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.

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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 muscles 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

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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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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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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.

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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.

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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

The “Legend” Jumper by Slazenger Heritage Gold

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Commemorating the 50th anniversary of Goldfinger‘s release on 17 September 1964, Slazenger collaborated with Anthony Sinclair to reissue the Slazenger jumper that Sean Connery wears when playing golf in Goldfinger. The new wine red V-neck jumper revived the original gold panther logo that graces the left breast of Connery’s jumper. However, the new jumper has been updated in a number of ways, so it’s not an exact copy. It is woven in a superfine two-fold Merino wool, whilst Connery’s jumper is likely acrylic—as Slazenger often made and still makes their jumpers—in a chunkier knit. The ribbing on the cuffs and hem is much finer than on Connery’s jumper. The short V-neck opening may be the most noticeable difference on the new jumper, as the V isn’t nearly as deep. David Mason of Anthony Sinclair told me about his decision to update the Slazenger jumper in its reissue:

It’s just not my philosophy to create exact copies. Things must evolve. I often ask myself, “What would Anthony be doing if he was still with us now?”. The Slazenger sweater is a good case in point. The objective was to design a product that is instantly recognisable and clearly related to the original, yet very modern, wearable and totally up to date.

Slazenger-Legend-Jumper-BoxThis is certainly a more wearable jumper today than an exact replica of Connery’s would be. It’s not a baggy jumper like Connery’s is. Even though the fit has been updated to be shorter and cleaner, it still has a classic fit. If you’re undecided on whether to get a certain size, I recommend sizing down if you like your jumpers to fit closely. For instance, my chest measures 38 inches, so I should wear a medium per the sizing guide (38-40). However, I found that a small (35-37) has a cleaner fit on me and is not too tight. The medium would better fit a size 40, which is at the top end of the recommended medium size range.

The jumper comes packaged beautifully in a heavy black cardboard box with a magnetic closure containing a “quality certificate” and a very large descriptive tag about the history of the jumper in Goldfinger and Slazenger Heritage.

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Anthony Sinclair has also just recently released a white twill double cuff shirt, and the cuffs have rounded corners like on Sean Connery’s shirts in Goldfinger. The shirt comes with either a semi-cutaway or a cutaway collar in either a regular or slim fit. The Anthony Sinclair shirt is “evolved” in its style from the original shirts in Goldfinger that may have been made by Frank Foster. Anthony Sinclair also just released a number of new blue grenadine tie colours, for a total of seven different blue grenadine ties ranging from ice to midnight.

Visit AnthonySinclair.com for more information on the Slazenger jumper and the other new offerings.

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.

Plastic Buttons

Grey plastic buttons on the three-piece glen check suit in Goldfinger

Grey plastic buttons on the three-piece glen check suit by Anthony Sinclair in Goldfinger

Plastic buttons are currently held to be less desirable than buttons made of natural materials, but when Sean Connery was James Bond in the 1960s they were the standard choice for lounge suits amongst England’s best tailors. Almost all of Sean Connery’s Anthony Sinclair suits in his 1960’s Bond films have thin, plain, glossy plastic buttons, and most of Roger Moore’s Cyril Castle suits and sports coats in Live and Let Die and The Man with the Golden Gun have the same type of buttons. Though it may seem illogical to put inexpensive plastic buttons on bespoke garments, there are reasons to why plastic buttons were used.

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Dark grey plastic buttons on an Anthony Sinclair dark grey flannel suit in Dr. No. The smooth texture of the buttons does not fit with the fuzzy texture of the flannel cloth.

The uniform look of plastic buttons matches the clean look of worsted suiting, and some people believe that horn buttons look too rustic for a city suit. Plastic buttons also can be made in virtually any colour, so they are typically matched with or used in a slightly darker shade than the suit. In the 1960s and 1970s, synthetics were not so taboo in quality clothes the way that they are now. Tailors may also have liked how plastic buttons were thinner than other choices. Douglas Hayward, who typically used horn buttons, used grey plastic buttons on both Roger Moore’s grey flannel suit in For Your Eyes Only and on his grey tweed jacket in A View to a Kill since horn is not found in a flat medium grey, and he wanted to match the buttons to the suit. These grey plastic buttons, however, have a matte finish like horn instead of the shiny finish buttons that Sinclair and Castle used.

Plastic Buttons on Daniel Craig's suit in Casino Royale

Plastic Buttons on Daniel Craig’s Brioni suit in Casino Royale

Timothy Dalton’s suits in Licence to Kill, not surprisingly, have plastic buttons. Most of Pierce Brosnan’s and Daniel Craig’s Brioni suits—worn in GoldeneEye, Tomorrow Never Dies, The World Is Not Enough, Die Another Day and Casino Royale—also have plastic buttons. Not all plastic buttons are created equal. Brioni’s plastic buttons both look nicer and are more durable than the average plastic buttons. This is not to say they are just as good as natural materials, but the plastic buttons give the makers of Brioni suits the look they want.

Urea buttons on Timothy Dalton's suit in The Living Daylights

Urea buttons on Timothy Dalton’s Benjamin Simon suit in The Living Daylights

Timothy Dalton’s suit buttons in The Living Daylights are another kind of plastic, made from urea. These urea buttons mimic horn but often have a more pronounced grain. Unlike horn buttons, which due to nature can never be identical to each other, the grain of urea buttons will often match each others. If the buttons look like horn but are suspiciously identical, they can’t possibly be authentic horn. The grey buttons on the black-and-white pick-and-pick suit in Skyfall are similar fake horn in urea.