Not Mad About Benz’s tailor

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“Not mad about his tailor, are you?” says Bond to Kerim Bey about Benz’s suit. Benz is a Russian security agent played by English actor Peter Bayliss in From Russia with Love. Why doesn’t Bond like Benz’s suit? The first thing that stands out about this suit is not due to the tailor’s work but is the suit’s garish cloth. The suit is light grey with large horizontal ribs and black chalk stripes, which are muted by the grey base. Dark stripes can sometimes work on a suit, but not against the contrast of a light grey ground. The black chalk stripes immediately mark Benz as an enemy.

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It’s no surprise that Bond does not favour Benz’s tailor’s work. The button one suit jacket has a very full drape cut, which had become very unfashionable in the 1960s. It looks like it was made in the 1940s. The chest is full with a lot of drape and the waist is gently suppressed. The shoulders are wide, but they are well done with natural-looking padding and cleanly-draped, full sleeves. The cut of the jacket is meant to make Benz look like a much stronger man than he is, but that deception is apparent when Bond turns his suit jacket into a straight jacket and exposes Benz’s shoulders.

The suit jacket is detailed with jetted pockets, no vent and four-button cuffs. The lapels have a steep gorge, which both makes the lapels seem wider than they are and makes the medium gorge height seem lower than it is. The lapels have a very wide notch. The suit’s buttons are black plastic to match the black stripes and sewn with grey thread to match the suit. The suit’s trousers are full-cut with pleats and have wide legs with turn-ups.

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Benz wears a rather cheap-looking cream shirt with his suit. It has a short, moderate spread collar and square single-button cuffs. The collar and cuffs are stitched 1/8″ from the edge, which is mostly what lends a cheap look to the shirt. Most top-quality makers have 1/4″ stitching on the collar and cuffs, and whilst there are some high-end makers that stitch the collar and cuffs 1/8″ or closer to the edge, it’s mostly done on poor-quality shirts.

Whilst Benz’s black satin silk tie complements the suit’s black stripes, the navy satin silk pocket square—folded in a winged puff—clashes with the tie. However, the navy pocket square matches Benz’s navy socks, which is quite creative. Benz’s shoes are black.

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Benz briefly is seen with a black felt hat, but the type of hat is unlike anything I’ve ever seen. Instead of the crown tapering upward, the crown bells out like on a top hat. The crown is much shorter than a top hat’s crown, and the top is domed. The brim is turned down all the way around. The hat has a black grosgrain ribbon with a large bow. Is anyone familiar with the style of Benz’s hat, seen on top of his briefcase below?

Benz-Hat

Ian Fleming did not write about Benz’s suit in the From Russia with Love novel, but he wrote about Benz’s dressing gown:

Reluctantly, his heavy face pale with anger, the M.G.B. man who called himself Benz stepped out into the corridor in a brilliant blue silk dressing-gown. The hard brown eyes looked straight into Bond’s, ignoring him … Bond noticed the bulge under the left arm of the dressing-gown, and the ridge of a belt round the waist. He wondered if he should tip off the plain-clothes man. He decided it would be better to keep quiet. He might be hauled in as a witness.

At least Fleming’s Benz had fine taste in loungewear, though all he wears in the film is his one striped suit.

Captain Nash’s Grey C-Crown Trilby

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James Bond wears a different type of trilby than he ordinarily does during the climax of From Russia with Love with his dark grey pick-and-pick suit. It’s actually not even Bond’s own trilby, but it originally belonged to the British agent from Station Y, Captain Nash (William Hill). When Bond arrives in Zagreb to meet Captain Nash, Red Grant (Robert Shaw) finds him first, kills him, takes his trilby and briefcase and poses as him while wearing a grey and brown striped suit. After Bond kills Grant it becomes his turn to wear the trilby. “Nash” has an escape route, which is in reality just Grant’s escape route, and Bond follows it. Though wearing the hat is not part of the escape route, Bond wears it to loosely disguise himself as Nash. However, the hat is left behind under a rock during the escape after Bond shoots down the helicopter that chases him.

