The Cummerbund and Bond

The cummerbund in Skyfall

The cummerbund in Skyfall

Though the cummerbund is a well-known part of black tie, Bond has only worn a cummerbund on a handful of occasions. Traditionally, one isn’t wearing a cummerbund because he’s wearing a waistcoat or a double-breasted dinner jacket, but those situations do not make up the rest of Bond’s black tie outfits. Bond is well-known for omitting the waist-covering altogether, but Bond wears the seemingly pointless piece of silk around his waist a few times.

According to Black Tie Guide, the cummerbund originated from coloured sashes that British officers wrapped around their waist in India. Now cummerbunds ordinarily come in the form of a piece of pleated silk—with the pleats worn facing up—in the front that connects in the back with a strap and buckle. The purpose of the cummerbund is to act as a formal waist-covering that wears cooler than a waistcoat. It covers the bottom of the shirt front and the trousers’ waistband, so it serves an aesthetic purpose if not a practical one. Unlike how braces and belts aren’t worn together because they serve the same purpose, the cummerbund is not a belt and does not hold up the trousers. Thus, there is no rule about not wearing a cummerbund with braces. Braces can be worn with a cummerbund just the same as they can—and should—be worn under a waistcoat. Bond wears both a cummerbund and braces in Licence to Kill and Skyfall. Though belts and cummerbunds serve do different tasks, a belt should not be worn under a cummerbund since it will show as a bump underneath.

Diamonds-Cummerbund

A fancy, coloured silk cummerbund in Diamonds Are Forever

The cummerbund is traditionally black and matches the bow tie in both colour and texture, but it can be other colours. Burgundy is the most common choice for a coloured cummerbund, but the bow tie should always be black no matter the colour of the cummerbund. Coloured matching bow tie and cummerbund sets are often sold and can be worn for “creative black tie” functions and high school proms, but if you’re trying to follow the elegant example that Bond sets the bow tie should always be black. After all, it’s called “black tie”. The only time Ian Fleming mentions Bond wearing a cummerbund it’s a “wine-red cummerbund” that he wears with his white dinner jacket and dress trousers in the Thunderball novel. Since the bow tie isn’t mentioned, we can assume that Bond wears a proper black bow tie. The first time Bond wears a cummerbund in the films it’s a fancy silk in burgundy and black in Diamonds Are Forever. It’s a flashier 1970s take on the “wine-red cummerbund” that Fleming writes about, but the bow tie is still black. It’s the only time in the series that Sean Connery wears any sort of waist-covering with black tie.

Built-In-Cummerbund

The built-in cummerbund in For Your Eyes Only

In For Your Eyes Only, Bond wears trousers with a sort of waistband that acts like a cummerbund. The waistband is very wide, flat silk that extends across the entire front and fastens with two buttons at the right side. It’s a little narrower than a real cummerbund, but it’s a clever design and acts like a built-in cummerbund. The same type of built-in cummerbund returns in Octopussy. It may not be a proper cummerbund, but it’s a step in the right direction.

Licence-to-Kill-Cummerbund

A flat cummerbund in Licence to Kill

The first time Bond has a traditional black, pleated cummerbund is in Licence to Kill. It’s one of the few redeeming qualities of the black tie outfit in that film. But actually there are two cummerbunds used. The one Bond removes is flat silk and is used with the purpose to conceal rope. But later when Bond wakes up at Sanchez’s villa and sees his dinner suit neatly hung up, it’s the traditional cummerbund with pleats.

Quantum-of-Solace-Cummerbund

The cummerbund briefly appearing in Quantum of Solace

When Bond wore his dinner suit without a cummerbund or waistcoat in Casino Royale, many people took note of it and started doing the same. Though Bond’s tradition of foregoing the waist-covering began from the start of the film series in Dr. No, it took 44 years for people to notice and make a big fuss over it. When Bond returned in Quantum of Solace two years later, the cummerbund returned. And Bond wore a cummerbund again in Skyfall despite the cummerbund not being very popular at the moment.

The cummerbund does not work well with the low-rise trousers that make up the majority of suit trousers today since the cummerbund should be worn up at the waist and not down at the hips. Some people say that the cummerbund should be used with such low-rise trousers to prevent the white of the shirt from showing between the jacket button and the top of the waistband, but that’s not a true solution for a poorly-designed suit. The cummerbund’s purpose is not to prevent that bit of shirt from showing. The jacket’s buttoning point and the trousers’ waistband in a well-fitting suit should not be very far from one another. The cummerbund should actually be mostly hidden under the jacket and only show just a little above and below the jacket’s button, if it shows at all.

