James Bond’s dinner jackets—or tuxedos—have featured the three basic types of lapels:
Peaked/Pointed/Double-Breasted Lapel: The most formal type of lapel, the peaked lapel is the standard on the double-breasted suit, the evening tailcoat and the morning coat. It can also be found on dressier single-breasted suits lounge suits. The peaked lapel was carried over from the formal evening tailcoat to the single-breasted dinner jacket. Sean Connery first wore this style on his ivory dinner jacket in Goldfinger, and Daniel Craig has most recently worn it on his black dinner jacket in Casino Royale.
Shawl Collar: Combining the collar and the lapel into one continuous curve, the shawl collar is the dinner jacket’s original type of collar and comes from the smoking jacket. It’s marginally less dressy than the peaked lapel, but it’s perfect for the casino. Sean Connery introduced James Bond in his midnight blue shawl collar dinner jacket in Dr. No, and Daniel Craig continued with the midnight blue shawl collar dinner jackets in Quantum of Solace and Skyfall.
Notched Lapel/Step Collar: The standard for the single-breasted lounge suit, the notched lapel is a less dressy option for dinner jackets. Some would even say it’s inappropriate for a dinner jacket, being too much like a standard lounge suit. It’s utilitarian: when made in classic proportions the notched lapel can be buttoned up in the cold. James Bond has worn dinner jackets with notched lapels on a number of occasions, and often those occasions are small, private affairs where the less formal style is suitable. Today the dinner jacket is rarely worn for these private affairs, making the notched lapel a less appropriate style for the dinner jacket. Many ready-to-wear notched lapel dinner jackets are simply black suits with satin facings and trimmings, and those should be avoided. Sean Connery introduced the notched lapel dinner jacket to the Bond series in Goldfinger, and Timothy Dalton last wore it in a low-gorge model in Licence to Kill.
When James Bond wears multiple dinner jackets in the same film they never have the same type of lapel. Diamonds Are Forever and The Living Daylights are the only Bond films to show Bond in three different dinner jackets, and in those films all three lapel styles are represented. Vote in the two polls below for your favourite type of lapel on the jacket on a dinner jacket, for both the black/midnight blue dinner jacket and white/ivory dinner jacket.
Roger Moore’s sartorial highlight in The Sea Wolves is a pair of dinner jackets, in black and white. Both have the authentic 1940′s cut the film requires: a full chest and slightly wider shoulders with roped sleeveheads. The white dinner jacket—likely made of linen—is a four-button double-breasted cut with one to button. The lower button row is placed up at the waist, meaning it’s cut more like the traditional six-button double-breasted style but missing the bottom row. It’s a style rarely seen after the 1940s. The peaked lapels are wide with a good amount of belly, typical of the 1940s style. The buttons are white mother of pearl.
The black dinner jacket is a classic button one, peaked lapel style. The satin lapels, however, are not as wide as the white dinner jacket’s lapels. They still have belly, but the width is evenly balanced to appear neither too wide nor too narrow. And that would make this dinner jacket look timeless if it wasn’t for the wider shoulders. The buttons are either black horn or plastic. Both dinner jackets are detailed as a most traditional dinner jacket should be, with jetted pockets and without vents. Both also have three buttons on the cuffs.
Apart from the jacket, the rest of the two outfits is identical. The black trousers are cut with a wide, straight leg and have a black satin stripe down each leg. It’s difficult to make out the front of the trousers, but they may have double forward pleats. The white dress shirt has a spread collar, double cuffs, pleated bib and covered-button placket. The black satin silk bow tie is a classic butterfly shape. With the black dinner jacket, Moore wears a puffed white handkerchief in his breast pocket, which he later uses to wipe blood dripping down his arm. He also wears a black cummerbund with the black dinner jacket, and it may be hidden underneath the white dinner jacket as well. None of the clothes here appear to be made by any of Moore’s usual clothiers.
I’m almost a week late, but last Thursday Pierce Brosnan celebrated his 60th birthday. In honour of that let’s look at one of his off-white dinner jackets from Remington Steele. This one is featured in the third season episode “Maltese Steele,” which takes place in the Mediterranean country of Malta. With the exception of pocket flaps, Brosnan wears a classic white dinner jacket. The jacket is cut with straight, narrow shoulders that flatter Brosnan’s build. It buttons one, and the button stance is at a higher classic height as opposed to the fashionably lower 1980′s button stance. The back has no vents, which is classic for a dinner jacket but looks sloppy with Brosnan’s habit of putting his hands in his trouser pockets. There are two buttons on the cuffs, and the buttons are all mother of pearl.
Brosnan’s habit of putting his hands in his pockets only looks okay with double vents.
The black trousers are cut with a trim leg and are worn with a belt, an unfortunate feature on all of Pierce Brosnan’s black tie trousers in Remington Steele. Though Brosnan wears a black cummerbund, it’s missing in one shot and the belt buckle is revealed. The white dress shirt has a point collar, double cuffs and a white-on-white stripe bib with a placket. It is worn with three studs down the front and matching cufflinks, which are black onyx set in gold. Brosnan wears a colourful madder handkerchief with a red ground stuffed in his breast pocket with the corners spilling out in a very dandyish way. He wears his usual black leather slip-on shoes, not patent leather.
