Get Smart: A Creative Three-Piece Suit

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The 1960s was an adventurous time for men’s tailoring. Though Sean Connery’s James Bond wears some of the most conservative suits of the decade, Roger Moore’s suits in The Saint and Patrick Macnee’s suits in The Avengers show more creative tailoring. Most American tailors weren’t quite as audacious as some of the English tailors, but Don Adam’s tailor for Get Smart showed a lot of inventiveness. Adams played Maxwell Smart, an incompetent secret agent whose clothes were far more sophisticated than his manner. In the first episode of Get Smart’s second season “Anatomy of a Lover”, Adams wears a unique navy three-piece suit with a narrow-spaced pinstripe. Not uncommon for 1966, the jacket has only one button on the front. It is tailored with straight shoulders, roped sleeveheads, a draped chest and no vent. The jacket has a short length, which both follows the 1960s trends and makes the 5’9″ Adams look taller by extending the perceived length of his legs. The jacket is detailed with jetted pockets and single-button cuffs to match the single button on the front of the jacket. The jacket has a royal blue lining.

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The lapels and collar is where this jacket strays from convention. Though the jacket has the narrow lapels that were typical of the era, the lapels are peaked rather than notched. Today it’s not uncommon to find narrow peaked lapels on single-breasted jackets, but it wasn’t a popular trend of the 1960s. But there’s more that makes this jacket truly unique. The pinstripes on the lapels and collar interestingly follow the direction of the stripes on the front of the jacket. Ordinarily the stripes on the lapels follow the angle of the lapels and the stripes on collar follow the direction of the stripes on the back of the jacket. The stripes on the collar and lapel are superbly matched, which is made easier by the stripes’ narrow spacing.

Get-Smart-Navy-Pinstripe-Three-Piece-Suit-4The suit’s waistcoat has five buttons, two pockets and a straight bottom. The back of the waistcoat is made in a royal blue lining, but the inside of the waistcoat is lined in white. The suit’s trousers have a darted front and frogmouth pockets. The wide waistband extends across the front and is split in the rear to better contour to the back. The trousers are supported by navy boxcloth braces with black leather ends. Boxcloth is a heavy felt-like woollen that makes for very warm braces. Unlike on other braces, the excess length hangs down in front rather than being taken up underneath out of sight.

Get-Smart-Charcoal-Pinstripe-Three-Piece-Suit-3Adam’s pink pinpoint oxford shirt has a pinned collar and double cuffs. The pinned collar is made with eyelets for a pin to pass through, and the pin has a knob that unscrews on one end to pass through the holes in the collar. Though the collar is small, it is in proportion with both the jacket’s narrow lapels and the size of Adams’ head. The black tie has pink dots that match the shirt, and it is tied in a four-in-hand knot. Adams tucks his tie into his trousers so it doesn’t extend below the bottom of the waistcoat. A puffed red silk handkerchief in his breast pocket loosely coordinates with the lighter pink shirt. Adams’ shoes are black slip-ons and his socks are navy to match his trousers.

Though Ron Postal is credited as the costume designer in many episodes throughout the series, his names is not mentioned in this episode’s credits. It is still possible that he was involved in creating this outfit since nobody else is credited for the clothes. Between the peaked lapels, unique stripe direction on the lapels and collar, pink shirt with a pinned collar and boxcloth braces, Maxwell Smart sports quite the dandified look, and he is certainly not a secret agent who blends in to the crowd.

In Memory of Richard Kiel

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With great sadness, on Wednesday 10 September we lost Richard Kiel, the actor who twice played the henchman Jaws in The Spy Who Loved Me and Moonraker. I’ve never heard Roger Moore speak of anyone so kindly and with so much respect as he does for Richard Kiel. When I saw Roger Moore speak at Book Revue in Huntington, NY in 2008, a child asked Moore, “What was Jaws like in real life?” Moore responded, “Well, Jaws in real life is seven-foot-two, and he’s what I call a gentle giant. He is such a nice man, so kind, and we were in Canada a few years ago. Every time he would bring up the subject of UNICEF so I could talk about it. A good man.”

