The Thomas Crown Affair: The Dinner Suit That Wasn’t Allowed

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It has widely been said that Pierce Brosnan’s James Bond contract states that he “wasn’t allowed to wear a tuxedo in any other film” (read at IMDB). Rather than cut or alter a scene in 1999’s The Thomas Crown Affair that places Brosnan at a “black and white ball”, Brosnan sports a midnight blue wool dinner suit and improperly wears it with an open shirt collar and an untied white bow tie so that he is not wearing true black tie. The dinner suit is made by Milanese tailor Gianni Campagna, who made all of the elegant suits for The Thomas Crown Affair. The button one dinner jacket is cut with a clean chest and straight shoulders on the natural shoulder line, and it has black satin peaked lapels, jetted pockets, four-button cuffs and no vent. The buttons on the dinner jacket are black corozo.

The dinner suit has a matching midnight blue waistcoat, properly low-cut with three buttons and black satin shawl lapels. The dinner suit trousers are cut with double reverse pleats, in the Italian traditional.

Though the men at the ball surrounding Brosnan are dressed in proper black tie, Brosnan wears the nicest dinner suit and has by far the nicest shirt. Most of other men are following the 1990s fashion trend of wearing an attached wing collar with black tie, which is a modern imitation of the traditional stiff, detachable wing collar. Brosnan, on the other hand, wears a classic dress shirt from Turnbull & Asser with a spread collar. The shirt also has double cuffs, shoulder pleats and a pleated front with mother-of-pearl studs down the placket.

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Brosnan, however, wears the shirt unbuttoned at the collar and open at inconsistently the first stud or both the first and second studs. Wearing the shirt open further distances it from a proper black tie outfit, which would breach his James Bond contract. And instead of a proper black silk bow tie, Brosnan drapes around his neck—rather that ties around his neck—a white cotton marcella bow tie, again to distance the outfit from black tie. A white bow tie should only be worn with the more formal white tie dress code and never black tie. Wearing an improper white bow tie with a dinner suit, wearing the bow tie untied and wearing the shirt collar open allows Brosnan to wear a dinner suit outside of the Bond series without breaching his contract.

At a black tie event, dressing as Pierce Brosnan does here is unacceptable. Since the dress code is black tie, that means a black bow tie is required. Anything else, such as a white bow tie or a black four-in-hand tie, violates the dress code—that is what traditionally sets apart the help from the guests. And wearing the shirt collar unbuttoned and the bow-tie draped over the neck is both sloppy and disrespectful to the host. On the other hand, someone as wealthy as Thomas Crown can sometimes make his own rules and dress however he wants to. He certainly could get away with it at a charity ball, though no amount of money should give a gentleman reason to disrespect his host by dressing sloppily and improperly.

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Polo Jumper and Golf Wear

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With spring here, the polo jumper is a great and versatile casual piece for the season’s mild weather. Pierce Brosnan wears a black polo jumper in The Thomas Crown Affair for a game of golf, and though they can be found in wool I doubt Thomas Crown would ever wear a jumper made of anything less than cashmere. Fine merino wool or cashmere is necessary for knitwear that has direct contact with the skin because anything coarser would get itchy. It has a rather full fit, which was the fashion in the 1990s. It looks unattractively baggy around the waist, and the current trend toward closer-fitting knitwear is one to follow. Polo jumpers that have a taller collar than ordinary polo shirts can be worn casually under a sports coat, and they go especially well with tweed like Sean Connery wears in Diamonds Are Forever‘s pre-title sequence. It’s hard to tell if Pierce Brosnan’s polo jumper has a collar tall enough to wear under a jacket, but the key is for the collar to not get lost under the jacket.

Thomas-Crown-Golf-2The golf trousers aren’t nearly as versatile as the jumper. No trousers are too loud for the golf course, but Thomas Crown’s trosuers are rather tasteful in a dark blue and red plaid. Still, they wouldn’t work anywhere but on the golf course. If you have a pair of trousers that don’t go with anything, wear them for golf. I have two pairs that qualify, but I have yet to take up golf. Brosnan’s trousers have a flat front and plain hems. They have belt loops but Brosnan wears them without a belt. The top of the jumper covers most of the trousers’ waistband, and the lack of a belt makes the jumper’s ribbed hem look neater.

