Minister of Defence: A Flattering Three-Piece for a Corpulent Figure

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Minister of Defence Frederick Grey, played by Geoffrey Keen, is a recurring character in the six Bond films from The Spy Who Loved Me through The Living Daylights. He’s always well-dressed and very traditionally dressed for the city. Though his clothes are very sober and don’t particularly stand out, they’re remarkable in that they are always very flattering to his short and corpulent figure. Whilst tall and slim men don’t need much help to look good, a well-tailored suit can do wonders for the not so fortunate. The minister almost certainly wears bespoke suits, and they perhaps could be Geoffrey Keen’s own. For someone who is rarely in more than two brief scenes in each Bond film, it’s hard to imagine the film production would spend for a bespoke suit for each film. The Minister appears in two scenes in A View to a Kill, and he wears the same three-piece suit in both his scene at the beginning of the film and his scene at the end of the film.

Minister-of-Defence-A-View-to-a-Kill-2The Minister’s suit in A View to a Kill is dark warm grey with very closely-spaced light grey pinstripes, with about six stripes to the inch. The closely-spaced pinstripes have the effect of making the suit overall look more like medium grey. The suit jacket has a traditional English cut, with lightly-padded straight shoulders and roped sleeveheads. The chest is full cut to give the impression of a smaller waist, and the chest darts are placed further to the side than they typically would be to give a flattering shape to the Minister’s corpulent figure. The button two suit jacket has classic proportions—the lapel width, gorge height and button stance are evenly balanced and do not look dated. That balance is also key to flattering the Minister’s larger figure. The jacket has a single vent, three buttons on the cuffs and slanted hip pockets. The waistcoat has five buttons. The suit trousers aren’t seen, but double forward pleats and braces are likely.

The Minister's second appearance in A View to a Kill, with a light blue shirt and navy tie.

The Minister’s second appearance in A View to a Kill, with a light blue shirt and navy tie.

The Minister’s shirt in his first scene is cream and has a classic English spread collar with a quarter-inch of tie space and button cuffs. With the cream shirt he wears a navy tie with white dots, tied in four-in-hand knot. The Minister’s shirt in his second scene is light blue with a more moderate spread collar, and his tie is navy, again tied in a four-in-hand knot.

Sir Godfrey Tibbett: The Light Grey Morning Suit

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In A View to a Kill, Sir Godfrey Tibbett, like Bond, wears the morning suit variation of morning dress where the morning coat, waistcoat and trousers match each other. Tibbett is played by Patrick Macnee, who is best-known for playing the dandy John Steed in The Avengers, and Macnee still looks effortlessly stylish as Tibbett. Tibbett’s suit is light grey, woven of grey and white yarns, and it could possibly be pick-and-pick. Light grey is the classic shade for the morning suit, more so than the much darker grey that Bond’s morning suit is. The morning suit is less formal than non-matching morning dress, and it’s best worn for less formal occasions. Royal Ascot is thus the ideal place to wear a morning suit.

Bond-Q-Tibbett-Morning-DressThe morning suit’s coat is cut and detailed the same as the more traditional black morning coat. It is a body coat with a waist seam for a close fit, and it is cut away in the front skirt below the button and curves around to the tails in back. Tibbett’s morning coat has the traditional single button link closure and peaked lapels, and it is cut with a clean chest and straight shoulders. It has three buttons on the cuffs and a breast pocket. The single-breasted waistcoat has six buttons—the bottom is left open—and no lapels. The buttons on the morning coat and the waistcoat are polished grey horn.

Bond-Tibbett-M-Morning-DressTibbett’s white shirt is a regular formal shirt with a spread collar and—like on M’s shirt with morning dress—button cuffs. Button cuffs don’t belong with morning dress, and some would argue that attached soft collars don’t belong with morning dress either. At least Tibbett’s wider spread collar is more formal than the narrower point collars that M and Q wear. Tibbett a grey and white printed spitalfields tie, and it is tied in a windsor knot. He wears the same light grey felt top hat with a black ribbon and white carnation in his lapel that the other men wear, but his brown, unlined suede gloves are an interesting change.

