The next “Basted for Bond” infographic examines the cuts and details of Pierce Brosnan’s Brioni jackets, trousers, waistcoats and coats that he wears in GoldenEye, Tomorrow Never Dies, The World Is Not Enough and Die Another Day. The main jacket example is based on the middle-of-the-road jackets Brosnan wears in The World Is Not Enough, his best-dressed film. There are special jacket variations for the longer and looser suit jacket in GoldenEye and Tomorrow Never Dies, the double-breasted blazer in GoldenEye, the button one suit jacket in The World Is Not Enough, the linen suit jackets in The World Is Not Enough (with patch pockets) and Die Another Day (with swelled edges) and others. Double pleated, triple pleated and darted trousers are represented, as are five different waistcoat styles that Brosnan wears throughout his first three Bond films, including the unique five-button double-breasted evening waistcoat from Tomorrow Never Dies. Daniel Craig’s Brioni clothes from Casino Royale will be displayed separately.
Since From Russia with Love, striped suits have been a staple of James Bond’s wardrobe. There are many different kinds of stripes for suits, including pinstripes, chalk stripes and variations on those stripes, such as bead stripes, rope stripes, track stripes, multi-stripes, shadow stripes, self stripes and more. There are not universally accepted definitions for all of these different stripes, but suiting stripes are defined purely on the appearance of the stripe and not how far they are spaced apart. James Bond has worn all of these different types of stripes, with the chalk stripes being the most common.
A pinstripe is a stripe that is very fine but usually well-defined. Alan Flusser writes in Dressing the Man that pinstripes are “fine stripes the width of a pin scratch resulting from the use of white, gray, or other yarns in a series in the warp of a worsted fabric.” Hardy Amies writes in ABC of Men’s Fashion that pinstripes “are really a series of dots”. These two definitions aren’t exactly the same, but they aren’t at odds with each other either.
Pinstripes are often woven into the cloth separately from the background weave on a Dobby loom rather than as simply part of the background weave. In those cases the pinstripe isn’t one or two of every twenty to forty or so yarns in the weave, but it’s added to the cloth in on top of the base colour. This helps makes the pinstripe more defined and keeps it from blurring into the cloth. These kinds of pinstripes are often made of silk or mercerised cotton instead of wool so they stand out even more. A variation on the pinstripe is the bead stripe, also called a beaded pinstripe or a rain pinstripe, which looks like a line of tiny beads spaced apart. These can be either one or two yarns wide. On some pinstripes, two yarns of beads alternate above and below to create a more continuous pinstripe. This kind of stripe is what tailor Richard Anderson calls a “true” pinstripe in his book Bespoke: Savile Row Ripped and Smoothed.
A single-yarn pinstripe woven as part of the warp in a twill weave can also have a bead effect since the twill wales break the stripe. These single-yarn pinstripes that are part of the background weave don’t stand out as much as the kind described above and often can’t be seen clearly from a distance. When woven into the cloth, a stripe that is two yarns wide can look either like a pinstripe or a chalk stripe depending on the weave and type of cloth. In these cases the stripe could fairly be called either a pinstripe or a chalk stripe.
The track stripe is a variation where the pinstripes come in groupings of two or three, with the stripes in each grouping spaced one or two yarn’s width apart.
A chalk stripe is woven two to five yarns wide and resembles the lines of a tailor’s chalk, hence the name. Chalk stripes are woven as part of the warp of the weave, which makes the stripes less defined than typical pinstripes. Amies describes the difference, “‘pin’ stripes … look very ‘set’ when compared to ‘chalk’ stripes, the outlines of which are blurred and thus blend with the background.”
Chalkstripes, especially in wider spacings, are less formal than pinstripes. Chalk stripes are woven as two to four yarns of every forty or so yarns. A true chalk stripe is a stripe on a flannel cloth, which gives it a blurry appearance that resembles chalk. Wider stripes on worsted suitings can also be called chalk stripes. On a plain weave a chalk stripe has a pebbled effect and may be called a pearl chalk stripe. On a twill weave the diagonal wales make diagonal breaks in the stripe. This kind of chalk stripe mimics the look of twisted rope, and consequently this stripe is called a rope stripe or a cable stripe.
