Woman of Straw: A Brown Houndstooth Suit and Donegal Tweed Overcoat

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Most of Sean Connery’s tailored clothing in Goldfinger was first featured in the 1964 film Woman of Straw, which was made just before Goldfinger. Some of the suits fit the Woman of Straw setting much better than they fit Goldfinger. The brown houndstooth check suit is especially more fitting for Woman of Straw than it is for Goldfinger. In Woman of Straw Connery wears the suit on a country estate, whilst in Goldfinger he wears it to the office for briefing from M. James Bond occasionally knowingly breaks the rules, and I certainly don’t just mean the rules of how to dress properly. Nevertheless, wearing this country suit to the office is not likely something M appreciated. In Woman of Straw we get to see this beautiful suit in its intended setting.

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The suit is a somewhat heavy mid brown and black fine houndstooth check made by Anthony Sinclair. The button two jacket is cut with natural shoulders, a draped chest and a gently suppressed waist. It has country details like slanted flap pockets with a ticket pocket and a long single vent. The jacket has four buttons on the cuffs. The trousers have double forward pleats, button-tab side-adjusters and tapered legs. Unlike in Goldfinger, Connery does not wear an odd waistcoat with this suit in Woman of Straw, though he does wear that beige waistcoat with his barleycorn tweed hacking jacket. The lack of waistcoat gives this suit a much different look than it has in Goldfinger.

The suit's cloth close up

The suit’s brown houndstooth check cloth close up

A blue shirt and blue tie also make the suit look much different than it does in Goldfinger. Blue offers a nice colour contrast to brown whilst cooling down the brown outfit to better flatter Sean Connery’s cool complexion, but for blue and brown to work together they need to have contrast in value. Dark brown and navy don’t go so well together, and neither does light brown and light blue. See the image below of the light brown overcoat and light blue shirt for a combination that doesn’t clash but doesn’t quite work so well either. But light brown with navy works and dark brown with light blue works. The latter is evident here.

The pale blue shirt is made in the same style as Connery’s shirts in Goldfinger, with a wide spread collar, rounded double cuffs and placket stitched close to the centre. The steel blue repp silk tie is tied in a very small four-in-hand knot. Like in Goldfinger, Connery wears this suit in Woman of Straw with a white linen handkerchief folded in a single point in his breast pocket. It may have just been left in the pocket from Woman of Straw when he wears the suit in Goldfinger.

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Over this suit Connery wears a light brown donegal tweed overcoat that is not worn in Goldfinger. The coat is like a cross between a single-breasted coat and a double-breasted coat in that it has a large overlap and peaked lapels, but the overlap isn’t as large as most double-breasted coats and there is only one column of buttons to fasten. The additional overlap is there for extra warmth. The coat has a fly front that hides the buttons, but if the one column buttons showed they would be off-centre. The coat has slanted hip pockets with flaps, a breast welt pocket, a single vent in the rear and plain cuffs with a short vent.  The coat’s length is to just below the knee, making it a very warm, practical coat for the country. This overcoat may have also been made by Anthony Sinclair.

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Columbo: Three-Piece Dinner Suit

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With New Year’s Eve coming up shortly, let’s look at more black tie inspiration. Milos Columbo, played by Topol in For Your Eyes Only, looks elegant in his three-piece dinner suit. It was most likely tailored by the same man who made who made Columbo’s blazer, Conduit Street tailor Robbie Stanford. The button one dinner jacket has straight shoulders with roped sleeveheads, a clean chest and a suppressed waist. The lapels and collar are very unique in that lapels have horizontal peaks like the Tautz lapel, and the edge of the collar is angled up to form a notch. There are three buttons on the cuffs. The jacket’s buttons are black horn, just like on Bond’s dinner jacket.

Columbo’s dinner jacket unfortunately has two very noticeable faults. The pockets are slanted and have flaps, and the flaps are made worse with a satin silk facing. Slanted pockets are not appropriate on a dinner jacket because of their sporting origins, and bulky pocket flaps are at odds with the dinner jacket’s elegant minimalism. Columbo’s dinner jacket also has double vents, which would be okay if they were a moderate 10″ length like James Bond’s are in the same scene. However, Columbo’s vents are about 14″ long, a quite excessive length since they almost reach the waist. Double vents this long unnecessarily flap about and are especially inelegant for a dinner jacket. Both the pocket style and the vent length are carried over from 1970s fashions, but the dinner jacket does not look like something from the 1970s overall. Though the details are not ideal, they don’t detract from the jacket’s beautiful cut.

