Notorious: The Classic Three-Piece Dinner Suit

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James Bond isn’t the only government agent who is a master of black tie. Cary Grant wears a textbook example of classic black tie as American agent T.R. Devlin in the Alfred Hitchcock film Notorious, which also stars Ingrid Bergman and Claude Rains. Devlin’s suit is the ultimate example of the three-piece black dinner suit. Suits like this one inspired the three-piece dinner suit that Pierce Brosnan wears in GoldenEye. Devlin’s dinner jacket is a button one with satin-faced peaked lapels, and it is cut with a full chest and suppressed waist. The shoulders are straight and wide, made to balance Cary Grant’s large head against his very slim body and to give him more presence. The wide peaked lapels also give him more presence and were fashionable at the time. The dinner jacket has the traditional details of jetted hip pockets, button four cuffs and no vent in the rear. The buttons are black plastic. The dinner suit’s trousers have forward pleats, wide legs, and a satin stripe down each leg. They are finished with a straight hem and no break.

Notorious-Black-Tie-3Underneath the dinner jacket, Devlin wears a black low-cut waistcoat. The waistcoat can hardly be seen, and that’s the way it should be. It probably has four buttons, and the buttons are closely spaced on the front. Two buttons can be seen peaking out above the dinner jacket’s button. Traditionally, black waistcoats for black tie are made in the same cloth as body of the dinner suit with shawl-style lapels in silk to match the jacket’s lapels and trouser stripe. Since the waistcoat can hardly be seen, this is only a likely possibility of what the waistcoat may look like.

Notorious-Black-Tie-2The dress shirt has a marcella bib, spread collar and double cuff. The collar and cuffs have traditional quarter-inch stitching, and the shirt does not have a separate placket on the front. The front closes with two square mother-of-pearl studs, and the cufflinks match the studs. There only problem with the shirt is that in some shots the left side of the collar seems to have a difficult time laying flat under the waistcoat. Either Cary Grant’s shirts weren’t made to take collar stays and the collar wasn’t starched enough, or he didn’t like collar stays. The black satin silk bow tie matches the jacket’s facings. The bow tie is a thistle shape and is a little smaller than usual. Alan Flusser writes in Dressing the Man that “its width should not extend beyond the outer edge of a person’s face, and definitely not beyond the breadth of the collar.” This bow tie easily meets those requirements. Devlin wears a white pocket handkerchief with his dinner suit, though the amount of it peaking out of the breast pocket varies throughout the scene. Devlin’s black shoes are plain-toe oxfords (balmorals to the Americans), and whilst they are shiny it is difficult to tell if they are patent leather as they properly should be.

Notorious-Black-Tie-ChesterfieldWhen Devlin leaves the party he dons the full-length chesterfield coat that he carried in with him. The double breasted chesterfield is most likely charcoal grey and it has six buttons with two to button. We see Devlin fastening the anchor button inside the coat—which is behind the middle button on the left side—when he puts it on. The coat has peaked lapels, straight, flapped hip pockets, a welt breast pocket, three-button cuffs and a centre vent.

Afghan Combat

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During the climax of The Living Daylights, James Bond dresses as one of the Mujahideen in Afghanistan whilst fighting as one of them and also to disguise himself. On top he wears a medium brown leather—probably sheepskin—waistcoat, and it has four buttons from the neck down to the waist, where it cuts away. He wears the waistcoat open. Underneath the waistcoat Bond wears a warm grey shirt that has a short point collar that is laid flat. The collar has a band but it doesn’t have a button. However, the top button on the shirt isn’t more than an inch below the collar. The shirt also has an open breast pocket on the left side, a narrow placket and square 1-button cuffs.

Living-Daylights-Harem-PantsBond’s harem-like trousers match the shirt’s warm grey. They aren’t harem trousers to the extreme that M.C. Hammer made popular at the time, but they are very baggy in the thigh, have a somewhat low crotch and are fitted at the ankle. The waistband gathers with a drawstring. Bond wears a black belt around his waist on top of the shirt but underneath the waistcoat to hold his combat gear. To complete the disguise Bond wears a black Afghan turban.

