James Bond Shows How a Suit Should Fit

James Bond has often set a good example for how a suit should fit. I’ve previously written about classic proportions and different parts of the suit, but not about overall fit. There is no one way a suit must fit, but there are general guidelines. Today’s slim-fit suits (like Daniel Craig’s suits in Skyfall) and the late 1980s and 1990s baggy suits (like Timothy Dalton’s suits in Licence to Kill) can follow the trends without being poorly-fitted messes. Whilst suits that bunch up or pull are not by any means well-fitting suits, a full-fitting suit and a close-fitting suit can both be equally well-fitting if they have clean lines and are comfortable to wear. The fit of a suit is primarily judged at a natural standing position, but how it moves with the body is also important since a well-fitted suit should never hinder anything but the most unnatural movements. A well-fitting suit should be comfortable to drive, eat or dance (but not breakdance) in.

For this example I am using Sean Connery’s famous grey glen check suit from Goldfinger made by Anthony Sinclair. It has a very classic fit, neither particularly full nor trim. It has fuller cut than what is fashionable today, but the same fit principles apply still.

James-Bond-Suit-Fit

The Jacket

  1. 1Collar: The jacket’s collar must hug the neck when standing both in a natural standing pose and though a little movement, and there must not be any creasing in the upper back below the collar. About a 1/2 inch to 1 inch of the shirt’s collar should show above the suit’s collar.
  2. 2Shoulders: The jacket’s shoulders should be wide enough for the sleeve to hang cleanly, which usually means a jacket’s shoulders are just a bit wider than a man’s natural shoulders. A man’s shoulders are rounded whereas a tailored jacket’s shoulders and sleeves meet at an angle, so it’s hard to compare the two. If your biceps push your sleeve out, the shoulders are too narrow. If the shoulders stick out further than your biceps, the shoulders are too wide. Anywhere in between is an acceptable shoulder width. The width of the shoulders should also be in proportion with the size of your head. Divots at the top of the sleeve do not mean the shoulders are too wide (as often thought) but rather that the chest is too tight across the back or the sleeves are not hung at the correct angle.
  3. 3Chest: The chest can be full and draped with a clean fold in front of the sleeve or close-cut and clean. The chest needs to be large enough that the arms can move without binding the chest. If the chest is too large there will be undesirable diagonal folds in the back. English tailors often cut their jackets with small folds at the sides the back behind the arms to allow for movement whilst keeping the silhouette very neat.
  4. 4Waist: The waist should not be so tight as to cause pulling, though a small “X” at the fastened button is acceptable. Sean Connery’s and Pierce Brosnan’s suit jackets did not fit closely around the waist, but they were still shaped at the waist. George Lazenby, Roger Moore and Daniel Craig all wear their suit jackets closer at the waist. As long as the jacket doesn’t pull at the waist (like on Daniel Craig’s suit jackets in Skyfall), the waist can have as much or as little tapering as you like.
  5. 5Sleeves: The sleeves should be wide enough to hang cleanly but not wide enough to look baggy. A sleeve that is too narrow will feel constricting. In general, the sleeve should follow the shape of the arm as it narrows towards the wrist, but it should be wide enough to comfortably fit a double cuff if you wear them. The angle that the sleeve is hung has a big impact on how cleanly it hangs. The wrong angle can cause wrinkles and discomfort. The angle that the sleeve follows should be how your arms fall at a natural stance. Armholes also play a part, and they should be snug, but not tight, around the armpit. This is known as a “high armhole” because the bottom of the armhole is high into the armpit, and it is one of the few places where snugness considerably increases mobility. A higer armhole allows the sleeve to move more independently of the chest. Read more on jacket sleeves.
  6. 6Sleeve length: The jacket’s sleeve should extend to the wrist bone. One-quarter to one-half inch of shirt cuff should extend past the jacket’s cuffs. This isn’t just to visually balance the shirt collar sticking out at the back of the neck but also to protect suit jacket cuffs from unnecessary wear. Shirts—or even just shirt cuffs—are much cheaper to replace than a suit that has frayed at the end of sleeves.
  7. 7Jacket length: The jacket should be around half the length from the base of the neck to the ground, and it must be long enough to cover the buttocks. English jackets tend to be on the longer side whilst Italian jackets tend to be on the shorter side. Fashion dictates that jacket are to be cut shorter now, just as they were cut longer in the 1990s. But within the current fashions, the jacket should still cover the buttocks or else it throws off the proportions of the body and can make the male figure look less masculine. But unlike any of the other fashions that flout proper fit, there is no loss of practicality or loss of clean lines with a jacket that is too long or too short. Visual balance is the only reason.
  8. 8Vents: If the jacket has a vent or vents, the vent or vents must stay closed. If there are no vents, the jacket should drape cleanly around the seat and not cause the front to pull open. Any man can wear any style of vent as long as the skirt of the jacket is properly fitted. Read more on vents.

The Trousers

  1. 9Waist: The trousers’ waist should be large enough to sit just at the waist without feeling too tight, and it should not be too lose as too sag. Side adjusters and belts exist only for minute adjustments, not to make the trousers a full size smaller. Trousers worn with braces should be slightly larger so they can hang freely.
  2. 10Rise: The trouser rise is the difference between the outseam and the inseam. The typical trouser rise has become shorter over the past fifty years, though it should still be long enough so the trousers can sit high enough to prevent the shirt and tie from showing beneath a fastened jacket button. The suit has a cleaner look when there is no break between the jacket and trousers. Daniel Craig’s suits in Skyfall and Spectre have a long enough rise to prevent this, though the trousers tend to sag lower.
  3. 11Front: Whether the trousers have forward pleats, reverse pleats, darts or a flat front, the front should lay flat without pulling at the crotch or opening the pockets. When there are pleats, the pleats should lay flat and only open when you sit or place your hands in your pockets.
  4. 12Legs: The legs can be wide or narrow as long as they have a clean drape with an uninterrupted crease. Trousers that cling to the leg are too tight and put unnecessary stress on the trousers. Suit trousers don’t stretch, so being too tight is not only uncomfortable but also impractical. Too-tight trousers also cannot keep a sharp crease and will not have the smart look that suit trousers demand.
  5. 13Hem: Full break, half break and no break are all valid options. The trousers are too short when sock can be seen when standing and too long when they pool on top of the shoe or reach the floor in the back. Wider legs need to be hemmed longer and narrower legs need to be hemmed shorter to achieve the same kind of break.