Notice the very deep vents, approximately 14" long

Notice the very deep double vents, approximately 14″ long

With the dinner suit, Columbo wears an elegant low-cut, button three, black silk waistcoat. The waistcoat’s U-shaped opening is less common than the V-shaped opening, but it is just as classic. The waistcoat accomplishes its job of covering the waist, whilst it shows off as much of the shirt from as possible. The U-front waistcoat is almost like a cummerbund in that it is hardly seen—or not even seen at all—when the jacket is buttoned. Columbo’s waistcoat has covered buttons in the same silk as the waistcoat’s front, and it does not appear to have lapels.

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Columbo wears a white dress shirt made by Frank Foster with a spread collar, pleated front and double cuffs. The shirt’s placket is stitched close to the centre, and it closes with smoke mother-of-pearl buttons, which were also on the shirt Columbo wears with his blazer later in the film. The double cuffs are secured with large, round black cufflinks that have Columbo’s dove emblem in white, and the holes in the cuff are positioned off-centre towards the fold. Columbo’s black silk thistle-shaped bow tie matches his lapels.

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The dove cufflinks, plus a number of gold rings.

OSS 117’s Alpaca Dinner Suit

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It’s almost the end of another year. For many people New Year’s Eve means black tie, and Jean Dujardin’s example in the French spy spoof OSS 117: Cairo, Nest of Spies is just as good as any of James Bond’s. OSS 117: Cairo, Nest of Spies is similar in its humour to Get Smart and is one of the best spy spoofs of the past decade. In the 2006 film that takes place in 1955, Dujardin plays Hubert Bonisseur de La Bath, a.k.a. OSS 117. The OSS 117 novels by Jean Bruce and original serious films predate James Bond novels and films, respectively. There is much inspiration taken from Sean Connery’s James Bond films in OSS 117: Cairo, Nest of Spies.

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“Ce sera l’occasion de porter mon smoking en alpaga/A perfect occasion to wear my alpaca dinner jacket.” —Hubert Bonisseur de La Bath

Bonisseur de La Bath says that his black dinner suit is made of alpaca, and since the cloth has a bit of a sheen it is certainly possible that it truly is alpaca. Alpaca wool is unusual for a dinner suit, though its silky and luxurious hand makes it appropriate for evening wear. However, it wears warmer than ordinary sheep’s wool, making it a rather poor choice for the hot and dry desert climate in Cairo. Mohair would have been a better choice, though “alpaca tuxedo” sounds more humourous.

The suits for OSS 117: Cairo, Nest of Spies were beautifully made for Jean Dujardin by Parisian tailor Joseph Kergoat. The dinner jacket has a traditional button one front and medium-width, satin-silk-faced peaked lapels without a buttonhole. The jacket is cut with wide, lightly-padded shoulders, gently roped sleeveheads, a full chest and a gently suppressed waist. The jacket has satin silk pocket jettings, three-button cuffs and no vent. The jacket’s buttons are black plastic. The dinner suit’s trousers have a darted front, tapered legs and a satin silk stripe down each leg. Though much of this film is modelled on Sean Connery’s Bond films from the 1960s, non-pleated trousers are inconsistent with both what Connery wears in his 1960s Bond films and what was popular in the 1950s. These trousers should have had pleats to be more accurate, though pleats were becoming very unfashionable at the time the film was made.

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Bonisseur de La Bath wears a white dress shirt with a short spread collar, double cuffs and a pleated bib with twelve pleats on each side. The front is fastened with three mother-of-pearl studs—with regular buttons the rest of the way down below the bib—and the cuffs are fastened with matching mother-of-pearl cufflinks. With the outfit he wears a black satin silk batwing bow tie, a black satin silk cummerbund and a folded white linen handkerchief in his breast pocket.

