Danger Man: Black Tie Without a Dinner Suit

Faux-Black-Tie

In the 1965 Danger Man episode titled “The Ubiquitous Mr. Lovegrove”, John Drake dresses in faux black tie. He wears a dark lounge suit with black tie accessories, something that should only been done when travelling light. However, this episode takes place at home in London, and Drake owns a dinner suit, so it doesn’t make sense for Drake to be wearing a lounge suit as a dinner suit. Black and navy suits are the best to wear in this situation, with charcoal working not quite as well. Danger-Man.co.uk has some colour stills from this episode, and the suit appears to be dark forest green. If the colours are accurate, it’s a flashy colour for a lounge suit, but since it’s not going to be mistaken for a business suit it works better in this situation. The suit also has a self-stripe, which elevates the dressiness.

Faux-Black-Tie-2The jacket buttons two and has natural shoulders with roped sleeveheads, four buttons on the cuffs, jetted pockets, and no vent. The last two details make this suit work better for dressy evening wear. Peaked lapels would also help make a lounge suit work better for makeshift black tie, but this suit has notched lapels since single-breasted suits with peaked lapels weren’t so common in the 1960s. Drake wears the suit jacket with two pairs of trousers. The first pair matches the jacket, and it has double forward pleats and belt loops that are hidden under the cummerbund. The second pair, which looks lighter than the jacket and is probably dark grey, has a flat front. Anthony Sinclair, who also made Sean Connery’s suits in the Bond films, likely tailored this suit as he made many clothes for John Drake actor Patrick McGoohan.

Faux-Black-Tie-3Drake wears proper black tie accessories with the suit. The dress shirt has a bib, spread collar and double cuffs in cotton marcella, and the collar and cuffs have edge stitching. The body of the shirt is a white-on-white stripe and the buttons are black to resemble studs. Drake’s bow tie is black silk but the cummerbund is a fancy patterned silk, and it is possibly in a colour other than black. The shoes are black plain-toe derbies. Early in the episode Drake wears a boutonniere in his lapel buttonhole.

Apart from Patrick McGoohan sharing the same tailor as Sean Connery, this episode has another connection with James Bond: Desmond Llewellyn, who played Q in 17 Bond films, appears in this episode.

An Unused Brown Pinstripe Suit

DAF-Brown-Pinstripe-Suit-not-used

Clothes are often made for film productions that are either never used or made as a gift for the stars. Diamonds Are Forever features a staggering seven lounge suits, three sports coats and three dinner jackets. It is the most tailored clothing that Bond wears in any one film, but Sean Connery’s tailor Anthony Sinclair made even more clothes than that for Diamonds Are Forever. Sinclair also made a chocolate brown pinstripe worsted two-piece suit at the same time as he made the rest of the suits, but it didn’t feature in the film. It has a button two jacket with slanted flap pockets, and it most likely has double vents like the rest of the suits in the film have.

The suit was sold at Christie’s in South Kensington on 17 September 1998, and it can be seen in the picture above from the Christie’s catalogue on the right beside the black dinner suit and cream linen suit, both also from Diamonds Are Forever. This brown pinstripe suit sold for £575, which is considerably less than the selling prices of the suits that Sean Connery actually wears in the film.

The Thomas Crown Affair (1999): The Navy Peaked Lapel Suit

Thomas-Crown-Navy-Peaked-Lapel-Suit

Pierce Brosnan wears a number of beautiful suits from Milanese tailor Gianni Campagna in The Thomas Crown Affair (1999). The suits in the film were reported to be made of Super 150s wool. Higher Super numbers indicate a finer fibre but not necessarily a higher quality cloth. Finer fibres make for a cloth that has a softer hand, but the resulting cloth is often less durable, is more prone to creasing and shining, and doesn’t usually tailor as well. Quality has more do to with the way the cloth is woven and finished. Whilst finer wools are often thought to be better, a Super 120s cloth from a reputable merchant is far superior to a cheap Super 150s cloth. The Super number is unrelated to the weight of the cloth.