Jaws-Three-Piece-Suit-2Only a month ago I wrote about Jaws’ azure double-breasted blazer in The Spy Who Loved Me, but now let’s look at his more tasteful charcoal chalkstripe three-piece suit that he also wears in the film. It’s a very conservative suit for 1977, and Jaws appropriately wears it for two meetings with his boss, Karl Stromberg. In comparison to the other clothes he wears throughout the film, the three-piece suit is the only outfit that makes him look like a truly menacing character. A man of Jaws’ size must certainly have his suits made for him, and the same tailor or costumier who made the azure blazer probably made the suit as well. The single-breasted suit jacket has the same large, imposing shoulders that the double-breasted blazer has, but it has much more shape through the body for an elegant look. The jacket is a button two with a medium button stance and wide notched lapels. A slightly long jacket helps to anchor Jaws at the cost of emphasising his towering height. The jacket pulls at the button, which may be the result of Jaws’ body type being difficult to tailor. His jacket sleeves are also too long, covering the top of his hands. The jacket is detailed with slanted, flapped pockets and double vents. The suit’s waistcoat most likely has six buttons and the trousers have a slightly flared leg with plain hems.

Jaws-Three-Piece-Suit-3Jaws’ light grey shirt is an unconventional choice that flatters his cool winter complexion. It has a fashionably large point collar that has a generous amount of tie space. The shirt’s placket is stitched 1/4″ from the edge to match the collar and cuff stitching. Jaws’ tie is black with a red diamond motif that has a small black square in the centre of each diamond. He ties it in a four-in-hand knot. Jaws’ shoes are black.

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.

Largo’s Charcoal Suit and Camel Coat

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The always well-tailored Emilio Largo, played by Adolfo Celi, is introduced in Thunderball wearing a charcoal three-piece suit. The suit is probably made of worsted flannel since it has a fuzzy nap but doesn’t look as heavy as the typical flannel. The button three jacket is tailored with very strong, straight shoulders and a clean chest. The narrow lapels gently roll over the top button. The jacket also has jetted pockets, three-button cuffs and no vent. The overall cut as well as the stylistic details are all very characteristic of a continental suit. Since the jacket has little fullness in the chest or flare at the shirt, it doesn’t look like an English suit. And neither the Italian character Largo nor the Italian actor Adolfo Celi would have likely used an English tailor. An Italian tailor would most likely have made this suit.

Largo-Charcoal-Suit-2Little is seen of the waistcoat and trousers. Since the top button of the waistcoat isn’t particularly high, I would guess that the waistcoat has five buttons. The trousers have a tapered leg with turn-ups. They are probably pleated, and I would guess they have reverse pleats since the suit is likely of Italian origin. The Italian tailors almost always make their trousers with reverse pleats.

Largo’s cream shirt has a spread collar and double cuffs. He uses a four-in-hand knot to tie his black tie with white polka dots. His socks and shoes are black.

Largo-Charcoal-Suit-3Over the suit Largo wears a three-quarter-length camelhair coat. The button three coat has notched lapels, swelled edges, turnback cuffs and a single vent. He wears the coat draped over his shoulders as if it were a cape, and I wouldn’t recommend wearing a coat in such a manner since that seems like something only a flamboyant villain would do. He also wears his charcoal trilby like a dandy: tilted and with the brim turned up all the way around. The hat’s crown has a centre dent and a front pinch, and the roughly 2 1/4″ brim has a sewn overwelt. His cream leather gloves take his outerwear yet another step further into flamboyance.

The Saint: The Light Brown Three-Piece Suit

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One of Simon Templar’s favourite suits to wear when travelling to climates warmer than Great Britain’s is a light brown worsted three-piece suit. Roger Moore wears this suit tailored by Cyril Castle in many episodes of The Saint‘s fifth series, including the final episode of that series featured here titled “The Gadic Collection” when Templar travels to Istanbul. The suit jacket resembles others that Moore wears in this season of The Saint. The jacket is a button three, and the lapels roll gently at the top button. The jacket is cut with natural shoulders and a draped chest, which gives the suit a more relaxed look for the warmer climate. The flapped hip pockets are slanted, and the breast pocket has a flap to give this suit a sportier look, whilst narrow lapels and narrow pocket flaps reflect the contemporary 1960s trends. The jacket has turnback “gauntlet” cuffs with a large single button, and there are double vents at the rear.

