Felix Leiter: The Seersucker Suit

Leiter-Seersucker

Rik Van Nutter’s Felix Leiter in Thunderball wears a blue and white striped suit made of a thin, puckered cotton cloth called seersucker. The blue and white seersucker suit is an American warm-weather staple and an fitting suit for a CIA agent in the tropics. The stripes on Leiter’s suit are narrower than usual for seersucker, but they aren’t nearly as narrow as the stripes on the related pincord suit are.

Leiter-Seersucker-2Whilst Cec Linder—Van Nutter’s predecessor as Felix Leiter in Goldfinger—dresses all out in the American Ivy League style in a suit with natural shoulders and an undarted front, Van Nutter wears his American classic in an updated cut. His button three suit jacket has straight shoulders, a draped chest and a darted, suppressed waist. The lapels are a classic width and reach halfway from the collar to the edge of the shoulder. The jacket also has flapped hip pockets, double vents and three buttons on the cuffs. The suit’s buttons are made of mother of pearl. The suit trousers have reverse pleats, tapered legs and plain bottoms. The suit is more of a 1950s style than a 1960s style, but Leiter still looks cool and confident in it.

Leiter-Seersucker-3Under the suit Leiter wears a white shirt with a spread collar—another break from the traditional American style—and button cuffs. His black silk knitted tie is tied in a four-in-hand knot. He wears black shoes and a narrow black belt. The black accessories may be unimaginative, but they provide a needed gravitas to his otherwise casual outfit. Leiter carries with him a fedora-style straw Panama hat that has a tall C-crown and a black ribbon. Leiter’s black sunglasses look like they’re by Ray-Ban, but if anyone knows better than I do feel free to comment below.

Driving in a Suit

Driving-Quantum

When you drive, do you wear your suit jacket or hang it up? James Bond always chooses to drive in his suit jacket because he’s usually in a hurry to get in or out of his car. Besides that, it just wouldn’t look elegant for him to remove his jacket to simply get in the car. There’s no need for Bond to remove his jacket in the car because the magic of filmmaking means that Bond’s suit won’t be wrinkled when exits his car. And since his suit only has to last for a small part of a single film he doesn’t need to worry about seatbelt abrasion. The problems of wrinkling and abrasion have become more noticeable to the average suit wearer with the rise in popularity of lighter cloth weights and higher super numbers, which both make the wool less wrinkle resistant and more prone to shining with abrasion.

Driving-Dr-NoBut what about the physical act of driving in a suit? A well-fitting suit shouldn’t constrict movement. The key to being able to move the arms is high armholes. That means the armhole is smaller and hugs the armpit. Feeling the bottom of the armhole in your armpit may give the impression of being constricting, but it is actually quite the opposite. A higher armhole means that less of the suit jacket moves when the arm is raised, and it helps the arm to move more independently of the rest of the jacket. A little ease over the shoulder blades also gives the arms more range of movement. Nevertheless, it helps to unbutton the jacket when driving.

Driving-TWINEThe higher armhole is demonstrated whenever Bond is driving. The jacket sleeve rides up to reveal most of the shirt cuff, which shouldn’t ride up as much as the jacket sleeve does. If the armhole is too low or the suit is too tight, the jacket sleeve will ride up more.

The same goes for riding a motorcycle as it does for driving a car, though James Bond is probably the only person who rides a motorcycle in a suit. In Skyfall, Daniel Craig wears a suit specifically made with longer sleeves for riding a motorcycle (below) so that the amount of shirt cuff that shows when he is riding is consistent with the amount that shows when he is standing with his arms at his side. It’s nonsensical to expect the same amount of shirt cuff to show no matter the arms positions, and I find it absurd that Skyfall’s costume designer Jany Temime felt that a special suit needed to be fitted for riding a motorcycle. Since the sleeves are expected to rise up when the arms are bent, it looks like the sleeves are too long. Plus, it’s a missed opportunity to show off Bond’s cufflinks!

