A buttonhole in each lapel on Roger Moore’s Douglas Hayward blazer in For Your Eyes Only
Why do double-breasted jackets and coats often have a buttonhole at the top of each lapel whilst single-breasted jackets and coats only have a buttonhole at the top of the left lapel? It is because double-breasted jackets and coats symmetrically have both buttons and buttonholes down the left and right sides whilst a single-breasted jacket or coat only has buttons down the right side and buttonholes down the left side. The buttonholes at the top of the lapels reflect what’s below. Though peaked lapels on a double-breasted jacket never fold over and close like single-breasted notch lapels sometimes do on sports coats, pea coats and some double-breasted overcoats—like the greatcoat—are able to fasten up to the top. These coats do have a button on each side either under the collar or at the top of the chest for the lapels to fold over and fasten to. The two buttonholes on a double-breasted coat are carried over from these more functional garments.
A buttonhole in each lapel on Pierce Brosnan’s double-breasted Brioni overcoat in Tomorrow Never Dies
A buttonhole only in the left lapel in Roger Moore’s double-breasted Cyril Castle suit jacket in The Man with the Golden Gun
Cyril Castle, however, only put a single buttonhole in the left lapel in Roger Moore’s double-breasted chesterfield and silk suit jacket in Live and Let Die and Roger Moore’s double-breasted suits, blazer and white dinner jacket in The Man with the Golden Gun. A single lapel buttonhole on a suit jacket discards the ancestry and symmetry of having two lapel buttonholes for instead considering only the actual usage of a suit jacket’s lapel buttonhole: the boutonnière. Even when there is a buttonhole in both lapels, only the left buttonhole should be used for a boutonnière if you are so inclined to wear a boutonnière.
Daniel Craig’s Billy Reid pea coat in Skyfall also only has a lapel buttonhole on the left, which takes into account the reality that even if the lapels were closed, only the left side would actually fasten over to a button on the right. There wouldn’t be a jigger button at the top of the coat like there is at the waist. Since the Billy Reid pea coat has peaked lapels and no buttons at the top, it actually can’t close at the top like a traditional pea coat could anyway.
No buttonholes in the lapels of Roger Moore’s double-breasted Angelo Roma dinner jacket in Moonraker
Angelo Vitucci didn’t put any lapel buttonholes in the two double-breasted dinner jackets in The Spy Who Loved Me and Moonraker and the double-breasted blazer in Moonraker. This is the coward’s solution for those who can’t decide if a double-breasted jacket should have a lapel buttonhole in the left lapel or both lapels. Though history and symmetry says there should be a buttonhole in each lapel of a double-breasted jacket, it’s not a faux pas to have one buttonhole only in the left lapel. No lapel buttonholes at all ends up looking cheap and leaves no place to wear a flower.
In On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, M (Bernard Lee) wears a modern take on the smoking jacket in dark green velvet. Traditional smoking jackets have a frog closure—a button or toggle that fastens through an ornamental braided loop—but M’s smoking jacket is updated with a conventional button and buttonhole. Smoking jackets are meant for private wear, either as an alternative to the dinner jacket or as a garment for lounging. M wears his for the latter purpose when tending to his butterfly collection.
M’s double-breasted, shawl-collar smoking jacket has four buttons with one to button, the same style as his dinner jacket is Goldfinger. It is cut with natural shoulders, roped sleeveheads and a draped chest. M’s smoking jacket has one button on the cuffs rather than the customary ornamental braid that would accompany a frog closure on the front, but the jacket follows tradition with jetted pockets and a non-vented skirt. The black velvet lapels contrast with the body of the smoking jacket, but the buttons are covered in the body’s green velvet. The jacket could essentially be called a velvet dinner jacket, but M wears the jacket in the manner of a smoking jacket.
Under the jacket, M wears an ecru shirt with a spread collar, button cuffs and a plain front. Around his neck and under the shirt he wears a day cravat in an ancient madder print in brown, red and chartreuse on white. His trousers are dark grey and probably flannel. Though we don’t see M’s footwear, the natural choice for this outfit would be a pair of velvet Albert slippers with quilted linings and leather soles.
Once Evelyn Tremble (Peter Sellers) becomes one of the many James Bonds in the 1967 spoof Casino Royale, he starts dressing better. His gun club check suit is an excellent example of the improvement in his wardrobe. The gun club check is black and red on a white ground, and in these colours and a small scale it works well as a casual city suit rather than the sporty country suit one would expect out of a gun club check. Little of the suit jacket is seen, but it is certainly made by the same tailor who made his second dinner suit. This button three suit jacket has the same straight shoulders and fishmouth “cran Necker” notch lapels that the dinner jacket has. The suit jacket has flapped pockets, three buttons on the cuffs and probably double vents.
Much more of the suit trousers than the suit jacket are seen. The trousers are very much of their time, with a darted front and frogmouth pockets. The leg is tapered to the knee and straight from the knee to the hem. The rear right pocket is jetted with a button through it whilst the rear left pocket has a flap. The trousers have a fairly traditional rise.