A Mostly Classic Ivory Dinner Jacket

Diamonds-Ivory-Dinner-Jacket

Whilst an ivory dinner jacket is appropriate in a Monte Carlo casino, it’s not so appropriate in a Las Vegas casino unless you’re James Bond. Bond wears one in Diamonds Are Forever at a Las Vegas casino where most people dress down. Apart from Bond’s wide bow tie and the wide pocket flaps on his dinner jacket, this is a classic warm-weather black tie outfit. It looks especially traditional compared to the flamboyant black dinner jacket Bond wears later in the film. The ivory dinner jacket has the same cut as the other Anthony Sinclair jackets in the film have: a clean chest and natural shoulders with roped sleeveheads.

Diamonds-Ivory-Dinner-Jacket-2The button one dinner jacket has medium-width peaked lapels with a very high gorge. Today you can find examples of peaked lapels where the peaks rise up above the shoulders, but the peaks on the dinner jacket are about as high as peaks can tastefully be. The jacket’s hip pockets are slanted with large flaps, a utilitarian pocket style that is out of place on a dinner jacket. The slant gives easier access to the pockets on horseback, and flaps keep items inside the pockets. However, the benefits of slanted and flapped pockets are unnecessary on a dinner jacket, and such a sporty pocket doesn’t have the elegance of a straight jetted pocket. The dinner jacket also has deep double vents, which are another practical sporting element added to this dinner jacket that breaks from tradition, but Bond’s dinner jackets have often had double vents. There are four buttons on the cuffs, and all of the buttons on the jacket are white mother-of-pearl.

Diamonds-Ivory-Dinner-Jacket-3With the jacket, Bond wears black trousers with a darted front, tapered legs and a satin stripe down each leg. The white-on-white stripe shirt from Turnbull & Asser has a spread collar, double cuffs and pleated front with mother-of-pearl buttons down the placket. Connery’s bow ties always followed the trendy width, and his wide black satin silk bow tie in Diamonds Are Forever is no exception. Since Bond keeps his jacket buttoned, we can’t tell if he wears a cummerbund with this dinner jacket like he does with his black dinner suit later in the film. In the unlikely event that he is wearing a cummerbund here, it probably isn’t the same fancy cummerbund that he wears with the black dinner suit. He wears the same black patent leather two-eyelet derby shoes that he later wears with the black dinner suit.

Comparison: Grey Suits in Dr. No and Diamonds Are Forever

Dr. No, left, and Diamonds Are Forever, right

Dr. No, left, and Diamonds Are Forever, right

Anthony Sinclair tailored almost all of Sean Connery’s suits in the James Bond series, from Dr. No in 1962 to Diamonds Are Forever in 1971. The overall cut of Connery’s suits didn’t change much throughout the 1960s, but by 1971 there was a noticeable change in style. We will take a closer look at this change using the light grey suit from Dr. No and a similar light grey suit from Diamonds Are Forever, to at least keep the cloth constant. The shoulders—the foundation of a suit’s silhouette—are the same in both 1962 and 1971: natural with roped sleeveheads. The chest, however, is different. The Dr. No suit has a draped chest whilst the Diamonds suit has a much cleaner chest.

Dr-No-Grey-Suit-3The most obvious difference between the Dr. No and Diamonds suits is the lapel width. The lapel width isn’t exaggerated in either case, but it is noticeably wider in Diamonds than it is in Dr. No. The lapels were narrower in Connery’s other 1960s Bond films, but they were also a different shape. The gorge—the seam where the collar meets the lapel—is much steeper in Dr. No than it is in any of Connery’s other Bond films.

Hip pocket flaps also follow the lapel width. Though none of the suit jackets in Dr. No have pocket flaps, many of the suits in Connery’s subsequent Bond films throughout the 1960s have narrow pocket flaps that reflect the decade’s narrow lapel width. Wide pocket flaps in Diamonds reflect the new decade’s wide lapels, and the suits in Diamonds Are Forever feature the widest pocket flaps of the entire Bond series. In addition to have fashionably wide flaps, the pockets are also slanted, following a popular trend that had been around since the mid 60s. The pockets in Dr. No are placed unusually low, and pockets that low would look even more odd if they had flaps. The pockets are below the jacket’s bottom button, whilst ordinarily they are at the level of or just a little higher than the bottom button. The pockets in subsequent Bond films are higher.

