Ralph Fiennes isn’t the first M to wear a double-breasted suit. Fifty years earlier Bernard Lee wore his one and only double-breasted suit as M in Dr. No. Like many of Lee’s suits and Fiennes’ double-breasted suit, this suit is flannel. In particular, this suit is a mid grey woollen flannel, which has the old-fashioned look that’s well-suited for the character. Whilst Fiennes’ suit is traditional and not characteristic of any era, Lee’s suit is very characteristic of suits from the 1950s. Its large, padded shoulders and wide lapels were outdated for 1962, as was the buttoning style. The jacket has four buttons in a keystone arrangement with one to button, which was never a very popular style with English tailors. It wasn’t uncommon in the 1940s and 1950s, but by the 1960s the low-buttoning double-breasted suits were out of fashion. The style returned in the 1980s and has been out of fashion since the mid 1990s. It’s not as classic as the style of Ralph Fiennes’ double-breasted suit, but if it is cut well—which can’t usually be said for the baggy 1980s examples—and fits well it can be a good choice for shorter or heavier men. Lee’s jacket has jetted pockets, 3-button cuffs and no vents. As is traditional on a double-breasted jacket, both peaked lapels have a buttonhole since both sides of the jacket have fastening buttonholes. For From Russia With Love, Bernard Lee wears a more contemporary suit, though it’s still a little more traditional than Sean Connery’s suits.
Though Bernard Lee’s M’s is known for his bow ties, he wears a black four-in-hand tie that has a fancy self pattern in his first appearance in the James Bond series. The tie is a fashionable, narrow width and it’s much narrower than his lapels. Though the narrow tie is a bit incongruous with the wide lapels, it works much better than the opposite would. He uses a tie pin to anchor the tie to his shirt. Lee doesn’t return to wearing four-in-hand ties until the final act of On Her Majesty’s Secret Service. His shirt is a fine bengal stripe in light grey and white, which complements his grey hair and grey eyes. The shirt has a spread collar, plain front and double cuffs. He wears a white linen pocket handkerchief that is mostly obscured by his wide lapels.
Gareth Mallory, played by Ralph Fiennes, wears a double-breasted suit after becoming the new M in Skyfall. The double-breasted suit, however, makes him look more like Bill Tanner in For Your Eyes Only than the first two Ms. Today the double-breasted suit is a more traditional look, and that’s likely why costume designer Jany Temime dressed Fiennes in this suit for this scene instead of the more contemporary two- and three-piece suits he wears prior to becoming M. Another thing that makes this suit look more traditional is the soft, heavy navy woollen flannel chalkstripe cloth. Heavier cloths look more old-fashioned than lightweight cloths. Since Bond has just come in from the cold and has hung up his overcoat, M’s choice of a heavy flannel suit is clearly a very practical one.
The suit jacket has the classic arrangement of six buttons with two to button, and Mallory buttons only the top of those two buttons. The jacket also has double vents, four-button cuffs and flapped pockets. This suit has the same straight shoulders with roped sleeveheads that Mallory’s other suits in the film have, but a fuller chest and wider lapels contribute to its more traditional look. It has a classic Savile Row cut: nipped at the waist and flared at the skirt. Whilst the suit is a little old-fashioned, it isn’t outdated and it looks great on Ralph Fiennes. It’s made by Timothy Everest, who typically makes more fashion forward suit.
Not much is seen of the suit trousers, but they are likely the same flat-front, tapered-leg trouser with braces he wears throughout the film. Mallory wears a cornflower blue shirt with a spread collar and double cuffs. His red ribbed silk tie is tied in a four-in-hand knot. James Bond has also worn a similar outfit of a flannel navy chalkstripe suit with a blue shirt and red tie, thought Bond’s suit was a three-piece suit and not double-breasted. He wears this outfit for his meeting with Sir Hilary Bray in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service.
On the 51st anniversary of the release of Dr. No we look at Sean Connery’s favourite complement to his navy blazers: dark grey flannel trousers. The trousers in Dr. No are closer to charcoal and don’t provide enough contrast with the blazer, but in Thunderball he wears trousers a little lighter that look better with navy. Connery’s trousers are made from woolen flannel, which is a very soft but very warm-wearing cloth, making it an odd choice to wear in Jamaica. These flannel trousers are made in the same style as Connery’s suit trousers, with double forward pleats and turn-ups. The waistband has a square extension with a hook-and-eye closure and side-adjusters with the usual three mother-of-pearl buttons on each side.
Bond fastens his shoulder holster down to his side-adjuster
In the Bratislava winter in The Living Daylights, Timothy Dalton recalls classic James Bond suits with his medium grey flannel suit. It’s a shame we don’t see more of this suit since it’s one of the best-fitting suits in the series, from the little we see of it. It’s clearly not the same as the rest of the Benjamin Simon suits that Dalton wears throughout the film and probably is from a different brand. What really stands out are the narrow, natural shoulders that really flatter Dalton’s build. We don’t see much of the suit, but the jacket is probably a button two. The jacket also has wide lapels, but with a classic gorge compared to the low gorge on Licence to Kill‘s wide lapels. A publicity still reveals that this suit’s trousers have double reverse pleats instead of the classic English forward pleats that the rest of his suits have. Dalton wears the trousers with a black belt.