Saint-Light-Brown-Suit-2Under the jacket Moore wears a button six waistcoat, and he fastens all six buttons. Unlike most other waistcoats in The Saint, which have a straight bottom, this waistcoat has the traditional pointed bottom. The waistcoat also has notched lapels and four welt pockets. The back of the is in a medium brown lining and has a waist-adjusting strap. Though three-piece suits are often associated with increased formality, a waistcoat is just as appropriate with a dark city worsted as it is with a sportier suit like this lightweight brown suit.

Saint-Light-Brown-Suit-3The suit’s trousers have a darted front, cross pockets, belt loops and two rear pockets. At different points in the episode the belt loops can be seen used with a brown belt and unused. Ideally the trousers worn with a three-piece suit would be without belt loops and supported by side adjusters or braces. The belt creates an unsightly bulge under the waistcoat. The leg is tapered with a plain hem. Moore wears his usual cream shirt with this suit, and the shirt has a spread collar, double cuffs and a plain front. The shirt is possibly from Sulka, who Templar mentions in an earlier episode of The Saint, or Washington Tremlett, whose shop was next-door to Cyril Castle’s. Moore’s long relationship with Frank Foster most likely didn’t start until the following series of The Saint.

Saint-Light-Brown-Suit-4Moore wears two ties with the suit. The first tie is olive green satin silk, which is the tie that Moore typically wears with this suit. After Templar discards his olive tie he dons a solid brick red repp tie. Both ties are tied in a small four-in-hand knot with a dimple. Moore’s tan socks and brown short boots follow the outfit’s earth-toned colour scheme. The boots are like shorter chelsea boots with elastic gussets on the sides.

The cream shirt, olive tie and light brown suit flatter Roger Moore’s warm spring complexion better than the common cool, dark city colours do. People often criticise Moore for wearing brown suits in his 1970s Bond films because those people associate brown suits with fashion trends from that decade, and brown suits were indeed popular at that time. But Moore didn’t wear them just because they were fashionable in the 1970s, and he didn’t only wear brown suits in the 1970s. Per this article, he wore brown suits in the 1960s, and he wore them in the 1980s too. Roger Moore wore brown suits because they looked good on him.

Woman of Straw: The Charcoal Flannel Suit and Navy Overcoat

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It’s time again to look at one of Sean Connery’s Goldfinger suits in its original setting in Woman of Straw. Both Goldfinger and Woman of Straw end with Sean Connery in the same charcoal grey woollen flannel, three-piece suit. This slightly rustic suit does just as well in Woman of Straw‘s country setting as it does in Goldfinger‘s dressier setting of Bond on his way to meet the president. It’s Connery’s usual Anthony Sinclair suit. The button two jacket has natural shoulders with roped sleeveheads, a full chest and a nipped waist. It has four buttons on the cuffs, jetted pockets and no vent. The waistcoat has six buttons with five to button, though Connery fastens the bottom button. Because the bottom button is not meant to close, the bottom of the waistcoat bunches up rather unattractively. The trousers have double forward pleats and button side adjusters.

Woman-of-Straw-Grey-Flannel-Suit-2The shirt and tie differ slightly from what Sean Connery wears in Goldfinger. The elegant white shirt has a self-stripe pattern, which is either created by a mini-herringbone weave or a fancy white-on-white weave. Due to the country context the mini-herringbone is more likely since it’s not as formal as a white-on-white stripe. The shirt has a spread collar, front placket and double cuffs with rounded corners. The black satin tie is a little formal for a woollen flannel suit, but at the same time it creates a pleasant contrast with the texture of the flannel suit. It is tied in a small four-in-hand knot. Like in Goldfinger, Connery wears a white linen handkerchief in his breast pocket, but here it’s folded in a single point instead of in a TV fold. His shoes are black.