Worsted suits with stripes are best worn in a business setting, especially in the darkest of charcoal and navy worsteds. Riccardo Villarosa and Giuliano Angeli write in The Elegant Man, “It seems as if the design on the fabric of a pinstriped suit was inspired by the lines in accounting books. In reality, continuous or dotted lines be traced to the lines of the trousers worn with a morning coat, which was very popular in London during the first half of the century.” Pinstripes, however, do resemble the lines in ledger books more than they resemble the much bolder stripes of trousers worn with a morning coat, and thus they look most appropriate in a business setting. Flannel chalk stripes, on the other hand, can work well in social settings, especially when in lighter shades of charcoal and navy. Pinstripes and chalk stripe cloths are best made up as suits and not as odd jackets or trousers. Pinstripes and chalk stripes look too serious enough to wear outside of a suit, and they look best when they can continue from the shoulders down to feet.
James Bond’s Striped Suits
James Bond’s first striped suit is in From Russia with Love, and it is navy flannel with wide-spaced grey chalk stripes (pictured above under the “Chalk Stripes” header). The grey stripes don’t stand out as much as white chalk stripes would, but it is overall a very classic chalk stripe suit. This suit works well in Venice in a non-office setting because the flannel cloth and wider stripe spacing make this suit less formal than the typical striped suit.
Bond’s second striped suit is a brown shadow stripe suit worn in the Fort Knox scene in Goldfinger. Shadow stripes are created in two ways, either by a variation in the weave—woven on a dobby loom—in the same colour as the background of the suit or by using darker yarns. When the stripe is the same colour as the background of the suit it can also be called a self stripe. Shadow stripes can be any thickness, from one yarn to many more than a chalkstripe. Bond’s suit in Goldfinger has a stripe most likely two yarns wide.
In On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, James Bond starts a long tradition of wearing striped suits in London along with a tradition of three-piece suits. The suit in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service is navy flannel with white chalk stripes in a narrower spacing than on the suit in From Russia with Love. The narrower spacing gives the traditional chalkstripe a more modern and slightly more formal look. Narrower spacing between stripes became more popular in the 1960s, and Roger Moore wore suits with stripes spaced much closer than this throughout The Saint.
In Diamonds Are Forever, Bond visits Blofeld’s oil rig dressed for business in a navy suit with blue chalk stripes. Chalk stripes on worsted suitings are fairly bold when in white, but since these stripes are medium blue they don’t have so much contrast with the suit’s background. Blue stripes are an effective way to wear stripes without the fear of making too bold of a statement in stripes. However, in some settings blue stripes may be seen as too fashionable compared to the bolder, yet more traditional, white stripes.
In The Man with the Golden Gun, Roger Moore continues the tradition started in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service of wearing stripes in London. Moore’s suit is a double-breasted medium grey flannel with white chalk stripes. Medium and lighter greys are not as popular in London as dark greys are, and consequently this suit has a less business-like appearance. This suit could just as easily be worn for a daytime social occasion, but the colour is too light to wear in the evening. Later in The Man with the Golden Gun, Bond wears an olive multi-stripe double-breasted suit out at night in Hong Kong. A multi-stripe pattern has a series of stripes in different weights or colours. The olive suit in The Man with the Golden Gun has both different weights and different colours, with a series of very closely-spaced tan pinstripes between wider-spaced red chalk stripes. Multi-stripes are the least serious of all suit stripes and function better for social occasions than for business.
The next time Bond visits the office is in Moonraker, and once again he wears a striped suit. This time it’s a navy pinstripe suit, and the pinstripes are spaced so close together that they dull and lighten the navy from a distance and thus make the suit look blue-grey. The suit has about six pinstripes per inch.