Skyfall-Motorcycle

Felix Leiter: The Tan Linen Suit

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Jeffrey Wright’s Felix Leiter may have proven to be the only one other than Jack Lord’s who can rival Bond’s style and cool demeanour. In Quantum of Solace he wears a tan linen suit that’s just as nice as any of Bond’s tropical suits. The suit jacket is probably a button two and has natural shoulders and a clean fit. The jacket also has open patch hip pockets, a welt breast pocket and a four buttons on the cuffs. The jacket’s buttons are a summery white mother of pearl. The suit trousers have a flat front and a plain hem.

Felix-Leiter-Tan-Linen-Suit-2Leiter’s white shirt has a button-down collar, front placket and rounded single-button cuffs. The button-down collar looks great open since the buttons keep the collar standing up, even with the first button of the shirt open. The button-down collar also identifies Leiter as an American, even though Cec Linder was the only Leiter to previously wear a button-down collar. The only part of this outfit that isn’t done so well are the shoes. They’re brown slip-ons with a rather bulbous toe and thick black rubber soles. But since they’re only seen in publicity stills and not in the film they’re not worth complaining about too much.

Leiter’s tan suit and white shirt outfit has similarities to the original Felix Leiter’s beige suit in Dr. No and, especially, James Bond’s tan linen suit in GoldenEye. The balanced proportions and classic fit of this suit make it one of the most timeless suits worn by any character in the Bond films.

Could it be herringbone flannel?

Blue-Herringbone-Flannel-Suit

The exact cloth of Sean Connery’s blue suit in Goldfinger and Woman of Straw is a difficult one to make out. It’s a heavy cloth and has a mottled appearance, so it’s certainly a woollen. But is it tweed or flannel? It has a subtle stripe effect that suggests the cloth is woven in a herringbone weave, so I thought it could be a herringbone tweed. But in herringbone tweeds the weave is well-defined and easy to see. In a woollen flannel, however, the nap mostly obscures the weave, which is the case with Connery’s blue suit. So, could it be herringbone flannel?

Fox-FlannelI never saw or even heard of herringbone flannel until a reader of The Suits of James Bond who is a fan of the Connery Bond suits found a Fox Brothers herringbone flannel cloth in his search for a cloth to replicate the blue suit. Fox Brothers is one of England’s most well-known manufacturers of flannel, and their Char Blue Herringbone Jacketing flannel is a close match to what Connery’s blue suit in Goldfinger is made of. The cloth is a 500/530 gram or 18 oz weight and is featured under Fox’s jacketing range. It is based on a cloth from the 1930s, when practically all suits were made from heavier cloths than what most suits are made from today. Though it’s labelled a jacketing, it makes a good suiting for cold weather. It would have been a more typical weight for a winter suit in the 1960s when Connery wore his suit. Connery’s blue suit indeed looks to be quite heavy, especially compared to his usual lightweight worsteds. However, I’d guess that Connery’s suit is made from a cloth slightly lighter than this one. The herringbone pattern on Connery’s suit looks larger than this cloth’s pattern, and his suit is a richer blue than Fox’s char blue. Whilst it may not be a perfect match, it is the closest I’ve seen to Connery’s suit and gives insight to what Connery’s suit is likely made of.

Fox-Flannel-2

The Fox Brothers cloth is code FS405 B2237/84 and can be purchased online at The Merchant Fox.

Minister of Defence: A Flattering Three-Piece for a Corpulent Figure

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Minister of Defence Frederick Grey, played by Geoffrey Keen, is a recurring character in the six Bond films from The Spy Who Loved Me through The Living Daylights. He’s always well-dressed and very traditionally dressed for the city. Though his clothes are very sober and don’t particularly stand out, they’re remarkable in that they are always very flattering to his short and corpulent figure. Whilst tall and slim men don’t need much help to look good, a well-tailored suit can do wonders for the not so fortunate. The minister almost certainly wears bespoke suits, and they perhaps could be Geoffrey Keen’s own. For someone who is rarely in more than two brief scenes in each Bond film, it’s hard to imagine the film production would spend for a bespoke suit for each film. The Minister appears in two scenes in A View to a Kill, and he wears the same three-piece suit in both his scene at the beginning of the film and his scene at the end of the film.