Bonisseur de La Bath’s shoes are black patent leather cap-toe oxfords. The patent leather shoe for black tie traditionally has a plain toe since it is dressier than a cap toe, but a patent leather oxford with a cap toe isn’t a serious faux pas. The shoes are the Crockett & Jones “Chatham” model, which has cemented soles instead of welted soles. Cemented soles cannot be replaced like welted soles can, but they look more sleek since they don’t have a welt and thus can be trimmed close to the uppers.

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Bill Tanner: A Modern English Navy Pinstripe Suit

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Rory Kinnear, who appeared as M’s aide Bill Tanner in Quantum of Solace and Skyfall, will return to the roll next year in Spectre. Tanner’s suits in Skyfall have a modern English look; they’re slightly more modern-looking than Mallory’s bespoke Timothy Everest suits but not fashion-forward as James Bond’s shrunken Tom Ford suits. One of Tanner’s three suits in Skyfall is a basic button-two navy suit with grey pinstripes. Grey pinstripes are more subtle than the traditional white pinstripes or bolder rope stripes and chalk stripes, but they’re good for the man who doesn’t want to draw undue attention to himself. The shoulders are lightly-padded, the chest is full and the waist is suppressed. Unlike Bond’s suit jackets in Skyfall, Tanner’s suit jacket is made to a tradition length that covers the buttocks. The button stance is high—a trend that started in the previous decade—but it doesn’t agree with Tanner’s figure. Judging by the pulling around the waist, the suit is most likely ready-to-wear.

The jacket has slanted pockets with a ticket pocket, and the front edges of the pockets are rounded much more than pockets ordinarily are. There are double vents in the back. The cuffs have four buttons, with the buttons spaced apart in groups of two. The suit’s trousers have a flat front, low rise and tapered legs with turn-ups. The low rise is most fashionable aspect of the entire suit, and it unfortunately causes the shirt and tie to show beneath the jacket’s button.

The unique spacing of the jacket's four cuff buttons

The unique spacing of the jacket’s four cuff buttons

Based on the arrangement of the cuff buttons as well as the suit’s style and silhouette, the suit is most likely from the English brand Hackett London. It particularly resembles Hackett’s “Chelsea” cut suit. The Hackett website has an interesting description for their “Chelsea” model:

For the classic Hackett Chelsea cut, think James Bond, who never lets trivial matters such as saving the world from super-villains get in the way of rocking a good suit … It tapers in to define the waist, with double venting used at the rear to ensure that the snug fit doesn’t become constrictive when sitting, or grappling with Russian spies. As you would expect with classic British style, combining subtlety and sharpness is the key here; high armholes accentuate a strong chest, but little to no padding allows the shoulder to gradually slope down, providing a more natural silhouette than Italian suits.

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Tanner wears this navy pinstripe suit on two occasions in Skyfall, and he wears it with a different shirt and tie each time. He favours stripes shirts. The first shirt is white with a pattern of thick light blue, medium blue and navy stripes, and the second shirt is cornflower blue with thick white stripes. Both shirts have a spread collar with medium-length points and a  considerable half-inch of tie space. The collar is too wide and short for Tanner’s round head. A more moderate spread with longer points would better flatter Tanner’s face. The shirts have double cuffs.

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When pairing a striped shirt with a striped suit the stripes need to be considerably different so they don’t clash. Usually the difference is achieved in the scale; the stripes on the second shirt (see below) are spaced much closer together than the stripes on the suit are. Though the spacing of the first shirt’s stripes is similar to the spacing of the suit’s stripes, the much more intense stripes on the shirt prevent it from clashing with the very subtle pinstripes on the suit.

The tie that Tanner wears with the first shirt is navy with small white boxes arranged in a grid. The tie he wears with the second shirt is navy with larger pink squares in a diagonal layout. He ties his ties in four-in-hand knots. With all of his suits, Tanner wears black oxfords with a chiseled toe and black Dainite studded rubber soles, and his trousers are supported by black belt that matches his shoes.