Sir Godfrey Tibbett’s morning suit concludes this series on morning dress. I’ll write about Zorin’s charcoal grey herringbone morning suit at a later date.

Q: Morning Dress with a Double-Breasted Waistcoat

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Like M, Q wears a black morning coat to Royal Ascot in A View to a Kill. The morning coat has a link closure, which I wrote about in the description of M’s morning coat. Q leaves his morning coat open and the inner button of the link clousure is left dangling, but both the outer and inner buttons are present unlike on M’s coat, which is missing the outer button. There are four buttons on the cuffs, and the coat’s buttons are either plastic or polished horn. Q’s morning coat is cut with natural shoulders, and as usual they are a little too wide for him. Q’s trousers are dark grey striped, though the stripes aren’t as bold as they traditionally should be. They are cut with a high rise and traditional English double forward pleats and have a plain hem.

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Many consider the double-breasted waistcoat to be the most elegant style of waistcoat for morning dress, but it’s just as equally appropriate as the single-breasted waistcoat. Q’s taupe waistcoat has six buttons with three to button. The buttons are spaced close together and in a keystone formation. The buttons are mother-of-pearl, which is common for morning dress waistcoats. The waistcoat has peaked lapels, and the peaks are very low on the chest. The bottom of the waistcoat is cut straight across, and the length just covers the waistband of the trousers. The length of the waistcoat is very important because when it’s too long it throws off the proportions of the body, and the right or wrong length is more noticeable in a waistcoat cut straight across the bottom. A shorter waistcoat and high rise trousers is much more flattering than the longer waistcoat and low rise trousers that are seen today.

Look for the dangling link button sticking out on the shank from Q's jacket.

Look for the dangling link button sticking out on the shank from Q’s jacket.

The light brown knitted tie closely matches to the waistcoat in colour but not in dressiness. A knitted tie is the least formal of all ties and thus isn’t suitable with morning dress, which is the dressiest of daytime clothes that people still wear today. Q wears a regular white formal shirt with his morning dress, which has an unflatteringly short point collar and double cuffs. Like M, Q also wears a white linen handkerchief in his breast pocket, and he wears his in a straight fold. Q’s shoes are black derbies with an apron toe, and, like his tie, they aren’t as dressy as shoes should be for morning dress. Q follows the others in his group and wears a white carnation in his lapel and a light grey felt top hat with a black ribbon when he is at the race . However, Q is the only man in the bunch who does not wear gloves.

Traditional striped trousers and the odd choice of apron-front derby shoes

Traditional striped trousers and the odd choice of apron-front derby shoes

M: Morning Dress

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M in Morning Dress, on the right, with his grey felt top hat on his desk

Since Royal Ascot is next week, we’re going to look at M’s, Q’s, and Sir Godfrey Tibbett’s morning dress in A View to a Kill. I already wrote about Bond’s morning dress in A View to a Kill a few years ago. M’s (Robert Brown) morning dress will be the first in this morning dress series, since his is the most pedestrian. The morning coat—known as a cutaway to the Americans—is a type of tailcoat worn for formal daytime occasions, and it is almost always single-breasted compared to the double-breasted evening tailcoat. The front skirt cuts away to the tails in the back. It looks almost like a long suit jacket that is cut away in front, but it has a waist seam like the evening tailcoat and other body coats. M’s black morning coat is the classic model with a single button link closure and peaked lapels. The link closure is traditionally two shanked buttons on a chain with a buttonhole on each side of the front, and when the link button connects the two side the front edges meet instead of overlap. It looks like there are two buttons on the front side by side, and it gives the jacket a more symmetrical look since one side isn’t overlapping the other. It’s somewhat like a cufflink, though it doesn’t pull the two sides of the jacket so closely together. M’s link closure is made a little differently. His coat has a regular single button on the right side with a corresponding buttonhole on the left side, but there is also a button on a long thread shank sewn on the backside of the jacket behind where the regular button sewn. To complicate things, M’s jacket appears to be missing the regular button attached to the front of his coat and only has the button that comes from behind, so I cannot use M to illustrate the way the link button properly looks. M morning coat buttons are black horn, and there are three buttons on the cuffs. The coat has a welt breast pocket but no other pockets.

