The Lapidus Cuff

Moonraker-Tweed-2

For The Spy Who Loved Me and Moonraker, Frank Foster made Roger Moore’s shirts with a special kind of cuff: the tab cuff. Foster calls it the Lapidus cuff, after the French fashion designer Ted Lapidus who invented this cuff. The Lapidus cuff is a square barrel cuff with an extended tab to fasten the cuff. Though there doesn’t appear to be any special benefit to the cuff design, the Lapidus cuff pivots in a unique way compared to typical single-button cuffs.

Roger Moore wears his Lapidus cuff shirts with his suits and sports coats in The Spy Who Loved Me and Moonraker, as well as with his dinner suit in the former film. Moore’s Lapidus cuffs are stitched 1/4 inch from the edge all around, but on my own lilac pinpoint example from Frank Foster (see below) the tab portion is stitched on the edge whilst the rest of the cuff has regular 1/4 inch stitching. Foster puts a 25 ligne button on the cuff instead of the typical 16 ligne button, which makes the cuff stand out more than it already would. However, an unconventional shirt cuff is a rather subtle—but also unique—way to make a fashion statement.

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The Royal Oxford Shirt

Royal-Oxford-Shirt

Pierce Brosnan wears a royal oxford shirt with his charcoal suit in the opening scene in The World Is Not Enough

The royal oxford shirt should be more popular than it is. Though Bond has primarily worn poplin shirts throughout the series, Pierce Brosnan wears royal oxford shirts from Turnbull & Asser in Tomorrow Never Dies and The World Is Not Enough. All oxford cloths are basket weaves, from the finer pinpoint to the heavier standard oxford cloth, but the royale oxford is a more elaborate weave than the others and has a diagonal effect along with the basket weave look. Whilst royal oxford is the dressiest of the oxford cloths, it can be effectively made into both dressier and sportier shirts. Pierce Brosnan usually wears his with double cuffs, but in The World Is Not Enough he wears a royal oxford shirt with button-cuffs and an open collar with his herringbone linen suit.

Royal-OxfordRoyal oxford is just below poplin in formality and can be worn for the same purposes, whilst twills and other oxfords are all progressively lower in formality depending on the size of the texture. Unlike poplin, royal oxford irons very easily and doesn’t crease so readily. The floated yarns in the weave mean that it wrinkles less, but they also make royal oxford a softer cloth. If you’re used to non-iron shirts but want something more luxurious, a regular royal oxford shirt may be the best shirt to get. Royal oxford is also a heavier cloth than poplin, but the weave is open so it breathes very well. It is one of the most versatile shirtings whilst also being one of the most practical.

Open-Collar Shirts

TWINE-Open-Collar

For most people today, ties are limited to wearing only for special occasions. A formal shirt—dress shirt to the Americans—is meant to be worn with a tie, but it’s common now to wear them with the collar open. James Bond has worn his collar open as far back as You Only Live Twice and as recently as Skyfall. In You Only Live Twice, Sean Connery folds his collar flat to behave more like a camp collar. Otherwise, Bond lets his collar stand up more naturally.

The two-button collar

Since the formal shirt’s collar is meant to be worn with a tie, it doesn’t always look right when worn open. Wide cutaway collars are too formal to be worn open, but narrow collars open don’t work so well either. Some people will disagree, but I think a middle-of-the-road spread collar is best, which is the type of collar James Bond usually wears open. Small, flimsy collars worn without a tie make an equally flimsy impression. A taller, firmer collar is most effective when worn open. Roger Moore’s 2-button collar in Live and Let Die is a great example of this, as is Daniel Craig’s large Tom Ford collar in Quantum of Solace.

Button-Down-CollarIn A View to a Kill, Roger Moore’s open-collared shirts have a button-down collar, a rather casual style that’s best worn without a tie. The buttons keep the collar points anchored to the shirt, propping up the collar. Hidden button-down collars are a similarly effective option for those who don’t like the look of a button-down collar. Yet another option is magnetic collar stays. Some will say that only a button-down collar, and never a spread or point collar, can be worn without a tie.