The jacket’s button stance is lower in Diamonds than it is in Dr. No. For From Russia with Love, the button stance was lowered, and it stayed lower in all of Connery’s Bond films through Diamonds Are Forever. The button stance in Dr. No is both more in line with today’s trends and more classically proportioned, but the lower button stance certainly lends a stronger appearance by emphasising the chest and Connery’s V-shaped torso. Because the lapels and tie are wider in Diamonds Are Forever, the button stance doesn’t really look so low. The low button stance in From Russia With Love through Thunderball emphasised Connery’s athletic build, whilst in You Only Live Twice and Diamonds Are Forever it helped make his no-longer-athletic body look more athletic.

Diamonds-Are-Forever-Grey-Suit-2The length of Connery’s double vents increased over time. The vents in Dr. No are roughly 8 inches, which followed the trend towards short vents. They are still a practical length compared to the ultra-short double vents on Jack Lord’s suit in Dr. No. Connery’s vents increased to about 10 inches two years later in Goldfinger, and they are around 12 inches deep in Diamonds. The trend towards deeper vents started in the late 1960s and continued to the early 1980s. Deep double vents are both slimming and heightening because they create vertical lines that extend the line of the leg. Connery needed as much help as he could get in Diamonds, and the deeper double vents are indeed flattering.

Another detail that could easily go unnoticed is that the colour of the buttons has changed. The grey plastic buttons in Dr. No match the suit whereas the dark grey horn buttons in Diamonds contrast with the suit. The darker buttons in Diamonds look nice but they draw attention to Connery’s waist, which isn’t one of his better areas.

Dr-No-Grey-Suit-2The change in trouser style is one of the biggest changes from Dr. No to Diamonds. In the 1960s, all of Connery’s suit trousers have double forward pleats, whilst in Diamonds they have a small dart on in front of the side pocket on either side. The rise is a little shorter in Diamonds than in Dr. No. The rise was lowered after Dr. No when the jacket’s button stance was also lowered. The legs in both Dr. No and Diamonds both have a trim and tapered cut, though the leg in Diamonds is tapered a little less. The bottoms in Dr. No were finished with turn-ups whilst the bottoms in Diamonds are finished with a plain hem. Only before in Goldfinger did Connery wears his suit trousers with plain hems.

Diamonds-Are-Forever-Grey-Suit-3The Turnbull & Asser shirts didn’t change much between Dr. No and Diamonds. Obviously, the white shirt in Dr. No has gone to cream in Diamonds. The collar got a little taller and the collar points got a little longer, but not by much. The shirts still have the same cocktail cuffs, though Connery only fastens the first button in Diamonds to allow the cuff to roll over the second button. The ties follow the lapel width, and the tie in Dr. No is navy grenadine whilst the tie in Diamonds is black with varying ribs.

An Unused Brown Pinstripe Suit

DAF-Brown-Pinstripe-Suit-not-used

Clothes are often made for film productions that are either never used or made as a gift for the stars. Diamonds Are Forever features a staggering seven lounge suits, three sports coats and three dinner jackets. It is the most tailored clothing that Bond wears in any one film, but Sean Connery’s tailor Anthony Sinclair made even more clothes than that for Diamonds Are Forever. Sinclair also made a chocolate brown pinstripe worsted two-piece suit at the same time as he made the rest of the suits, but it didn’t feature in the film. It has a button two jacket with slanted flap pockets, and it most likely has double vents like the rest of the suits in the film have.

The suit was sold at Christie’s in South Kensington on 17 September 1998, and it can be seen in the picture above from the Christie’s catalogue on the right beside the black dinner suit and cream linen suit, both also from Diamonds Are Forever. This brown pinstripe suit sold for £575, which is considerably less than the selling prices of the suits that Sean Connery actually wears in the film.

Brogues

Church-Chetwynd

The Church’s Chetwynd brogue, the shoe Pierce Brosnan wears in GoldenEye. Brosnan’s shoe is a darker brown than this.