The Waistcoat

  1. 14Chest and waist: The front of the waistcoat must lay close to the chest. The waist should also fit closely, and the adjustable strap at the back should, like trousers adjusters, be used for small adjustments. Overall, the waistcoat should follow the contours of the body as closely as possible, but it shouldn’t be so tight that sitting is uncomfortable.
  2. 15Length: The waistcoat’s bottom button should be at the bottom of the trousers’ waistband to prevent the shirt from showing between the waistcoat and the trousers when left open. To keep the body in proportion, the waistcoat should not end far below the natural waist. A waistcoat that is too long makes the torso look heavier and the legs look shorter, which is rarely flattering. The waistcoat that is too long will also be uncomfortable when sitting. Because it ends not far below the waist and the second-to-bottom button is placed at the waist (the bottom button should not be fastened), it does not get in the way of sitting. If there is a gap between the waistcoat and the trousers, it is usually a problem with the trouser rise being too short, not the waistcoat being too short.

Sean Connery’s suit does not always look perfect, but that’s due to the “wear and tear that goes on out there in the field”. Because it’s a lightweight suit, it wrinkles more readily than a heavier suit would.

The Offence: A Navy Suit Like Bond

Sean-Connery-The-Offence-Navy-Suit

The Offence is the first film Sean Connery made when he exited the James Bond role after Diamonds Are Forever. The film was made in 1972 and is directed by Sideney Lumet. Connery plays Dectective-Sergeant Johnson, a police officer who is distressed by and haunted by the violent crimes he has investigated over his career. In a scene where Johnson is interrogated by the detective superintendent, played by Trevor Howard, he wears a navy mini-herringbone-weave suit. Connery was dressed by costume designer Vangie Harrison, who is better known for her work on Get Carter, which was made a year earlier. In his navy suit, Sean Connery is dressed very much like both Michael Caine is in Get Carter as well as the literary James Bond is.

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The suit jacket has three buttons with the lapel rolling over the top button. It has natural shoulders with roped sleeveheads, and it is cut with a full chest and a nipped waist. The pockets are flapped, and there are four buttons on the cuffs and a single vent. The suit trousers have tapered legs, but the front is not seen. This is not a suit characteristic of the early 1970s like what Sean Connery wears in Diamonds Are Forever. The jacket’s notched lapels and pocket flaps are balanced widths, the jacket’s vent is not too deep and the trousers have classic tapered legs. Apart from having a third button on the front, this suit resembles Sean Connery’s Anthony Sinclair suits that he wears in all of his James Bond films. This film was made in London, so Sinclair still would have been convenient. Even if it’s not from Sinclair, the suit is much nicer than a suit one would expect a police detective to wear. It fits very well, with the only problem being that the sleeves are just a little too long.

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With the navy suit, Connery wears a white shirt with a point collar—which he unbuttons during the heat of the interrogation—and double cuffs. Since the character isn’t supposed to be a style-conscious man, he wears his double cuffs improperly. He fastens them in a barrel fashion with a button or a cufflink that looks like a button. Cufflinks wouldn’t fit the character. His black textured silk tie is tied in a Windsor knot. Wearing a white shirt and black tie—which somewhat resembles a knitted tie—with a navy suit follows the style of the literary James Bond. If it wasn’t for the tie’s Windsor knot, this might be the closest Sean Connery has ever dressed to the literary Bond. Even his shoes are black slip-ons.

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Marnie: A Black, White and Red Houndstooth Jacket

Marnie-Houndstooth-Jacket

Previously I wrote about the black and grey herringbone tweed sports coat that Sean Connery wears as Mark Rutland in the 1964 Alfred Hitchcock film Marnie. The houndstooth check sports coat that Connery also wears in Marnie is made in the same style as the herringbone sports coat, and he wears it in a very similar manner. The jacket’s houndstooth check is in black and white (or rather slightly off white), and it has a windowpane that replaces the black in the check with red. The colours of this jacket look great on Connery’s cool complexion and allow it to work in informal settings outside the country. The cloth of this jacket is very similar to the cloth of George Lazenby’s hacking jacket in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service.

The jacket is likely made by an English tailor and is cut with straight shoulders on the natural shoulder line, roped sleeveheads, a full chest and a full waist. Though the shoulders look English, the jacket has a fuller cut since Americans often like to wear their sports coats fuller than their suit coats. The men’s costume designer on Marnie, James Linn, was likely American, and Rutland is supposed to be either American or English-American in the film. Nevertheless, the jacket still has some shape, which would show better if Connery buttoned the jacket. The jacket buttons three, but the lapel gently rolls over the top button. The jacket is detailed with flap pockets, three buttons on the cuffs and no vent. It’s an odd style choice to make a sports coat without a vent, especially one in a sporty tweed, but when worn for social occasions and not riding, the lack of vent does not matter. Non-vented jackets are very popular amongst the men in Hitchcock’s films since they have a cleaner look than a vented jacket.

