Roger Moore’s sartorial highlight in The Sea Wolves is a pair of dinner jackets, in black and white. Both have the authentic 1940′s cut the film requires: a full chest and slightly wider shoulders with roped sleeveheads. The white dinner jacket—likely made of linen—is a four-button double-breasted cut with one to button. The lower button row is placed up at the waist, meaning it’s cut more like the traditional six-button double-breasted style but missing the bottom row. It’s a style rarely seen after the 1940s. The peaked lapels are wide with a good amount of belly, typical of the 1940s style. The buttons are white mother of pearl.
The black dinner jacket is a classic button one, peaked lapel style. The satin lapels, however, are not as wide as the white dinner jacket’s lapels. They still have belly, but the width is evenly balanced to appear neither too wide nor too narrow. And that would make this dinner jacket look timeless if it wasn’t for the wider shoulders. The buttons are either black horn or plastic. Both dinner jackets are detailed as a most traditional dinner jacket should be, with jetted pockets and without vents. Both also have three buttons on the cuffs.
Apart from the jacket, the rest of the two outfits is identical. The black trousers are cut with a wide, straight leg and have a black satin stripe down each leg. It’s difficult to make out the front of the trousers, but they may have double forward pleats. The white dress shirt has a spread collar, double cuffs, pleated bib and covered-button placket. The black satin silk bow tie is a classic butterfly shape. With the black dinner jacket, Moore wears a puffed white handkerchief in his breast pocket, which he later uses to wipe blood dripping down his arm. He also wears a black cummerbund with the black dinner jacket, and it may be hidden underneath the white dinner jacket as well. None of the clothes here appear to be made by any of Moore’s usual clothiers.
I’m almost a week late, but last Thursday Pierce Brosnan celebrated his 60th birthday. In honour of that let’s look at one of his off-white dinner jackets from Remington Steele. This one is featured in the third season episode “Maltese Steele,” which takes place in the Mediterranean country of Malta. With the exception of pocket flaps, Brosnan wears a classic white dinner jacket. The jacket is cut with straight, narrow shoulders that flatter Brosnan’s build. It buttons one, and the button stance is at a higher classic height as opposed to the fashionably lower 1980′s button stance. The back has no vents, which is classic for a dinner jacket but looks sloppy with Brosnan’s habit of putting his hands in his trouser pockets. There are two buttons on the cuffs, and the buttons are all mother of pearl.
Brosnan’s habit of putting his hands in his pockets only looks okay with double vents.
The black trousers are cut with a trim leg and are worn with a belt, an unfortunate feature on all of Pierce Brosnan’s black tie trousers in Remington Steele. Though Brosnan wears a black cummerbund, it’s missing in one shot and the belt buckle is revealed. The white dress shirt has a point collar, double cuffs and a white-on-white stripe bib with a placket. It is worn with three studs down the front and matching cufflinks, which are black onyx set in gold. Brosnan wears a colourful madder handkerchief with a red ground stuffed in his breast pocket with the corners spilling out in a very dandyish way. He wears his usual black leather slip-on shoes, not patent leather.
As part of Live and Let Die promotions, Roger Moore’s photo was taken as Bond in a dinner jacket, yet this outfit didn’t make it to the film. Not wearing a dinner jacket in Live and Let Die was one of the many ways used to distinguish Moore from his predecessors. Cyril Castle made this black dinner jacket in the same six-button double-breasted with two to button style as the double-breasted suit Moore wears at the end of the film. It has softly-padded shoulders, slanted pockets with fancy braided jetting, satin silk peak lapels, and satin silk-covered buttons. The dinner jacket also has Cyril Castle’s flared, link-button cuffs, which are seen on all of the suits in Live and Let Die.
