Sean Connery’s Unique Shirts in Goldfinger

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Anthony Sinclair’s release of a Goldfinger-inspired shirt with rounded double cuffs motivated me to take a closer look at the actual shirts that Sean Connery wears in Goldfinger. Terence Young, the director of the first two Bond films Dr. No and From Russia with Love, established the look of Bond’s wardrobe. Goldfinger, however, had a new director, Guy Hamilton, and some of the wardrobe choices were different. Knitted silk ties replaced grenadine ties, the tailored clothes were more country than city since most of them came from Connery’s previous film Woman of Straw, and the shirts were different. Turnbull & Asser most likely did not make the shirts for Goldfinger like they did for all of Sean Connery’s other Bond films. Shirtmaker Frank Foster is a possibility, though Dr. No is Connery’s only Bond film he says he made shirts for.

Click on the photo to enlarge. Notice the faint broken stripe on the cuff.

Click on the photo to enlarge and see the faint broken stripe on the cuff.

Instead of just solid white, light blue and cream shirts like Connery wears in his other Bond films, Connery wears mostly striped shirts in Goldfinger. The dress shirts with both the off-white and black dinner jackets have a fancy white-on-white satin stripe pattern. With his suits, Connery’s shirts are all white with a faint broken grey stripe. The stripe almost disappears in most shots, but it’s visible in close-ups. And yes, the shirt with the famous light grey glen check suit is not solid white. It too has the faint broken stripe. The shirt that Sean Connery wears with his brown hacking jacket has the same broken stripe, but on ecru instead of on white.

The shirts in Goldfinger have a classic English spread collar with approximately a 2 3/4″ point length and 3/8″ of tie space. The spread is around 5″ wide. The collar is made with a stiff sewn interfacing but isn’t worn with collar stays.

Goldfinger-Shirt-Rounded-Double-CuffGoldfinger is Sean Connery’s only Bond film that he does not wear cocktail cuffs in. Instead, he wears double cuffs (French cuffs) throughout the film. The double cuffs on the shirt he wears with his suits and hacking jacket have a rounded corner whilst the double cuffs on the shirts he wears with black tie have a large mitred corner, cut about halfway to the fold of the roughly 2 3/4″ deep cuff. Both the rounded corner and the mitred corner have the benefit of sliding more smoothly though the jacket sleeve than a square double cuff, which can snag on the inside of a jacket sleeve. Different style double cuff corners may possibly indicate different shirtmakers, though the cuffs appear to both be the same size and the link holes are in the same position. The link holes on all the double cuffs are around a 1/4″ off centre towards the fold, making them about 1 1/4″ from the fold. The cuffs are attached to the sleeve with shirring.

Notice the mitred corner on the double cuff

Notice the mitred corner on the double cuff of Sean Connery’s dress shirt in Goldfinger‘s pre-title sequence

The plackets on the shirts in Goldfinger are slightly different than the plackets on the shirts in Connery’s other Bond films. See the image at the top. The placket is a little wider and stitched further from the edge than on the Turnbull & Asser placket. It isn’t identical, however, to the plackets that Roger Moore wears on his Frank Foster shirts in his James Bond films, which are stitched very close to the centre. The placket on the Goldfinger shirts is identical to the placket that Roger Moore wears on his shirts in the two-part episode of The Saint titled “Vendetta for the Saint”, and that shirt was most likely made by Frank Foster.

Goldfinger-Dress-ShirtThere’s more to the Goldfinger shirts than meets the eye. It’s too bad that only the dress shirt with the off-white dinner jacket in the pre-title sequence is the only shirt in the film we see without a jacket or waistcoat over it. The shirt has a much trimmer and cleaner fit through the body and the sleeves than the Turnbull & Asser shirts Sean Connery previously wore in Dr. No and From Russia with Love. Whilst the shirts in From Russia with Love have darts to shape the shirt through the waist, this shirt has a cleaner fit without darts.

Sea Island Cotton

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Sean Connery wears a pale blue Turnbull & Asser shirt in From Russia with Love that is probably made of Sea Island cotton.

James Bond has a long history of wearing Sea Island cotton. Ian Fleming wrote in his novels that Bond wears a “dark blue Sea Island cotton shirt” in Moonraker, “dark blue Sea Island cotton shirts with collars attached and short sleeves” in Diamonds Are Forever, a “white sea-island cotton shirt” in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service and “sea island cotton underpants” in The Man with the Golden Gun. Sean Connery’s Turnbull & Asser shirts were likely made of Sea Island cotton poplin, and some of Pierce Brosnan’s Turnbull & Asser shirts auctioned with his suits at Bonhams were made of “Sea Island Cotton Quality” royal oxford.