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The medium grey flannel trousers are made in an English style. They have double forward pleats, a tapered leg with turn-ups, button side tabs to adjust the waist and an extended waistband closure. The choice of medium grey for the trousers isn’t the best since they have little contrast with the jacket. However, there is a bit of contrast in texture: woollen tweed for the jacket versus woollen flannel for the trousers. Flannel trousers are the perfect match for a tweed jacket. From a distance, however, the jacket’s pattern looks like solid medium grey, and because the trousers have a cooler tone than the jacket, the outfit, unfortunately, looks like a mismatched grey suit. The scale of the jacket’s check isn’t large enough to work with similarly-toned trousers.

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The jacket and trousers look like a mismatched suit from a distance.

In comparison to the English-style trousers, the shirt is an American classic that Connery never wears as James Bond: a button-down shirt. The key to a successful button-down collar is in the roll. The buttons are placed a bit higher up than where the collar points fall to assist the roll. The button-down collar is a rather casual collar, and thus Connery only wears it with sports coats in Marnie. Most people in England today would never wear a tie with a button-down collar, and button-down collars aren’t as popular in America as they used to be either. Connery’s white button-down shirt has a front placket and most likely single-button cuffs. Connery’s narrow tie is plain black, and he clips it to his shirt with a tie bar, something he never wears as James Bond. The tie bar, however, comes loose and leaves the tie dangling. There’s nothing wrong with a dangling tie, but it should not be dangling with a tie bar. Because the tie is so narrow, it is difficult to tell if he knotted the tie in a windsor or a half windsor knot. The lace-up shoes are black, and whilst they look rather serious in the informal country setting they match the black in both the jacket’s check and the tie.

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James Bond’s Many Brown Suits

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Roger Moore is often criticised for succumbing to 1970s fashion and causing him to wear uncharacteristic brown suits in his James Bond films. However, Bond has worn brown suits spanning five decades, from Goldfinger in 1964 to Quantum of Solace in 2008. Brown suits have a very long history that is independent of 1970s fashion. Brown suits are traditionally worn in the country made of rustic cloths like tweed and flannel. Brown worsted suits also have a long history, though they were never a conservative choice in London.

Goldfinger-Houndstooth-Suit

The first brown suit in the series is Sean Connery’s brown and black houndstooth check country suit (pictured above) that he wears to the office in Goldfinger. No fashion trends influenced the colour of this suit, though it’s not the most appropriate choice for conducting business in the city. This is the perfect suit for country pursuits—and it was cut for that purpose for Connery to first use in the film Woman of Straw—and the dark colour and subtle pattern fit the James Bond character. Later in Goldfinger for the scene at Fort Knox, Bond wears a worsted brown striped suit (pictured top). This suit likely has black mixed with the brown, since the suit’s colour is very dark and muted. It’s certainly not a country suit, though it’s not a conservative choice to wear in town either. It works best for business and dressy occasions outside of the city, and it’s certainly appropriate to wear when foiling a villain’s plans at Fort Knox. A brown worsted suit is a great choice for when a proper city suit is too dressy but a traditional country suit is too relaxed. This kind of dark, muted brown also suits Connery’s complexion better than light, rich browns. Connery dresses it up with a white shirt, black tie and black shoes. Conservative accessories can make a brown worsted suit passable for business in the city, depending on the setting.

Connery Anthony Sinclair Brown Suit

In Thunderball Sean Connery again wears a muted brown suit, but this time it’s a three-piece brown suit at the office (pictured above). Like the striped suit, this suit is brown mixed with black, and Connery dresses it up conservatively with a simple cream shirt, a solid brown grenadine tie and black shoes. Being a three-piece makes the suit dressier, and that tries to make up for the less conservative colour. Keep in mind that James Bond was never one to follow all the rules.

TickSuit

In On Her Majesty’s Secret Service George Lazenby wears a bolder brown suit for the swiss mountains; it is brown tweed with a cream tick pattern and a rust windowpane (pictured above). This might seem a bit too bold for Bond, but it actually belongs to the man Bond is impersonating: Sir Hilary Bray. Bray himself wears this suit to work at the College of Arms in London. Like Connery’s brown suits, it’s a muted brown but much lighter. It’s a very traditional country suit with hardly any influence from the era’s fashions.

Roger Moore is the Bond known for wearing brown suits, but since he’s not the first—or the last—Bond to have worn brown, most criticisms toward him for wearing brown aren’t quite fair. There’s never anything inappropriate about the colour of his brown suits, especially since he never wears them in London and only where they fit the—usually warm—location. The first brown suit he wears in Live and Let Die is only a basted brown worsted suit for a fitting with his tailor. Though the brown is dark like Connery’s brown suits, it’s not as muted. This is the first of Bond’s brown suits that is a result the fashions of its time. However, the colour is very flattering to Roger Moore’s warm complexion. Moore has a much different complexion than the two Bonds the came before him, and to dress him the same would not have been the best look for him.

The brown worsted suit returns in The Man with the Golden Gun, though this time it takes the form of olive. It’s still a classic suit colour, though it should be worn in the same settings that brown is worn in. Like brown, olive is very flattering to Moore’s warm complexion, and it suits the Hong Kong setting very well.

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The most notorious of Moore’s brown suits in the silk suit in The Spy Who Loved Me because it’s a light brown (pictured above). Though it’s the furthest from being a conservative business suit, it’s the perfect colour to wear in the Mediterranean. Sure, marine blue and light grey would also have been excellent choices, but there’s nothing wrong with light brown for an informal suit. It’s not just 1970s fashions that dictated Moore’s preference for this colour; it’s actually one of the best colours to flatter Moore’s warm complexion. Roger Moore wears a three-piece suit in a very similar brown—also in the Mediterranean—over ten years earlier in The Saint. And Moore wears this kind of light brown suit as Bond—again in the Mediterranean—in For Your Eyes Only. 1970s fashion was gone by this time, but light brown still looked fantastic on Moore.