Bond returns to more traditional styles of clothing in For Your Eyes Only, and in his visit to the office he once again wears a striped three-piece suit. And just as Sean Connery and George Lazenby wore before, Roger Moore wears a navy chalk stripe suit. This suit is worsted flannel, so the stripe is more defined than it is on Connery’s and Lazenby’s fuzzier woollen flannel suits. Moore continues wearing a striped three-piece suit to office in Octopussy, but this time it’s a worsted dark grey twill rope stripe, a more defined variant of the chalk stripe. A View to a Kill is Roger Moore’s only Bond film in which he does not wear a striped suit to the office.
TImothy Dalton’s Bond continues the tradition of wearing a striped three-piece suit to the office in The Living Daylights with a navy suit with narrow-spaced grey chalk stripes. Though the grey stripes are thick and spaced close together, being grey prevents them from looking overbearing. After The Living Daylights Bond does not wear a striped suit again for twelve years. The next striped suit comes in The World Is Not Enough, when Bond wears a dark charcoal three-piece suit with subtle grey pinstripes to the office (pictured above under the “Pinstirpes” header). The grey stripes on this suit are of the “bead stripe” variety.
Every Bond film that follows The World Is Not Enough has Bond wearing a striped suit. Die Another Day sees Bond wearing a suit in dark grey with light grey pinstripes. Bond even wears two navy pinstripe suits in Casino Royale: a suit on the train with narrow-spaced, hardly seen grey pinstripes and a three-piece suit with slightly wider-spaced light grey double track stripes in Italy. This is the first film since Sean Connery’s Bond films that Bond wears striped suits outside of London, but he wears them to show he is in a business mindset. In Quantum of Solace, Bond wears a navy suit with blue pinstripes. These stripes are three yarns wide, with the three yarns creating horizontally arranged series of dots. I consider the stripes on this suit pinstripes rather than chalk stripes because the yarns are very fine and make up narrow stripes of pin dots. These stripes are spaced a half-inch apart.
Bond’s latest striped suit in a fancy charcoal rope stripe suit in Skyfall. The charcoal suiting is in a twill weave, as is necessary for a rope stripe, except on either side of each grey rope stripe there is a plain-woven section framing the stripe, hence the “fancy” part. With the exception of Skyfall, Bond’s striped suits in recent years have tended more towards pinstripes than chalk stripes.
Only in GoldenEye, Pierce Brosnan wears shirts from the famous luxury clothier Sulka. Though I’ve written about Sulka’s shirts before, these wonderful shirts deserve a closer look. I own a Sulka shirt of roughly of the same vintage as the shirts in GoldenEye. Whilst my shirt is ready-to-wear (and purchased second-hand), Pierce Brosnan’s shirts are likely bespoke. Though Pierce Brosnan didn’t start using Sean Connery’s shirtmaker Turnbull & Asser until Tomorrow Never Dies, costume designer Lindy Hemming appropriately chose Sulka to make James Bond’s shirts in GoldenEye. Sulka was originally a New York company but also had other shops in the United States as well as in London and Paris. The shirt I will be examining is made in Italy and is the closest of my Sulka shirts in style to Pierce Brosnan’s shirts based on the placket design. I have other Sulka shirts made in France, but those have a different style of placket, as well as different collar and cuff construction. Does anyone know where Pierce Brosnan’s bespoke shirts from Sulka would have been made if purchased through the London shop?
The collar is a moderate spread collar, wider than a point collar but narrower than the traditional spread collar. The points measure 2 7/8″, the back height measures 1 3/4″ and the collar band measures 1 1/8″ in front. There is 1/2″ tie space and the collar points sit 4 1/2″ apart. This Sulka collar has the same measurements as the Classic Turnbull & Asser collar. The collar is stitched 1/4″ from the edge and has removable collar stays. The collar has a fused interfacing, which is how most Italian shirtmakers do their collars. Fusible interfacings are affixed to the outer piece of the collar with a heat-activated adhesive, and by stiffening the outer layer of the collar they make the collar very easy to iron. The shape of the collar on my shirt is similar to Pierce Brosnan’s collar, but the collar on my shirt has twice as much tie space to give it a wider spread.
