Danger Man: Black Tie Without a Dinner Suit

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In the 1965 Danger Man episode titled “The Ubiquitous Mr. Lovegrove”, John Drake dresses in faux black tie. He wears a dark lounge suit with black tie accessories, something that should only been done when travelling light. However, this episode takes place at home in London, and Drake owns a dinner suit, so it doesn’t make sense for Drake to be wearing a lounge suit as a dinner suit. Black and navy suits are the best to wear in this situation, with charcoal working not quite as well. Danger-Man.co.uk has some colour stills from this episode, and the suit appears to be dark forest green. If the colours are accurate, it’s a flashy colour for a lounge suit, but since it’s not going to be mistaken for a business suit it works better in this situation. The suit also has a self-stripe, which elevates the dressiness.

Faux-Black-Tie-2The jacket buttons two and has natural shoulders with roped sleeveheads, four buttons on the cuffs, jetted pockets, and no vent. The last two details make this suit work better for dressy evening wear. Peaked lapels would also help make a lounge suit work better for makeshift black tie, but this suit has notched lapels since single-breasted suits with peaked lapels weren’t so common in the 1960s. Drake wears the suit jacket with two pairs of trousers. The first pair matches the jacket, and it has double forward pleats and belt loops that are hidden under the cummerbund. The second pair, which looks lighter than the jacket and is probably dark grey, has a flat front. Anthony Sinclair, who also made Sean Connery’s suits in the Bond films, likely tailored this suit as he made many clothes for John Drake actor Patrick McGoohan.

Faux-Black-Tie-3Drake wears proper black tie accessories with the suit. The dress shirt has a bib, spread collar and double cuffs in cotton marcella, and the collar and cuffs have edge stitching. The body of the shirt is a white-on-white stripe and the buttons are black to resemble studs. Drake’s bow tie is black silk but the cummerbund is a fancy patterned silk, and it is possibly in a colour other than black. The shoes are black plain-toe derbies. Early in the episode Drake wears a boutonniere in his lapel buttonhole.

Apart from Patrick McGoohan sharing the same tailor as Sean Connery, this episode has another connection with James Bond: Desmond Llewellyn, who played Q in 17 Bond films, appears in this episode.

An Unused Brown Pinstripe Suit

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Clothes are often made for film productions that are either never used or made as a gift for the stars. Diamonds Are Forever features a staggering seven lounge suits, three sports coats and three dinner jackets. It is the most tailored clothing that Bond wears in any one film, but Sean Connery’s tailor Anthony Sinclair made even more clothes than that for Diamonds Are Forever. Sinclair also made a chocolate brown pinstripe worsted two-piece suit at the same time as he made the rest of the suits, but it didn’t feature in the film. It has a button two jacket with slanted flap pockets, and it most likely has double vents like the rest of the suits in the film have.

The suit was sold at Christie’s in South Kensington on 17 September 1998, and it can be seen in the picture above from the Christie’s catalogue on the right beside the black dinner suit and cream linen suit, both also from Diamonds Are Forever. This brown pinstripe suit sold for £575, which is considerably less than the selling prices of the suits that Sean Connery actually wears in the film.

Woman of Straw: The Charcoal Flannel Suit and Navy Overcoat

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It’s time again to look at one of Sean Connery’s Goldfinger suits in its original setting in Woman of Straw. Both Goldfinger and Woman of Straw end with Sean Connery in the same charcoal grey woollen flannel, three-piece suit. This slightly rustic suit does just as well in Woman of Straw‘s country setting as it does in Goldfinger‘s dressier setting of Bond on his way to meet the president. It’s Connery’s usual Anthony Sinclair suit. The button two jacket has natural shoulders with roped sleeveheads, a full chest and a nipped waist. It has four buttons on the cuffs, jetted pockets and no vent. The waistcoat has six buttons with five to button, though Connery fastens the bottom button. Because the bottom button is not meant to close, the bottom of the waistcoat bunches up rather unattractively. The trousers have double forward pleats and button side adjusters.