Living-Daylights-Commando-BootsBond’s black leather derby-style combat boots have rubber soles attached with a storm welt. The boots also have a whopping 14 eyelets, and by that I mean 14 on each side! They are all metal eyelets and there are no speed hooks. They are laced in a standard criss-cross method, but combat boots are often laced in other methods, like the “Army Lacing” method mentioned on Ian’s Shoelace Site. The criss-cross lacing that Bond’s boots are laced in isn’t the best choice for him in this situation because he needs to cut the laces open quickly. Straight lacing methods—there are a few different methods listed on Ian’s Shoelace Site—are best for cutting the laces open because the horizontal sections of the lacing can be cut very quickly with a knife. Different militaries may have different ways of lacing shoes, and Bond may be used to lacing his shoes a certain way. With straight lacing, Necros would have died even quicker, making for perhaps a less suspenseful scene. The boots are the only part of this outfit that isn’t costume. With the boots Bond wears tall black socks.

The Thomas Crown Affair (1999): The Navy Peaked Lapel Suit

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Pierce Brosnan wears a number of beautiful suits from Milanese tailor Gianni Campagna in The Thomas Crown Affair (1999). The suits in the film were reported to be made of Super 150s wool. Higher Super numbers indicate a finer fibre but not necessarily a higher quality cloth. Finer fibres make for a cloth that has a softer hand, but the resulting cloth is often less durable, is more prone to creasing and shining, and doesn’t usually tailor as well. Quality has more do to with the way the cloth is woven and finished. Whilst finer wools are often thought to be better, a Super 120s cloth from a reputable merchant is far superior to a cheap Super 150s cloth. The Super number is unrelated to the weight of the cloth.

Thomas-Crown-Navy-Peaked-Lapel-Suit-2One of Pierce Brosnan’s many suits in The Thomas Crown Affair is a navy suit in a large herringbone weave, but since the cloth is a fine Super 150s the stripe effect from the herringbone weave is very subtle and can only be seen in certain lighting. The suit jacket buttons three, and though Brosnan only fastens the middle button, the lapels roll at the top button. It is cut with a clean chest and has straight shoulders with roped sleeveheads. Peaked lapels add an air of formality to this lounge suit, whilst also giving it a bit of a 1940′s Cary Grant look. Though peaked lapels are currently very trendy, the current examples are typically very narrow and on high button two jackets. This jacket has the most classic and elegant of proportions. It looks great on Pierce Brosnan, and it would look just as great now as it did in 1999. This jacket probably has double vents like the other jackets in the film do, though we don’t get a good look at the rear of this suit. Like the other suits in the film, the full-cut trousers most likely have reverse pleats. Brosnan wears the trousers with a belt.

Thomas-Crown-Navy-Peaked-Lapel-Suit-3Brosnan’s cornflower blue shirt from Turnbull & Asser has a spread collar and double cuffs. The silver tie is probably also from Turnbull & Asser. Brosnan ties the tie in a four-in-hand knot with a dimple. Like the suit, the tie is in a herringbone weave. It’s not the same weave as the tie he wears in The World is Not Enough, which is a pointed twill weave that looks like a chevron pattern rather than a herringbone. To not clash with the texture of the suit, the tie’s herringbone is larger than the suit’s herringbone. Also, the herringbone in the suit is subtle enough that it nothing will really clash with it.

Navy Herringbone Raincoat

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Yesterday was Daniel Craig’s 46th birthday, and in honour of that and spring approaching we take a look at his elegant navy raincoat in Casino Royale that he wears over his charcoal blue plaid suit. The raincoat is made in herringbone cotton and has set-in sleeves. The lapels can fold over and button at the top, and the coat has four buttons down the front, including the button at the top of the lapels. The coat has lapped seams, edges stitched 3/8″ from the edge and a relatively short centre vent. Daniel Craig wears the coat open and lets the belt hang in the back.