Moonraker-Tweed-2

One of Moore’s brown suits is of the very traditional, country-type of brown suit: the brown donegal tweed suit in Moonraker (pictured above). Though the style of the suit is influenced by 70s fashions, the colour and cloth are certainly not. Though the wide lapels and flared trouser legs are poor fashion choices, brown tweed could not more perfectly fit the setting of a hunt in the country.

Though many of Pierce Brosnan’s suits have some brown in them, the only suit of his that is noticeably brown is his Prince of Wales check suit in GoldenEye. It recalls Sean Connery’s houndstooth check suit in Goldfinger, and like that suit, this one is not a good choice for the office in London either. Most recently, Daniel Craig wears a muted brown hopsack suit in Quantum of Solace (pictured below). Like Connery’s brown suits, this one is a very muted brown. Craig looks no less like James Bond in this suit than he does in his blue and grey suits. In fact, the warmer tones of this suit compared to his dark blues and greys is very flattering to Craig’s warm complexion. Though Bond is best known for his blue and grey suits, the brown suit is so not against the established Bond look as many believe.

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I’ve left out the beige and tan suits from this article since those are in a different category: warm-weather suits.

Shirt Collar Width, Height and Point Length—and Poll!

Turnbull & Asser Spread

Sean Connery wearing a spread collar in From Russia with Love

The shirt’s collar is one of the most important parts of a man’s outfit because it frames the face. Whilst fit ranks paramount for all parts of a man’s outfit, the collar’s shape and proportions rank equal to its fit. The width of the spread between the collar points is often mentioned, but collar height and point length are equally important. The three most basic collar styles are the spread collar, the semi-spread collar and the point collar. A wider collar is slightly dressier than a narrow collar, but James Bond has worn collars of all widths for different purposes throughout the series.

Collars

The Spread Collar

The spread collar is the wide, classic English collar. It may also be known as an English spread collar or a semi-cutaway collar. The English may call this a classic collar since it’s the standard collar for shirtmakers there. A wider collar such as the spread collar best flatters and balances people who have an angular jaw like Sean Connery, Roger Moore and Daniel Craig. On the other hand, the wide spread collar emphasises a wide face and should be avoided by people with a very round face or square jaw.

Sean Connery wears a spread collar, usually made by Turnbull & Asser, in all of his James Bond films except Dr. No (which is discussed below), and the collar flatters his angular jaw. George Lazenby wears a spread collar on his Frank Foster shirt for the wedding outfit due to the more formal nature of the black lounge coat, and it returns to the series in Roger Moore’s on his Frank Foster shirts in his three Bond films in the 1980s: For Your Eyes Only, Octopussy and A View to a Kill. Pierce Brosnan brings them back again on his Turnbull & Asser shirts in Tomorrow Never Dies and The World Is Not Enough. The spread collar is Bond’s favourite collar to wear with black tie, even when he wears other collars with his regular suits.

George Lazenby wears a point collar in On Her Majesty's Secret Service

George Lazenby wears a point collar in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service

The Point Collar

The point collar has the narrowest spread of the three basic collar. It is sometimes also called a forward point collar or a straight collar. Americans may call this a classic collar. The button-down collar is usually a variation on the point collar with a softer or no interfacing and buttons that hold down the collar points. The point collar best flatters men with a round face or square jaw, whilst it would extended a long face or an angular jaw.

Bond has worn very few point collars in the series. Many of George Lazenby’s Frank Foster shirts in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service have point collars, but a large amount of tie space prevents the collars from looking too narrow. It isn’t the ideal collar for Lazenby, but it doesn’t look bad on him either. Roger Moore’s Frank Foster shirts in The Spy Who Loved Me and Moonraker also have point collars, and even without the oversized they collars are too narrow for Moore’s angular jaw.

Daniel Craig wearing a semi-spread collar in Quantum of Solace

Daniel Craig wearing a semi-spread collar in Quantum of Solace

The Semi-Spread Collar

The collar that almost any man can look good in is the semi-spread collar. It is a moderate spread collar that is narrower than classic spread collar but wider than a point collar. Some call this the Kent collar, after Prince George, Duke of Kent. Some in England also call this the classic collar, proving that there is no consensus on that term. When the collar spread is around a 45º angle is can be described as neither narrow nor wide, which makes the semi-spread collar a rather neutral collar. It’s the safest collar for any situation and won’t offend conservative dressers on either side of the pond.

The semi-spread collar is the collar James Bond wears most often throughout the series. However, it works best for people with an oval face like George Lazenby, Timothy Dalton and Pierce Brosnan. George Lazenby wears semi-spread collars on some of his Frank Foster shirts in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, Roger Moore wears them on his Frank Foster shirts in Live and Let Die and The Man with the Golden Gun, Timothy Dalton wears them on his shirts in The Living Daylights, Pierce Brosnan wears them on his Sulka shirts in GoldenEye and Daniel Craig wears them on his Brioni shirts in Casino Royale and his Tom Ford shirts in Quantum of Solace.

Collar-Height

Height and Point Length

The height of the collar and the length of the collar points should always be considered, especially since there is a considerable variety available. Today, collars with a short height and shorts points are trendy because they complement the narrow lapels that are also popular. However, most men are not flattered by such skimpy collars. A short collar with short points flatters a man with a short neck and an overall smaller head. On most men, however, a short collar will make their neck look awkwardly long and their head look too large in proportion to the rest of their body. Timothy Dalton’s undersized spread collars in Licence to Kill are not a good choice for him. Whilst his neck looks fine with a short collar height—a slightly taller collar would still be better—his head looks large against the short collar points. Apart from in Licence to Kill, Bond has avoided wearing short collars.