Woman-of-Straw-Grey-Flannel-Suit-2The shirt and tie differ slightly from what Sean Connery wears in Goldfinger. The elegant white shirt has a self-stripe pattern, which is either created by a mini-herringbone weave or a fancy white-on-white weave. Due to the country context the mini-herringbone is more likely since it’s not as formal as a white-on-white stripe. The shirt has a spread collar, front placket and double cuffs with rounded corners. The black satin tie is a little formal for a woollen flannel suit, but at the same time it creates a pleasant contrast with the texture of the flannel suit. It is tied in a small four-in-hand knot. Like in Goldfinger, Connery wears a white linen handkerchief in his breast pocket, but here it’s folded in a single point instead of in a TV fold. His shoes are black.

Woman-of-Straw-Navy-OvercoatSean Connery wears two stylish double-breasted overcoats in Woman of Straw that didn’t make it into Goldfinger. Over this charcoal flannel suit he wears a very dark navy double-breasted, knee-length overcoat. It has six buttons with three to button, narrow notched lapels and slanted hip pockets. The overcoat is cut with natural shoulders, has set-in sleeves and is slightly shaped through the body. There’s no name for this style of overcoat, but nevertheless it is a very elegant coat. With the overcoat Connery has a dark hat with a white lining, but it’s difficult to what type of hat it is or what colour it is. A trilby would be most likely considering the relative informality of the coat and flannel suit, and it could be the same brown trilby that Connery wears in Goldfinger or one similar to it.

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Front Darts

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The darts on Sean Connery’s suit jacket, highlighted in red

All of James Bond’s lounge coats—suit jackets, sports coats and dinner jacket—have a front dart. Darts are folds sewn into the cloth to help provide a three-dimensional shape. The front dart gives fullness to the chest and is used by almost all British and Italian tailors. Almost all suits today have it. Tailoring in the American Ivy League style, like what Cec Linder wears as Felix Leiter in Goldfinger, dispenses with the front dart for a cleaner and straighter look, but it relies on an underarm dart for a little shape. A GQ article from April 1966 says that Sean Connery’s tailor Anthony Sinclair doesn’t use a front dart in patterned cloths, only a side dart. The dart noticeably disrupts a large pattern. Sinclair darted all of Connery’s lounge coats, but Sean Connery’s athletic drop would be difficult to tailor well without a front dart.

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The extended darts, highlighted in cyan, disrupt the large pattern on Roger Moore’s jacket.

All of Bond’s lounge coats from Dr. No through The Man with the Golden Gun feature a front dart that extends from the chest down to the hem. The dart needs to extend to the hem to prevent too much skirt flare. This method of darting isn’t used very much today since the long dart is more disrupting, especially when a pattern is involved. Some tailors only extend the dart to the hem when cutting a jacket with patch pockets since the dart is partially hidden. Anthony Sinclair, Dimi Major and Cyril Castle all cut their lounge coats this way. One tailor that still uses the extended front dart is Napolisumisura in Naples, Italy, but very few others still do. The extended front dart is used in conjunction with an underarm dart.

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The displaced front dart, highlighted in red. This is how most lounge coats are cut now.

From The Spy Who Loved Me to now, all of Bond’s front darts extend to only the pocket, where the rest of the dart is displaced horizontally across the pocket and continued down from the bottom of the underarm dart. The effect is still the same as if the dart continued straight down. This creates a separate piece called the side body. There are other methods of cutting coats, but this is the most common. On patch pockets coats you can look inside the pocket to see how the front dart is cut horizontally to be displaced in the side body seam. Displacing the lower part of the dart hides it under the sleeve and makes pattern mismatching less noticeable. Angelo Roma, Douglas Hayward, Brioni and Tom Ford lounge coats are all cut like this. The new Anthony Sinclair suits are also cut in this manner.

For more on the front dart, whether extended straight to the hem or displaced to the side, see The Cutter and Tailor.