The double cuff measures 5 1/4″ when unfolded, and the link holes are roughly in the middle of the folded cuff, but slightly off-centre away from the fold. Italian shirtmakers usually place their link holes in the middle of the cuffs whilst English shirtmakers place their link holes closer to the fold. Placing the link holes further from the fold keeps the cuff from flaring out and getting caught inside the jacket sleeve, but it has the downside of keeping the cufflinks more hidden. The cuffs have a slightly rounded corner, but the stitching is squared. Like the collar, the cuffs are stitched 1/4″ from the edge and have a fused interfacing. The sleeve has two outward-facing pleats opposite the cuff’s opening to fit the larger sleeve into a smaller cuff. The sleeve’s gauntlet has a button.
The placket is similar to an English-style placket; it is just under 1 3/8″ wide and stitched 3/8″ from the edge. The stitching on the placket matches the stitching at the sleeve attachment and at the base of the cuff. The placket has a fused interfacing to keep it crisp. There are six buttons down the front of the shirt, not including the collar, and the shirt’s buttons are mother of pearl.
The shirt’s tails are made in the the typical manner for a shirt meant to be tucked: contoured to be higher at the sides than in the front and back. The back of the shirt has a split yoke, but the sides of the yoke are not angled and the stripes go straight across the shoulders as it the yoke were one piece. Under the yoke the shirt has a pleat on either side to give ease over the shoulder blades.
Unlike Pierce Brosnan’s shirts, my shirt has a breast pocket. The pocket has rounded corners and a straight bottom. Like on most ready-to-wear shirts the pocket is a little too large and looks out of proportion on the chest. The pocket is placed very close to the sleeve, which may be placed as such so it stays hidden under an open jacket.
Pierce Brosnan brought James Bond into the 1990s by turning the spy into an action hero in a way no Bond had done before. With less spying and more extraordinary stunts, Brosnan’s Bond started wearing more combat gear to better suit the stunts, as well as suit Bond’s new action hero image. For jumping off the dam and infiltrating the weapons facility at Archangel in the opening of GoldenEye, Pierce Brosnan wears a military jacket, military trousers and an assault vest.
Brosnan’s black jacket is a modified American M-1965 field jacket—also called the M65—and made by the venerable Angels and Bermans costumiers. There doesn’t seem to be any reason why James Bond, a British agent, should be dressed in American military gear in Russia, other than because costume designer Lindy Hemming liked the way it looked. Since the jacket is made of cotton and nylon blend, Bond must be wearing a thermal liner or thermal underwear beneath to keep warm in northern Russia.
The mid-hip length jacket has a zip front, covered with a fly that secures with press studs. The jacket’s front has two bellows patch pockets on the chest and two set in pockets below the waist, each with a pointed flap that secures with a press stud. There are also patch pockets on the upper sleeves. Hidden inside the jacket around the waist is a drawstring to give the jacket some shape. The shoulders have straps and the collar stands up with a hood hidden inside a zipped compartment. The collar has a nylon strap with velcro on the left side to fasten to the right side of the collar to keep it closed. The upper left side of the collar also has a buttonhole, with no apparent button on the other side. The cuffs close with velcro.
Over the jacket Brosnan wears a black assault vest that was also made by Angels and Bermans. The vest has a zip front with a nylon strap around the waist that secures with a plastic side-release clasp. The back of the waist strap has a smaller adjustable strap. There are four large pouches along the bottom, two smaller pouches on the right side of the chest with one taller pouch below it. All are kept close with velcro on nylon straps. At waist level on the right is another pouch that secures closed with a flat and press stud. On the left side there is a holster to fit a Walther PPK with a suppressor. The holster is held in place with nylon straps that attach to the vest with plastic side-release clasps, and the PPK is held in the holster with a velcroed nylon strap over the top. There is a pack on the back of the vest to hold a parachute in case the bungee jump went wrong. Bond’s partner Alec Trevelyan (Sean Bean) wears a very similar vest.