Octopussy Grey Rope Stripe

Roger Moore wearing a tall spread collar with long points in Octopussy

On the other hand, a collar that is too tall with points too long will overwhelm the face. A short neck will disappear under a tall collar, and a long points shrink the head. Roger Moore is known for wearing tall collars with long points, especially in his films from The Spy Who Loved Me and later. These large collars work for Roger Moore, and not just in the context of his wide lapels. His neck is long and his head is fairly large. In Live and Let Die, Moore wears a spread collar that is so tall it fastens with two stacked buttons. Few men have such a long neck that they truly need a two-button collar, but the second button provides a necessary rigidity so it can withstand the pressure from a tie. Daniel Craig’s tall Brioni collars in Casino Royale shorten his neck, though the point length is a good medium. The long Tom Ford collar points in Quantum of Solace make Craig’s head look a little small.

Extreme-Collars

Extreme Collars: Cutaway, Narrow Point and Beyond

The extreme collars, such as the cutaway collar and narrow point collar, are for those who want to make fashion statements. The spread collar is sometimes called a cutaway collar, but the cutaway collar term is ordinarily reserved for the especially wide examples. Some may call the wide cutaway collar a Windsor collar. Like the spread collar, the cutaway can only look good on someone with a very angular face. But even the most angular faces will still look best in a regular spread collar. Rather than widen a narrow, angular jaw, the contrast from a cutaway collar may start to emphasise it. Likewise, the roundest faces will not be flattered more by a very narrow point collar than by a classic point collar. A very narrow collar cannot balance the weight of a large head and will end up looking like a balloon on a string.

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Sean Connery wearing a cutaway collar in Dr. No

These extreme collars have only been worn occasionally in the Bond films. Sean Connery wears cutaway collars on his Turnbull & Asser shirts throughout Dr. No, Roger Moore wears a cutaway collar on his Frank Foster shirt with morning dress in A View to a Kill and Pierce Brosnan wears Brioni shirts with cutaway collars in Die Another Day. Pierce Brosnan’s collars get wider with every Bond film he does, though the cutaway collar is certainly too wide for his oval face. The extreme cutaway collars that are trendy today are more severe than James Bond’s examples, whilst Bond’s cutaway collars are more like the collar originally made popular by the Duke of Windsor.

The tab collar that Daniel Craig wears on his Tom Ford shirts in Skyfall is like a variation on the narrow point collar. A narrow point collar would not flatter Daniel Craig’s angular face, but the his tab collar is a little different. The curve around the tie softens Craig’s angular jawline, and the collar points flare out below the tab to give the collar some needed breadth. If the collar just went straight down without the curves and flare it would not be the least bit flattering to Daniel Craig’s face. Still, a spread collar is a better choice for Daniel Craig’s angular jaw.

Daniel Craig wearing a tab collar in Skyfall

Daniel Craig wearing a tab collar in Skyfall

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The Ticket Pocket

The ticket pocket, sometimes called a cash pocket, is the small pocket that is occasionally found above the right hip pocket on a jacket or coat. It follows the angle and style of the pocket below it. Ordinarily it is aligned with the front edge of the larger hip pocket below it, but some makers centre the ticket pocket above the hip pocket. The ticket pocket’s flap is shorter than the hip pocket’s flap is. The ticket pocket can be found on suit jackets, sports jackets and overcoats. It was originally only found on country suits and sports coats but, like slanted pockets, made its way to city clothes during the second half of the twentieth century. The position of the ticket pocket has made its way lower over the years. It is considerably higher on Sean Connery’s Anthony Sinclair jackets in Goldfinger than it is on Daniel Craig’s jackets in Quantum of Solace. The standard is for the top of the ticket pocket to be three inches above the top of the hip pocket.

Alan Flusser writes in Dressing the Man that the ticket pocket was “introduced in the late 1850s for a railroad ticket and used at intervals ever since.” Riccardo Villarosa and Guiliano Angeli have a more modern idea about the ticket pocket’s name that they write in The Elegant Man: “[It] is called a ticket pocket because it often holds bus tickets.” The ticket pocket is meant are for travelling tickets and not opera or theatre tickets. It is too informal to wear on suits that would be worn to the opera or the theatre. Other than travelling tickets, the pocket can be useful for any small item such coins, banknotes, receipts, papers, etc.

Ticket pockets are best avoided on shorter men since they break up the length of the jacket. They should also be avoided on heavier men since they add bulk to the waist.

Slanted pockets with a ticket pocket on Sean Connery's hacking jacket in Goldfinger. Notice that the ticket pocket has a smaller flap than the hip pocket and is placed high above it.

Slanted pockets with a ticket pocket on Sean Connery’s Anthony Sinclair hacking jacket in Goldfinger. Notice that the ticket pocket has a smaller flap than the hip pocket and is placed high above it.

James Bond has ticket pockets on a number of his suits and sports coats. Until Pierce Brosnan became Bond in the 1990s, Bond’s suits with ticket pockets were almost all sportier suits. The majority of Bond’s tweeds have ticket pockets, like the tweed hacking jackets in Goldfinger, Thunderball and A View to a Kill, the “reversible” tweed jacket in Octopussy and the tweed suits in Moonraker and The World Is Not Enough. The blazers in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service (double-breasted) and The Spy Who Loved Me (single-breasted) also have ticket pockets. Apart from the tweed suits, many of Bond’s other sportier suits have ticket pockets, like the glen check suits in Goldfinger, On Her Majesty’s Secret ServiceDiamonds Are Forever and GoldenEye, the brown houndstooth check suit in Goldfinger and the grey flannel suit in Diamonds Are Forever.