Thomas-Crown-Navy-Peaked-Lapel-Suit-2One of Pierce Brosnan’s many suits in The Thomas Crown Affair is a navy suit in a large herringbone weave, but since the cloth is a fine Super 150s the stripe effect from the herringbone weave is very subtle and can only be seen in certain lighting. The suit jacket buttons three, and though Brosnan only fastens the middle button, the lapels roll at the top button. It is cut with a clean chest and has straight shoulders with roped sleeveheads. Peaked lapels add an air of formality to this lounge suit, whilst also giving it a bit of a 1940′s Cary Grant look. Though peaked lapels are currently very trendy, the current examples are typically very narrow and on high button two jackets. This jacket has the most classic and elegant of proportions. It looks great on Pierce Brosnan, and it would look just as great now as it did in 1999. This jacket probably has double vents like the other jackets in the film do, though we don’t get a good look at the rear of this suit. Like the other suits in the film, the full-cut trousers most likely have reverse pleats. Brosnan wears the trousers with a belt.

Thomas-Crown-Navy-Peaked-Lapel-Suit-3Brosnan’s cornflower blue shirt from Turnbull & Asser has a spread collar and double cuffs. The silver tie is probably also from Turnbull & Asser. Brosnan ties the tie in a four-in-hand knot with a dimple. Like the suit, the tie is in a herringbone weave. It’s not the same weave as the tie he wears in The World is Not Enough, which is a pointed twill weave that looks like a chevron pattern rather than a herringbone. To not clash with the texture of the suit, the tie’s herringbone is larger than the suit’s herringbone. Also, the herringbone in the suit is subtle enough that it nothing will really clash with it.

Introducing Daniel Craig

Daniel-Craig-Press-Conference

Daniel Craig was announced as the new James Bond in Casino Royale at a lavish press conference on 14 October 2005, which was coincidentally Roger Moore’s 78th birthday. For this event Daniel Craig wore a Brioni suit, which at the time was a well-recognised part of James Bond’s image. Though his suit was reported by People to be “charcoal grey,” the suit looks more like charcoal blue, if not navy. The colour, whatever it actually is, was the right choice. Blue is Daniel Craig’s best colour and is the classic Bond colour as well, at far as Fleming is concerned. The suit has a button two jacket cut with Brioni’s usual straight, padded shoulders and roped sleeveheads, and it has medium-width lapels, flapped pockets and double vents. The trousers have a flat front and a slight taper to the leg with a plain hem. This suit is as evenly balanced as a suit can be and will never look outdated. It’s most likely a ready-to-wear suit, judging by the less than perfect fit. Whilst there aren’t any significant fit problems, the jacket could use a little more shaping.

Craig’s sky blue shirt has a spread collar and double cuffs. His red tie has a pattern of fancy yellow and purple spots, and it is tied in a four-in-hand knot. With the suit he wears a black belt and black derby shoes. Since Daniel Craig and Casino Royale were on their way to taking James Bond back to his roots, this rather unremarkable outfit looks appropriately less luxurious than Brosnan’s Brioni suits that came before. The first-rate quality, however, is still present. These clothes don’t draw attention to themselves, good or bad, but at the same time Bond’s clothing should be a little more interesting. And indeed a little more interesting the clothing was in Casino Royale.

Happy Anniversary 007: Tan Trench Coat and Navy Suit

Happy-Anniversary-Trench-Coat

Though Roger Moore only carries a trench coat as James Bond in For Your Eyes Only, in the 1987 James Bond retrospective Happy Anniversary 007 he properly wears a trench coat. Moore wears many trench coats thought his films and television shows, and this is the second one in Happy Anniversary 007. The first is made of corduroy, whilst this one is made of tan cotton gaberdine. It’s a classic trench coat: full length below the knee with raglan sleeves. It is double-breasted with ten buttons and has shoulder straps, a yoke across the upper back, a storm flap on the front right, and a self belt and wrist straps that close with a leather buckles. Moore keeps his hands warm inside the slash pockets and wears a heavy grey scarf draped around his neck underneath the coat.