Collar-Outside-JumperWhen wearing a jumper it’s often debated whether to wear the shirt collar inside or outside the jumper’s collar. Roger Moore wears his collars outside a V-neck jumper in The Spy Who Loved Me and outside a crew-neck jumper in For Your Eyes Only. Pierce Brosnan does the same with his crew-neck jumper in GoldenEye. Currently it’s more fashionable to wear the collar inside the jumper, like Timothy Dalton does in The Living Daylights. When wearing a jacket, the shirt collar should stay inside the jacket’s collar, not over it like in Moonraker.

Open-Collar-Grey-SuitThe placement of the first button under the collar makes a difference as to how well the collar stands up. A higher first button keeps the collar standing up better. Turnbull & Asser’s first button is 3 inches from the bottom of the collar. Frank Foster’s first button is a mere 1 3/4 inches from bottom of the collar, which considerably helps keep the collar stand up. Roger Moore fastens all buttons under the collar on his Frank Foster button-down shirt in A View to a Kill (see image above), and it shows how high that first button is. However, that top button is ordinarily too high for Moore to keep fastened. When he wears his collar open, he typically also leaves open the first button, if not both the first and second buttons. Timothy Dalton in The Living Daylights, Pierce Brosnan and Daniel Craig also leave the first button open on their shirts.

In Licence to Kill, Timothy Dalton keeps his top button fastened, showing that he’s not as relaxed as Bond usually is with an open collar (see image below). Though dark lounge suits aren’t worn well without a tie, more informal summer suits and sports coats can be worn without a tie more effectively. It’s common to see men dressing in a dark suit and open collar for business these days, and in a professional setting only the collar button should be open. Unbuttoning more isn’t appropriate for men in a professional setting, especially when there’s chest hair present.

Dalton-Blue-Suit

Bond-Inspired Shirts

MyTailor-Shirts

Being a fan of James Bond’s clothing, I’ve always wanted shirts with cocktail cuffs. I have many shirts with cocktail cuffs from a various makers, but none of them make cuffs that are exactly the same as the elegant cuff Sean Connery wears in his Bond films. Just like not every spread collar is the same, not every cocktail cuffs is the same either. Since Turnbull & Asser makes their cocktail cuffs differently now than they did for Sean Connery’s shirts in his Bond films, I had to go somewhere else to have them made for me. Connery’s cuff is a rounder and simpler shape than the cuff Turnbull & Asser makes now, so I created my own pattern doing my best to replicate it. I had to find someone who could make me a shirt with this cuff as well as be capable to follow my other directions. I’ve previously tested my cuff design with cheaper shirtmakers online, but cost can often be a good indicator of quality. The high end bespoke English, Italian and French shirtmakers wouldn’t be appropriate for my project since they do things the way they want to and don’t like to be told what to do. I also didn’t want to spend a whole lot of money.

One shirtmaker I’ve always heard great things about is Hemrajani Brothers, also known as MyTailor.com, with offices in Costa Mesa, CA and production in Kowloon, Hong Kong. They offer a substantial selection of cloths, they are reasonably priced, they are very flexible, and they are very capable in what they can make. Even better, they are a pleasure to work with and travel to New York. Being measured in person is the most successful way to get the best fit, though I’ve had success in measuring a well-fitting shirt for online shirtmakers to copy. Hemrajani took my measurements, measured the well-fitting shirt I wore that day, had me try on a sample and took photos of me. They are very thorough. Even so, I wasn’t completely happy with the fit in the sleeves and cuffs at first but they happily remedied it for me. I ordered two shirts, one in sky blue poplin (top right)—something every Bond has worn—and one in sky blue royal oxford (top left and below)—like what Pierce Brosnan often wore.

MyTailor-Shirt-Cocktail-Cuff

The cocktail cuff, which copies Sean Connery’s cuff

Beyond copying the cocktail cuff, I wanted a shirt that resembles an English shirt in other ways, and I took elements from Turnbull & Asser’s shirts and Frank Foster’s shirts to make a Bond-esque shirt. The collar is larger like the ones Frank Foster made for Roger Moore, with 3 1/8″ collar points which sit just shy of 5″ apart, 1 7/8″ back height and 1/4″ tie space. That to me is the perfect spread collar, and it’s appropriate for any occasion. On the other hand, what’s right for me may not be right for everyone else. I need a large collar to flatter my large head, but at the same time I need a collar that isn’t too wide. I feel more confident wearing a shirt with a collar I know is right for me. Like on good English shirts, my collar and cuffs have a fairly stiff sewn interfacing. Hemrajani can do both sewn and the more common fused interfacings, and they can do different interfacing weights. The collar, of course, has removable collar stays.