Starting in GoldenEye, many of James Bond’s worsted city suits have ticket pockets. Many of Pierce Brosnan’s worsted suits—three in GoldenEye, two in Tomorrow Never Dies, two in The World Is Not Enough and one in Die Another Day—have slanted pockets with a ticket pocket. Though this pocket style gives the Italian Brioni suits a decidedly more English look, it is really too sporty for business suits. Straight pockets with a ticket pocket or slanted pockets without a ticket are okay for a slight dandyish look on a business suit, but the combination of slanted pockets with a ticket pocket is too sporty for the city. Brosnan’s navy single-breasted overcoat in Die Another Day, like many of his suits, has slanted pockets and a ticket pocket.  Daniel Craig brought back ticket pockets—albeit straight—on all of his dark city Tom Ford suits in Quantum of Solace. Even the navy Tom Ford overcoat in Quantum of Solace has a ticket pocket, but it’s also straight.

What is your favourite style of jacket vent?

Dr-No-Double-Vents

What is your favourite style of jacket vent?

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Whilst the front of a jacket is defined by the number of buttons it has, the back is defined by the number of vents. The front of the jacket has different kinds of lapels and pockets to break it up and give it interest whilst the back has only vents. The vents are a very important part of the jacket since they add functionality as well as distinguish the look of the back.

Single Vent

Daniel Craig's suits have single vents in Skyfall.

Daniel Craig’s Tom Ford suits have single vents in Skyfall.

Single vents (also called centre vents) are when the centre back seam of the jacket is opened at the bottom. Single vents are most associated with American clothing, but like most origins in tailoring they come from England. Single vents were developed for riding, and the single vent splits the jacket’s skirt evenly on either side of the horse. Naturally, the hacking jacket, like what Sean Connery wears in Goldfinger and George Lazenby wears in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, has a single vent, and it’s quite a long single vent (12 to 13 inches) so it has enough room to split neatly over the back of a horse. Many of Sean Connery’s and Daniel Craig’s suit jackets also have single vents, which is the most tradition vent style on a single-breasted jacket. Single vents have the disadvantage of exposing the buttocks in action scenes or when a man reaches his hands into his trouser pockets. It’s a bit less of a disadvantage with a body like Daniel Craig’s, though double vents would still look neater.

On suit jackets, the length of a single vents typically range from 8 to 10 inches.1960s fashions sometimes resulted in shorter vents around six inches long, though James Bond never succumbed to this fashion. Longer vents of around 12 to 13 inches were popular in the 1970s and early 1980s, though the only long single vents Bond wears at that time are on his safari-esque sports coats in The Man with the Golden Gun and The Spy Who Loved Me.

Goldfinger-Hacking-Jacket-Vent

Sean Connery’s Anthony Sinclair hacking jacket in Goldfinger has a long single vent to the waist.

Double Vents

Double vents (also called side vents) are when the rear side seams are opened at the bottom, and they are typically associated with English tailoring. Double vents didn’t become standard for English tailors until the late 1960s. At that time it was more of a trend, but the trend stuck. Before the late 1960s, English tailors generally would put single vents on single-breasted jackets and double vents on double-breasted jackets. This system creates a symmetry between the front and back of the jacket. Double-breasted jackets should never have single vents, only double vents if it has vents. Double-breasted jackets take double vents on the back to balance the double columns of buttons in front.

Roger Moore's Cyril Castle suit jacket in The Man with the Golden Gun has deep double vents

Roger Moore’s Cyril Castle suit jacket in The Man with the Golden Gun has deep double vents

For the past decade, double vents have been very popular and can be found on Italian clothing and American clothing. Currently, double vents are most popular on English, American and Italian tailoring. They haven’t been this popular in America since the 1960s and in Italy since the 1970s. Double vents are dressier than single vents, though they still have their origins in riding like single vents have. They allow more waist suppression than single vents do, and they allow a man to reach into his side trouser pockets with the least disruption to the lines of the jacket. They also extend the line of the leg for a slimmer and taller appearance. Like with single vents, double vents are typically 8 to 10 inches in length but varied with fashion trends. 6-inch double vents weren’t uncommon in the 1960s, and double vents up to 13 inches deep weren’t uncommon in the 1970s to the early 1980s. When over 10 inches, double vents can be a bit unruly, but that’s part of the charm.

Marine-Blue-Suit-Double-Vents

Even when the Roger Moore’s Cyril Castle suit jacket flaps in the wind, the double vents keep his rear covered.

Double vents sometimes continue the line of the side seams straight down, which can cause the vents to stick out over the rear. The double vents on Sean Connery’s Anthony Sinclair suits are made like this and emphasise his large rear. The double vents on Roger Moore’s Cyril Castle suits and Pierce Brosnan’s Brioni suits are also made like this, but their rears aren’t as large so the style work better on them.

George Lazenby’s Dimi Major suits, Roger Moore’s Angelo and Douglas Hayward suits and Daniel Craig’s Tom Ford suits in Quantum of Solace have double vents that flare outward. By flaring out, the vents actually hang straighter down the sides of the body. This keeps the vents looking neat no matter their length. Whilst the flare is noticeable from the back, the flare gives added shape to the waist whilst masking a large rear. The flared double vents have a more English look than straighter double vents have.

Flared double vents on George Lazenby's Dimi Major suit jacket

Flared double vents on George Lazenby’s Dimi Major glen check suit jacket

No Vents

Jackets without any vent are most associated with Italian clothing, and the Italians did indeed make jackets without vents in the 1950s and later in the 1980s through the early 2000s when vents were commonly found on English and American tailoring. A non-vented skirt is not an Italian style, as often stated. It’s a traditional style for all tailoring, and before vents became popular in the 1950s most jackets were made without a vent. When the non-vented style was popular in the 1980s, many sports coats were made without vents, but sports coats usually have vents due to their sporting heritage. Sean Connery wears many suit jackets without vents in his Bond films, especially in Goldfinger and Thunderball. Timothy Dalton also wears jackets without vents in Licence to Kill, a result of the trends at the time for non-vented jackets.