Smaller Glen Checks

The plain-weave glen check suit in From Russia with Love

The plain-weave glen check suit in From Russia with Love

As a follow up to the Glen Urquhart check article, this article looks at the common smaller variations of the glen check in a plain weave and a hopsack weave. The plain weave glen check is woven in a the simplest of weaves, in which the threads interlace alternately. Sean Connery wears this check in Dr. No and in Hagia Sophia in From Russia With Love. It’s usually the type of glen check found on warm-weather suits, since the simple plain weave is usually lighter in weight and more open than other weaves. The glen hopsack check is woven in a two-and-two hopsack weave, in which two adjacent warp yarns are interlaced with two interlaced filling yarns. Sean Connery’s famous three-piece suit in Goldfinger has this check as does his suit in Amsterdam in Diamonds Are Forever. This check can easily be found in the traditional black and white—like in Sean Connery’s suits—but also often in dark tone-on-tone colours for City business dress.

The plain-weave glen plaid as worn in From Russia with Love

The plain-weave glen plaid as worn in From Russia with Love

Whilst the Glen Urquhart check has sections of alternating yarns four light and four dark and sections of alternating yarns two light and two dark, the glen checks in both a plain weave and a hopsack weave have sections of alternating yarns two light and two dark and sections of alternating yarns one light and one dark. In the two weaves sometimes the resulting smaller patterns are the same and sometimes they are different. In both weaves the section of alternating yarn colours two and two in both directions creates a four-pointed star check. It somewhat resembles a miniature houndstooth check, and thus it is sometimes called a “puppytooth” check.

Opposite the two-and-two section is a section of yarns simply alternating one light and one dark in both directions. In the plain weave glen check this creates a hairline stripe, and the stripe is typically lengthwise. In the glen hopsack check it makes a pick-and-pick—or sharkskin—pattern. An all over pick-and-pick cloth is typically woven with similarly alternating light and dark yarns in both directions in a twill weave, but in a hopsack weave the visual effect is exactly the same.

The glen hopsack check as worn in Diamonds Are Forever

The glen hopsack check as worn in Diamonds Are Forever

The other sections of the cloth have alternating yarns two light and two dark in one direction interlacing with alternating yarns one light and one dark in the other direction. On the plain weave glen check it looks dark and light interlocking combs, but on the glen hopsack check this section looks like jagged stripes.

These glen checks are more discreet than the traditional larger Glen Urquhart check, making them great patterns for an stylish business suit in settings where a larger check can be too much of a statement. In the fine scale of the glen hopsack check that Sean Connery wears in Goldfinger and Diamonds Are Forever, the check is like a semi-solid and just slightly more informal than an all-over pick-and-pick.

Glen hopsack check suit trousers in Diamonds Are Forever

Glen hopsack check suit trousers in Diamonds Are Forever 

Modern Anthony Sinclair Style

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David Mason in a grey sharkskin Anthony Sinclair suit

Since many people ask me about the new Anthony Sinclair suits and how they compare to what Sean Connery wore, I reached out to David Mason, the man responsible for bringing back the Anthony Sinclair name, to show you what the firm is making. Mason sent me a photo of him next to the replicas they made of the Dr. No dinner suit and Goldfinger glen check suit. Mason’s suit is made in their most popular cloth: grey sharkskin. The suit is an updated cut with slightly wider lapels, less drape, a higher breast pocket and narrower sleeves. But it follows Anthony Sinclair’s (the man’s) idea of soft, flowing, natural lines, and it still has the necessary ease across the back and room in the sleeve. Mason and cutter Richard Paine—who worked under James Bond tailors Cyril Castle and Anthony Sinclair—consider this to be an “evolution of the Conduit Cut.” Other things may look different on Mason’s suit because he does not have the same upper body mass that few people other than Sean Connery have.