Brosnan’s black trousers are modified M-1965 field pants, which, like the jacket, are made of a cotton and nylon blend. They have angled, flapped inset pockets on the front for easy access as well as cargo patch pockets on the side of the thighs. The trouser legs tighten around the ankles with either velcro or a drawstring. The black nubuck derby boots have a four pairs of eyelets at the bottom, two pairs of speed hooks above the eyelets and another pair of eyelets at the top. They have moccasin toes and lug soles. The boots are made by Timberland, and back of the sole even say “Timberland” with the tree logo next to it. Brosnan wears black leather gloves with black wool cuffs in the outdoor scenes.
An example of Pierce Brosnan M65 field jacket was sold at Bonhams in Knightsbridge on 16 November 2005 for £10,800 (http://www.bonhams.com/auctions/11808/lot/395/). Two examples of Sean Bean’s assault vest—which is similar to Brosnan’s vest—were sold at Bonhams in Knightsbridge on 16 Jun 2009. A vest sold along with Bean’s black Sketchers boots for £1,056 (https://www.bonhams.com/auctions/16808/lot/98/), and another vest sold along with Bean’s jumpsuit, which he wears under the vest, for £960 (https://www.bonhams.com/auctions/16808/lot/95/).
Thanks to the people at ajb007.co.uk for previously identifying elements in this outfit.
There are three things James Bond does when he sits down in his suits. The first is something often recommended for sitting, and that is unbuttoning the jacket. This only applies to single-breasted jackets since double-breasted jackets should always be left fastened. Seeing that only one of the suit jacket’s buttons should be buttoned anyway—only the top button of two buttons and only the middle button of three buttons—it’s easy to open one button when sitting down. Pierce Brosnan’s and Daniel Craig’s Bonds can often be seen unbuttoning their jackets to sit, though other Bonds do it occasionally too. Unbuttoning the jacket makes it more comfortable to sit in, relieves the stress on the button and prevents creases. Notice in the image above, both Bond and Le Chiffre unbutton their dinner jackets when sitting down. Bond also pushes the front of the jacket to the sides to avoid sitting on it, thus avoiding unnecessary creasing and feeling tied down.
On the other hand, James Bond often leaves his suit jackets buttoned when seated, especially in the earlier films. It helps the action between sitting and standing to flow better, and it avoids clumsy fiddling on screen. When Bond opens his suit jacket in Osato’s office in You Only Live Twice, it is done outside the frame. On many occasions when Bond sits with his jacket unbuttoned, he already had unbuttoned it for another reason. And when Bond stands up, he typically fastens his jacket if it wasn’t already fastened. It’s a good habit to have.
Some button three jackets are cut for the top two buttons to fasten, and if you fasten more than one button on your jacket you should leave the buttons fastened when sitting down. When James Bond has two buttons on his button three hacking jacket fastened in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, he leaves them both fastened when sitting. Fiddling with more than one button when sitting and standing looks too fussy.
The second, and most frequent, thing Bond does when sitting down is give a tug at his trouser legs. Roger Moore and Pierce Brosnan do this most regularly of all the Bonds. Bond isn’t pulling up his trousers to show off his socks but instead to relieve stress on the trousers. Tugging up the trousers just a little takes stress off the knees to make the trousers more comfortable, to keep the crease sharp and to prevent the knees from wearing out. Even Daniel Craig manages to pull up his tight suit trousers a little in Skyfall. Notice both Bond and Mallory tugging at their trousers legs in the image above.
The third part of James Bond’s ritual when getting seated—especially for Pierce Brosnan’s and Daniel Craig’s Bonds—is adjust his shirt cuffs and cufflinks. Notice Pierce Brosnan adjusting both his trousers and his cuffs in the image above. Sometimes the shirt cuffs get stuck inside the suit sleeves and need to be pulled out of the jacket sleeve and straightened when sitting down. Cufflinks, however, rarely need to be adjusted.
Do you unbutton your jacket, adjust your cuffs or lift up your trousers when getting seated?
Here are 15 quotes from the James Bond series that Bond says about his clothing, Bond says about other men’s clothing and other characters say about Bond’s clothing.
Felix Leiter: Interesting … where were you measured for this, bud?
James Bond: My tailor. Savile Row.
Leiter: That’s so? Mine’s a guy in Washington.