Dalton wears a white shirt with a spread collar, barrel cuffs and a placket front. His tie is solid navy and tied in a four-in-hand knot. His shoes are black. Over the suit, Dalton wears a dark navy, full-length overcoat. The overcoat has a 1980′s low gorge and low button stance, probably with three buttons. The low button stance exposes more of the chest, and the low gorge means that folding over the lapels won’t cover the neck, making the coat not as effective at keeping out the cold as it could be. But still, the coat fits well. It has a vent, flapped pockets and three buttons on the cuffs. Though the clothes are not bespoke, they are some of Dalton’s more impressive clothes of the film due to their decent fit and classic Bondian style.
The final scene of Goldfinger features Sean Connery in his second three-piece suit of the series, a charcoal grey woolen flannel. Bond believes he’s on his way to meeting the President, giving Bond a reason to wear the added formality of a waistcoat. A flannel suit is also comfortable for an flight, since it’s both comfortably soft and warm. The suit is the usual Anthony Sinclair suit, a button two with natural shoulders and a full chest. The jacket is detailed with four buttons on the cuffs, jetted pockets and no vent. The buttons are made of dark grey horn.
The waistcoat has 6 buttons with 5 to button. The inside of waistcoat and the sleeves share the same navy and white striped lining. The trousers are cut with double forward pleats and have button side adjusters and plain hems. Connery wears a white shirt with a spread collar and double cuffs with rounded corners, and he wears a black knitted silk tie. His shoes are black. The suit is very similar to the next one Bond wears, featured in Thunderball‘s pre-title sequence. The Thunderball suit differs most obviously by having a straight bottom to the waistcoat and turn-ups on the trousers.
Bond and Kerim Bey are overdressed for the Gypsy camp
In From Russia With Love, Bond wears a charcoal flannel suit to dinner at the gypsy camp. This is a typical Anthony Sinclair suit: a lower two-button style, natural shoulders with roped sleeveheads, a little drape and a nipped waist. This suit jacket has double vents, four buttons on the cuffs and flapped pockets. The trousers have double forward pleats with button-tab waist adjusters and turn-ups.
The shirt and tie are also the usual. The pale blue Turnbull & Asser shirt has a spread collar, a placket and cocktail cuffs. The tie is a navy grenadine. At the beginning of the evening Bond starts out with a white linen handkerchief folded in his breast pocket but removes it to wipe his hands. Later in the evening he puts it back in. Bond’s shoes are black 2-eyelet derby shoes. His socks are black with a red band around the top. Or the red band could be something else.
A Gypsy girl repairs Bond’s shirt
The charcoal flannel suit has made many appearances throughout the Bond series, sometimes as a 2-piece suit and other times with a waistcoat, as Roger Moore wears his in A View to a Kill. This suit is made by Douglas Hayward with natural shoulders, a low 3-button front and a single vent in the rear. The coat has flapped pockets and 3-button cuffs. The waistcoat has 6 buttons and the trousers have a flat front, straight leg and plain bottoms.
Bond’s shirt has a bengal stripe pattern in what is probably pink and white, with a contrasting white spread collar and contrasting white cuffs. The contrast collar was a symbol of power in the 1980s, though it’s origins are in the detachable collars and cuffs that are now relegated to daytime formal wear. The repp tie is bright scarlet, a colour that complements Roger Moore’s complexion very well. Bond’s shoes are black slip-ons. Though he doesn’t wear it, Bond places a light brown trilby on the hat rack when he enters the office.
Bernard Lee’s M is known for his likeness to Winston Churchill, partially attributed to his penchance for bow tie. M didn’t wear a bow tie in Dr. No, but he started the tradition in the second film, From Russia With Love. M’s first bow tie is wine red with pale yellow dots, and later in the film wears a very similar bow tie. M’s suit is brown flannel with a red cast. The suit coat has a 2-button front with 3 buttons on the cuffs, flapped pockets and no vents. It actually has a very similar cut to Connery’s suit, with natural shoulders and a swelled chest. The trousers are most likely also the same, with double forward pleats. Though M’s and Bond’s suits are very similar, the difference in their figures is what makes the suits look so much different from each other.
M’s shirt is slightly off-white with a spread collar and double cuffs. His shoes are medium brown, quite unusual for office-wear in London, though a man in his position can wear whatever he wants to. M accessorises his suit with a folded white linen handkerchief in the breast pocket. And though it’s not something he wears, the pipe is is a key accessory to the character. Even though there is nothing particularly outdated with his clothes, the pipe, bow tie, flannel cloth and vent-less skirt all contribute to M’s old-world look.
You can see Bond’s blue suit from this scene here.