Kronsteen: The Navy Silk Jacket

Kronsteen, on the right

Kronsteen, on the right

Though Kronsteen, played by Vladek Sheybal in From Russia with Love, is one of the less memorable Bond villains, he is one of the more interestingly dressed. In his final scene he wears a stylish alternative to the navy blazer: a slubby navy silk jacket. The jacket is has a draped chest with gentle waist suppression and extended—but natural—shoulders with roped sleeveheads, all of which suggest an English tailor made this jacket. Though it may have a tradtional cut, it also has fashionable 1960′s elements. The jacket appears to be a button one at the front with three buttons on the cuffs, and the buttons are covered in the jacketing silk. The narrow lapels have a generous roll to expose less of the shirt, and they also have swelled edges. The jacket has an open patch breast pocket and open patch hip pockets.

Kronsteen-Navy-Silk-Jacket-2Kronsteen wears light grey worsted wool trousers to contrast the jacket. The trousers are cut with forward pleats, which balance well with the drape style of the jacket. His cream shirt is possibly silk and has a plain front without a placket. The shirt’s short point collar and double cuffs are stitched on the edge. Though black bow ties should best be kept with black tie, Kronsteen wears one as his signature look. It’s a narrow batwing shape, possibly in a barathea weave. It’s difficult to see Kronsteen’s shoes, but they are likely the same black lace-ups that he wears with his charcoal blue suit at the beginning of the film.

Kronsteen carries a pork pie Panama hat that goes well with the summery look of his silk jacket. Like a traditional Panama hat, it’s woven of cream-coloured straw and has a black ribbon. Though the bow tie and panama hat look rather costume-like together, with the right attitude some men could pull off this look today. And if the whole look is too much, a slubby navy silk jacket with patch pockets is a versatile warm-weather jacket that looks great dressed up or down, daytime or nighttime.

Largo: The White Camp Shirt

Largo-Camp-Shirt

Emilio Largo, dare I say the best-dressed villain in the Bond series, looks just as smart in casual attire as he does in tailored clothing. Largo’s white camp shirt in Thunderball is likely a linen and cotton blend. It has a camp collar and long sleeves with rounded single-button cuffs. The body has a straight cut with a straight hem and side vents. There are six buttons down the front, including the collar, and the last two buttons are increasingly spaced farther apart going down than front. The collar, cuffs and front edge are stitched 1/4 inch from the edge. There is a crease down the middle of each side of the shirt, which means that Largo stores his shirts folded. Clearly his valet did not iron the shirt before he wore it. Some people like creases in their shirts, but they properly should be ironed out.

Largo-Camp-Shirt-2Compared to Connery’s camp shirts, Largo’s camp shirt is much longer, more like the length of a dress shirt to be tucked. Perhaps he had it made that way so it could transition from a casual daytime shirt to a dressier evening shirt that he can wear tucked under a blazer. Frank Foster makes his formal shirt hems exactly the same as this shirt’s hem, so there is no reason why this shirt couldn’t be worn both tucked and untucked. And seeing that Frank Foster constructs his shirt hems and vents exactly like this shirt’s hem and vent, this could possibly be one of his shirts.

Pierce Brosnan wears a very similar shirt almost 40 years later in Die Another Day, except his shirt has a pocket and he wears the sleeves rolled up. The lack of a pocket on Largo’s shirt—as well as wearing his sleeves down with the cuffs fastened—makes his look a bit dressier.

Largo-Camp-Shirt-3Largo’s trousers are charcoal blue linen and are ironed with a sharp crease down the leg. The have a plain hem and most likely a flat front. Though Largo is amongst the more tastefully-dressed Bond villains, his choice of shoes is rather flashy. They’re blue suede derbies with a tassels on the laces and crepe soles. I’m not saying that the shoes aren’t tasteful—they’re actually quite stylish—but they’re unlikely to be an item Bond would wear. Largo’s choice of black socks, on the other hand, is rather unstylish unless he was matching his socks to his eyepatch. Blue-grey socks to match the trousers, though difficult to find, would be the natural colour of socks to wear. Blue or grey socks of any shade would look better than black.

