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

Minister-of-Defence-A-View-to-a-Kill

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

Largo-Charcoal-Suit

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

Saint-Light-Brown-Suit

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

Woman-of-Straw-Grey-Flannel-Suit

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.

Woman-of-Straw-Grey-Flannel-Suit-3

Notorious: The Classic Three-Piece Dinner Suit

Notorious-Black-Tie

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

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

Woman of Straw: The Blue Suit from Goldfinger

WOS-Blue-Suit

The cloth of Sean Connery’s blue suit in Q’s lab in Goldfinger is somewhat mysterious. It is a heavy weight, has a mottled colouring and has a woollen texture. That means it’s either tweed or flannel. Most likely it is a herringbone flannel. We get another look at the same Anthony Sinclair suit in Woman of Straw, and in this film—the suit’s original appearance—the suit is a three-piece. There’s no question it’s the same suit. The cut is the same button two with natural shoulders and a draped chest. It has swelled edges, cloth-covered buttons and jetted pockets. The vents are still a mystery. The poor lighting in this film makes the vent style difficult to make out, but I believe I see double vents. See the enhanced screenshot below.

Click image to enlarge

The trousers have double forward pleats. The waistcoat is the same style as the waistcoats in Goldfinger: six buttons with five to button. Connery, however, fastens the bottom button, which is meant to be left open. This disrupts the otherwise clean lines of the waistcoat. The covered buttons down the waistcoat make a big impact, since without the waistcoat the covered buttons almost go unnoticed. Covered buttons aren’t ordinarily seen outside of formalwear, but they were popular in the 1960s on lounge suits as well. The Avengers’ John Steed also wore suits with covered buttons.

WOS-Blue-Suit-2

This is a town and country suit, meaning it can effectively transition between relaxed country wear and business. The cloth has a country texture in a city colour, and the jetted pockets are a more formal city touch. Even though this suit is appropriate in both the city and country, it fits in better here than it does in Q’s lab. The houndstooth suit that Bond wears in M’s office also seems more appropriate in this film.

Connery wears this suit a few times throughout Women of Straw. Early in the film he wears a solid light blue tie, tied in a four-in-hand knot just like he does in Goldfinger. The white or off-white shirt has a moderate spread collar, a placket and double cuffs. Later in the film he wears a solid black tie, also tied in a four-in-hand knot, and the white or off-white shirt has a wider spread collar like in Goldfinger. He wears a white pocket handkerchief with both outfits.

WOS-Blue-Suit-4

Get Smart: Smartly Dressed

Get-Smart-Grey-Suit

Though I’m an American, I haven’t shown much American inspiration here. When I was a young child, there was a spy I preferred to watch over James Bond: Maxwell Smart in the American television show Get Smart. Get Smart spoofed James Bond on countless occasions—and featured a Sunbeam similar to the one Sean Connery did in Dr. No—but it spoofed many other things other than Bond, and even went beyond the spy genre. Maxwell Smart, played by Don Adams, was not a very smart spy, but he was always smartly dressed. Smart was voted one of the “Ten Best-Dressed Spies.”

Get-Smart-Grey-Suit-Waistcoat

In the ninth episode, “Satan Place,” Adams wears a grey pick-and-pick three-piece suit with a button-one jacket and a double-breasted waistcoat. The jacket has straight shoulders, a clean chest and a shorter length. The shorter length helps to lengthen Don Adam’s legs and make him look a little taller—he was 5’9″. The jacket’s single button cuffs match the single button on the front, which both were popular in the 1960s. The jacket has short double vents, which were also very popular in the 1960s. The pockets are slanted, and the breast pocket is flapped. Though the lapels are narrow, the width isn’t exaggerated and would fit in well with today’s trends.

The double-breasted waistcoat has six buttons with three to button, notch lapels, two welt pockets and a straight bottom. The trousers have a darted front, slanted side pockets and a tapered leg. They have turn-ups and no break, which was the standard in America at the time. Though the jacket’s shorter length is a trend that has returned today—and returned in a more exaggerated way—the trousers are unlike modern trousers and have a traditional cut. They sit at the waist, which is especially important in a three-piece suit because the waistcoat needs to reach the top of the trousers without a gap. Fashionable three-piece suits today lengthen the waistcoat so it reaches the trousers, but that throws off the proportions of the body.

Get-Smart-Grey-Suit-Cocktail-Cuffs

Notice the cocktail cuffs

Besides the beautiful suit, this ecru shirt is another reason I chose to include this outfit.  This episode is one of only a few where Don Adams wears a shirt with cocktail cuffs. Adams usually wears double cuffs. A number of actors on 1960s American television wore cocktail cuffs, including Martin Landau and Dick Van Dyke, and the latter wore them consistently for a few years. The shirt also has a plain front and a tall, moderate spread collar with 2-buttons to help shorten Don Adam’s long neck. The tie is red with a small pattern or texture that I can’t make out. Adam’s shoes are slightly taller slip ons with a plain toe and tall heel. Maxwell Smart needs a slip-on shoe that is easy to take off when he needs to use his shoe phone. Since shorter trousers were trendy at the time, taller shoes were also popular so less sock is shown. These shoes aren’t boots, but the little bit of extra height around the ankle helps keep the socks hidden.

Get-Smart-Grey-Suit-Red-Tie

See the 2-button collar

The costume design in the credits is as follows: “Maxwell Smart’s Special Wardrobe Design by…RON POSTAL”. Postal is also credited as a “Mr. McQueen’s Wardrobe Consultant” in the Thomas Crown Affair. Later in Get Smart, Botany 500 is credited for the wardrobe.