The shirt repeats George Lazenby’s now very dated style with a ruffled front. The lack of such flamboyant clothing that made it into Live and Let Die is more in character for Bond. The shirt is likely made by Turnbull & Asser, in a way to tie Moore’s clothing in with Bond’s already established shirtmaker. It has a spread collar, and its double cuffs have the buttonholes very close to the fold—something which Turnbull & Asser is known for. Moore wears a wide black bow tie and a white handkerchief puffed in his breast pocket.
Sean Connery wears a very Bond-like midnight blue dinner suit in Marnie. The jacket has natural shoulders with roping and less dress drape in the chest than the other tailoring in the film. It has a button-one front and a midnight blue satin shawl collar. The jacket also has 3-button cuffs, jetted pockets and no vents. The buttons are probably horn, but may also be plastic, which was very common on dinner jackets in the 1960s. The trousers have double forward pleats and side adjusters.
Like in his Bond films, Connery wears neither a waistcoat nor a cummerbund in Marnie. The bow tie is midnight blue satin silk in a batwing shape. He wears a regular white shirt, with a spread collar and button cuffs. It has a placket with stitching closely spaced down the middle and mother of pearl buttons. A regular shirt can work for black tie in a pinch if it has double cuffs and no pocket, but the button cuffs on this shirt make it a less than ideal choice for black tie. The closest to a regular shirt Bond wears with black tie are the white-on-white stripe shirt in Thunderball and the voile shirt in Octopussy.
The velvet dinner jacket fits somewhere between a regular dinner jacket and a smoking jacket. James Bond wears a navy velvet dinner jacket for a private dinner for two on a cruise ship in Diamonds Are Forever. It’s made just like Anthony Sinclair’s regular jackets, with the same roped, natural shoulders. The details are same as the other dinner jackets in the film, with one button on the front, double vents and slanted pockets with flaps.
The trousers are standard black tie trousers, in black wool with a satin stripe down the legs. Bond also wears a standard black satin bow tie. Instead of a classic black tie shirt he wears a pale blue shirt from Turnbull & Asser with a spread collar and cocktail cuffs, made exactly the same way as his regular shirts. The shirting is most likely something a bit more luxurious than cotton poplin, and it perhaps may be silk. A silk shirt would be a great pairing with a velvet dinner jacket, whilst also recalling Ian Fleming’s choice of dress shirt. This outfit is a great example of creative black tie that’s still very tasteful.
Grosgrain lapels on a dinner jacket with a faille bow tie
The most common facings for lapels and other trim on a dinner suit is satin silk, but an elegant alternative to satin is grosgrain silk. James Bond has worn dinner suits grosgrain in four films, from Tomorrow Never Dies to Casino Royale, and maybe in others. Grosgrain is a plain weave with crosswise ribs that are created due to a heavier weft than warp. Its most common form is in ribbon, and it can be found around the base of the crown on many hat styles. When a dinner suit is trimmed with grosgrain silk you’ll find the grosgrain trimming on a the lapels and on the stripe down the trouser leg, and on also covered buttons if the dinner suit has them. Pocket jettings shouldn’t be trimmed in silk. Whilst satin silk has a very glossy appearance, grosgrain silk has a rather matte finish but still contrasts nicely with cloths ranging from a classic wool barathea to a warm-weather mohair blend. I’ve been told it’s difficult to find grosgrain in wider widths, thus a ribbed cummerbund is typically made of a similar weave called faille, which has slightly heavier ribs. Faille is a decent match for grosgrain, though the finer grosgrain is better for lapels. The bow tie in the photo above is faille, whilst the lapels are grosgrain. If you’re having a dinner suit with grosgrain facings made for you, the same grosgrain silk can be used to make a perfectly-matched bow tie to go with it.
The image below from Die Another Day shows Pierce Brosnan wearing a midnight blue dinner suit with black grosgrain facings. Midnight blue and black facings are both acceptable for a midnight blue dinner suit, but a midnight blue bow tie to match might just be impossible to find ready-to-wear.