Sean Connery's dinner jacket in Thunderball follows tradition with no vents

Sean Connery’s dinner jacket in Thunderball follows tradition with no vents

All of the Bond actors, except George Lazenby, have at times worn dinner jackets without vents. Roger Moore’s double-breasted dinner jackets in The Spy Who Loved Me and Moonraker are his only jackets of the series without vents. Vents are still considered by many to be a faux pas on a dinner jacket, since vents have sporting origins and the dinner jacket is never worn for sports. When Bond has vents on his dinner jackets they are double vents. The exception to this is the single vent on his dinner jacket in Skyfall, though single vents are too sporty and not dressy enough for dinner jackets.

Some people recommend different style jacket skirts for different types of builds. I’ve heard people say that single vents are better for a large rear than double vents are. I’ve also heard people say the opposite. Others say that no vent is best for a large rear. Poor-fitting jacket skirts can cause any kind of vents to split open or stick out. Poor-fitting double vents can have a “shelf” effect where the back flap sticks out. A tight skirt or waist with a single vent will cause the vent to open, revealing the buttocks. A tight skirt without any vents will pull the front of the jacket open at the hips and cause creasing at the back. These are all ready-to-wear issues. When the skirt of a ready-to-wear jacket is too tight, it can be difficult to fix, though letting out the waist helps in some cases. A bespoke tailor can create a well-fitting and flattering jacket skirt for any build in any vent style.

Sean Connery's naval uniform in You Only Live Twice has short double vents

Sean Connery’s naval uniform in You Only Live Twice has short double vents

How to Wear Black Tie Like James Bond

Thunderball-Dinner-Suit

James Bond inspires more men to wear black tie—a.k.a. a tuxedo—than any other person, real or fictional. Whether you call it a dinner suit, dinner jacket, evening suit, tuxedo or tux (but please don’t!), 007 sets the ultimate example for how to follow the black tie dress code. Bond usually follows traditional protocol for the black tie dress code, but there is a certain way to follow the protocol if you want to wear black tie like Bond. What follows is a summary of Bond’s usual black tie styles. It doesn’t cover all black tie outfits Bond has worn, but it’s a general guide to how Bond wears black tie. There are a few exceptions to what is written here, but those exceptions are not part of the essential James Bond black tie look.

Dr. No Dinner Suit

Sean Connery wears a midnight blue shawl-collar dinner suit in Dr. No

The Cloth

Bond’s favourite colour for his dinner suit is midnight blue, but he often wears black dinner suits as well. Until recently, midnight blue was rarely found off the rack and signified that one bought his dinner suit from a bespoke English tailor or a high-end Italian maker. The dinner suit (or tuxedo) is a suit, meaning that both the jacket and the trousers match, whether the suit is black or midnight blue. Bond ordinary follows tradition and wears his dinner suits in a pebble-like barathea-weave wool, but sometimes he wears them in a wool and mohair blend that has a slight sheen. The image at the top of this article is of a mohair-blend midnight blue dinner suit that Sean Connery wears in Thunderball.

The silk trimmings—the lapel facings, trouser stripes and button coverings—on Bond’s midnight blue dinner suits are sometimes matching midnight blue and sometimes contrasting in black. On his black dinner suits they, of course, match in black. They are usually in satin silk, but sometimes in grosgrain silk.

Daniel Craig wears a peaked lapel dinner jacket in Casino Royale

Daniel Craig wears a peaked lapel dinner jacket in Casino Royale

The Dinner Jacket

There are dinner jackets and dinner jackets; this is the latter. And I need you looking like a man who belongs at that table.

Vesper Lynd’s advice to James Bond in Casino Royale is sound for any man wearing black tie in any occasion. Bond’s dinner jackets are almost always single-breasted, and they follow tradition with only one button on the front. The jackets may have peaked lapels, notched lapels or a shawl collar. Since notched lapels are less dressy than peaked lapels or the shawl collar, Bond mostly wears notched lapels for private dinners, like for his dinner with M in Goldfinger or his dinner with Kamal Khan in Octopussy. Because black tie these days is more often worn for grander occasions, Bond prefers peaked lapels and shawl collars.

Roger Moore wears a midnight blue double-breasted dinner suit in The Spy Who Loved Me

Roger Moore wears a midnight blue double-breasted dinner suit in The Spy Who Loved Me

Bond wears double-breasted dinner jackets a number of times in the 1970s and 1980s. They usually have six buttons with two to fasten in the most traditional style for double-breasted suit jackets, but in A View to a Kill his double-breasted dinner jacket has four buttons with one to button. The simpler double-breasted style is thought by some to be more appropriate for a dinner jacket, but either style is acceptable.

Bond’s dinner jackets usually have double vents, but they sometime have no vent, which is the most traditional style for a dinner jacket. Double vents, especially when 8 to 10 inches long, are appropriate on a dinner jacket and keep the back draping neatly and elegantly. In Skyfall, Bond makes a mistake by having a sporty single vent on his dinner jacket, which is an error typically found only with American makers.

The hip pockets on Bond’s dinner jackets are straight and jetted without flaps for the cleanest look, and the jettings are done in the same cloth as the jacket’s body, not the silk trimming. The jacket cuffs have three or four buttons. On occasion they have gauntlet—or turnback—cuffs in the silk trimming, like in Dr. No, From Russia with Love and Quantum of Solace. The dinner jacket’s buttons are either covered in the same silk as the lapels or made of horn.