Minister-of-Defence-A-View-to-a-Kill-2The Minister’s suit in A View to a Kill is dark warm grey with very closely-spaced light grey pinstripes, with about six stripes to the inch. The closely-spaced pinstripes have the effect of making the suit overall look more like medium grey. The suit jacket has a traditional English cut, with lightly-padded straight shoulders and roped sleeveheads. The chest is full cut to give the impression of a smaller waist, and the chest darts are placed further to the side than they typically would be to give a flattering shape to the Minister’s corpulent figure. The button two suit jacket has classic proportions—the lapel width, gorge height and button stance are evenly balanced and do not look dated. That balance is also key to flattering the Minister’s larger figure. The jacket has a single vent, three buttons on the cuffs and slanted hip pockets. The waistcoat has five buttons. The suit trousers aren’t seen, but double forward pleats and braces are likely.

The Minister's second appearance in A View to a Kill, with a light blue shirt and navy tie.

The Minister’s second appearance in A View to a Kill, with a light blue shirt and navy tie.

The Minister’s shirt in his first scene is cream and has a classic English spread collar with a quarter-inch of tie space and button cuffs. With the cream shirt he wears a navy tie with white dots, tied in four-in-hand knot. The Minister’s shirt in his second scene is light blue with a more moderate spread collar, and his tie is navy, again tied in a four-in-hand knot.

The Persuaders: A Sporty Striped Suit

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Though Roger Moore wears the flashiest clothes of his career playing Lord Brett Sinclair in The Persuaders, the suits are also amongst the best-tailored and best proportioned of any of Moore’s suits. Cyril Castle, who made Moore’s suits for The Saint and for his first two Bond films, made the suits for The Persuaders. Castle experimented with fashion trends more than most Mayfair tailors did, but at the time The Persuaders was made in 1971 the narrow styles of the 60s were out and the wide styles of the 1970s hadn’t fully taken hold yet. The suits in The Persuaders instead get their flashiness from unconventional colours and patterns along with the occasional odd detail. Roger Moore himself is responsible for all the flashiness, and he is credited with designing Lord Sinclair’s clothes.

Persuaders-Cream-Stripe-Suit-3The episode of The Persuaders titled  “Nuisance Value” features a very unique striped double-breasted suit, and the cloth is what makes it most remarkable. It has a cream base with thick light brown stripes, and medium grey pinstripes are closely spaced in-between the light brown stripes. The medium grey pinstripes also border each light brown stripe. Though striped suits are ordinarily thought of as business suits, this isn’t a typical pinstripe, rope stripe or chalk stripe suit. These stripes unquestionably have a sportier look, and such a sporty suit is appropriate for the Lord Brett Sinclair character who wears suits for fun.

Persuaders-Cream-Stripe-Suit-2The suit jacket is cut in Cyril Castle’s usual double-breasted style. It has six buttons with two to button, and the jacket is cut with an extemely narrow wrap (the overlap in front). The narrow wrap makes the buttons very close together horizontally compared to their farther vertical distance to give the jacket more vertical lines and help slim the slightly heavyish Moore. The jacket has softly-padded shoulders, roped sleeveheads, a lot of fullness in the chest and a nipped waist. The peaked lapels are made in the Tautz style, in which the top edge of the lapel points horizontally rather than angles up. The lapels are on the wider side of classic width, and, as usual for Castle, there’s only a buttonhole in the left lapel. Double-breasted jackets traditionally have a buttonhole in each lapel since both sides of the jacket fasten. Like on the jackets that Moore wears in his first two Bond films, this suit jacket has flared link-button cuffs, slanted pockets and deep double vents. The buttons are smoked dark grey mother of pearl, which add some additional flash to the suit. The suit trousers have a dart on each side of the front, and an offset jetted frogmouth pocket cuts through the dart. The trousers legs are tapered to the knee and straight from the knee down. Moore wears the trousers with a belt.