The full brogue is a versatile shoe that can be worn from casual wear to business wear. The full brogue is set apart from lesser brogues by the wing tip. It has perforations—called “broguing”—along every seam, a medallion on the toe and a heel counter. Though the classic full brogue is an oxford—a shoe with closed lacing, called a balmoral to the Americans—they can just as often be found in a derby—blucher to the Americans. There are even monk, boot and slip-on brogues. Pierce Brosnan wears the Chruch’s Chetwynd model, a full-brogue oxford, in brown. In GoldenEye he wears them with his double-breasted navy blazer and beige trousers, but he also dresses them down with a navy jumper and tan moleskin trousers. A pair of these was sold at Christies on 19 December 2007 for £1,080. A pair of black full-brogue oxfords in the Church’s Douglas model from The World is Not Enough was sold at Christie’s on 12 February 2001 for £1,528. The complex style of the full brogue works best with rustic, heavier clothes and less so with city business dress, but the latter can still be done. In Diamonds Are Forever, Sean Connery wears black full-brouge derby shoes with his black, light grey and navy pinstripe suits.

Diamonds-Are-Forever-Derby-Brogues

Sean Connery’s full-brogue derby shoes

Pierce Brosnan also wears a dressier variation called the semi-brogue in GoldenEye with his navy birdseye suit. The semi-brogue is the same as the as the full brogue with one big exception: it has a regular cap toe instead of a wing tip. Otherwise the shoe has broguing along all the seams, a heel counter and a toe medallion. This shoe is better for business suits than the full brogue, but the complex detailing on the shoes means they are still not ideal for dressier occasions. Brosnan’s semi-brogue oxford is the Church’s Diplomat model.

Semi-Brogue-Oxford

The Church’s semi-brogue Diplomat model in GoldenEye

The simplest brogue is the quarter brogue, also called a punch-cap-toe. In Quantum of Solace, Daniel Craig wears the Church’s Philip quarter brogue oxfords with his suits. This shoe is almost as dressy as the stitched cap-toe oxford and can be worn in the most formal, and least formal, of suit-wearing occasions.

Quantum-of-Solace-Quarter-Brogue

Daniel Craig’s Church’s Philiip quarter-brogue oxfords in Quantum of Solace

There are other brogue styles that Bond does not wear. The austerity brogue is a wing-tip shoe without any perforations. There is also the longwing brogue, in which the wings extend around the entire shoe. The longwing, which is popular in American, has derby-style lacing and is the most casual of all brogues. Finally, I can’t leave out the ghillie brogue, which is mostly worn with Scottish highland dress and has no tongue.

All Blue

FRWL-Navy-Suit

No, I’m not talking about the Miles Davis tune “All Blues.” Usually when Sean Connery wears a blue suit in the Bond films, everything else he wears is blue. Well, everything but the black shoes and white pocket handkerchief. The first time we see the monochrome blue outfit is in M’s office in From Russia With Love (above). He wears a solid navy suit with a matching solid navy tie and light blue shirt. A light blue shirt is very important since it provides contrast from all the dark blue in the suit and tie. Though both the suit and tie are navy, the tie is a little lighter than the suit. To some, this mismatch is not desirable, and it’s practically unavoidable when pairing two items that are very close in colour. Those people would say to avoid wearing things close in colour to avoid the mismatch. But it’s an integral part of the classic Bond look.

Dark-Blue-Suit-2

Once again in You Only Live Twice (above) we see the same all blue outfit. This time the suit and tie are reversed: the suit is light navy and the tie is dark navy tie. Do you think it’s better for the tie to be slightly lighter or slightly darker than the suit? Ideally, it’s best to get them as close as possible, in not only the value (lightness or darkness of a colour) but also the hue (gradation of colour). A warm blue tie will not go well with a cool blue suit, even if they are similar in value. Connery brings back the all-blue look in Diamonds Are Forever (below), this time with blue pinstripes added. This time is Connery’s closest suit and tie match, and the tie is only a little lighter. I also can’t leave out the navy grenadine ties that Connery wears with his navy blazers—to which he always gets a close match with the tie—but with grey trousers there’s no longer a monochrome look.

