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.
The 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.
Fleming’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.
And if you’ve forgotten who Charles Dance plays in For Your Eyes Only, to the right is a picture of his character, Claus.
James Bond’s dinner jackets—or tuxedos—have featured the three basic types of lapels:
Peaked/Pointed/Double-Breasted Lapel: The most formal type of lapel, the peaked lapel is the standard on the double-breasted suit, the evening tailcoat and the morning coat. It can also be found on dressier single-breasted suits lounge suits. The peaked lapel was carried over from the formal evening tailcoat to the single-breasted dinner jacket. Sean Connery first wore this style on his ivory dinner jacket in Goldfinger, and Daniel Craig has most recently worn it on his black dinner jacket in Casino Royale.
Shawl Collar: Combining the collar and the lapel into one continuous curve, the shawl collar is the dinner jacket’s original type of collar and comes from the smoking jacket. It’s marginally less dressy than the peaked lapel, but it’s perfect for the casino. Sean Connery introduced James Bond in his midnight blue shawl collar dinner jacket in Dr. No, and Daniel Craig continued with the midnight blue shawl collar dinner jackets in Quantum of Solace and Skyfall.
Notched Lapel/Step Collar: The standard for the single-breasted lounge suit, the notched lapel is a less dressy option for dinner jackets. Some would even say it’s inappropriate for a dinner jacket, being too much like a standard lounge suit. It’s utilitarian: when made in classic proportions the notched lapel can be buttoned up in the cold. James Bond has worn dinner jackets with notched lapels on a number of occasions, and often those occasions are small, private affairs where the less formal style is suitable. Today the dinner jacket is rarely worn for these private affairs, making the notched lapel a less appropriate style for the dinner jacket. Many ready-to-wear notched lapel dinner jackets are simply black suits with satin facings and trimmings, and those should be avoided. Sean Connery introduced the notched lapel dinner jacket to the Bond series in Goldfinger, and Timothy Dalton last wore it in a low-gorge model in Licence to Kill.
When James Bond wears multiple dinner jackets in the same film they never have the same type of lapel. Diamonds Are Forever and The Living Daylights are the only Bond films to show Bond in three different dinner jackets, and in those films all three lapel styles are represented. Vote in the two polls below for your favourite type of lapel on the jacket on a dinner jacket, for both the black/midnight blue dinner jacket and white/ivory dinner jacket.
The one man at the poker table in Casino Royale who is arguably more elegantly dressed than James Bond is Felix Leiter. Jeffrey Wright plays the latest Felix Leiter in Casino Royale and Quantum of Solace. Like everyone else at the poker table, Leiter is wearing Brioni. His black dinner suit goes a step further than Bond’s in formality and adds a waistcoat, making it more traditionally correct black tie. The dinner jacket is cut with Brioni’s straight shoulders and is a traditional button one with a shawl collar. The shawl collar’s satin silk facings stop a quarter inch from the edge, an old-fashioned detail from tailcoats that at the same time looks very modern. The dinner jacket also has four buttons on the cuffs, jetted pockets and no vent. The buttons are covered.
The waistcoat is made in the same black wool that the rest of the dinner suit is made in. It is low cut with a U-shaped front, which harmonises very well with the jacket’s shawl collar. The waistcoat is barely visible when the jacket is buttoned, which is the way it should be for black tie. The waistcoat does not have lapels. Like Bond, Felix Leiter removes his dinner jacket at the poker table. It’s an ungentlemanly practice, but at least Leiter looks more dressed with his waistcoat.
Leiter wears two dress shirts with his dinner suit during the film. Both dress shirts have a spread collar, double cuffs and onyx studs. The first shirt has a narrow-pleated front that takes three studs—with the first starting a distractingly too high—and the second shirt has a marcella bib that takes two studs. The placket on the pleated shirt is stitched on the edge and then stitched on the other side and extended to form the first pleat. Though the placket is stitched on the edge, the collar has regular 1/4″ stitching. The black satin bow tie matches the dinner suit’s facings. It’s a little undersized, but it suits Leiter very well.
If the dress code for the poker game is specified as black tie, Leiter follows it perfectly and is thus dressed better than Bond is. However, the lack of a waistcoat or cummerbund has now become acceptable in black tie—we can partially thank James Bond for that—and that makes Bond and Leiter equals as the best-dressed in the poker game.
Tonight is the only night of the year many people wear a dinner suit. In the two-part episode of The Saint titled “The Fiction Makers”, Roger Moore wears a three-piece dinner suit, something only Pierce Brosnan to date has worn as James Bond. “The Fiction Makers” was filmed as part of Series 5, so the clothes stylistically follow the others from Series 5, but it was aired in December 1968 as part of Series 6 and later released as a feature film. The midnight blue dinner suit tailored by Cyril Castle has a deep lustre that means it must be made of mohair. The dinner jacket has natural shoulders with roped sleeveheads. It is a button one, with the button elegantly placed low about two inches below Moore’s natural waist. The narrow midnight blue satin shawl collar gently rolls down to the button and lacks the belly of a typical shawl collar. The dinner jacket follows black tie tradition with jetted pockets and no vent. The cuffs button three and have midnight blue satin gauntlet cuffs. All of the buttons are covered to match the lapels.