Navy-Herringbone-Raincoat-2The raincoat has straight hip pockets with flaps and a slanted breast pocket with a flap. It’s not unusual, but it’s also not common, for outer coats to have flapped breast pockets. It’s certainly more unusual for suits and sports coats to have flapped breast pockets, though Roger Moore wears suits with flapped breast pockets in The Saint, The Persuaders and Moonraker, and a sports coat with a flapped breast pocket in The Spy Who Loved Me.

Goldeneye: Ian Fleming in Black Tie

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Though Dominic Cooper who plays Ian Fleming in the recent miniseries doesn’t look anything like Fleming, Charles Dance does. Dance has a small role—and his first screen film role—as one of Emile Leopold Locque’s henchmen in For Your Eyes Only, but he stars as Ian Fleming in a 1989 television movie called Goldeneye. Though Ian Fleming is typically seen in photos wearing a bow tie, I’ve never seen a photo of him in black tie. In Goldeneye, Fleming wears a black double-breasted dinner suit in a scene that takes place during the years of World War II.

Charles-Dance-Goldeneye-Black-Tie-2The dinner jacket has straight military-like shoulders with roped sleeveheads, peaked lapels and, as is traditional on a dinner jacket, no vent. However, the picture quality isn’t good enough to tell how many buttons are on the dinner jacket. Ian Fleming was a fan of double-breasted suits, and he dressed Hugo Drax in a double-breasted suit similar to one of his own with “turnback”—or gauntlet—cuffs. It’s very likely that the real Fleming would have owned a double-breasted dinner jacket. Fleming preferred to dress in a rather relaxed manner, and the double-breasted dinner jacket is just slightly less formal than the single-breasted dinner jacket. Plus it allows him to forego a waist-covering in a more legitimate way than Sean Connery does in his Bond films.

The picture quality isn’t good enough to tell if the dinner suit’s trousers have pleats, but based on the silhouette they most likely have double forward pleats. That was the standard style that English tailors made at the time. Narrow black braces hold up the trousers. Not much had changed in English tailoring from the time this takes place during World War II to the late 1980s when Goldeneye was made, and the biggest difference came with lighter-weight cloths. This dinner suit doesn’t look as heavy as one that would have been worn in Ian Fleming’s time, but otherwise it’s fairly convincing.

Charles-Dance-Goldeneye-Black-Tie-3Fleming’s white dress shirt has a marcella bib, and though marcella-front shirts are ordinarily without a placket—like Daniel Craig’s dress shirt in Skyfall—for a cleaner, dressier look, this shirt has a raised placket that takes three black onyx studs and has quarter-inch stitching. The spread collar and double cuffs are made in cotton marcella as well, and they have quarter-inch stitching. The cufflinks match the studs. The shirt has shoulder pleats in the back. The black bow tie is a classic thistle shape, and he wears a white puffed silk handkerchief in his breast pocket. The shirt and bow tie are classic and, like the dinner suit, look just as good now as they did in 1989 or during World War II.

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And if you’ve forgotten who Charles Dance plays in For Your Eyes Only, to the right is a picture of his character, Claus.

My Lock Hats

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Lock Trilby in New Brown

Sean Connery wears a number of trilby hats in his first five Bond films, and at least the hat in Dr. No is identified as being from Lock & Co. Hatters. The closest hat to Connery’s trilby in Lock’s current range is the Sandown model. It has a tapered crown and a short 1 7/8-inch brim that is turned up at the sides and back. However, the Sandown is only available in medium brown, which is nothing like the colour of Connery’s hat. Lock claims that the Sandown in the colour they offer it in is exactly the same as Connery’s hat, but the hat in Dr. No looks much more like either a darker brown or a muted green, depending on if you look at the DVD or the Blu-ray. Lock sells the Wetherby in dark brown and gren, but the brim isn’t quite the same. It’s impossible to compare what Lock sells now to what they sold over fifty years ago because no matter how similar their hats are, not everything they offer is the same.