Woman-of-Straw-Navy-OvercoatSean Connery wears two stylish double-breasted overcoats in Woman of Straw that didn’t make it into Goldfinger. Over this charcoal flannel suit he wears a very dark navy double-breasted, knee-length overcoat. It has six buttons with three to button, narrow notched lapels and slanted hip pockets. The overcoat is cut with natural shoulders, has set-in sleeves and is slightly shaped through the body. There’s no name for this style of overcoat, but nevertheless it is a very elegant coat. With the overcoat Connery has a dark hat with a white lining, but it’s difficult to what type of hat it is or what colour it is. A trilby would be most likely considering the relative informality of the coat and flannel suit, and it could be the same brown trilby that Connery wears in Goldfinger or one similar to it.

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Notorious: The Classic Three-Piece Dinner Suit

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James Bond isn’t the only government agent who is a master of black tie. Cary Grant wears a textbook example of classic black tie as American agent T.R. Devlin in the Alfred Hitchcock film Notorious, which also stars Ingrid Bergman and Claude Rains. Devlin’s suit is the ultimate example of the three-piece black dinner suit. Suits like this one inspired the three-piece dinner suit that Pierce Brosnan wears in GoldenEye. Devlin’s dinner jacket is a button one with satin-faced peaked lapels, and it is cut with a full chest and suppressed waist. The shoulders are straight and wide, made to balance Cary Grant’s large head against his very slim body and to give him more presence. The wide peaked lapels also give him more presence and were fashionable at the time. The dinner jacket has the traditional details of jetted hip pockets, button four cuffs and no vent in the rear. The buttons are black plastic. The dinner suit’s trousers have forward pleats, wide legs, and a satin stripe down each leg. They are finished with a straight hem and no break.

Notorious-Black-Tie-3Underneath the dinner jacket, Devlin wears a black low-cut waistcoat. The waistcoat can hardly be seen, and that’s the way it should be. It probably has four buttons, and the buttons are closely spaced on the front. Two buttons can be seen peaking out above the dinner jacket’s button. Traditionally, black waistcoats for black tie are made in the same cloth as body of the dinner suit with shawl-style lapels in silk to match the jacket’s lapels and trouser stripe. Since the waistcoat can hardly be seen, this is only a likely possibility of what the waistcoat may look like.

Notorious-Black-Tie-2The dress shirt has a marcella bib, spread collar and double cuff. The collar and cuffs have traditional quarter-inch stitching, and the shirt does not have a separate placket on the front. The front closes with two square mother-of-pearl studs, and the cufflinks match the studs. There only problem with the shirt is that in some shots the left side of the collar seems to have a difficult time laying flat under the waistcoat. Either Cary Grant’s shirts weren’t made to take collar stays and the collar wasn’t starched enough, or he didn’t like collar stays. The black satin silk bow tie matches the jacket’s facings. The bow tie is a thistle shape and is a little smaller than usual. Alan Flusser writes in Dressing the Man that “its width should not extend beyond the outer edge of a person’s face, and definitely not beyond the breadth of the collar.” This bow tie easily meets those requirements. Devlin wears a white pocket handkerchief with his dinner suit, though the amount of it peaking out of the breast pocket varies throughout the scene. Devlin’s black shoes are plain-toe oxfords (balmorals to the Americans), and whilst they are shiny it is difficult to tell if they are patent leather as they properly should be.

Notorious-Black-Tie-ChesterfieldWhen Devlin leaves the party he dons the full-length chesterfield coat that he carried in with him. The double breasted chesterfield is most likely charcoal grey and it has six buttons with two to button. We see Devlin fastening the anchor button inside the coat—which is behind the middle button on the left side—when he puts it on. The coat has peaked lapels, straight, flapped hip pockets, a welt breast pocket, three-button cuffs and a centre vent.

Fleming: The 1939 Navy Three-Piece Suit

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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.

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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.

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