Sean Connery’s suit was actually from Anthony Sinclair on Conduit Street, which intersects Savile Row. Savile Row is known worldwide for its tailoring whilst Conduit Street—which was historically home to a number of tailors—is not. Sinclair himself said “I make only a Savile Row style”, so Connery’s comment is not entirely false. “Savile Row” is often used as a term to describe traditional English tailoring, though only tailoring firms on the Row should be allowed to call themselves “Savile Row” tailors.
James Bond: Am I properly dressed for the occasion?
Sister Lily: Quite suitable.
Bond: Suitable for what?
From Russia with Love
James Bond on Benz’s suit: Not mad about his tailor, are you?
M to James Bond: Meet me here at seven. Black tie.
James Bond: I think I had a hat when I came in.
Bond did indeed have a hat, but he was wearing it with a completely different outfit when he arrived at the office. The navy blazer Bond was wearing when he arrived in a hurry from the country was too informal for the office, so when he had a chance he changed his clothes to a more appropriate three-piece suit. Who knows what happened to his hat? Perhaps it was misplaced during production and this line was added to account for the error.
Diamonds Are Forever
James Bond: I know a good tailor in Hong Kong.
Bond mentions this tailor again when he visits Hong Kong in Die Another Day.
Live and Let Die
James Bond: That’s fine. You can fit the rest this afternoon.
Tailor: Right, sir.
Bond: Don’t forget the double vents. (The suit jacket was mistakenly made with a single vent.)
[Looking at ties]
Bond: [Picking out the brown tie he dons] This will do nicely. It’s [another tie is] a little frantic, I’ll keep the other three.
The Man with the Golden Gun
James Bond: I mean sir, who would pay a million dollars to have me killed?
M: Jealous husbands! Outraged chefs! Humiliated tailors! The list is endless!
Dr. Holly Goodhead: Have you broken something?
James Bond: Only my tailor’s heart.
James Bond: You wouldn’t have a small piece of thread in that [a coil of rope], would you Q? Somebody seems to have stuck a knife in my wallet.
Q: They missed you? What a pity.
A View to a Kill
James Bond, as James St. John Smyth: Well Tibbett, you heard what Miss Jenny Flex said. There is a reception at six.
Sir Godfrey Tibbett, as Bond’s valet: Yes, sir.
Bond: So, I shall be needing a white jacket and a black tie.
Tibbett: Yes, sir.
Bond: And if possible, a clean shirt.
Tibbett: Yes, sir.
Bond: Oh my lord, Tibbett, look at the state of my clothes! How on earth do you pack my bags?
Tibbett: Sorry, sir.
Bond: Oh my lord, what the devil’s wrong with these shoes? It looks as though they were wiped over with an oily rag!
Tibbett: I’m terribly sorry, sir.
The Living Daylights
Saunders to James Bond: You’re bloody late. This is a mission, not a fancy-dress ball!
Die Another Day
James Bond to Mr. Chang: Perhaps you could send up my tailor … and some food.
Vesper Lynd to James Bond: All right … by the cut of your suit, you went to Oxford or wherever. Naturally you think human beings dress like that. But you wear it with such disdain, my guess is you didn’t come from money, and your school friends never let you forget it.
By the context of Vesper’s line, Bond’s Brioni suit is standing in for a Savile Row suit. But wearing a suit with disdain or contempt is certainly not the way of Fleming’s Bond, who considered the way people dress to be a very important part of their character. By the end of the Casino Royale film, Bond grows to appreciate the suits he wears.
James Bond: I have a dinner jacket.
Vesper Lynd: There are dinner jackets and dinner jackets; this is the latter. And I need you looking like a man who belongs at that table.
Bond: How? … It’s tailored.
Lynd: I sized you up the moment we met.
The latter is a proper dinner jacket, such as the one Bond wears with a single button, peaked lapels, jetted pockets and no vent. The dinner jacket that Bond already has (but not shown on screen) is likely questionable in style, with two or three buttons on the front, notched lapels, flapped pockets and a single vent. In reality, however, it would be very unlikely for Vesper to purchase such a well-fitting dinner jacket for Bond. Bond is correct to question how Vesper got him a tailored jacket, especially on such short notice, and expected it to fit well.