In 1967′s Casino Royale spoof, Peter Sellers plays a baccarat expert named Evelyn Tremble, who isn’t the nattiest of dressers. But he’s turned into one of the film’s many James Bonds and is put into a midnight blue dinner suit worthy of the character. The dinner jacket has straight shoulders, buttons one, and has cran Necker notched lapels faced in midnight blue satin silk. The only time we see Bond wearing the cran Necker lapel style in the series is in A View to a Kill. It still isn’t the ideal lapel style for a dinner jacket, but everything else is right. The jacket also has jetted pockets and double vents. The flat front trousers have frogmouth pockets.
Tremble’s white dress shirt has a pleated front, covered-button placket and curved double cuffs. Frank Foster was Sellers’ personal shirtmaker, though I see no evidence that this is a Foster shirt. Tremble wears a black satin, batwing bow tie and a matching narrow cummerbund. His shoes are short, black ankle boots.
A shawl collar dinner suit on Tremble earlier in the film.
Before Tremble becomes James Bond, he wears a black shawl collar dinner suit. Whilst many would consider the shawl collar to be more refined than the notched lapels on Tremble’s later dinner jacket, the later outfit improves much over the earlier one. Besides this dinner jacket not being as well fitted, Tremble is wearing a regular white shirt, and his trousers have a belt.
Sean Connery’s James Bond typically shows restraint in his wardrobe choices, but in Diamonds Are Forever he wears a very flamboyant black dinner suit that can only be a product of the 1970s. Anthony Sinclair did an excellent job cutting the suit, and it is indeed well-cut for Connery with a soft but clean silhouette. Like a traditional dinner jacket, this has one button. There are four buttons on the cuffs and the buttons are shiny and black. The deep double vents are somewhat acceptable but are also very much a fashionable choice. Even more fashionable are the lapel facings. The lapel facings come in the form of a wavy burgundy and black pattern, which now looks very dated. Not only are the lapels faced but so is the collar. And whilst some would deem the notch lapels inappropriate because they don’t differ enough from a regular business suit, that’s one problem these lapels don’t have. The slanted pockets with flaps bring the dinner jacket down yet another level, and the flaps are faced in a simpler black satin silk. Pockets on a dinner suit should neither be slanted nor should they have flaps. Those rustic styles were very popular at the time but are completely inappropriate on a dinner jacket. The trousers have a flat front, tapered leg and a black silk stripe down the leg that matches the jacket’s pocket flaps.
The white-on-white stripe dress shirt made by Turnbull & Asser has a spread collar, double cuffs and a pleated bib, with regular mother of pearl buttons down the placket. The bow tie is black and does not match the lapels, which is a rather tasteful way to tone down the outfit. The bow tie isn’t even satin but a matte silk, probably in a barathea or faille weave. This is the first film where Bond wears a cummerbund, and the cummerbund here matches the burgundy and black pattern of the dinner suit’s facings. The silk’s pattern goes vertically rather than around the waist, and the cummerbund is rumpled rather than pleated. The main reason for including a cummerbund seems to be for it to act as a harness when hanging outside the building. The shoes are black patent leather 2-eyelet, plain-toe derby shoes. The shoes are made on a long last with an extremely chiseled toe.
Patent Leather Derby Shoes
With Guy Hamilton’s return to directing Bond in Diamonds Are Forever, the film’s dinner jackets share some similarities with Hamilton’s previous Bond film, Goldfinger. Both films feature a white dinner jacket with peak lapels and a midnight blue/black dinner jacket with notch lapels. Both feature similar shirts: a white on white stripe with a pleated front. And both films are the only ones to feature Bond wearing a boutonniere, which is a red carnation in Diamonds Are Forever. When the weather turns warmer I’ll be writing about Diamonds Are Forever‘s white dinner jacket, which has far more merit than this outfit.
Shirt and Cummerbund Details
This dinner suit was sold at Christie’s in Knightsbridge on 11 December 1997 for £9,775.
Fancy Lapel Facings