Anthony Sinclair is very capable of making, and does make, replicas of Sean Connery’s suits, as you can see on the mannequins beside David Mason. The vast majority of customers, however, want a suit that’s more modern like the suit David Mason is wearing. Whilst Mason’s suit has double forward pleats and button side adjusters like Connery’s suits have, Mason says most people order plain front trousers with side-strap adjusters. This may be due to Daniel Craig’s influence, and Anthony Sinclair also makes suits in the trendy shrunken Skyfall style for the customers who ask for it. “We are a bespoke tailoring firm, we make whatever our customers demand,” says Mason. Unlike at many Savile Row bespoke tailoring firms, this holds true at Anthony Sinclair. Many Savile Row bespoke firms would throw you out, usually politely, if you brought in a picture of Daniel Craig in Skyfall and asked for a suit like that. Anthony Sinclair has not yet made me a bespoke suit, but I hope to have that pleasure one day.

Danger Man: Nailhead Suit

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In my last post on Danger Man there was some doubt as to whether or not the suit was from Sean Connery’s tailor Anthony Sinclair, whom Danger Man‘s star Patrick McGoohan also patronised. In the 1965 Danger Man episode titled “The Mercenaries”, McGoohan wears a button two suit that more closely resembles Connery’s suits. The natural shoulders have gentle roping, the chest is full-cut, and the front darts extend below the pockets to the bottom of the jacket to give extra fullness to the chest. The trousers have double forward pleats, but unlike Connery’s trousers these are designed to wear with a belt and have plain hems.

A closeup of the nailhead cloth.

A closeup of the nailhead cloth.

Besides the cut, the jacket’s cuffs button four like all of Sean Connery’s suits do. The pockets have flaps and there is no vent. This suit is in a lightweight semi-solid nailhead cloth, and thanks to colour stills we know that this suit is medium grey. Nailhead is often confused with birdseye, but they are neither the same pattern nor the same weave. Nailhead is made in an even twill weave and looks like a grid of squares.

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McGoohan’s pale blue shirt has a spread collar and double cuffs. On black-and-white film, the shirt comes out as an uninteresting light grey. White shirts always look best in black-and-white, which is one reason why they were so popular in classic film. The tie is red with black stripes, and McGoohan wears it with a tie bar a little above the waist. Again, the tie looks really bland in black-and-white. McGoohan’s belt and shoes are black.

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This episode features Shane Rimmer, who appeared in three James Bond films.

Woman of Straw: The Blue Suit from Goldfinger

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The cloth of Sean Connery’s blue suit in Q’s lab in Goldfinger is quite mysterious. It is a heavy weight, has a mottled colouring and has a woollen texture. That means it’s most likely tweed. We get another look at the same Anthony Sinclair suit in Woman of Straw, and in this film—the suit’s original appearance—the suit is a three-piece. There’s no question it’s the same suit. The cut is the same button two with natural shoulders and a draped chest. It has swelled edges, cloth-covered buttons and jetted pockets. The vents are still a mystery. The poor lighting in this film makes the vent style difficult to make out, but I believe I see double vents. See the enhanced screenshot below.

Click image to enlarge

The trousers have double forward pleats. The waistcoat is the same style as the waistcoats in Goldfinger: six buttons with five to button. Connery, however, fastens the bottom button, which is meant to be left open. This disrupts the otherwise clean lines of the waistcoat. The covered buttons down the waistcoat make a big impact, since without the waistcoat the covered buttons almost go unnoticed. Covered buttons aren’t ordinarily seen outside of formalwear, but they were popular in the 1960s on lounge suits as well. The Avengers’ John Steed also wore suits with covered buttons.

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This is a town and country suit, meaning it can effectively transition between relaxed country wear and business. The cloth has a country texture in a city colour, and the jetted pockets are a more formal city touch. Even though this suit is appropriate in both the city and country, it fits in better here than it does in Q’s lab. The houndstooth suit that Bond wears in M’s office also seems more appropriate in this film.

Connery wears this suit a few times throughout Women of Straw. Early in the film he wears a solid light blue tie, tied in a four-in-hand knot just like he does in Goldfinger. The white or off-white shirt has a moderate spread collar, a placket and double cuffs. Later in the film he wears a solid black tie, also tied in a four-in-hand knot, and the white or off-white shirt has a wider spread collar like in Goldfinger. He wears a white pocket handkerchief with both outfits.

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