Since Sellers wears this suit without the jacket more than he does with the jacket, his shirt becomes the main focus of the outfit. And it deserves to be the main focus because it’s beautifully-made and well-fitted.The shirt is made of cream voile with a double layer in the front so it is not sheer like the back and sleeves are. It has a spread collar, a front placket and a darted back with side pleats. The double cuffs have the link holes close to the fold, and the outer edge of the cuff has a large curve like on Sean Connery’s cocktail cuffs. The cuffs are attached with shirring. The shirt is possibly made by Frank Foster, who made shirts for Peter Sellers in other films. With the outfit, Sellers wears a dark brown knitted tie that he sometimes keeps tucked into his trousers. The trousers are held up with black textured leather belt that clashes with Sellers’ burgundy shoes, and it’s the only mistake he makes in what’s a rather elegant and Bond-like outfit.
In the 1990 film The Russia House, Sean Connery plays Bartholomew “Barley” Scott Blair, the head of a British publishing film turned spy. Though the character is a spy, he’s nothing like James Bond. Connery dresses how an older man in Britain would traditionally dress, and he wears layers to withstand Moscow’s cold weather. Connery’s wardrobe in the film consists of V-neck jumpers, knitted ties, informal outercoats, a navy suit, a checked jacket and a navy blazer.
Connery’s button two navy blazer has natural shoulders that go against the trendy large shoulder of 1990, but slightly wide lapels and the moderately low gorge and button stance reflect the fashions of the time. Though blazers ordinarily have vents in the rear due to their sporty nature, this one reflects the fashions of 1990 and has no vent. Like Connery’s navy blazer in Dr. No, this blazer also has an open patch breast pocket and open patch hip pockets, swelled edges and two buttons on the cuffs. This blazer’s buttons are brass. Bonhams in Knightsbridge auctioned the blazer on 16 June 2009 for £120. The blazer was made for Sean Connery by the costumiers Angels.
Under the blazer, Connery wears a medium grey sleeveless, V-neck jumper, which both keeps Connery warm and makes the outfit more casual. Connery’s dark green corduroy trousers have double forward pleats and are worn with a brown alligator-texture belt. The ecru shirt has a point collar, rounded single-button cuffs, a front placket and rear shoulder pleats. Connery wears a knitted tie with red and navy horizontal stripes, and it’s most likely tied in a half windsor knot. Connery’s shoes are dark brown.
Over the blazer, Connery wears a camel-coloured, heavy woollen duffle coat. The duffle coat is a casual coat characterised by its toggle closure. Connery’s coat has four wooden toggles that fasten with rope, and they go down the front from the collar to the waist. The coat is knee-length without a vent in the rear, but no vent is needed when the coat is free to spread apart in front below the waist. The coat has shoulder patches, two open patch pockets, buttoned straps on the sleeves and a hood. There are straps to button around the neck that connect with elastic around the back of the neck. Connery also keeps warm with an olive wool or cashmere scarf and a brown felt fedora with a centre dent, front pinch and brown ribbon.
Questionable taste is often the sign of a villain. Emile Leopold Locque, played by Michael Gothard in For Your Eyes Only, wears a suit that’s just as suspicious as his octagonal-framed glasses. Locque’s light grey flannel double-breasted suit looks too warm to be comfortable where people alongside him are pleasantly swimming and sunbathing. The suit jacket has four buttons on the front with two to button, and the button stance is low, following the 1980s trend. The shoulders are straight and narrow, and the chest is clean and closely-fitted with a little give over the shoulder blades in back. The most questionable part of the suit is the fishmouth “cran Necker” notch lapels, a style that’s rarely made by tailors outside of France. There is nothing wrong with the lapels themselves, but notch lapels of any kind don’t belong on a double-breasted jacket. Notch lapels on a double-breasted jacket are neither an attractive nor a balanced look, and, combined with the jacket’s narrow shoulders, they give this suit an emasculating look. Double-breasted jackets with notch lapels were trendy in the late 1970s through the mid 1980s. Roger Moore wears a double-breasted blazer with notched lapels two years earlier in Moonraker, and the notch lapels place that blazer amongst the worst of James Bond’s clothing.
Locque’s suit jacket also has the unusual, sporty feature of three patch pockets—two hip and one breast—with safari-jacket-style, buttoned pocket flaps. This is another element that puts this suit into questionable taste. The jacket also has deep double vents and three buttons on the cuffs. Though the style of the jacket is odd and not in the best taste, the jacket fits quite well. The back and sleeves drape cleanly, though the low button stance causes some fit issues in the front. The trousers have slightly flared legs with a lapped seam running down the outside of each leg.
The clothes that Locque wears with the suit, by contrast, are very tasteful. The pale blue shirt has a moderate spread collar, square two-button cuffs and a front placket. The black knitted silk tie, tied in a four-in-hand knot, is the literary James Bond classic and is a good complement to this somewhat sporty suit. Locque’s socks are grey to match the suit, and his shoes are black.