The button three waistcoat matches the midnight blue mohair dinner jacket and also has midnight blue satin silk shawl lapels. The buttons are spaced apart a little more than they traditionally are on an evening waistcoat—about 2″ apart like on a regular daywear waistcoat instead of 1.5″ inches apart—making the front a little taller. It’s commonly said that waistcoats go better with peaked-lapel dinner jackets and cummerbunds go better with shawl-collar dinner jackets. The formality of the waistcoat does indeed better match peaked lapels, and the angular shape of the waistcoat “V” complements the angles of peaked lapels. But there’s also nothing wrong with wearing a waistcoat with a shawl-collar dinner jacket. A U-shaped waistcoat goes well with a shawl collar dinner jacket, though Roger Moore’s waistcoat has a regular V-front. However, Moore’s waistcoat has rounded shawl lapels that match the dinner jacket’s shawl collar, helping to connect the two pieces. The waistcoat’s straight bottom also does away with the angles the typical waistcoat has at the bottom, helping it to better complement the shawl-collar dinner jacket.
The trousers, of course, match the dinner jacket and waistcoat. The trousers have tapered legs, cross pockets and a midnight blue satin stripe down the side of each leg. The white dress shirt has a spread collar, double cuffs and a pleated front with mother-of-pearl buttons down the placket. Moore’s bow tie is midnight blue satin silk to match the facings on the dinner suit.
The black dinner suit by Angelo Roma in Moonraker is made in the same style as the one from The Spy Who Loved Me two years earlier. It is cut with straight shoulders and a clean chest. It has six buttons on the front with two to close, in the traditional manner. There are three buttons on the cuffs, jetted pockets and no vents. The trousers have flared legs. The facing on the wide peak lapels, the trouser stripe and the covered buttons are in black satin silk. The black cloth has a sheen that suggests mohair.
This dinner suit gets a lot of use in Moonraker. Not only does he wear it out in the evening, but he’s still wearing it the next morning. Obviously Bond didn’t make it back to his hotel suite that night, and that’s the only reason someone should wear a dinner suit during the day. But by the morning he has discarded his bow tie and is wearing the collar open, with the points outside of the jacket. Wearing collar points outside the jacket was a popular trend in the 1970s, but not a very attractive one.
The dress shirt marks the last time James Bond wears cocktail cuffs, notwithstanding the unofficial Never Say Never Again. It’s a shame Bond’s trademark cuff hasn’t made it into any films since, though Turnbull & Asser made Pierce Brosnan a cocktail cuff shirt for his personal wardrobe. Frank Foster made this shirt, which has a point collar, a pleated front and standard mother-of-pearl buttons down the placket.
The slip-on shoes from Ferragamo have a plain toe, a half strap and a tall heel. They aren’t the best choice for black tie, since they are neither patent leather nor are they oxfords or pumps, but at least they are well polished and have a plain toe. Identical shoes were auctioned at Christie’s in South Kensington on 24 November 2009 for £3,000. The shoes at Christie’s are said to be from The Spy Who Loved Me, but since the shoes with the dinner suit in that film are patent leather, it’s possible the shoes at the auction could be these.
There’s a continuity error in the close-up shots of the cuff in the ambulance. Instead of the cocktail cuff shirt, Moore wears a shirt with double cuffs, closed in a barrel fashion and fastened with button. Treating the double cuffs this way would mean that the wrong shirt wasn’t an accident, but rather the original shirt was not obtainable for this shot.
The shirt worn in the other scenes must have gone missing
For his dinner with Bond in Goldfinger, M wears the least dressy of all dinner jacket styles: the double-breasted, shawl collar dinner jacket. It’s the type of dinner jacket that’s most like a smoking jacket. I can’t tell for certain it’s double-breasted, but from the very wide lapels and the bunching of the breast pocket it looks like he is wearing a double-breasted dinner jacket unbuttoned. M’s black dinner jacket has natural shoulders and roped sleeveheads, and the sleeve cuffs have four buttons and a satin silk turnback that matches the lapels.
M’s dress shirt doesn’t have any fancy details, but it may have been made in silk to set it apart from an everyday shirt. It’s slightly off white, which could be a further indicator that it’s silk and not cotton. It has a spread collar and double cuffs with edge stitching and a plain front with mother-of-pearl buttons. The bow-tie is black satin silk in a thistle shape. He wears a puffed white handkerchief in his breast pocket.
Like most of the clothes in Woman of Straw, Sean Connery’s black dinner suit almost exactly resembles its counterpart in Goldfinger. It has notch lapels, a single-button fastening and no vents. The biggest difference are that the lapels on this dinner jacket are narrower than the ones in Goldfinger. This dinner jacket also adds gauntlet cuffs like Connery previously wore in Dr. No and From Russia With Love. Connery wears it in the same fashion as he does in Goldfinger: a small, private dinner. Just like the older men Bond has dinner with in Goldfinger, the older Ralph Richardson in this scene wears a shawl collar dinner jacket.
The dress shirt has a spread collar, small pleats on the front, mother of pearl buttons down the placket and double cuffs. Connery wears it with a narrow black bow tie and a white linen pocket handkerchief folded with a single point. If he is wearing a waist covering, it can’t be seen.
In the final scene of The Living Daylights we catch a glimpse of a peak lapel dinner suit on Timothy Dalton. Thanks to a Christie’s auction on 17 September 1998, we get to see that the dinner suit is actually double-breasted. Double-breasted suits were quite trendy at the time, especially the four- and six-button models that only fasten at the bottom button. That’s what Pierce Brosnan was wearing on Remington Steele. But Dalton’s dinner jacket has six buttons with the traditional two to button. The dinner jacket has double vents, four buttons on the cuffs and flapped pockets. The pocket flaps are the only inappropriate detail on the dinner jacket (and double vents, if you count those too), but typically the pocket slits are double-jetted and the flaps can be tucked in. The lapels and trouser stripe are trimmed in satin silk. The jacket has a claret-coloured lining.
The trousers are labeled “EIGENTUM, LAMBERT HOFER, WIEN, 1150 WIEN, HACKENGASSE 10″. Lambert Hofer is a clothier and tailor in Vienna that specialises in costume and evening wear. The dinner suit sold at Christie’s for £1,725.