M-Morning-Dress-2Under the morning coat M wears a medium grey button six waistcoat. Waistcoats with morning dress are traditionally light colours—light grey, light blue, buff and cream—and sometimes made of linen, but M’s medium grey worsted wool waistcoat still provides enough contrast for the same effect. Since M’s waistcoat is wool, it’s possible that he took it from one of his three-piece suits. It’s not ideal to use a waistcoat from a suit, but as long as it’s light enough in colour it works. M’s trousers are hardly seen, but they look like they are solid grey in a shade darker than the waistcoat. Most likely they follow morning dress tradition and have some sort of pattern. They aren’t the bold grey and black “cashmere stripe” pattern, which is the most formal of morning dress trousers. Most likely they are a fine houndstooth pattern in black and white, which could appear as solid grey from a distance. Checks in black and white are just as traditional for morning trousers and are great for the less formal of morning dress occasions like Royal Ascot. Because the three pieces of M’s morning dress do not match, it cannot be called a “morning suit” like Bond’s all-matching morning dress can be called. The black coat with separate waistcoat and trousers is more formal and more traditional than the morning suit.

M-Bond-Morning-DressM’s shirt is an ordinary white formal shirt and not the most appropriate shirt for morning dress. It has a point collar and button cuffs. Though detachable collars are no longer a necessity with morning dress, a more formal wide spread collar like what Bond wears is preferable to M’s point collar. Double cuffs are also preferable to button cuffs, but M’s button cuffs mostly stay hidden inside the jacket sleeves. M wears an amethyst-grey lightly-ribbed silk tie, tied in a four-in-hand knot. M wears all of the traditional Royal Ascot morning dress accessories: a light grey felt top hat with a black ribbon, thin and unlined light grey gloves with a button at the wrist, and a white carnation boutonniere. Of the four men in morning dress, M and Q are the only ones wearing handkerchiefs in their breast pockets. M’s handkerchief is white linen and folded with three points peeking out.

Though M doesn’t completely follow morning dress protocol, he makes due with what he has and his clothes fit well. His outfit might not be perfect, but he is still elegantly dressed for the race.

The Velour Tracksuit

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Roger Moore’s 1980s clothing is for the most part very classic. Bond often wears a black shirt with black trousers for his nighttime spying, but in A View to a Kill Moore caves to 1980s fashion and wears a midnight blue velour tracksuit from the Italian sportswear comapny FILA. At the time, tracksuits weren’t just athletic wear, they were a fashion item. The jacket has raglan sleeves, a zip fastening and welted pockets with elasticised cuffs and an elasticised hem. There is white piping on the seams, down the shoulders and sleeves, and across the pocket welts.

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The jogging pants are made in the same velour as the jacket and have an elasticised waist with a white tie fastening. Underneath the suit Bond wears a medium blue crew-neck shirt. Bond wears black trainers. Can anybody identify them in the picture below?

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The tracksuit was sold at Christie’s in South Kensington on 12 December 2001 for £470.

Max Zorin in Black Tie

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Max Zorin, played by Christopher Walken, is dressed is a different, but just as classic, mode of black tie from James Bond. Whilst Bond wears a white, single-breasted dinner jacket with natural shoulders, Zorin’s dinner jacket is black and double-breasted with straight, padded shoulders. The padded shoulders reflect both the 1980s fashions and Zorin’s thirst for power, and they contrast with Bond’s softer look. This is one of the series’ best examples of contrasting black tie between Bond and the villain. Thunderball also finds Bond wearing a single-breasted dinner jacket whilst the villain is wearing the double-breasted dinner jacket, but the colours are reversed. It’s more subtle than putting the villain in a black shirt, like Le Chiffre in Casino Royale.