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Lock Trilby in New Brown

As for the short-brimmed model, Lock used to make it in other colours. I have two vintage Lock trilbies with 2-inch brims, just a little larger than the Sandown has. But like Bond’s hats, neither of my hats can be found in Lock’s current catalogue. I do not know how old these hats are. One trilby is in a rather dark brown called “new brown,” and it has a half-inch brown grosgrain ribbon at the base of the crown. It’s very similar to Sean Connery’s hats in From Russia With Love, Goldfinger and Thunderball.

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Lock Trilby in Coke

My other trilby is in a dark grey colour called “coke,” and it has a half-inch black grosgrain ribbon at the base of the crown. Unrelated to the name of the colour, Lock also uses the name “coke” for their bowler hats. Both of my hats have a light brown leather band inside and no lining. And both hats are identified by model number 3969 on the inside label above the colour name. They are blocked with a centre dent and a front pinch.

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Lock Trilby in Coke

Black and White Shoes, and More

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In You Only Live Twice, Bond visits Dikko Henderson’s (Charles Gray) home and follows the Japanese custom of removing his shoes. Bond finds himself leaving in a hurry to chase after Henderson’s killer, without time to put on his shoes. After running outside in his stocking feet, Bond kills the man who killed Henderson, taking not only his shoes but also his trench coat and fedora as a disguise. Bond wears the olive trench coat over his black and white herringbone suit. The knee-length trench coat is double-breasted with ten buttons. It has raglan sleeves, shoulder straps, a yoke across the upper back, a storm flap on the front right, and a single vent. It has a self belt—which Bond lets hang—and wrist straps that close with a leather buckles. The hat is a black fedora with a medium-narrow brim, a centre dent and front pinch in the crown, and a wide grosgrain ribbon.

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Though the shoes are black and white and resemble co-respondent/spectator shoes, they are not such shoes in the traditional sense. The vamp is white and has a black stripe up the middle. The quarters are also white. The toe piece that extends around the front of the shoe is black, as is the heel counter. The shoes have black elastic gussets on the sides of the instep. The soles and heels are black. It difficult to tell if these shoes are leather, but the soles look like leather due to the wear. Rest assured, these ugly shoes are not Bond’s own!

Black-and-White-Shoes-FightDuring the fight, the shoes appear to be taller. The white extends higher in the front and back, but not on the sides. You can see the difference in the photo above. It’s not unusual for different shoes to be used in the same scene for more physically demanding parts.

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The Basic Navy Overcoat

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In Quantum of Solace, Daniel Craig wears a navy wool overcoat over his charcoal suit in London. The single-breasted knee-length coat has a similar look to the suit jackets in the film with some of the same details. Like the suit jacket underneath, the overcoat has pagoda shoulders with roped sleeveheads, and the shoulders are fairly large so they fit comfortably over the suit jacket. The coat buttons three and has a very low button stance with the buttons spaced closer together than is typical. The lower button stance combined with the wide lapels looks very elegant, but it’s not as practical in keeping out the cold. This coat could benefit from a fly front, which would make it look even more elegant, but without the fly front it’s a little more versatile and can be worn less formally.

The front is darted and the waist is suppressed to give the overcoat an athletic silhouette. The coat has straight flap pockets with a ticket pocket, another detail that matches the suit jacket. It also has the same “barchetta” breast pocket, an Italian touch that Tom Ford puts on his rather English-styled clothes. The cuffs button four and there is a centre vent in back. Daniel Craig wears the coat open, which would mean he’s not cold enough to button up the coat. It could also be that he had it unbuttoned in the car and left it in that state, since a long buttoned coat can be cumbersome and quite warm in a heated car.

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