Persuaders-Cream-Stripe-Suit-4Under the suit Moore wears a peach-coloured shirt from Frank Foster. It has a spread collar, placket and button-down cocktail cuffs that fasten around the wrist with a single button. Peach isn’t a traditional colour for formal shirts, but it’s similar to the classic ecru only a little darker and with a hint of pink. The champagne-coloured tie is a couple shades darker than the shirt, and it pulls out the light brown stripes in the suit. It is tied in a four-in-hand knot. When Moore opens his jacket we can see that the tie is too short and wider than the lapels, but since most of the tie is obscured inside the jacket—and the jacket should always be kept fastened—neither of the tie’s problems actually matter.

Persuaders-BootsMoore’s zip boots are even more fashionable than the colour of his shirt or the pattern of his suit. The boots’ light brown colour fits the Spanish setting and complements the warm colours in the rest of the outfit. The height of the boots is difficult to describe, since they are taller than ankle boots but shorter than mid-calf. They have a square toe and leather soles. Like most of Moore’s shoes, these zip boots are likely Italian-made. Zip boots are ordinarily too casual to wear with a suit, but the sporty nature of this suit makes zip boots almost appropriate.

Persuaders-Grey-Stripe-SuitThis cream, brown and grey-striped suit could easily be confused for another very similar suit that Moore wears in The Persuaders. In the same episode Moore wears another suit that is in the same pattern, but it has a light grey base with thick dark grey stripes instead of a cream base with light brown stripes. Like the cream-based suit, the grey-based suit also has medium grey pinstripes. Both suits have the same cut and same details, except the grey suit has a larger wrap than the cream suit has. Moore wears the all-grey suit with an open-collar black shirt, and a black silk day cravat is tied inside the collar but hangs outside the shirt. He also wears black slip-on shoes, which echo the black shirt and go well with the greys in the suit.

Remington Steele: The Double-Breasted Power Suit

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The 1980s “power suit” look was something James Bond mostly avoided, but it became a big part of Pierce Brosnan’s look in Remington Steele. The power suit is characterised by a jacket with large shoulders, a low buttoning point and a low gorge and full-cut trousers with double or triple reverse pleats. Brosnan’s grey striped double-breasted suit in the 1985 Remington Steele episode “Springtime for Steele” fits the 1980′s power suit mould perfectly, but even though the suit looks dated now it’s still very flattering on Brosnan. This suit first appeared in Remington Steele in the 1984 episode “Woman of Steele”, and it was a much more fashionable suit than what Roger Moore was wearing as James Bond at the time. Apart from a low button stance, Roger Moore’s suits as Bond in the 1980s avoided most 80′s trends in favour of a more timeless style.

Remington-Steele-Grey-Power-Suit-2Brosnan’s suit has 3/4″ stripes alternating slightly lighter and darker greys, and those stripes are framed by alternating white pinstripes and chalk stripes. Fancy stripes like the one this suit is were very popular in the 1980s and were integral to the power suit look. The double-breasted jacket has six buttons with one to button, a style popular from the mid 80s to the early 90s. Double-breasted suits like this were occasionally made in the 1930s, but at that time the still-classic button two cut made up the majority of double-breasted suits. However, it wasn’t uncommon for people to fasten their button-two double-breasted suits only at the bottom button for an effect similar to what Brosnan wears here. A double-breasted suit that buttons only at the bottom has a longer lapel line that is very flattering to shorter men, but in Brosnan’s case the longer lapel line gives him the strong-looking V-shaped torso that he lacks. On the other hand, buttoning the jacket so low means that the jacket’s fulcrum doesn’t match with the body’s waist and natural fulcrum. The jacket moves poorly with the body, and folds radiating from the bottom buttons occur with the slightest movements because of the unnaturally low fulcrum. The folds are not an issue with the fit but instead an unavoidable issue with such a low buttoning point. Even the Duke of Windsor and his contemporary the Duke of Kent had this problem from buttoning their double-breasted suits at the bottom. Overall, Brosnan’s suit jacket fits very well. Though the low button stance makes the front look sloppy, the back has a perfectly smooth fit and the sleeves drape elegantly.