MyTailor-Shirt-Collar

The placket is another part I had customised from Hemrajani’s standard shirt. I matched the width to Frank Foster’s placket, which at 1 3/8″ is the same width as their standard placket. I originally wanted them to copy Foster’s placket stitching, but since Foster does his measuring in centimetres and Hemrajani measures to the closest eighth of an inch the stitching isn’t exactly the same. The placket is stitched .5″ from the edge, and the stitching is 3/8″ apart, so the buttons still lie over it. The placket has no interfacing.

Instead of pleats at the cuff attachment, I asked Hemrajani to use gathers at the cuffs. Turnbull & Asser and Frank Foster both attach their cuffs that way, and I find it an elegant, but also flamboyant, touch. I also asked for a sleeve gauntlet button, which is a finer detail omitted from Bond’s shirts. On shirts over $100 Hemrajani uses mother-or-pearl buttons, which is a must for me. It’s a small thing that really enhances the luxuriousness of a shirt. I asked for blue  buttonholes and stitching to match the shirt. I didn’t ask for a split yoke, which is what most English shirtmakers do. The split yoke can account for different shoulder slopes, but my shoulders are even enough that it doesn’t make so much of a difference. For someone like Roger Moore who has a much lower right shoulder, the split yoke can considerably improve fit. Like on Sean Connery’s and Roger Moore’s shirts, I had the shirts made with darts in the back to prevent billowing in the lower back. Since I spend most of my day in the office in shirtsleeves, the fit in the body becomes more important than ever.

Download a pdf of the cocktail cuff pattern.

I received no compensation for this review. I just wanted to share my project and experience.

Anatomy of a Frank Foster Shirt

Frank-Foster-Shirt

Frank Foster is mentioned a lot on here since he was Roger Moore’s shirtmaker for many years, and he also made shirts for Sean Connery, George Lazenby and others. He has played a larger role in the clothing of the Bond films more than any one other person has. I went to Frank Foster in July 2012 to order some bespoke shirts from him. So far I only have one—there are five more on the way—but it’s a beautiful shirt. The cloth is a blue and white hairline stripe. My shirt has many similarities to the ones he made for Roger Moore, but since it’s a bespoke shirt it’s make to complement my face and body.

Frank-Foster-Collar

The collar is a large spread, but not too wide. The points measure a long 3 1/8″, the back height measures 1 7/8″ and the collar band measures 1 3/8″ in front. There is 3/8″ of tie space and the collar points sit 5″ apart for a wider spread. The band is shaped with a concave curve in front of the collar leaves to prevent the band from showing above the tie knot. It’s especially smart to design the band like this when the collar is fairly tall in front, and it’s better for wearing with a tie than a 2-button collar. The collar has a lot of presence, but it’s not so large that it overwhelms the face. It’s the perfect size for my rather large head, but for a small man Foster makes a smaller collar. The collar is stitched 1/4″ from the edge, has removable collar stays, and has a non-fused but fairly stiff interlining. Though the interlining is stiff, it doesn’t feel like cardboard.

Frank-Foster-CuffMy first Frank Foster shirt has button-down cocktail cuffs. Despite getting button-down cocktail cuffs, they are not in the same style that Foster made for Roger Moore in The Persuaders. The shape of my cuff is similar to the cocktail cuffs Roger Moore wears in The Man with the Golden Gun and Moonraker, but the turned-back part is not angled out.  The buttonholes for the buttons that hold down the turned-back part point towards the middle of the curves, in the same direction that buttonholes on a button-down collar would point. The cocktail cuff is 6 1/2″ long unfolded, and it folds just short of the halfway point so the under part is sure not to be exposed. The cuffs use a slightly lighter non-fused interlining than what’s in the collar. They are firm but not stiff. Like the collar, the cuffs are stitched 1/4″ from the edge. The cuffs are attached to the sleeve with gathers, and the gauntlet has a button.