The first on-screen appearance of James Bond came with the “Casino Royale” television play on CBS’s Climax! in 1954, with Bond played by American actor Barry Nelson. In this production James Bond is an American agent with “Combined Intelligence” and nicknamed “Jimmy.” But also, he isn’t the best-tailored character, wearing an oversized dinner jacket. British agent Clarence Leiter (Michael Pate) in his black dinner suit and Le Chiffre (Peter Lorre) in his light-coloured, double-breasted dinner jacket both looked better tailored than Bond.
Bond wears a light-coloured dinner jacket, which has been coloured “buff” in cover art, and I concur with the artist’s choice of colour. The dinner jacket is full-cut and very similar to the tailoring in Licence to Kill, with wide shoulders and a low button stance. The dinner jacket buttons one and has a shawl collar. It has no vents, jetted pockets and three buttons on the cuffs. The buttons are darker than the cloth, suggesting brown horn.
Bond’s trousers are black and are most likely help with with braces. Sometimes you can see a hint of something dark under the jacket, and that is probably the braces. The shirt has a soft point collar, double cuffs and a placket front with 3 onyx studs, and the cufflinks match the studs. Bond wears a black satin batwing bow tie and a black satin cummerbund. The flower in his lapel is most likely a red carnation, which doesn’t look so appealing on black-and-white television. He also wears a pocket square, which is either red—to match the flower—or black.
Roger Moore wears his first of three white dinner jackets in The Man with the Golden Gun. And this dinner jacket is very close to being white, though it’s still not quite there. And fitting for the Asian setting, this dinner jacket is made from a slubby but luxurious dupioni silk. The cut is Cyril Castle’s classic double-breasted 6 button with 2 to button and has a narrower wrap. The shoulders narrow and gently padded. The jacket has double vents and the pockets are slanted and jetted. The cuffs button 1 with a turnback detail and don’t have the link button feature that Roger Moore wears on his other suits in the film. The black trousers are flared with a darted front and a black satin stripe down each leg.
Instead of the usual white shirt, Moore wears a cream dress shirt by Frank Foster. It’s unclear whether he is wearing that colour shirt to make a fashion statement, or simply because it flatters his complexion better than a stark white. The voile shirt has a pleated front with standard mother of pearl buttons and 2-button cocktail cuffs. Moore wears a wide, black satin bow tie to match the wide lapels. Though the bow tie looks dated, wide lapels on a double-breasted jacket don’t so much since they are typically wider than single-breasted lapels anyway. Moore’s dress shoes are black patent slip-ons with a strap and clasp detail.
Another iconic piece from Goldfinger also first appears in Woman of Straw: the white dinner jacket. It sees a little more use in this film than it does in Goldfinger, and Connery wears it on two occasions in the Mediterranean. This off-white dinner jacket has a 1-button front with peak lapels, 4-button cuffs, jetted pockets and no vents in the rear. The black trousers have double forward pleats and no stripe down the side. The shirt is different than what Connery wore in Goldfinger. It’s plain white poplin with a spread collar, double cuffs and a placket, no pleats or satin stripes like the shirt in Goldfinger. The placket has stitching is closesly spaced down the middle that suggests Frank Foster, but it’s possible another shirtmaker also stitches plackets in that style. Connery foregoes the bouttonnière but wears a folded white linen handkerchief in his breast pocket.
The villain in Thunderball, Emilio Largo (Adolfo Celi), channels Humphrey Bogart in Casablanca in his white double-breasted, shawl-collar dinner jacket. Largo wears a white dinner jacket to contrast with Bond’s midnight blue dinner suit. The dinner jacket has a clean chest and wide shoulders with roped sleeveheads. It has a 4-button front with 1 to button, 4-button cuffs, jetted pockets and no vents. The buttons are mother of pearl. The black trousers have double forward pleats, suspended by white clip-on braces with brass hardware.
Largo’s dress shirt has a plain white spread collar, double cuffs and a narrow-pleated front. The shirt body is made in a white-on-white cotton. The front closes with two studs. Largo wears two black bow ties: a regular thistle and a narrower thistle with diamond ends. His black calf shoes have elastic gussets on the sides of the instep and either a plain or cap chiselled toe. G. J. Cleverly & Co. are known for making such a style, but Largo’s may have been made elsewhere. The shoes are elegant enough to pass with black tie, but they are versatile enough that the modern man can wear them with jeans.
Chantilly in northern France isn’t the most appropriate place for a white dinner jacket, even in summertime. But even more untraditional is a black tie event taking place in the afternoon (well, it’s supposed to be the evening). These circumstances somewhat justify two untraditional elements of Bond’s dinner jacket. The most noticeable is the notch lapels, as opposed to the more traditional shawl collar or peak lapels on a dinner jacket. The other untraditional part of this dinner jacket is beige horn buttons, as opposed to mother of pearl buttons or fabric-covered buttons. But since this dinner jacket is made of linen, the horn buttons and notch lapels make it possibly for this dinner jacket to double as a sports coat. Otherwise, this is still a white dinner jacket, with it’s 1-button front and jetted pockets. It also has 4-button cuffs and double vents. The shoulders are soft on the natural shoulder line and have roped sleeveheads. The cut is slightly draped with a nipped waist.
The straight-leg trousers are black with a satin stripe down each leg, and the black bow tie is in matching satin silk. Bond’s white dress shirt has a spread collar, double cuffs, a pleated front and mother of pearl buttons. Bond also briefly wears a pair of sunglasses (with the ability to see through tinted glass). Does anyone know the origin of these sunglasses.