocktail cuff should be soft and have a soft interlining. Here is how the buttons should be placed in relation to the fold: http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-FzYbxljuI98/Tgkaw_LI8PI/AAAAAAAAA1Y/FtLo7PU2Mf4/s1600/Frank%2BFoster%2BTurnback%2BCuffs.png

    Point this out to them before ordering.

  7. I contacted them and they told me that they also offer sewn interlinings for both the collar & cuff. He also indicated that they can place the buttons anywhere but that you want to leave at least 1/4" between the fold and the button.

  8. The button should be sewn about 1/2" away from the fold (from the centre of the button). The image on the site has the button at least 1 inch away from the fold, and that's too much.

  9. I'm ordering one today…told him I'd like the button 1/2" away from the fold. They said they could accomodate this. I went with the White Super Dobby (with sewn interlining option)…set me back $78. Should get the shirt in 3-4 weeks. Will send pics when it's in my hands.

  10. Splendid blog! Another person I know of who wore the James Bond Cuff (my favorite name for this cuff) was Martin Landau in the roll of Rollin Hand in the Mission: Impossible TV series in the 1960's. You could see the cuff during the briefing at the beginning of a few of the episodes.

  11. This is a wonderful article on my favorite cuffs since I saw my first James Bond movie when I was 14. I am now 46 and still wear the james bond cuffs.
    I enjoyed even more your work that I was thinking I was the only crazy guy to take so attention to the cuffs.
    another word to say that Pablo Picasso used to wear these cuffs and also the french actor Jules Berry in the 40's and 50's which excludes these cuffs has been created for BOND, unfortunately.
    Charvet has very nice cocktail cuffs they call milanese cuffs.
    bravo et merci
    PHILIPPE

  12. I also bought two cocktail cuff shirts from Deo Veritas. They are perfect in terms of fit and material, and the company is very helpful and accommodating with measurements and details. My only complaint with the shirts, and I blame myself for this more than anyone else, is that the cuffs are just slightly too small for my Omega Seamaster to fit underneath. I'll have to make adjustments for this when I order future shirts. Other than that I love them.

    • I’ve never heard of that, and I don’t think it would be very effective. Double cuffs for cufflinks and turnback cuffs have a soft construction whilst single link cuffs need to be stiffer to support the cufflinks. Turnbacks aren’t very effective when they are stiff. Anyway, cufflinks with a turnback would look too affected.

  13. Thanks for all the precisions. Do you know if Connery’s shirts have fused or non-fused collars ? They seem always very soft and natural, so I guess they are not fused. But the actual T & A shirts, which are non-fused, as they wrote it on their website, have not collars as soft as Connery’s, unfortunately…

    About the cocktail cuff, they claim it was created for Bond, but I have already seen shirts with these cuffs in French movies of the 50s.

    • Connery’s collars were not fused. Turnbull & Asser could possibly use a stiffer interlining now than they did back then, and I’m sure they could make you a softer collar bespoke. There are varying stories on who created the cocktail cuffs for Dr. No. Both Turnbull & Asser and Frank Foster say they made the shirts. Charvet was making cocktail cuffs before Bond, though ones I have seen were different.

  14. It is interesting to note how narrow – almost tight – are the sleeves of Bond’s suit, which push forward and give prominence to the shirt cuffs. Was this deliberate?

  15. Foster’s button down cocktail/turnback cuff (as seen in Never Say Never Again and The Persuaders) was worn, oddly, by Moore prior to that in a 2 part “Saint” adventure (later a limited theatrical release) called “Vendetta for The Saint” in his last “Saint” run in 1968. Odd because for the rest of that final season all his shirts have the regular cocktail cuff.

  16. I’ve purchased a James bond cuff shirt from indy magnoli off of his website magnoliclothiers.com and I am very satisfied with the quality of the cuff and of the shirt. They offer it in fine sea island cotton or for a more affordable price in cotton twill. The cuffs are rounded like they should be and the collar is very soft, does not require stiffeners. However I do wish the collar was a little bit longer on the tips bc sometimes it will fold up. But Bc Magnoli is a made to measure tailor I’m sure he can adjust the collar anyway you like…maybe might cost more. But I’m definetly going to buy at least 2 more in a pale blue and possibly ecru.

    • The shirt I see on the website is very little like Connery’s shirts. Does the shirt you got have cuffs that look better than the ones pictured on the website? They are really off in the picture. Also, the stitching on their shirts pictured is edge stitching, whilst English shirts always have the more classic 1/4″ stitching. The placket stitching would also need to copy what Turnbull & Asser does.

      • I’ll email you a pic of the shirt with the cuff. It looks nothing like the shirt they have advertised on their website. The collar on the website and the collar on my shirt are way different and the way the cuff on their site looks compared to mine is more different. Both of my buttons are visible whilst the one they on site shows only 1

  17. Approximately how much do Turnbull & Asser shirts cost and what is the minimum for purchase? The American version of their website is not very informative..

  18. If anyone is looking for cocktail cuffs off-the-peg made in the United States, may I suggest you go to http://www.claytompkins.com. I launched this company in November 2012. My shirts, in addition to the cocktail cuff, offer an underarm I Phone “5″ holster or a “party pocket” to carry a condom discretely. Best regards, Clay Tompkins

  19. Whilst I make no comment as to the quality of the shirt TKMaxx sell shirts made by Coton Doux, which seem to have a Cocktail Cuff.

  20. Sir, fantastic website, so difficult to find a good bespoke shirt these days, without Saville Row nearby at least. Regarding the picture above of Roger Moore in The Man With The Golden Gun, and to replicate this shirt as close as possible, do you think it wise to order the C4/Two button collar from deoveritas.com to ensure good collar height? Finding a higher collar is difficult these days it seems and I’d like shirts that replicate the ones from this film in particular… Many thanks in advance and please keep up the excellent work! FD

    • The image of the two-button collar on their website doesn’t look so good. You need a tall one-button collar. The way the Deo Veritas collar is shaped will show the collar band above the tie. Notice the way Frank Foster’s collar band is shaped. That’s key to having a taller collar.

      • I went ahead and ordered the basic white poplin shirt from Deo Veritas with a list of extra instructions (button on foldback cuff 1/2″ from fold, 2″ tall collar, 3.5″collar spread, 3.5″ point length etc etc) and couldn’t be happier. The company’s communication is excellent, they are very accommodating regarding specific requirements. It even arrived a week early. Superb fit and very well made shirt – I’ll be ordering more. Thanks Matt Spaiser for your advice and for an excellent site.

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