Lines about women’s clothing have been left out, but the great “That’s quite a nice little nothing you’re almost wearing”, from Diamonds Are Forever, and “You get your clothes on … and I’ll buy you an ice cream”, from For Your Eyes Only, deserve honourable mention. If there are any lines left out that you think should have been included, feel free to mention them below.
Since Skyfall was released in 2012, midnight blue dinner suits (tuxedos) have become very popular. James Bond has had a long history of wearing midnight blue dinner suits, starting with Bond’s introduction in Dr. No, so Skyfall is by no means a first for James Bond in a midnight blue dinner suit. In fact, half of James Bond’s dinner suits (excluding ivory dinner jackets and the midnight blue velvet dinner jacket in Diamonds Are Forever) have been midnight blue. The midnight blue dinner suit is by no means a fashion of the day.
Midnight blue is a very dark shade of blue named after the colour of the midnight sky that can easily be mistaken for black. It’s more of a type of black than it is a type of blue. The point of making dinner suits in midnight blue instead of black is so they look darker than black, and not look noticeably blue. In artificial lighting midnight blue ends up looking like a richer black, and Daniel Craig’s dinner suit in Skyfall pictured at the top is a good example of this. The blue body of the dinner jacket looks darker than its actually black lapels! If a midnight blue dinner suit is obviously blue it is too light and not actually midnight blue. Dinner suits in lighter shades of blue, such as navy, marine blue and royal blue, are a current fad and not actually midnight blue, which many people are calling them. The elegant contrast of classic evening wear is lost with these lighter dinner suits.
Navy, marine blue and royal blue suits came into fashion after people saw Daniel Craig wearing a royal blue dinner suit on the Skyfall posters. Skyfall had a very large advertising budget, and posters of this royal blue dinner suit were everywhere. Daniel Craig was actually wearing a midnight blue dinner suit—the same as what he wears in the film—but the poster’s designer enhanced the colours of the photo to make the dinner jacket lighter and bolder. Whoever is responsible for choosing to enhance the dinner suit’s blue on the poster may be responsible for this fashion trend.
Midnight blue dinner jacket can have either black or midnight blue silk facings and trimmings. Sean Connery’s, George Lazenby’s and Pierce Brosnan’s (in Tomorrow Never Dies) midnight blue dinner suits are faced in midnight blue, whilst Roger Moore’s, Pierce Brosnan’s (in The World Is Not Enough and Die Another Day) and Daniel Craig’s midnight blue dinner suits are faced in black. It is easier to find a bow tie and cummerbund to match black facings than it is to find a blue bow tie and cummerbund to match blue facings. A midnight blue dinner jacket should be treated exactly the same as a black dinner jacket—because midnight blue is a shade of black—and worn with matching trousers.
Three-piece suits have been an iconic part of James Bond’s look since he exited the lavatory on Goldfinger’s private jet wearing a grey glen check suit in Goldfinger. Since Daniel Craig will be wearing a three-piece suit again in Spectre, I thought it would be helpful to look back at James Bond’s past three-piece suits.
The inclusion of a matching waistcoat (vest) along with the jacket and trousers is what makes a suit a three-piece suit. Bond usually wears a traditional waistcoat that has six buttons and a small cutaway at the bottom. Sometimes the bottom button is on the cutaway, but even if it is not, Bond does not fasten the bottom button. The bottom button on a waistcoat is never fastened out of tradition, but it is also never fastened to allow the bottom of the waistcoat needs to spread apart when seated. In Thunderball (pictured top) the waistcoats are cut straight across the bottom, and all buttons are meant to fasten. The straight-bottomed waistcoats look a little like sleeveless cardigans and are thus slightly less formal. Bond has occasionally worn waistcoats with five buttons or seven buttons, and in Goldfinger and The World Is Not Enough, the waistcoats have notched lapels. Bond’s waistcoats typically have four welt pocked on the front, and the back of the waistcoat is made in the same material as the jacket’s lining.