The shoes are chestnut-coloured split-toe norwegian-front derbies, and they are very similar to what Sean Connery wore for golf in Goldfinger. They have leather golf soles with cleats, attached with a 360º degree welt. This type of welt is when the stitching goes all the way around the top of the soles, as opposed to typical welted shoes where the welt stops at the heel (called a 270º welt or breast-to-breast welt). The American maker Allen Edmonds use a 360º welt on almost all of their shoes, but this type of welt can be found on more casual styles from many other makers, American and English. It’s not as sleek as the breast-to-breast welt, but it’s great for more casual styles like these norwegians. These shoes also have a kiltie, which is the fringed and brogued piece of leather that covers the lacing and eyelets.

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The Thomas Crown Affair (1999): The Navy Peaked Lapel Suit

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Pierce Brosnan wears a number of beautiful suits from Milanese tailor Gianni Campagna in The Thomas Crown Affair (1999). The suits in the film were reported to be made of Super 150s wool. Higher Super numbers indicate a finer fibre but not necessarily a higher quality cloth. Finer fibres make for a cloth that has a softer hand, but the resulting cloth is often less durable, is more prone to creasing and shining, and doesn’t usually tailor as well. Quality has more do to with the way the cloth is woven and finished. Whilst finer wools are often thought to be better, a Super 120s cloth from a reputable merchant is far superior to a cheap Super 150s cloth. The Super number is unrelated to the weight of the cloth.

Thomas-Crown-Navy-Peaked-Lapel-Suit-2One of Pierce Brosnan’s many suits in The Thomas Crown Affair is a navy suit in a large herringbone weave, but since the cloth is a fine Super 150s the stripe effect from the herringbone weave is very subtle and can only be seen in certain lighting. The suit jacket buttons three, and though Brosnan only fastens the middle button, the lapels roll at the top button. It is cut with a clean chest and has straight shoulders with roped sleeveheads. Peaked lapels add an air of formality to this lounge suit, whilst also giving it a bit of a 1940’s Cary Grant look. Though peaked lapels are currently very trendy, the current examples are typically very narrow and on high button two jackets. This jacket has the most classic and elegant of proportions. It looks great on Pierce Brosnan, and it would look just as great now as it did in 1999. This jacket probably has double vents like the other jackets in the film do, though we don’t get a good look at the rear of this suit. Like the other suits in the film, the full-cut trousers most likely have reverse pleats. Brosnan wears the trousers with a belt.

Thomas-Crown-Navy-Peaked-Lapel-Suit-3Brosnan’s cornflower blue shirt from Turnbull & Asser has a spread collar and double cuffs. The silver tie is probably also from Turnbull & Asser. Brosnan ties the tie in a four-in-hand knot with a dimple. Like the suit, the tie is in a herringbone weave. It’s not the same weave as the tie he wears in The World is Not Enough, which is a pointed twill weave that looks like a chevron pattern rather than a herringbone. To not clash with the texture of the suit, the tie’s herringbone is larger than the suit’s herringbone. Also, the herringbone in the suit is subtle enough that it nothing will really clash with it.

The Thomas Crown Affair (1999): The 3-Piece Glen Plaid Suit

Just a few months before the release of The World Is Not Enough, Pierce Brosnan starred in one of his most notable films during his tenure as Bond, The Thomas Crown Affair. Milanese tailor Gianni Campagna made Brosnan’s suits for the film for a total cost of $400,000, at $3,400 a suit, according to an article from the San Francisco Examiner. But like in the Bond films at the time, Turnbull & Asser made the shirts and Chruch’s made the shoes. Thomas Crown is a rich man with luxurious suits, and his clothes are most appropriate for the character. Though the look is more old-fashioned than what Brosnan wore for Bond, there are many similarities between the two characters’ clothing.

Notice the Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso with the branding removed
as not to conflict with Brosnan’s Omega endorsement

This suit is made from a fine hopsack glen plaid in light blue and black with a blue overcheck. The jacket has a 2-button front, but the lapels have a gentle roll more like those found on a soft 3-button suit. Double vents, flapped pockets and 4-button cuffs detail the jacket. The jacket has a clean, structured look with padded shoulders, yet the shoulders have a natural curve compared to the straight shoulders of Brioni. The waistcoat has a 6-button front, with the bottom button left open, and four pockets. The full-cut trousers have double reverse pleats and turn-ups. In comparison, these trousers are much fuller than those he wore as Bond.

Brosnan’s Turnbull & Asser shirt is made from a white cotton herringbone. The shirt has a spread collar and double cuffs. The tie has a dark grey ground with black polka dots and light grey stripes. The puffed pocket square is light grey to coordinate the with the tie. Brosnan’s shoes are black plain-toe oxfords.