Sea Island cotton is an extra-long staple cotton, and due to the fibre’s fine diameter and long length it has a silky look and feel. Sea Island cotton is also a very strong fibre, which is what allows it to be made into finer shirtings. It is typically spun in a 140 yarn count. Originally it was grown on the Sea Islands of South Carolina and Georgia in the United States, but now it is grown in the British West Indies. Turnbull & Asser has not sold genuine Sea Island cotton shirts for some time and now sells “Sea Island Quality”, which is extra-long staple cotton grown in Egypt. Turnbull & Asser’s”Sea Island Quality” shirts are at the top of their ready-to-wear range.

Though Sea Island cotton is both durable and has the silkiest feel of all cottons, there are downsides. It doesn’t have much body, and in a poplin weave it can be somewhat translucent in white. Because Sea Island cotton is so fine, it is very difficult to iron and wrinkles easily. Underpants, like what Bond wears in The Man with the Golden Gun novel, may be the best usage for Sea Island cotton since they touch one of the most sensitive parts of the body, and it doesn’t matter if they wrinkle.

René Mathis: Draping Knitwear

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Along with Jeffrey Wright’s Felix Leiter, Giancarlo Giannini’s René Mathis is one of Daniel Craig’s Bond’s best-dressed allies. When Bond visits Mathis at his new Tuscany Villa in Quantum of Solace, Mathis is stylishly dressed in an open-collar button-down shirt with a jumper tied around his neck. The pale blue button-down shirt is most likely made of a linen and cotton blend, since it’s lightweight and slightly rumpled. The button-down collar has an stylish roll for a casual look, and the inside of the collar band contrasts in ecru. The shirt has a placket, button cuffs and a mitre-cut breast pocket. The mitre-cut breast pocket is a rectangle, open at the top, with the bottom corners angled off.

Mathis-Villa-2Mathis wears a light blue-grey cashmere jumper like a scarf around his neck with the arms tied in front and the body draped over his back. It may be worn for a little warmth, but it’s probably worn primarily for style. He may have tied the jumper around his neck so he can conveniently don it if the weather becomes too cold, but since he’s at home he could just as easily leave it anywhere he wants to. Mathis wears flat-front navy linen trousers with a light brown suede belt and light brown leather slip-on shoes. The belt and shoes nicely complement the navy trousers, and the contrast is stylish for a casual outfit. This type of contrast, however, would not be appropriate for a suit. Mathis’ metal sunglasses are the Ray Ban Caravan model.

There’s more of Mathis’ clothing to come later.

Button Cuffs

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The button cuff, also known as the barrel cuff, is certainly the most forgettable of all shirt cuffs. They lack the personalisation that double cuff have from cufflinks and the flare of the cocktail cuff. But they are, nonetheless, worth discussing. They’re certainly the most versatile, since they can be worn casually and with a suit. They don’t, however, go well with anything more formal than a suit. Button cuffs can have one, two or three buttons and rounded, mitred (angle cuff) or square corners. The ordinary button cuff has one button with rounded corners. Because the cuff can pivot on a single button, the rounded corners look best on top of each other when the cuff pivots. Rounded corners follow the cuff’s pivot. George Lazenby wears rounded one-button cuffs in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, Roger Moore wears them in Octopussy and A View to a Kill, Timothy Dalton wears them in The Living Daylights, and Pierce Brosnan wears them on a few shirts in GoldenEye. One-button cuffs are typically shorter than other cuffs, around 2 to 2 1/2 inches, though Roger Moore’s cuffs from Frank Foster are around 3 inches long. Moore’s cuffs are also more rounded, which, when combined with the larger size, make the cuffs look quite elegant.

Daniel-Craig-One-Button-Square-CuffSquare corners look better on cuffs with multiple buttons, since the multiple buttons prevent the cuff from pivoting and ensure the edge will always be continuous. When a square-cornered one-button cuff pivots, the corners end up awkwardly juxtaposed on top of each other. Bond, nevertheless, occasions wears a square one-button cuff. Pierce Brosnan’s blue shirt in Tomorrow Never Dies and Daniel Craig’s black shirt in Casino Royale have square one-button cuffs.