Remington-Steele-Grey-Power-Suit-3Along with the low 1980s button stance came the low gorge, which is results in low lapel peaks. The low gorge actually goes well with the low button stance since it shortens the lapel line. Otherwise, a regular, higher gorge height with such a low button stance would result in ridiculously long lapels. The low gorge makes the low button stance look less awkward, and along with the low button stance contributes to a more relaxed look. The lapels follow tradition with a buttonhole on each side to match the buttonholes and buttons on both sides of the jacket.

A power suit wouldn’t be complete without copious amounts of shoulder padding. Brosnan’s suit jacket has plenty of shoulder padding, which makes the shoulders straight and close to parallel with the ground. Brosnan’s slight build certainly benefits from shoulder padding, though nobody needs as much padding as this jacket has. Though the shoulders are built up, they are not built out. That style came later in the 80s, which is evident on the suits in Timothy Dalton’s two Bond films.

Remington-Steele-Grey-Power-Suit-4The built-up cut of power suits in the 1980s mimicked styles from the 1930s and 1940s. Many details from that era also returned, like jetted pockets and no rear vent. Jackets without vents aren’t good for Brosnan since he has the habit of keeping his hands in his pockets. Without vents in the back, the jacket rides up. If he had double vents, he could keep his hands in his pockets and the jacket would still look neat. The jacket’s cuffs have three buttons. The suit trousers have double reverse pleats and a full, straight leg with plain hems. Though braces were a common part of the power suit look, Brosnan rarely wore them in Remington Steele and instead wears a belt with this suit. This suit could possibly be Italian in origin, since the Italians were best-known for making such power suits in the 1980s, but an American tailor could also have been responsible for this suit.

Remington-Steele-Grey-Power-Suit-5Brosnan’s white shirt has a point collar, double cuffs and a placket down the front. The placket is stitched 3/8″ from the edge, which means the shirt is likely English in origin. A power suit wouldn’t be complete without a “power tie”. A power tie is any brightly-coloured tie, but red is the quintessential power tie. Brosnan’s tie is red with navy stripes in the English direction. The navy stripes are bordered by brown pinstripes, and there’s also a brown pinstripe through the centre of each navy stripe. The tie has the look of a regimental stripe, but it most likely isn’t one since the Steele character has no prior affiliations. He knots the tie in an asymmetrical, though rather chunky, four-in-hand knot. It could possibly be a double-four-in-hand knot. A stuffed red silk pocket handkerchief with a navy edge complements the tie. Because Brosnan is wearing this suit in the evening, he wears it with black shoes and a black belt. During the daytime in other episodes, Brosnan wears this suit just as successfully with brown leather.

Comparison: Grey Suits in Dr. No and Diamonds Are Forever

Dr. No, left, and Diamonds Are Forever, right

Dr. No, left, and Diamonds Are Forever, right

Anthony Sinclair tailored almost all of Sean Connery’s suits in the James Bond series, from Dr. No in 1962 to Diamonds Are Forever in 1971. The overall cut of Connery’s suits didn’t change much throughout the 1960s, but by 1971 there was a noticeable change in style. We will take a closer look at this change using the light grey suit from Dr. No and a similar light grey suit from Diamonds Are Forever, to at least keep the cloth constant. The shoulders—the foundation of a suit’s silhouette—are the same in both 1962 and 1971: natural with roped sleeveheads. The chest, however, is different. The Dr. No suit has a draped chest whilst the Diamonds suit has a much cleaner chest.

