Peter Lorre’s Le Chiffre

Le-Chiffre-Dinner-Jacket

In the 1954 “Casino Royale” television play on CBS’s Climax!, the legendary Peter Lorre became the first actor to play Le Chiffre. Lorre wears a warm-weather dinner jacket like the dinner jacket Barry Nelson wears as Bond, but Lorre’s double-breasted dinner jacket is slightly lighter than Nelson’s buff (pale yellow-brown) or burma (pale red-brown) dinner jacket. Lorre’s dinner jacket is probably light buff, with lapel facings in a similarly-coloured satin silk. Anything but a self facing on a warm-weather dinner jacket’s lapels is not traditional, and it may have been trendy in the 1950s. The satin lapels add an unnecessary flashiness to the dinner jacket, but the flashiness is appropriate for a Bond villain.

Le-Chiffre-Dinner-Jacket-HomburgLorre’s dinner jacket has four buttons with one to button, and the two rows of buttons are evenly spaced about and below the waist. The jacket has natural shoulders with roped sleeveheads, and the jacket’s chest is clean but cut with a little fullness. This contrasts with the large shoulders, oversized fit and low button stance of Barry Nelson’s dinner jacket, which now looks very outdated. The natural shoulders and clean fit keep the corpulent Peter Lorre from looking any larger than he needs to, whilst the classic proportions and higher button stance keep the 5’3″ Lorre from looking any shorter than he needs to. He may be very short, and nothing can hide that, but he still looks as menacing as always.

The jacket also has three buttons on the cuffs, jetted pockets and no vent. The type of buttons on the jacket is difficult to determine, but they are dark and very shiny like black mother of pearl. Lorre wears traditional black trousers—which probably have a black stripe down each leg and are supported by braces—with the dinner jacket. The white dress shirt has a point collar, double cuffs and a wide placket. The black bow tie is in a thistle shape. Briefly, Lorre carries a black homburg hat with him, and you can see it on the table in the photo above.

Notice the different dinner jacket

Notice the different dinner jacket

In Lorre’s final scene, he wears a different, but very similar, dinner jacket. Either the original dinner jacket was damaged, or this dinner jacket is an accidental continuity error. This jacket doesn’t flatter Lorre nearly as well as the original dinner jacket does, which is because the new dinner jacket has larger shoulders and a lower button stance like Barry Nelson’s dinner jacket has. The lapels are darker and narrower, and the lapel peaks point more upwards than outwards like the original jacket’s lapels do. The buttons are white or cream. The top of the trousers shows at the bottom of the dinner jacket’s opening.

Robbie Coltrane as Valentin Zukovsky wears a very similar dinner jacket in The World Is Not Enough.

A Mostly Classic Ivory Dinner Jacket

Diamonds-Ivory-Dinner-Jacket

Whilst an ivory dinner jacket is appropriate in a Monte Carlo casino, it’s not so appropriate in a Las Vegas casino unless you’re James Bond. Bond wears one in Diamonds Are Forever at a Las Vegas casino where most people dress down. Apart from Bond’s wide bow tie and the wide pocket flaps on his dinner jacket, this is a classic warm-weather black tie outfit. It looks especially traditional compared to the flamboyant black dinner jacket Bond wears later in the film. The ivory dinner jacket has the same cut as the other Anthony Sinclair jackets in the film have: a clean chest and natural shoulders with roped sleeveheads.

Diamonds-Ivory-Dinner-Jacket-2The button one dinner jacket has medium-width peaked lapels with a very high gorge. Today you can find examples of peaked lapels where the peaks rise up above the shoulders, but the peaks on the dinner jacket are about as high as peaks can tastefully be. The jacket’s hip pockets are slanted with large flaps, a utilitarian pocket style that is out of place on a dinner jacket. The slant gives easier access to the pockets on horseback, and flaps keep items inside the pockets. However, the benefits of slanted and flapped pockets are unnecessary on a dinner jacket, and such a sporty pocket doesn’t have the elegance of a straight jetted pocket. The dinner jacket also has deep double vents, which are another practical sporting element added to this dinner jacket that breaks from tradition, but Bond’s dinner jackets have often had double vents. There are four buttons on the cuffs, and all of the buttons on the jacket are white mother-of-pearl.