Captain Nash holding the grey trilby

Captain Nash holding the grey trilby

So what makes this trilby so much different than the tribys that Sean Connery’s Bond usually wears? Instead of brown, this trilby is dark grey and has a narrow grey grosgrain ribbon around the base of the crown. Also, Nash’s trilby has a taller crown blocked in the C shape, unlike the centre dent that Bond prefers. The C-crown, also known as the teardrop crown, is the shape where the back of the crown is like a bowl (the C) and the front comes to a point. The centre of a C-crown is also domed, but it;s only slightly domed on Nash’s hat since it was shaped by hand. The front point of the crown necessitates that the front of the hat has a large pinch. Since the back of the crown is wider than the front when blocked with a teardrop shape, the back of the hat is consequently lower. On Nash’s hat the back is much lower than the front. The crown of a trilby can be blocked in many styles, so a hat with the more typical centre dent could be transformed into a hat more like this.

From-Russia-with-Love-Grey-C-Crown-Trilby-Hat-2Like most trilby hats, the British version of the usually-larger-brimmed fedora, Nash’s trilby has a tapered crown and a short brim. The brim is roughly two inches wide, bent down at the front and curled up at the back. It is finished with a raw edge. Inside, Nash’s hat has a tan leather sweatband around the base and a white silk lining. The maker of the trilby is unknown, though Lock is certainly a possibility.

We don’t get to see Nash wearing the trilby, but Grant and Bond wear it differently. Grant wears it back on his head, as if it’s slightly too small on him. Bond, on the other hand, wears the hat more forward and lower in front. Just a guess, but perhaps Nash does not wear the hat because it was only purchased in Bond’s size, which didn’t fit Nash.

Red Grant wearing the grey trilby

Red Grant wearing the grey trilby

Comparison: Suit Trousers in the First Two Bond Films

Connery-Trousers

Connery’s suit trousers in Dr. No

Throughout the 1960s, Anthony Sinclair tailored all of Sean Connery’s suit trousers in the same style. They have double forward pleats, the traditional English-style pleats that opens towards the fly. The leg is tapered and has approximately 1 3/4″ turn-ups. The trousers’ waistband has an approximately 2 1/2″ square extension that keeps the front of the waistband straight, and it closes with a hidden clasp so there are no buttons visible on the front. Inside, the trousers are secured with two buttons and a zip fly. The sides of the waistband have button-tab “Daks tops” side adjusters with three buttons—usually made of smoke mother-of-pearl—on each side. The side pockets are on the side seams, and there is one button-through jetted pocket in the rear on the right side.

Connery's updated suit trousers in From Russia with Love

Connery’s updated suit trousers in From Russia with Love

Though all of Sean Connery’s suit trousers in Dr. No, From Russia with Love, Goldfinger, Thunderball and You Only Live Twice are made with the same features, the trousers’ cut was updated after the first Bond film, Dr. No. The change can be seen in the second Bond film, From Russia with Love. The rise in Dr. No is extremely high by today’s standards, and it was even high for 1962. A year later for From Russia with Love, Sinclair lowered the rise slightly to correspond with the new lower button stance on his suit jackets. The rise is still high for today’s fashions, but it doesn’t look quite as old-fashioned. The cut was also trimmed down overall. The deep pleats seen on the Dr. No trousers were made shallower for From Russia with Love, and as a result the trousers fit closer around the hips and thighs. Though this updated fit continued through the 1960s, by You Only Live Twice Connery’s pleated trousers were markedly unfashionable and old-fashioned.

Kerim Bey: Light Grey Suit

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Kerim Bey, played by Pedro Armendáriz in From Russia with Love, is not only one of the most charismatic characters of the James Bond series, but he is also one of the best-dressed. In a number of scenes he wears a light grey pick-and-pick wool suit, made of different shades of grey for more depth in the cloth than a solid light grey would have.

Kerim-Bey-2The suit jacket has straight shoulders, a clean chest and three buttons down the front. The buttons are spaced closer together than on a contemporary button three jacket, and the middle button is placed at the waist level. This jacket could look good either with the top two buttons fastened—the way Bey wears the jacket—or with only the middle button fastened. The lapels have a nice roll above the top button, but that roll would continue further down if only the middle button were fastened. The jacket has moderately narrow lapels, and a long collar makes the lapel notches smaller than usual for a more fashionable 1960s look. The jacket also has three buttons on the cuffs, jetted pockets and no vent. The suit trousers have a tapered leg with turn-ups, and, most likely, reverse pleats.