Could it be herringbone flannel?

Blue-Herringbone-Flannel-Suit

The exact cloth of Sean Connery’s blue suit in Goldfinger and Woman of Straw is a difficult one to make out. It’s a heavy cloth and has a mottled appearance, so it’s certainly a woollen. But is it tweed or flannel? It has a subtle stripe effect that suggests the cloth is woven in a herringbone weave, so I thought it could be a herringbone tweed. But in herringbone tweeds the weave is well-defined and easy to see. In a woollen flannel, however, the nap mostly obscures the weave, which is the case with Connery’s blue suit. So, could it be herringbone flannel?

Fox-FlannelI never saw or even heard of herringbone flannel until a reader of The Suits of James Bond who is a fan of the Connery Bond suits found a Fox Brothers herringbone flannel cloth in his search for a cloth to replicate the blue suit. Fox Brothers is one of England’s most well-known manufacturers of flannel, and their Char Blue Herringbone Jacketing flannel is a close match to what Connery’s blue suit in Goldfinger is made of. The cloth is a 500/530 gram or 18 oz weight and is featured under Fox’s jacketing range. It is based on a cloth from the 1930s, when practically all suits were made from heavier cloths than what most suits are made from today. Though it’s labelled a jacketing, it makes a good suiting for cold weather. It would have been a more typical weight for a winter suit in the 1960s when Connery wore his suit. Connery’s blue suit indeed looks to be quite heavy, especially compared to his usual lightweight worsteds. However, I’d guess that Connery’s suit is made from a cloth slightly lighter than this one. The herringbone pattern on Connery’s suit looks larger than this cloth’s pattern, and his suit is a richer blue than Fox’s char blue. Whilst it may not be a perfect match, it is the closest I’ve seen to Connery’s suit and gives insight to what Connery’s suit is likely made of.

Fox-Flannel-2

The Fox Brothers cloth is code FS405 B2237/84 and can be purchased online at The Merchant Fox.

Suggestions

Suggestions

Even though I’ve now written about all of James Bond’s tailored clothing, there are plenty more things to cover. There is still a wealth of Bond’s non-tailored clothing that I will continue to write about. Though I have plans to write about other tailored characters going forward, I would love to hear your suggestions on what you’d like to see on this blog. I’d still like to keep this blog about Bond-related clothing. There are a number of categories beyond simply documenting James Bond’s suits that fit into the scope of this blog:

Suggest anything you’d like to see that fits into these categories in the comment area below. I’m willing to stretch a little beyond these categories, but it still needs to relate to Bond. I will consider all suggestions but I can’t promise that your suggestions will be featured here.

Oversized T-Shirt

Oversized-Blue-T-shirt

Like all of Timothy Dalton’s clothes in Licence to Kill, his royal blue t-shirt is a size too large. Or if judged by current fashions, Dalton’s shirt is two sizes too large. Even though baggy clothes were fashionable in 1989 when Licence to Kill was made, nobody else is wearing such large shirts. This is mostly likely a shirt that Bond found rather than bought, unless the store where Bond shopped was sold out of his size. The shirt looks even worse when it’s wet, and the large size makes it even more cumbersome for swimming in than a t-shirt ordinarily would be. The shirt has a large crew neck, an open patch breast pocket and sleeves down to his elbows. Dalton wears full-cut dark blue jeans, which one of the rare occasions Bond wears jeans. He doesn’t wear shoes or a belt.

Oversized-Blue-T-shirt-2

In this scene Bond is likely attempting to dress like what the henchmen aboard the Wavekrest wear without having their actual clothes to wear. Bond’s shirt is a little darker and it doesn’t have the Wavekrest emblem on the left side of the chest that the henchmen’s shirts have. Bond’s jeans are a little darker than the security guard’s jeans and have a fuller cut compared to the henchmen’s bell-bottom trousers.

Milton Krest's henchmen

Milton Krest’s henchmen

 

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

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

Minister-of-Defence-A-View-to-a-Kill

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.