Frank-Foster-Back

Frank Foster’s placket is most easily measured in centimetres. It is 3 1/2 cm wide, which is roughly 1 3/8″. It is stitched 1 1/2 cm (which is a little more than 9/16″) from the edge, making the two lines of stitching only 1/2 cm apart. The placket has no interfacing, and because it is stitched so close to the centre the sides of the placket tend to flare out. The placket is, of course, made this way for that effect. The stitching at the sleeve attachment is 1/2″, which is close to the measurement of the placket stitching but not exact. There are seven buttons down the front of the shirt, not including the collar. Frank Foster uses some of the nicest mother-of-pearl buttons I’ve ever seen, and they have a little more shine and variegation than most have. The stitching and buttonholes are blue to match the shirt. The back of the shirt has a split yoke. There is a dart on either side of the lower back to fit the shirt to the curve of the back whilst giving fullness to the upper back. The hem has a slight curve, making it a little longer in front than at the sides, and little longer in the back than in the front. There are 4 1/2″ vents at the side. The shirt is folded over roughly 1 1/4″ at the bottom and at the vents to keep the hem neat.

Frank-Foster-Hem

The shirt is very English in its style, even though it has many differences from the equally English shirts made by Turnbull & Asser. Where the shirt differs from most English shirts is in the fit. Foster fits his shirts more closely than most English shirt makers by using back darts. Darts aren’t commonly used by English shirt makers except for an extreme drop on people like on Sean Connery.

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Anatomy of a Turnbull & Asser Shirt

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We all know Turnbull & Asser for making shirts for not only four of the six James Bond actors, but also for Bond creator Ian Fleming and the first Bond film director Terence Young. What makes a Turnbull & Asser shirt the special shirt that it is? There are many parts to it, but the most important part of any shirt is its collar. The Classic Turnbull & Asser Collar has a very special shape. Turnbull & Asser describes the collar as having a “unique outward flare to the collar point.” The collar curves the opposite way from most collars, since the edge of the collar that sits on the body flares outward from the point rather than curve in. Frank Foster thinks the shape is counterintuitive since it goes against the shape of the body, but I find that it lays against the body just fine.

Turnbull-Asser-Collar

The Classic Turnbull & Asser Collar

The collar is a very middle-of-the-road spread collar, not particularly narrow or wide. The points measure 2 7/8″, the back height measures 1 3/4″ and the collar band measures 1 1/8″ in front. There is 3/8″ tie space and the collar points sit 4 1/2″ apart. The collar is stitched 1/4″ from the edge, has a non-fused but moderately stiff interfacing, and has removable collar stays. Despite many Bond films featuring Turnbull & Asser shirts, the collar design is always made especially for the actor wearing it and James Bond never wears the Classic Turnbull & Asser Collar, except for maybe on the dress shirt in Die Another Day.

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The signature three button cuff

Turnbull & Asser’s signature cuff is their three button cuff. The cuff is 3 1/4″ long and is cut with an elegant curve to the buttoning edge—it’s not a square. The three button cuff, as well as the rest of their cuffs, has a non-fused interfacing, but it’s lighter than the collar’s interfacing. Like the collar, the cuffs are stitched 1/4″ from the edge. Turnbull & Asser doesn’t put a sleeve gauntlet button on their ready-to-wear shirts, except for on the Sea Island cotton shirts. Their cuffs are attached to the shirt with gathers rather than the more typical pleats. Gathers look very elegant, but they make the sleeve more difficult to iron.

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Turnbull & Asser’s Double Cuff

Like most English shirtmakers do, Turnbull & Asser places the link holes on their double cuff close to the fold rather than centred. The link holes are one inch from the fold. This allows the cuff to flare out a little—which can get it caught inside a narrow jacket sleeve—and it shows off the cufflinks better. What also can cause it to get caught inside the sleeve is the square corner. Most people regard the square corner as more elegant over the more functional rounded corner, which slides through the jacket sleeve better. The double cuff measures 5 5/8″ long when unfolded.

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Turnbull & Asser’s modern Two Button Turnback Cuff

James Bond fans know Turnbull & Asser for their cocktail cuff, or the “Two Button Turnback Cuff” as they call it. They say they invented the cocktail cuff, but they aren’t the only ones who make that claim. The cuff they make now is different from the one Sean Connery wore in his Bond films. Their modern turnback cuff is contoured where it folds back, and the corner is not rounded as much. This cuff is 5 5/8″ long and folds 2 1/8″ from the base, unlike Connery’s cuff which folds closer to the middle.