Dr-No-Grey-Suit-3The most obvious difference between the Dr. No and Diamonds suits is the lapel width. The lapel width isn’t exaggerated in either case, but it is noticeably wider in Diamonds than it is in Dr. No. The lapels were narrower in Connery’s other 1960s Bond films, but they were also a different shape. The gorge—the seam where the collar meets the lapel—is much steeper in Dr. No than it is in any of Connery’s other Bond films.

Hip pocket flaps also follow the lapel width. Though none of the suit jackets in Dr. No have pocket flaps, many of the suits in Connery’s subsequent Bond films throughout the 1960s have narrow pocket flaps that reflect the decade’s narrow lapel width. Wide pocket flaps in Diamonds reflect the new decade’s wide lapels, and the suits in Diamonds Are Forever feature the widest pocket flaps of the entire Bond series. In addition to have fashionably wide flaps, the pockets are also slanted, following a popular trend that had been around since the mid 60s. The pockets in Dr. No are placed unusually low, and pockets that low would look even more odd if they had flaps. The pockets are below the jacket’s bottom button, whilst ordinarily they are at the level of or just a little higher than the bottom button. The pockets in subsequent Bond films are higher.

The jacket’s button stance is lower in Diamonds than it is in Dr. No. For From Russia with Love, the button stance was lowered, and it stayed lower in all of Connery’s Bond films through Diamonds Are Forever. The button stance in Dr. No is both more in line with today’s trends and more classically proportioned, but the lower button stance certainly lends a stronger appearance by emphasising the chest and Connery’s V-shaped torso. Because the lapels and tie are wider in Diamonds Are Forever, the button stance doesn’t really look so low. The low button stance in From Russia With Love through Thunderball emphasised Connery’s athletic build, whilst in You Only Live Twice and Diamonds Are Forever it helped make his no-longer-athletic body look more athletic.

Diamonds-Are-Forever-Grey-Suit-2The length of Connery’s double vents increased over time. The vents in Dr. No are roughly 8 inches, which followed the trend towards short vents. They are still a practical length compared to the ultra-short double vents on Jack Lord’s suit in Dr. No. Connery’s vents increased to about 10 inches two years later in Goldfinger, and they are around 12 inches deep in Diamonds. The trend towards deeper vents started in the late 1960s and continued to the early 1980s. Deep double vents are both slimming and heightening because they create vertical lines that extend the line of the leg. Connery needed as much help as he could get in Diamonds, and the deeper double vents are indeed flattering.

Another detail that could easily go unnoticed is that the colour of the buttons has changed. The grey buttons in Dr. No match the suit whereas the dark grey buttons in Diamonds contrast with the suit. The darker buttons in Diamonds look nice but they draw attention to Connery’s waist, which isn’t one of his better areas.

Dr-No-Grey-Suit-2The change in trouser style is one of the biggest changes from Dr. No to Diamonds. In the 1960s, all of Connery’s suit trousers have double forward pleats, whilst in Diamonds they have a small dart on in front of the side pocket on either side. The rise is a little shorter in Diamonds than in Dr. No. The rise was lowered after Dr. No when the jacket’s button stance was also lowered. The legs in both Dr. No and Diamonds both have a trim and tapered cut, though the leg in Diamonds is tapered a little less. The bottoms in Dr. No were finished with turn-ups whilst the bottoms in Diamonds are finished with a plain hem. Only before in Goldfinger did Connery wears his suit trousers with plain hems.

Diamonds-Are-Forever-Grey-Suit-3The Turnbull & Asser shirts didn’t change much between Dr. No and Diamonds. Obviously, the white shirt in Dr. No has gone to cream in Diamonds. The collar got a little taller and the collar points got a little longer, but not by much. The shirts still have the same cocktail cuffs, though Connery only fastens the first button in Diamonds to allow the cuff to roll over the second button. The ties follow the lapel width, and the tie in Dr. No is navy grenadine whilst the tie in Diamonds is black with varying ribs.