Timothy-Dalton-One-Button-Mitred-CuffMitred one-button cuffs fit somewhere between the rounded and square cuffs. They look more elegant than square one-button cuffs, but they don’t have the rounded corner to follow the pivot of the cuff. Roger Moore’s black shirt in Moonraker, TImothy Dalton’s formal shirts in Licence to Kill, and Daniel Craig’s floral shirt in Skyfall have mitred one-button cuffs.

Roger-Moore-Two-Button-Mitred-CuffAdding a second button to the cuff usually means that the cuff will be larger. The second button also keeps the cuff more rigid, which makes the two-button cuff slightly dressier than the single-button cuff. When the cuff has a square corner, the rigidity that the second button provides ensures that the edge of the cuff will always stay continuous around. Roger Moore wears a brown striped shirt with square two-button cuffs in Live and Let Die. A mitred corner is another elegant option for the two-button cuff, and Roger Moore wears mitred two-button cuffs on his formal shirts throughout For Your Eyes Only. Like how Roger Moore’s rounded cuffs are extra round, his mitred cuffs have a deeper cut to exaggerate the style.

Pierce-Brosnan-Three-Button-CuffThree-button cuffs aren’t as popular as one- and two-button cuffs, but they are Turnbull & Asser’s signature cuff style. Considering how Turnbull & Asser made so many shirts for James Bond, the cuff only appears once in the series. Pierce Brosnan wears them on the blue royal oxford shirt he wears with his cream suit in The World Is Not Enough. The three-button cuff doesn’t behave any differently than a two-button cuff, but it needs to have a square edge. A rounded or mitred edge would require extra length beyond the button, which would make a three-button cuff excessively long.

The White Linen Shirt

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In a brief scene in Die Another Day in Cuba, James Bond wears a white linen, long-sleeve camp shirt. White is the dressiest colour for shirts, but when made of linen in a casual style it’s great for dressing down in hot weather because white is best at reflecting the heat of the sun. Long sleeves may seem impractical to wear in the heat, but they protect the skin from the sun when outdoors during the day. For the evening, long sleeves make this a slightly dressier shirt than if it had short sleeves. Nevertheless, Bond rolls the sleeves up his forearm for a more casual look. The shirt has an open breast pocket on the left, which is a great place to keep sunglasses.

White-Linen-Shirt-2The shirt has a camp collar, which is a one-piece collar without a separate collar band. This camp collar is made up of a top-side piece of fabric and an underside piece of fabric, probably with an interfacing fused to the top piece. The top piece of fabric continues down into the inside front of the shirt for a seamless look when the top front of the shirt rolls over. The collar’s underside piece of fabric attaches to the front of the shirt at the base of the neck like an ordinary collar does. The front edge of the shirt has quarter-inch stitching that goes up into the collar. When there is no placket, a shirt ordinarily has no stitching on the front edge for a cleaner look. But since the top side of the collar extends down to the inside front of the shirt, the quarter-inch stitching visually continues the collar into the shirt body, and it holds the shirt together as well. Unlike how Sean Connery’s camp collars in Thunderball lay flat, Brosnan’s camp collar is designed to stand up and roll over. Also unlike Connery’s camp collars, Brosnan’s camp collars have a button and buttonhole at the top.

The shirt is the only part of the outfit we can see, and we can’t even tell if Bond tucks the shirt in or leaves it out. Bond is likely wearing dark linen trousers and brown suede chukka boots like what he wore earlier in the film with the less sophisticated blue floral shirt.

Sulka Shirts

GoldenEye-Charcoal-Windowpane-Suit

Pierce Brosnan wears white poplin, ivory poplin and blue end-on-end shirts as well as a pleated fly-front dress shirt from Sulka in GoldenEye. Originally a New York company, Sulka expanded to have stores elsewhere in the United States, in London on Old Bond Street and in Paris. Sulka closed its last store in 2002. Sulka was amongst the world’s finest men’s clothing shops, and costume designer Lindy Hemming made an excellent choice to dress James Bond in their shirts and ties for GoldenEye.

Sulka-ShirtBrosnan’s shirts have a moderate spread collar, bordering on a point collar. The collar points are about 2 3/4″ long, and the collar has about 3/8″ tie space. Brosnan wears shirts from Sulka with both double cuffs and button cuffs. The double cuffs have the link holes placed slightly off-centre further the fold, which keeps the cuff neater but hides the cufflinks further into the jacket sleeves. The button cuffs are rounded with a single button. The collar and cuffs are stitched 1/4″ from the edge, as they traditionally are. The placket is 1 3/8″ wide and stitched 3/8″ from the edge. The shirts have shoulder pleats under the split yoke in the back.

The Lapidus Cuff

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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

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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.