How James Bond wears his three-piece suits
Most of Bond’s three-piece suits are made of dark worsteds or flannels and worn in London. Sean Connery wears a dark brown three-piece suit to the office in Thunderball, and George Lazenby wears two navy three-piece suits (herringbone and chalk stripe) to the office and the College of Arms in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service. From Moonraker in 1979 to The World Is Not Enough twenty years later in 1999, Bond all but twice wears three-piece suits to the office and in other London scenes.
A dark three piece suit gives Bond a traditional, confident and powerful look that is appropriate for his formal office setting. Bond’s dark three-piece suits are most often navy with pinstripes or chalk stripes, but charcoal flannel is another favourite colour for Bond’s three-piece suits. Bond has also worn three piece suits in a business setting in navy herringbone, navy birdseye, grey herringbone, grey windowpane, grey rope stripe and black pinstripe suitings.
For mourning the death of his “brother” in Diamonds Are Forever, Bond wears a black three-piece suit. Today people may consider a three-piece suit too flashy for a funeral, even in somber solid black. Bond also wears two sporty three-piece suits outside of London for non-business occasions: the grey glen check suit in Goldfinger and the brown tweed suit in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service.
The last time Bond wore a three-piece suit was at Lake Como in Casino Royale. Considering the location, the navy pinstripe suit that Bond wears is out of place. A solid navy or grey two-piece suit would have been better since the three-piece is too serious and pinstripes suggest the office. Though Bond is often overdressed, he is overdressed more than usual in this scene. However, the three-piece suit in Casino Royale signifies that Bond has completed his first mission and is now the more suave and mature James Bond we know from the previous twenty films.
Though the three-piece suit is a little out of place at Lake Como, it is even more out of place on the oil rig during during the climax of Diamonds Are Forever. Bond looks absolutely ridiculous wearing his navy pinstripe three-piece suit there, though it conceals Connery’s heavier figure better than practical tactical gear would have. In fact, a well-fitting three-piece suit is one of the most flattering things a man can wear.
How to wear a three-piece suit
Wearing a three-piece suit has a few difference to wearing a two-piece suit. It allows the jacket to be worn open and still look just as presentable as it does with it closed. If you remove your suit jacket at your desk like Bond does in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, you will look more dressed with a waistcoat. The waistcoat, however, cannot replace the suit jacket for any occasions a suit is required.
The correct proportions and fit are more important with three-piece suits than they are with two-piece suits because they have a waistcoat to tie the pieces all together. It is important that the waistcoat and trousers work together to prevent the shirt from showing between the bottom of the waistcoat and the top of the trousers. The waistcoat needs to cover the the trousers’ waistband. The problem with wearing a waistcoat with modern low-rise trousers is that the waistcoat has to be very long. When the waistcoat is too long it cannot conform to the body as well, which makes the body look heavier when the jacket is removed. A long waistcoat also makes the torso look larger overall, which is not flattering. A waistcoat that is too long will also be uncomfortable to sit in. Wearing trousers with a traditional rise is the only proper way to wear a three-piece suit so the suit as a whole can fit and move with the body in the best way possible.
Three-piece suits should never be worn with belts since they leave a lump under the waistcoat. Roger Moore, Pierce Brosnan and Daniel Craig wear three-piece suits with belts in their Bond films, as opposed to Sean Connery and George Lazenby who wear suit trousers with side adjusters. Ralph Fiennes’ Gareth Mallory in Skyfall wears his three-piece suits with braces, which are the best option for trouser support when wearing a waistcoat. Braces are the only sure way to prevent the trousers from sagging and revealing the shirt below the waistcoat. And if you don’t want anyone to know you are wearing braces, the waistcoat keeps them perfectly hidden. I am surprised that the films have not—or at least not from what can be seen—put Bond in braces when wearing a three-piece suit. The trousers often slip down in action to reveal a sliver of the shirt. This could have been avoided with braces, and nobody would ever know or think that Bond is wearing braces when they are hidden under a waistcoat.