Happy-Anniversary-Trench-Coat-2Underneath the trench coat Moore wears what appears to be a navy suit, of which here we can only see the bottoms of the trousers. His blue and white striped shirt has a spread collar and 1-button rounded cuffs. Though we don’t see enough of the shirt to be able to tell if it’s one of his Frank Foster shirts, the spread collar already makes it a nicer shirt than the point-collar shirt he wears earlier with a navy blazer. We also don’t get to see much of the navy tie, but it has a slightly chunky texture that might suggest a knitted wool or cashmere tie.  As Bond, Moore follows English tradition and always wears black shoes with his navy suits, but here he follows the continental and American practice of wearing dark brown slip-ons with navy.

Happy-Anniversary-Navy-Suit

Back to the navy suit that Moore wears under the trench coat, it’s probably the same navy suit that Moore wears at the beginning of Happy Anniversary 007. This suit is a typical Douglas Hayward single-breasted suit with natural shoulders—which were very out of fashion by 1987—and probably two buttons. He wears it with a pale blue shirt that has a moderate spread collar with edge stitching and rounded 1-button cuffs. It’s not a Frank Foster shirt, but it is almost certainly high street ready-to-wear of a lower quality than we’ve come to expect from both Roger Moore and James Bond. His grey tie with black printed figures is tied in a four-in-hand knot. It would appear his pocket square matches the tie. Matching the tie and pocket square is an unstylish faux pas, but it’s a rare moment that Roger Moore wears something in his breast pocket.

Happy-Anniversary-Navy-Suit-2

Fleming: The 1939 Navy Three-Piece Suit

Fleming-Navy-Suit

Fleming: The Man Who Would Be Bond is a currently-airing mini series starring Dominic Cooper as James Bond creator Ian Fleming, and the first episode takes place at the beginning of World War II in 1939. The mini-series opens with Fleming in 1952 as he is finishing Casino Royale, the first of the James Bond novels. A conversation between Fleming and his wife introduces the concept that Fleming and Bond are one in the same. “It’s just a pot boiler. Just words, nothing more. Make believe,” says Fleming.

Fleming-Navy-Suit-3“Really?” his wife responds. “Is that why he has your golf handicap and taste in vodka?”

“He’s not me,” retorts Fleming.

“You as you would like to be. Your fantasy,” states Fleming’s wife. And that’s what the series is about.

We know that Fleming also passed on his unique fashion sense to Bond. The first episode at first features Fleming wearing typical late 1930s clothing in busy patterns with extraneous accessories. That’s not what we think of Fleming or Fleming’s Bond wearing. Fleming was not known to be a flamboyant dresser, yet he was a quirky one. The last of the suits in the mini-series before being fitted for his naval uniform is a suit one could picture Fleming wearing in 1939: a navy worsted three-piece suit. It has the straight shoulders, the draped chest and the nipped waist that was the fashion at the time, in a one-button cut with wide peaked lapels. It has jetted pockets, 3-button cuffs and no vent.

The waistcoat has six buttons with five to button. We don’t get a good look at front of the trousers but double forward pleats were typical for English tailoring at the time. The trousers have turn-ups. As we can see with other trousers in this episode, Fleming wears braces, so it would naturally follow that he wears them with this suit as well.

Fleming-Navy-Suit-2

Fleming’s white shirt has a long, soft point collar. The collar is designed to be worn with a collar bar or pin, and earlier in the episode Fleming wears the former on his collars. Fleming was generally known to not be a fan of fussy accessories, and here he just lets the collar points hang. This shirt also has double cuffs, so Fleming hasn’t yet given up long sleeves. Fleming didn’t like dirty shirt cuffs, but he is still wearing them. I am interested to see if the series shows the development of Fleming’s sartorial quirks. We haven’t yet seen Fleming’s penchant for bow ties in the mini-series, though the real Fleming can occasionally be seen in a four-in-hand tie in photos. Fleming here, of course, ties a four-in-hand knot for his steel blue tie with a printed pattern of white horizontal lines intersected by dark blue diamonds. His black shoes may be derbies, but we don’t get a very clear look at them. They aren’t the moccasins that Fleming wore and dressed Bond in.

