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.
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.
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.