Kerim-Bey-3Bey wears a cream shirt with a spread collar, placket and double cuffs, and he shows a folded white linen handkerchief in his jacket’s breast pocket. He wears two ties with this suit. His first tie is charcoal grey satin with a pairing of a white stripe and a slightly wider black stripe going down from the Bey’s right shoulder to his left hip, opposite the traditional English direction. Bey wears this tie when he first meets Bond and on the Orient Express. The second tie’s stripes go the other direction, up from Bey’s right hip to his left shoulder. This tie has a silver satin ground with a thin black stripe, a wide dark grey stripe beneath it with a space in between, another thin black stripe with a wide dark grey stripe touching it beneath it, and a thin brown stripe spaced below. Bey wears the second tie when he discusses with Bond the plans to steel the Lektor. Bey’s shoes are black.

Kronsteen: The Navy Silk Jacket

Kronsteen, on the right

Kronsteen, on the right

Though Kronsteen, played by Vladek Sheybal in From Russia with Love, is one of the less memorable Bond villains, he is one of the more interestingly dressed. In his final scene he wears a stylish alternative to the navy blazer: a slubby navy silk jacket. The jacket is has a draped chest with gentle waist suppression and extended—but natural—shoulders with roped sleeveheads, all of which suggest an English tailor made this jacket. Though it may have a tradtional cut, it also has fashionable 1960’s elements. The jacket appears to be a button one at the front with three buttons on the cuffs, and the buttons are covered in the jacketing silk. The narrow lapels have a generous roll to expose less of the shirt, and they also have swelled edges. The jacket has an open patch breast pocket and open patch hip pockets.

Kronsteen-Navy-Silk-Jacket-2Kronsteen wears light grey worsted wool trousers to contrast the jacket. The trousers are cut with forward pleats, which balance well with the drape style of the jacket. His cream shirt is possibly silk and has a plain front without a placket. The shirt’s short point collar and double cuffs are stitched on the edge. Though black bow ties should best be kept with black tie, Kronsteen wears one as his signature look. It’s a narrow batwing shape, possibly in a barathea weave. It’s difficult to see Kronsteen’s shoes, but they are likely the same black lace-ups that he wears with his charcoal blue suit at the beginning of the film.

Kronsteen carries a pork pie Panama hat that goes well with the summery look of his silk jacket. Like a traditional Panama hat, it’s woven of cream-coloured straw and has a black ribbon. Though the bow tie and panama hat look rather costume-like together, with the right attitude some men could pull off this look today. And if the whole look is too much, a slubby navy silk jacket with patch pockets is a versatile warm-weather jacket that looks great dressed up or down, daytime or nighttime.

The Short Car Coat

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In From Russia with Love, Bond finds a navy wool car coat and peaked cap in a SPECTRE agent’s truck to wear on his maritime escape from Trieste to Venice. His lightweight grey suit isn’t enough to keep him warm during his trip across the water. The hip-length coat just barely covers the suit jacket, so it’s not the best for wearing over a suit. In a way, the coat is like a single-breasted version of a pea coat, if only it had slash pockets instead of patch pockets. It has four buttons, with the top button at the base of the neck and the bottom at the top of the hip pockets. The hip pockets are open patch pockets. The coat has a yoke across the upper back, a vent in back, swelled edges and lapped seams.

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With the car coat Bond wears a black peaked cap with a gold anchor embroidered at the front. Is he wearing the cap to let people know he’s the captain of this boat, is he wearing it to keep his head warm, or is he wearing it just for fun?

All Blue

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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.

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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.

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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.

Warm-Weather Glen Check Suit in Istanbul

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Sean Connery’s second glen check suit in From Russia With Love is almost identical to the glen check suit in Dr. No. The cloth is woven in a plain weave, making it better suited for warmer weather than the more traditional twill-weave Glen Urquhart check suit Connery wears earlier in From Russia With Love. The scale of the pattern on this suit isn’t as fine as the similar check in Dr. No, and the colour is black and grey instead of black and cream.

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All the details on this suit are the same as on the glen check suit in Dr. No except for pocket flaps being present on this suit. The button-two suit jacket has natural shoulders with roped sleeveheads, a draped chest and a nipped waist. It has double vents and four-button cuffs. The suit trousers have double forward pleats, button-tab side-adjusters and turn ups.

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Connery’s pale blue shirt is from Turnbull & Asser and has a spread collar, front placket and two-button cocktail cuffs. He wears a navy grenadine tie, tied in a four-in-hand knot. He wears a white linen folded pocket handkerchief, black socks and black derby shoes. His hat is a brown felt trilby.

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