One of Daniel Craig’s nicest pieces of tailored clothing is the dinner suit he wore at the Academy Awards in 2007 after Casino Royale. This suit is bespoke from Alfred Dunhill and designed by Martin Nicholls. If you search for photos of the suit online you’ll find some where the jacket isn’t sitting correctly on him and doesn’t appear to fit so well. But when he gets on stage with Nicole Kidman it is nigh perfect.
The dinner jacket has four buttons with one to button, and the bottom row is a little below the waist. This gives the jacket a longer lapel line, which flatter’s Craig’s shorter stature, but it’s not so low that is throws off the balance. It also has a narrow wrap like Roger Moore’s double-breasted jackets from Cyril Castle have, which bring the diagonal lapel line closer to vertical to further help his height. The peaked lapels are a little narrow but with the medium gorge height they look good. Slanted pockets also lengthen the torso, though flaps take away from the effect. Slanted pockets and pocket flaps are unusual details for a dinner jacket, and Bond only wore those in the 1970s. They don’t look bad, but straight jetted pockets would have been the ideal choice. The jacket is also detailed with four buttons on the cuffs and double vents. It is cut with a clean chest and straight, padded shoulders. The buttons are silk-covered. The trousers have a straight leg with a silk stripe down the side.
The dress shirt has a spread collar, double cuffs and very large pleats on the front, and Craig wears it with black onyx studs. He wears a black silk bow-tie and a white puffed pocket handkerchief. The shoes are black cap-toe oxfords with a chiselled toe. Though the outfit is adventurously styled, it remembers black tie tradition and has a very flattering fit. When standing next to Nicole Kidman, who is already taller than Craig without heels, the dinner jacket gives Daniel Craig the presence he needs on stage.
Max Zorin, played by Christopher Walken, is dressed is a different, but just as classic, mode of black tie from James Bond. Whilst Bond wears a white, single-breasted dinner jacket with natural shoulders, Zorin’s dinner jacket is black and double-breasted with straight, padded shoulders. The padded shoulders reflect both the 1980s fashions and Zorin’s thirst for power, and they contrast with Bond’s softer look. This is one of the series’ best examples of contrasting black tie between Bond and the villain. Thunderball also finds Bond wearing a single-breasted dinner jacket whilst the villain is wearing the double-breasted dinner jacket, but the colours are reversed. It’s more subtle than putting the villain in a black shirt, like Le Chiffre in Casino Royale.
Zorin’s double-breasted buttoning is in the typical 80′s style: four buttons with one to button. But unlike what was in fashion, the bottom row of buttons on Zorin’s dinner jacket is only just below the waist, not a few inches lower. This gives the jacket better proportions. There are three buttons on the sleeves, and all the buttons are made of black horn. The peak lapels and trouser stripe are black satin. The jacket also has jetted pockets and double vents. The only fault with this dinner jacket that the collar fits poorly and leaves a gap between the shirt collar.
The dress shirt has a spread collar and pleated, fly front. The fly front was very trendy—yet still elegant—at the time, and Pierce Brosnan often wore it in Remington Steele. He wears a classic black satin silk thistle bow-tie. Zorin makes a poor choice with a dark blue puffed pocket square, clashes with the black dinner jacket. Scarpine’s wine red pocket square (see top picture) is a more classic and complementary choice. Apart from the pocket square and collar, Zorin is a well-dressed man, as a man in his position should be. Today, this would be quite rare for someone in the technology industry.
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.