Fleming-Charcoal-OvercoatOver his suit, Fleming wears a charcoal melton, double-breasted chesterfield coat. It has six buttons with two to fasten, and it’s a traditional length hitting just below the knee. It has a single vent, peaked lapels, a welted breast pocket and welted hip pockets. With the overcoat Fleming wears a black lord’s hat, which is like a cross between a homburg and a fedora. It has an unbound curled brim, a thick black grosgrain ribbon and a crown with a centre dent and a front pinch.

The clothes look very authentic, from the cuts and styles to the accurately heavy suiting. The cloth weight is often where film costumes make their mistake. The average suiting was considerably heavier 75 years ago, and it gradually started getting lighter after World War II. A 1930s-style suit made in a modern 8 oz cloth won’t look authentic. Since there are few photos of Ian Fleming at this young age we don’t know for certain how he would have dressed, but this outfit looks like something a young James Bond might have worn in the 1939. It’s stylish and fashionably appropriate for a playboy, but not too flashy for a spy.

Fleming-Charcoal-Overcoat-2

M: The Double-Breasted Grey Flannel Suit

M-Dr-No

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.

M-Dr-No-2Though 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.

Front Darts

Extended-Front-Dart

The darts on Sean Connery’s suit jacket, highlighted in red

All of James Bond’s lounge coats—suit jackets, sports coats and dinner jacket—have a front dart. Darts are folds sewn into the cloth to help provide a three-dimensional shape. The front dart gives fullness to the chest and is used by almost all British and Italian tailors. Almost all suits today have it. Tailoring in the American Ivy League style, like what Cec Linder wears as Felix Leiter in Goldfinger, dispenses with the front dart for a cleaner and straighter look, but it relies on an underarm dart for a little shape. A GQ article from April 1966 says that Sean Connery’s tailor Anthony Sinclair doesn’t use a front dart in patterned cloths, only a side dart. The dart noticeably disrupts a large pattern. Sinclair darted all of Connery’s lounge coats, but Sean Connery’s athletic drop would be difficult to tailor well without a front dart.

Extended-Front-Dart-2

The extended darts, highlighted in cyan, disrupt the large pattern on Roger Moore’s jacket.

All of Bond’s lounge coats from Dr. No through The Man with the Golden Gun feature a front dart that extends from the chest down to the hem. The dart needs to extend to the hem to prevent too much skirt flare. This method of darting isn’t used very much today since the long dart is more disrupting, especially when a pattern is involved. Some tailors only extend the dart to the hem when cutting a jacket with patch pockets since the dart is partially hidden. Anthony Sinclair, Dimi Major and Cyril Castle all cut their lounge coats this way. One tailor that still uses the extended front dart is Napolisumisura in Naples, Italy, but very few others still do. The extended front dart is used in conjunction with an underarm dart.

Displaced-Front-Dart

The displaced front dart, highlighted in red. This is how most lounge coats are cut now.

From The Spy Who Loved Me to now, all of Bond’s front darts extend to only the pocket, where the rest of the dart is displaced horizontally across the pocket and continued down from the bottom of the underarm dart. The effect is still the same as if the dart continued straight down. This creates a separate piece called the side body. There are other methods of cutting coats, but this is the most common. On patch pockets coats you can look inside the pocket to see how the front dart is cut horizontally to be displaced in the side body seam. Displacing the lower part of the dart hides it under the sleeve and makes pattern mismatching less noticeable. Angelo Roma, Douglas Hayward, Brioni and Tom Ford lounge coats are all cut like this. The new Anthony Sinclair suits are also cut in this manner.

For more on the front dart, whether extended straight to the hem or displaced to the side, see The Cutter and Tailor.