Bill Tanner: Double-Breasted Rope Stripe Suit

Tanner-Rope-Stripe-Suit

In For Your Eyes Only, M’s chief of staff Bill Tanner, played by James Villiers, dresses in a manner very suitable for a man in a high position. He wears classic double-breasted suits that are cut almost exactly the same as what you’d find from an English tailor today. His suit jackets have six buttons with two to button, and their lower placement is the only thing that separates them from what’s currently fashionable. The jackets have a classic Savile Row silhouette with a clean chest and a straight shoulder on the natural shoulder line. They have flapped pockets and double vents. For this article we’ll just look at the charcoal rope stripe suit.

Tanner-Rope-Stripe-Suit-2

The shirt Tanner wears with this suit is a fine grey and white stripe. Grey shirts aren’t nearly as popular as blue and white, or even cream, but they’re a classically-stylish option in lighter tints. It has a small spread collar and rounded button cuffs. Tanner adds colour to his outfit with the tie and pocket square. The tie is a regimental stripe in navy and alternating red and maroon. It’s very similar to the well-known Brigade of Guards tie, but the tie only has one shade of red. Can anyone identify this tie? He ties it in a four-in-hand knot, and he matches a navy silk pocket square to the navy in the tie.

Buttoned at the bottom

Buttoned at the bottom, not the same as in the photo above

There’s a continuity error in the way Tanner buttons his suit jacket. In some shots he buttons the jacket the conventional way, with only the middle row fastened. In other shots he has only the bottom row fastened. Both are legitimate ways to fasten a double-breasted jacket, but the stiffer canvas on this jacket means the lapel doesn’t roll over the middle button so well when only the bottom is fastened. There are also a couple of fit problems with this outfit. The back of the coat doesn’t fit so well over the shoulder blades and the shirt sleeves are too short—but the jacket sleeves look fine. But overall it’s a very tasteful outfit and it commands the authority necessary for his position during M’s leave.

8 thoughts on “Bill Tanner: Double-Breasted Rope Stripe Suit

  1. An overall very British and very stylish look indeed, although the grey suit and shirt seem to make him look extremely pale. I am beginning to like some of the 80s’ style !
    I wonder if this could be his suit on Ebay -it looks extremely similar, apart perhaps from the button stance, and is dated from December 1980 :

    http://www.ebay.fr/itm/MENS-VINTAGE-DOUBLE-BREASTED-BESPOKE-SUIT-40-41-R-W39-ANDERSON-SHEPPARD-GREY-/181166611375?pt=UK_Men_s_Suits_Tailoring&hash=item2a2e5f1baf

    Matt, how do you define a rope stripe ? I mean what’s the difference between rope stripe and chalkstripe ? Is a chalkstripe the same kind of stripe but for flannel and flannel-like cloth only ?
    Thanks in advance.

    • A chalk stripe means it’s on a flannel, though a thicker stripe on a plain weave weave can also be called a chalk stripe. The typical worsted suit is made from a twill suiting, which creates the rope stripe effect.

    • >I wonder if this could be his suit on Ebay -it looks extremely similar, apart perhaps from the button stance, and is dated from December 1980

      No chance of that. Stripes don’t look the same nor line up on the jacket (though seeing that it’s been altered the stripes on the lapel are a better guide – and they don’t line up either).

      -Kurt

  2. The suit’s ok. Nothing remarkable or particularly distinctive as regards the overall cut unlike Bond’s Hayward suits at the time, however, it probably fits the character. My main gripe would be a personal dislike of the shirt collar style. High, full spread shirts like Bond’s are much nicer and more expensive looking, to my eye anyway.

  3. I know this was not a James Bond movie, but one of my favorite suits worn by a character of authority was Alan Bedal’s suit in ‘The Day of The Jackal”.

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