The second shirt and tie that Tanner wears with his navy pinstripe suit

The second shirt and tie that Tanner wears with his navy pinstripe suit

Draco’s Suits: Navy Nailhead and Grey Chalkstripe

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Marc Ange Draco (Gabriele Ferzetti) in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service is one of Bond’s best-dressed allies of the series. He is introduced wearing a perfectly-fitted navy nailhead three-piece suit. Nailhead is not to be confused with birdseye, but both are tiny repeating patterns. Whilst birdseye is a specific pattern of round dots with a unique weave, nailhead can be a variety of patterns. In any case, the nailhead is a pattern of squares rather than circles, or it’s a small pattern on a square grid unlike the diagonal repeat of the bridseye pattern. Draco’s nailhead suit is similar to the diagram below:

Draco-Nailhead

Draco’s suit jacket is a button three suit with the lapels gently rolled over the top button. It has a structured cut with straight, padded shoulders cut on the bias, gently-roped sleeveheads, a full-cut chest and a suppressed waist. The jacket’s front darts continue straight down below the jetted hip pockets to the jacket’s hem. There are three buttons on the cuffs and no vents. The suit’s waistcoat has six buttons with five to button. The suit’s trousers have a darted front, slanted side pockets and a tapered leg with deep two-inch turn-ups. The suit is trimmed with black horn buttons.

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The suit overall has a very timeless style with balanced proportions. Whilst Draco’s suit doesn’t look as modern as George Lazenby’s Bond’s suits do, it doesn’t look old-fashioned either. If the jacket had pocket flaps and vents it would easily look more modern. The suit most likely is made by an Italian tailor, judging by the cut—especially the shape of the Roman-style shoulders—and since actor Gabriele Ferzetti is Italian.

Draco’s pale blue shirt has a moderate spread collar, front placket and mitred two-button cuffs, with the outer button left open. The navy tie has wide grey repp stripes bordered by narrower champagne-coloured stripes, with the stripes in the British direction. Draco ties it in a four-in-hand knot. He finishes the outfit with black shoes and a red carnation in his lapel.

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Later in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service Draco wears a dark grey flannel chalkstripe double-breasted suit that isn’t seen much. The suit jacket has the same straight, padded shoulders with roped sleeveheads that the three-piece navy nailhead suit has. The very wide peaked lapels with a considerable amount of belly, however, give the suit a distinct 1930s look. The white shirt that Draco wears with the double-breasted suit is made in the same style that he wears with the three-piece suit with a moderate spread collar and front placket. The tie has repeated sections of small mid blue, turquoise and green stripes on a navy ground, and Draco ties it in a four-in-hand knot.

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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.

The Man from U.N.C.L.E.: Dinner Suit and Backless Waistcoat

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Napoleon Solo, Ian Fleming’s creation for the American television series The Man from U.N.C.L.E played by Robert Vaughan, wears black tie just as well as James Bond does. Solo’s black tie style is not as pared-down as Bond’s is, and his clothes incorporate a little more 1960s fashions than Bond’s do. In the 1965 episode “The Virtue Affair”, Solo wears a midnight blue dinner suit with midnight blue satin silk trimmings and a double-breasted backless waistcoat.

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The dinner jacket is a button one with gently-rolled, narrow midnight-blue satin silk peaked lapels. The jetted pockets and single-button gauntlet cuffs are also trimmed in midnight blue satin silk. Silk-trimmed pocket jettings are not as traditional as body-trimmed jettings, which is the way James Bond’s dinner jackets typically are. Napoleon Solo’s dinner jacket has no vent. The shoulders are straight and narrow with a little padding, the chest is clean and the waist is gently shaped, though the jacket probably follows the American tradition and does not have front darts. The flat front trousers have a midnight blue satin stripe down the side of the leg and braces buttons on the outside of the waistband, which are not used.

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Solo’s backless waistcoat is made of midnight blue silk. The waistcoat’s shawl lapels are made in satin silk to match the jacket’s lapels but the waistcoat’s body is made in a fancier watered silk. Backless waistcoats are wear cooler than full-back waistcoats, so they’re often used as a warm-weather alternative to the cummerbund. Still, they can also be worn year-round. With the dinner jacket on—and it should always stay on when in the company of others—the backless waistcoat looks just the same as regular waistcoat. It looks rather unattractive when the jacket is off, as Solo demonstrates in his jail cell. It has an adjustable strap across the back of the waist like on a cummerbund, and it has an adjustable strap that curves around the back of the neck. This allows the off-the-peg waistcoat to fit a large variety of figures. Whilst Solo’s waistcoat appears to be ready-to-wear, bespoke tailors can make backless waistcoats as well. Solo’s waistcoat is double-breasted and has six buttons with three to button in a keystone arrangement. The waistcoat is in the low-cut evening style so the buttons have little vertical space between them.