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Zorin’s double-breasted buttoning is in the typical 80’s style: four buttons with one to button. But unlike what was in fashion, the bottom row of buttons on Zorin’s dinner jacket is only just below the waist, not a few inches lower. This gives the jacket better proportions. There are three buttons on the sleeves, and all the buttons are made of black horn. The peak lapels and trouser stripe are black satin. The jacket also has jetted pockets and double vents. The only fault with this dinner jacket that the collar fits poorly and leaves a gap between the shirt collar.

The dress shirt has a spread collar and pleated, fly front. The fly front was very trendy—yet still elegant—at the time, and Pierce Brosnan often wore it in Remington Steele. He wears a classic black satin silk thistle bow-tie. Zorin makes a poor choice with a dark blue puffed pocket square, clashes with the black dinner jacket. Scarpine’s wine red pocket square (see top picture) is a more classic and complementary choice. Apart from the pocket square and collar, Zorin is a well-dressed man, as a man in his position should be. Today, this would be quite rare for someone in the technology industry.

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White Collar and Cuffs

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Roger Moore wearing a navy bengal stripe shirt with a white collar and cuffs in For Your Eyes Only.

In the United States, the contrasting white collar and cuffs style has been all but tarnished by the 1987 film Wall Street. But it’s a classic style that has been around a very long time. It goes back to the days when collars were stiff and detachable, and men would pair white collars with a body of any colour. Now the collars come soft and attached. Some retailers call a shirt with a white collar a “Winchester” shirt—presumably named after the city in England, not the rifle—but I have not found an historical use of this term and believe it’s just a modern marketing term.

Bond wears shirts with a white collar and cuffs in For Your Eyes Only and A View to a Kill, made by Frank Foster. Though the style is best worn with double cuffs, Bond wears his with button cuffs. Likewise, a spread collar is the best collar to be in white, though point collars can work well too. White collars and cuffs are most stylishly paired with a body that includes white. Bond’s shirts have white in the form of bengal stripes, though it’s also common to see a white collar on an end-on-end shirt. Collars and cuffs typically wear out before the body of a shirt wears out, and the collar and cuffs of almost any dressier shirt can be replaced with white since it’s typically impossible to find the original cloth for replacements. And even if the original cloth is obtainable it’s not going to match a shirt that has been washed many times. Checks don’t mate so well with white collars because of the difference in formality and purpose. White collars are a rather dressy style and are excellent for morning dress. For everyday wear they work best with a suit or a dressier blazer but are best avoided wearing with other sports coats and without a coat or tie. And because of their daywear tradition they are best worn during the day.

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Roger Moore wearing a pink bengal stripe shirt with a white collar and cuffs in A View to a Kill.

Though Bond only wears shirts with a white collar and cuffs in two films, Roger Moore wears them in his personal life, as well as in some earlier films and television, like in Street People and The Persuaders. In The Man Who Haunted Himself he wears a plain white detachable collar with a white self-stripe shirt. Pierce Brosnan occasionally wears shirts with a white collar—but not white cuffs—in Remington Steele, mostly with suits but occasionally with blazers.

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Pierce Brosnan wearing a blue (probably end-on-end) shirt with a pinned white collar in the 1982 episode of Remington Steele titled “You’re Steele the One for Me”.

The Leather Blouson

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In the 1980s Bond started wearing leather jackets, an item he’s worn as recently as Skyfall. In A View to a Kill it’s a dark brown, zip-front leather blouson, detailed with narrow leather straps. Shoulder straps go over the top of the shoulder seam and button down to shorter straps attached to the sleeve. A strap continues lengthwise down the sleeve to about six inches from the base of the sleeve, where another strap starts and buttons to the cuff. There is also a strap down each side of the front of the jacket under the front yoke, ending at vertical welt pockets. The jacket has a stand-up collar with an extended tab on the left side to close over the other side. The back has inward-facing side pleats below the yoke.

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The sky blue shirt, probably oxford cloth, is made by Frank Foster and has a button-down collar, front placket and rounded, single-button cuffs. The charcoal flannel trousers have a flat front and plain bottoms. The trousers are worn with a black leather belt, and the shoes are black slip-ons with leather soles, Moore’s usual shoes. The socks are black.

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