The split yoke and shoulder pleats

The split yoke and shoulder pleats

Turnbull & Asser folds a narrow placket on their shirts, at 1 3/16″ wide. The stitching is 3/8″ from the edge, which matches the stitching at the sleeve attachment and at the base of the cuff. The placket has a fused interfacing to keep it crisp. There are six buttons down the front of the shirt, not including the collar. Turnbull & Asser uses mother-of-pearl buttons, of course, but I find that they are not sewn on with enough slack and can be difficult to button.

The hexagonal gusset

The hexagonal gusset

On solid shirts the stitching and buttonholes matches the shirt, but on semi-solid shirts with white in the weave and on shirts with white in the pattern, Turnbull & Asser uses white stitching and buttonholes. The tails of the shirt are curved, and to reinforce the base of the side seams Turnbull & Asser uses a hexagonal gusset. The gusset is white on ready-to-wear shirts and made in the same cloth as the shirt on bespoke shirts. The back of the shirt has a split yoke, which according to experts serves no purpose on a ready-to-wear shirt since it only helps with uneven shoulders. However, split yokes make striped shirtings look very nice by forming a chevron. Under the yoke the shirt has a pleat on either side to give ease over the shoulder blades.

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Review: Clay Tompkins Cocktail Cuff Shirt

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Clay Tompkins has taken it upon himself to offer one of the few ready-to-wear shirts with cocktail cuffs currently available, and these are only ones from—and made in—the United States. The shirt pictured here is the blue pinpoint, which feels both soft and substantial, and it holds up well all day long. Since I usually wear a 15 and a half-inch neck and a 35-inch sleeve I got the Medium Slim Fit, and it fits me better than any other ready-to-wear shirt I’ve ever worn. Since these shirts are not sized by the neck, they are best worn without a tie and have a wide spread collar that looks great open. The collar points are 3 1/2 inches long and the back is just under 2 inches tall, making for a substantial collar, but not overly so. The plain front and and a finished hem with side vents means that the shirt can be worn tucked for business casual wear or untucked for a more casual look. Despite the shirt having shorter tails to be worn untucked, it stayed tucked in for me all day. However, if you’re a tall, slim man who wears low-rise trousers, the shirt will be too short to tuck. Tompkin’s shirts are also available with an optional underarm pocket, something I’ve never seen before. I’m not sure how comfortable it is to carry something in it, but I like the idea of it better than a more obvious breast pocket. Still, the shirt I have is without the pocket.

Clay-Tompkins-Shirt-Cuff

To finally get to the James Bond connection, Clay Tompkins’ shirts have cocktail cuffs. It puzzles me as to why cocktail cuffs aren’t more commonly seen. The more conservative dressers find them affected, but I think of them as a creative way to set my shirts apart from everyone else’s. These cuffs are a different design than the ones either Sean Connery or Roger Moore wore in the James Bond films and elsewhere, the biggest difference being that these cuffs are cut with a sharp corner instead of a rounded edge. The sharp corner makes these cuffs a little more likely to get caught inside the jacket, like square-cut double-cuffs often do, but the cuffs are stiff and don’t flare out from the wrist so they don’t really get stuck.

You can see more about the shirts here.

Never Say Never Again: The Chambray Shirt

Connery-Chambray-Shirt

In Never Say Never Again, Sean Connery wears a warm weather shirt staple: the chambray shirt. Chambray is a plain woven cotton cloth with a coloured warp and white filling yarns. It looks a little like denim and a little like pinpoint oxford, but it’s a light, sporty cloth for spring and summer shirts.

Chambray

Chambray

Like the standard chambray shirt, Connery’s is blue, and its two breast pockets would make this a sports shirt if it weren’t already part of a uniform. It’s a United States Navy issued shirt with a patch on the upper left sleeve to denote rank, though without the patch it would be no different than a civilian’s chambray shirt. The shirt has button-through breast pockets, a soft point collar, a front placket and long sleeves with single-button, rounded barrel cuffs. The stitching is white, which matches the white threads in the cloth but contrasts with the shirt overall for a more casual look. He wears a tan military web belt to hold up his dark trousers, which are either black or navy.

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