Diamonds-Ivory-Dinner-Jacket-3With the jacket, Bond wears black trousers with a darted front, tapered legs and a satin stripe down each leg. The white-on-white stripe shirt from Turnbull & Asser has a spread collar, double cuffs and pleated front with mother-of-pearl buttons down the placket. Connery’s bow ties always followed the trendy width, and his wide black satin silk bow tie in Diamonds Are Forever is no exception. Since Bond keeps his jacket buttoned, we can’t tell if he wears a cummerbund with this dinner jacket like he does with his black dinner suit later in the film. In the unlikely event that he is wearing a cummerbund here, it probably isn’t the same fancy cummerbund that he wears with the black dinner suit. He wears the same black patent leather two-eyelet derby shoes that he later wears with the black dinner suit.

Valentin Zukovsky: The Warm Grey Dinner Jacket

Zukovsky-Dinner-Jacket

Valentin Zukovsky, played by Robbie Coltrane, wears one of the more flamboyant warm-weather dinner jackets of the Bond series in The World Is Not Enough. White and other light-coloured dinner jackets are most appropriately worn in the tropics and in summer months in certain other parts of the world (not Great Britain), but Azerbaijan is not tropical and this film takes place during the winter. Zukovsky isn’t the only person in the casino wearing warm-weather black tie, but nobody else is wearing a dinner jacket quite like his. It’s a warm grey four-button double-breasted jacket with one to button. Light-coloured dinner jackets are ordinarily made without facings, but the satin silk lapels, hip pocket jetting, breast pocket welt and covered buttons make Zukovsky’s dinner jacket a rather flashy one. The cuffs button four and the jacket doesn’t have a vent. He wears the dinner jacket with black trousers.

Peter Lorre Le ChiffreFlashy clothes like this satin-faced warm-weather dinner jacket are typically left for the villains, and Zukovsky’s dinner jacket is remarkably similar to the dinner jacket that Peter Lorre’s Le Chiffre (right) wears in the 1954 “Casino Royale” television adaptation. Whilst Zukovsky isn’t exactly a trusted ally, he certainly isn’t a villain either. The flashiness of his dinner jacket, however, indicates that he’s not a man that Bond can put his trust in.

Zukovsky-Dinner-Jacket-2Some larger men can look good in double-breasted jackets since the two columns of buttons break up their breadth. The dinner jacket’s low buttoning give it flattering long lines whilst wider shoulders give the body better proportions. Even though the shoulders are wide, they aren’t built up as not to give Zukovsky extra bulk. The shoulders droop more than they should, but apart from that the dinner jacket fits fairly well. The front is cut with an extended dart, a style that is used by many Neapolitan tailors. The extended dart along with the natural shoulders could indeed mean that was made by a Neapolitan tailor, but tailors often use a separate cutting system for a corpulent man.

Zukovsky-Dinner-Jacket-3With the dinner jacket Zukovsky wears traditional black tie accessories. The white dress shirt has a point collar and double cuffs, both with edge stitching. Though English shirtmakers don’t ordinarily use edge stitching, some think it looks dressier than traditional quarter-inch stitching. The front has narrow swiss pleats and two visible black onyx studs. He wears a classic black thistle bow tie. His shoes are black.

Poll: What is your favourite type of lapel on a dinner jacket?

James Bond’s dinner jackets—or tuxedos—have featured the three basic types of lapels:

Daniel-Craig-Peaked-LapelPeaked/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.

Sean-Connery-Shawl-CollarShawl 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.

Sean-Connery-Notched-LapelNotched 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.

What's your favourite lapel type on a black/midnight blue dinner jacket?

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What's your favourite lapel type on a white/ivory dinner jacket?

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The Sea Wolves: Black and White Dinner Jackets

Sea-Wolves-White-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.

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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.

Sea-Wolves-Black-Dinner-Jacket

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.

Sea-Wolves-Dress-Shirt

Remington Steele: White Dinner Jacket

Steele-White-Dinner-Jacket

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.

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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.

Steele-White-Dinner-Jacket-3

“Card Sense” Jimmy Bond

Casino Royale (1954)

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.

Casino Royale (1954)

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.

Casino Royale (1954)

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.

Casino Royale (1954)

Double-Breasted White Dinner Jacket

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.