1991’s The Rocketeer is one of the few films to feature Timothy Dalton in well-tailored 20th century clothing. Since the film takes place in 1938, what Dalton wears is more costume rather than clothing. However, not all of the clothing is accurate to the late 1930s. Dalton plays movie star and Nazi villain Neville Sinclair, who wears a muted dark purple dinner jacket that is fitting for his character. Purple is quite an unusual colour for a dinner jacket, but it’s not unusual for a smoking jacket, an ancestor of the dinner jacket. I don’t know if purple dinner jackets were popular in the late 1930s, but purple had seen a rise in popularity a few years before The Rocketeer was made. Jack Nicholson famously wore a purple suit as the joker in Batman two years earlier, and Miami Vice popularised purple and lavender clothes for men. A purple dinner jacket is less formal than the traditional black or midnight blue jacket, which makes it an acceptable—but nevertheless flashy—choice for a night out as Sinclair wears his.
The purple dinner jacket is cut with straight shoulders, roped sleeveheads and a clean chest. The jacket is full-cut, but it still fits well and isn’t a size too large like the jackets in Licence to Kill are. The jacket drapes elegantly without any extra folds of cloth. The wide, dark purple silk peaked lapels elegantly roll down to the jacket’s single button. The buttons are covered in the same dark purple silk that the lapels are faced in. The jacket has no vent, jetted pockets and three buttons on the cuffs. The black trousers have double reverse pleats and the traditional black silk stripe down each leg.
The black brocade waistcoat is one of the least historically-correct parts of this outfit. The waistcoat has five buttons with the bottom left open, peaked lapels and a full collar. A proper evening waistcoat, which is low-cut with three or four buttons, would have been worn at the time rather than a high-buttoning daytime-style waistcoat in a fancy evening cloth. Sinclair’s white-on-white stripe dress shirt has a point collar, double cuffs and a placket with two black onyx studs. His bow tie is black barathea silk in a batwing shape. His shoes are patent leather.
Sinclair also wears a red boutonnière pinned to his lapel. Besides looking unsightly, pinning a boutonnière to a silk lapel can easily damage the facing. Ideally, the boutonnière’s stem should be stuck through the lapel’s buttonhole and held in place by a loop sewn on the back of the lapel. One should only resort to pinning a boutonnière when the lapel has no buttonhole. But there is a buttonhole hiding behind Sinclair’s boutonnière, so he has no excuse for pinning it to his lapel.
The Living Daylights opens with James Bond and two other 00 agents parachuting to a training exercise on Gibraltar. They’re all wearing black skydiving jumpsuits, commando boots and parachute packs on their backs. Bond’s jumpsuit is probably made out of polyester. It has a zip front, a ribbed tall collar and ribbed cuffs. There is a flapped patch pocket on the upper part of each sleeve and a flapped patch pocket on the front of the upper thigh of each leg. The pocket flaps most likely stay closed with velcro. Bond wears the legs of his jumpsuit tucked into his boots.
Under the jumpsuit, Bond wears a black crew-neck T-shirt. The black leather commando boots have a plain toe, closed lacing and metal reinforced eyelets. Bond and the other 00 agents skydive with a black helmet and goggles.
Sean Connery wears a pale blue Turnbull & Asser shirt in From Russia with Love that is probably made of Sea Island cotton.
James Bond has a long history of wearing Sea Island cotton. Ian Fleming wrote in his novels that Bond wears a “dark blue Sea Island cotton shirt” in Moonraker, “dark blue Sea Island cotton shirts with collars attached and short sleeves” in Diamonds Are Forever, a “white sea-island cotton shirt” in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service and “sea island cotton underpants” in The Man with the Golden Gun. Sean Connery’s Turnbull & Asser shirts were likely made of Sea Island cotton poplin, and some of Pierce Brosnan’s Turnbull & Asser shirts auctioned with his suits at Bonhams were made of “Sea Island Cotton Quality” royal oxford.
Sea Island cotton is an extra-long staple cotton, and due to the fibre’s fine diameter and long length it has a silky look and feel. Sea Island cotton is also a very strong fibre, which is what allows it to be made into finer shirtings. It is typically spun in a 140 yarn count. Originally it was grown on the Sea Islands of South Carolina and Georgia in the United States, but now it is grown in the British West Indies. Turnbull & Asser has not sold genuine Sea Island cotton shirts for some time and now sells “Sea Island Quality”, which is extra-long staple cotton grown in Egypt. Turnbull & Asser’s”Sea Island Quality” shirts are at the top of their ready-to-wear range.
Though Sea Island cotton is both durable and has the silkiest feel of all cottons, there are downsides. It doesn’t have much body, and in a poplin weave it can be somewhat translucent in white. Because Sea Island cotton is so fine, it is very difficult to iron and wrinkles easily. Underpants, like what Bond wears in The Man with the Golden Gun novel, may be the best usage for Sea Island cotton since they touch one of the most sensitive parts of the body, and it doesn’t matter if they wrinkle.