Navy-Blue-Pinstripe-SuitRoger Moore starts out as Bond in Live and Let Die (below) wearing a blue suit, blue overcoat, blue shirt and blue tie (below). But does this outfit qualify as monochrome? Even though the tie is primarily navy, the red stripes technically disqualify this outfit from the all blue category, but for the purposes of pairing a blue tie with a blue suit, it’s all blue. The tie is the darkest navy of the outfit, followed by the overcoat and then the suit. They are all very similar.

Navy-ChesterfieldWe don’t see Bond wearing a blue monochrome outfit again until Daniel Craig becomes Bond. I’m not going to count the navy linen suit and light blue shirt worn in the black and white pre-title sequence, since the scene is black and white, and a large brown belt breaks up the blue. But the first suit in Quantum of Solace (below) is very similar to Connery’s pinstripe suit in Diamonds Are Forever. The suit is navy with light blue stripes, the shirt is pale blue and the tie is a pattern of mid blue and black squares. The blue and black of the tie combine to make it look navy overall. The tie does not to completely disqualify the outfit from being all blue, but it doesn’t have the 100% monochrome look of Connery’s classic outfits either. The patterned tie is much easier to pair with the suit than a solid navy tie is.

Quantum-Pinstripe-Suit

The navy-on-navy look is something Bond has inspired many to copy, but it’s not easy to get right. And whether Bond gets it right or not is up to you. If you attempt this look, it helps to have multiple solid navy ties in your collection and good lighting to figure out which one works best with the outfit.

Terrycloth Shirt

Terrycloth-Shirt

Sean Connery is reintroduced as a 1970’s James Bond in Diamonds Are Forever wearing a ribbed terrycloth shirt. For Connery, terrycloth isn’t limited to his playsuit in Goldfinger. Terrycloth shirts were popular in the 1970s, and they must have done a great job at absorbing sweat in the warm setting where Bond wears this shirt. The mottled cream and beige shirt has four large buttons down the front placket, a camp collar, two breast pockets with flaps and box pleats, and a straight hem. The short sleeves are in two sections, with the ribs in a perpendicular direction on the lower pieces. The back of the shirt has a box pleat. The cream linen trousers have a flat front, plain hems and no belt. As seen in behind the scenes photos, Connery does not wear shoes with this outfit.

Click image for a close-up

Click image for a close-up of the terrycloth

Almost Never Button the Bottom Button

Charcoal-Suit-Both-Buttons-Done-Up

Sean Connery has both buttons on his dark grey suit fastened in Dr. No.

Sean Connery’s tailoring in his Bond films is often admired for its clean, simple lines and limited colour scheme. But wearing suits didn’t come naturally to Connery, and on four occasions he makes the mistake of buttoning the bottom button on his suit jackets. The first is in Dr. No, when wearing tailored clothing was still very new to him, and presumably director Terence Young did not catch the brief mistake. It happens a second time in Dr. No when both of the buttons on Bond’s blazer are fastened when he watches the Three Blind Mice’s hearse fall off the cliff. The third is when Bond enters his hotel room in Istanbul and suddenly his bottom button is fastened, even though it was when he entered the lift. The fourth time came in Diamonds Are Forever. On neither of Connery’s suit jackets should the bottom button ever be fastened.

Cream-Linen-Suit

Connery fastens the bottom button on his linen suit in Diamonds Are Forever.

It’s typically advised that only the top button on a button two jacket should be fastened. This is because the front is cut away below the top button and the lower button doesn’t meet up with the buttonhole. Thus, fastening the lower button causes the jacket to pull across the hips. It restricts movement and makes it difficult to sit. Also, it shortens the perceived leg length, rather than extending the leg to the waist. But some button two jackets are designed to have both buttons fastened.

Button-2-Paddock-comparison

On a paddock-cut button two jacket, both buttons are meant to fasten. The button stance is raised, usually placing the two buttons equidistant above and below the waist. Placing both buttons higher means that the bottom button can be fastened without restricting movement. The front on a paddock cut is only cutaway below the bottom button. President John F. Kennedy, British politician Anthony Eden and the Duke of Windsor are known for wearing this cut. In his later years, the Duke of Windsor only fastened the bottom button on his paddock-cut jackets for a longer lapel line. Roger Moore wears a couple paddock-cut suits with button-three jackets in The Persuaders, which adds a third button at the top.

Persuaders-Button-3-Paddock

Cyril Castle made Roger Moore’s paddock-cut suit in The Persuaders. It has a slanted, flapped breast pocket and flared link-button cuffs