The Trousers

Bond’s dinner suit trousers follow black tie tradition and have a silk stripe down the side. The stripe matches the silk facings on the jacket’s lapels. The front style of Bond’s trousers has varied considerably, from double forward pleats and double reverse pleats to darted fronts and plain fronts. The trouser bottoms are always finished without turn-ups. The trousers are either held up with white silk braces or with side-adjusters on the trousers. The dinner suit trousers are never worn with a belt.

The Waist Covering

Though low-cut waistcoats and cummerbunds are traditional, Bond more often than not breaks black tie protocol and goes without any waist covering. Pierce Brosnan wears low-cut waistcoats in his first two Bond films, and on occasion, like in the most recent two Bond films, Bond wears cummerbunds. In For Your Eyes Only and Octopussy Bond wears trousers with a wide silk waistband that buttons at the side to give the illusion that he is wearing a cummerbund, even though he is not. Though the waistcoat is not a very Bondian part of black tie, the cummerbund is the best way to go if you want to dress like Bond and also wear proper black tie. Though going without any waist covering isn’t ideal, it’s not the biggest sin provided the trousers have a rise long enough so that the white shirt does not show beneath the jacket’s button.

Goldfinger-Dress-Shirt

Sean Connery wears a pleated and striped dress shirt in Goldfinger

The Dress Shirt

The most important part of the shirt is the collar, and Bond always wears a turn-down collar—usually a spread collar—with black tie and never a wing collar. Bond wears three different styles of shirt with black tie: the pleated shirt, the marcella shirt and the textured shirt. The pleated shirt has a bib on the front of half-inch pleats, and it has either mother-of-pearl buttons down the front placket or sometimes a fly placket that covers the buttons. The pleated shirt doesn’t take studs since it’s a soft and relaxed alternative to the dressier marcella shirt. The pleated shirt may have double (French) cuffs or cocktail cuffs.

Pierce Brosnan wears a marcella dress shirt with studs in Tomorrow Never Dies

Pierce Brosnan wears a marcella dress shirt with mother-of-pearl studs in Tomorrow Never Dies

The marcella shirt has a marcella—or piqué—bib on the front, and the front has no raised placket and is fastened with studs due to the stiffer front. Bond’s studs are white mother-of-pearl, not black onyx. The marcella shirt also has not only a marcella bib but also the collar and cuffs—always double cuff—in marcella cotton. Marcella is too stiff for the body and sleeves. The marcella shirt is the dressiest of all black tie shirts.

The textured shirt is made with the same weave all over with no bib in front. The texture may be a white-on-white waffle weave, like in Casino Royale, a white-on-white self stripe, like in Thunderball or an open voile weave for hot weather, like in The Spy Who Loved Me and Octopussy. The shirt may either have a fly placket that covers the buttons or regular mother-of-pearl buttons down the front. Like the pleated shirt, the textured shirt isn’t dressy enough to take studs. It may have double (French) cuffs or cocktail cuffs.

Sometimes Bond combines the textured shirt with the pleated style, like in the pleated self-stripe shirts in Goldfinger and For Your Eyes Only. Bond’s dress shirts are almost always white, and they alway should be white. Roger Moore occasionally wears cream dress shirts, like in The Man with the Golden Gun and Octopussy, but these should be avoided since the elegance of black tie comes from the contrast between the black and white elements.

Daniel Craig wears a diamond bow tie in Quantum of Solace

Daniel Craig wears a diamond-point bow tie in Quantum of Solace

The Bow Tie

Bond’s bow tie is always black and matches the texture of lapel facings, whether the facings are satin or grosgrain. Bond has occasionally made the mistake of not wearing a matching bow tie, and this is not recommended. Sometimes the bow tie is a thistle shape and other times it’s a batwing shape. It usually has straight ends, but sometimes Bond wears a diamond-point bow tie. All of these shapes are valid for the Bond look. The only thing that is a must is a self-tie bow tie. If you can tie your shoes correctly (not a granny knot) you can tie a bow tie. They use the same bow! Bond never wears a pre-tied bow tie or long four-in-hand tie with his dinner suits.

Plain Toe Shoes

Black plain toe shoes are the only choice. Bond’s shoes are usually patent leather, but recently they haven’t been. Bond mostly wears plain toe oxfords—per the British definition with closed lacings, also known as balmorals to the Americans—but Roger Moore wears slip-ons. Though oxfords are preferred, if the slip-ons have a plain toe they are almost like a variation on the traditional opera pump. In Casino Royale, Bond wears black calf plain-toe derby shoes with his dinner suit, which are as appropriate as oxfords but not the worst choice either.

White Dinner Jacket

Sean Connery wears an ivory wool dinner jacket in Goldfinger whilst in Latin America

Warm Weather Black Tie

Though Bond hasn’t worn an ivory dinner jacket since Roger Moore played the role in A View to a Kill, it’s still a classic style for warm-year-round locales. It’s what you’ll want to wear for black tie occasions in places like The Bahamas, Latin America, Southeast Asia and India. Bond’s warm-weather dinner jackets are never usually pure white, but they are ivory. Bond’s dinner jacket that comes closest to white is the silk dinner jacket in The Man with the Golden Gun. Bond’s ivory dinner jackets follow the same styles as the black and midnight blue dinner jackets, except they have self lapels rather than silk-faced lapels. The buttons are also different; they are always white mother-of-pearl except for the beige horn buttons in A View to a Kill. Bond’s ivory dinner jackets are worn with black dinner suit trousers as described above, as well as the same shirts and bow ties.

If you’re interested in learning more about how to follow the black tie dress code, read Peter Marshall’s Black Tie Guide, which is the ultimate source for formalwear. You can also leave any questions about wearing black tie like James Bond in the comments below. For more specific examples of James Bond’s and related characters’ black tie outfits, see this blog’s black tie tag.


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