With the dinner suit Solo wears an ivory dress shirt. It has a spread collar and double cuffs fastened with large round silver cuff links. The front has small pleats, which are also known as “swiss” pleats or “pin tucks”. The front placket has interesting scalloped edges and is fastened with three black studs. The back of the shirt has shoulder pleats. The bow tie is black and does not match the rest of the silk trimmings in the outfit, but it is not a significant faux pas considering it can be difficult to find proper midnight blue bow ties. Solo’s shoes are black patent leather plain-toe slip-ons.

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For more on Napoleon Solo, see the post I did on his black and white glen check suit.

The November Man: The Grey Silk Suit

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Pierce Brosnan returned to the spy/action genre earlier this year in Roger Donaldson’s The November Man. Brosnan plays Peter Devereaux, a retired CIA officer who has no reservations about killing or torturing people. The character would certainly not be mistaken for an older James Bond as he is certainly not a gentleman by any means. However, Olga Kurylenko, who played Camille in Quantum of Solace, plays a similar character to what she plays in her Bond film. Brioni, Pierce Brosnan’s suit supplier for his Bond films, provided some of the clothes for The November Man, according to a Brioni press release.

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One of Peter Devereaux’s nicest outfits in the film is his slubby grey and white pick-and-pick silk suit that he wears with a black shirt. The outfit is not Devereaux’s own but one that Olga Kurylenko’s character Alice Fournier picked out for him from the closet in an apartment they broke into. The grey suit flatters Brosnan’s very cool complexion, though it brings out the grey in his partially-dyed hair. The suit jacket is updated from the boxy, built-up jackets that Brosnan wore in his Bond films to one with more shape and straight shoulders on the natural shoulder line. It fits well, has balanced proportions and has a classic length that covers his rear. Like Brosnan’s Bond suit jackets, this jacket has roped sleeveheads, double vents and slanted hip pockets with a ticket pocket. There are four buttons on the sleeves, and the buttons are sewn in an overlapping “waterfall” style, a common method for tailors in Naples, Italy. The jacket has contrasting button in black plastic, which dress down the suit.

Unlike the darted Brioni suit trousers with a medium-high rise that Pierce Brosnan wore in his last two James Bond films, Devereaux’s suit trousers have a flat front and a lower rise. The lower rise does not flatter Brosnan, who is now almost beyond a middle-aged man and has a paunch. It also doesn’t help that he lets the trousers sag below his stomach. He keeps them loose so he can stick a gun in his trouser waistband, a bad habit that Brosnan’s Bond had as well. Brosnan wears the trousers with a black belt.

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Though black shirts (and other dark shirts) should not usually be worn with suits, Devereaux’s silk suit is not a business suit but rather one that can be dressed up or down for social occasions. Devereaux dresses the suit down with a dark shirt sans tie. The black shirt nicely contrasts with the suit in the same way a black necktie would, but without a tie a light-coloured shirt wouldn’t provide enough contrast with the light-coloured suit to balance Pierce Brosnan’s high-contrast winter complexion. The shirt has black buttons, a spread collar, a plain front and two-button scalloped cuffs, which Devereaux wears unbuttoned.

Devereaux’s shoes are the Nike Free Run 2 in all black. Though trainers such as these are inappropriate with a suit, the filmmakers—no doubt on purpose—show very little of the shoes. They are really only noticeable if one pauses the film during the three split-second shots when the shoes are visible. Since Pierce Brosnan is 61 years old, and The Novmeber Man requires him to do many action scenes, trainers are unfortunately necessary. When he was James Bond he was in much better shape and able to do the same kind of action in proper shoes.

The Nike trainers

Nike Free Run 2 black trainers