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

The Naked Face: A Needlecord Suit

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In the 1984 film The Naked Face, Roger Moore plays psychiatrist Judd Stevens who dresses in seasonal autumn clothing in the Anglo-American tradition. I previously wrote about Moore’s blue and beige barleycorn tweed jacket in The Naked Face, and most of the clothes in the film follow in a similar vein. Of all the tailored clothing in the film, only a light brown needlecord suit appears to be made by Moore’s regular tailor at the time, Douglas Hayward. Hayward made Moore’s beautiful tailored clothing for For Your Eyes Only, Octopussy and A View to a Kill. This suit is more casual than what Hayward made for the Bond films, and, though the cut is the same as what Moore wore as Bond at the time, it’s probably not a suit Bond would wear. Needlecord, also known as pinwale, is a fine wale cotton corduroy that is perfect for autumn in Chicago, where the film takes place.

The-Naked-Face-Needlecord-Suit-4Like Roger Moore’s Douglas Hayward suits in his last three James Bond films, this suit jacket is cut with a clean chest and natural shoulders with gently roped sleeveheads. The button-two jacket also has the same low button stance and is identically detailed to most of Moore’s Bond suit jackets with flapped pockets, three buttons on the cuffs and double vents. The suit trousers are also like Moore’s trousers in his Bond films at the time: they have a straight leg and frogmouth pockets and are worn with a belt. Apart from the jacket’s low button stance, the suit looks timeless.

The-Naked-Face-Needlecord-Suit-2All of Moore’s shirts in The Naked Face are made by his regular shirtmaker Frank Foster, who made shirts for Moore in all of his Bond films. Moore wears this suit with two different shirts: a blue and white hairline stripe shirt with a spread collar—which is very similar to the shirt he wears with his navy suit in Octopussy—and an ecru shirt with a button-down spread collar. The button-down collar is much wider than the typical American button-down collar, but it still has a gentle roll. This is possibly what Roger Moore’s button-down collars in A View to a Kill would look like if worn buttoned with a tie. Both shirts have a placket with Foster’s identifying stitching close to the centre and extra-rounded single-button cuffs. Though the buttons aren’t clearly seen on these two shirts’ cuffs, another blue and white hairline stripe shirt in the film has a large cuff button like on Foster’s “Lapidus” tab cuffs. It’s possible that these two shirts also have the same large button on the cuffs.

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Notice the poorly-ironed shirt collar. On collars with a sewn interfacing, they can easily bunch up at the stitching. Judd Stevens is well-dressed, but he isn’t faultless like James Bond

With this suit Moore wears a grey-purple knitted wool tie with flat ends. Wool ties go especially nice with corduroy since they complement the rustic, autumnal look, and they have more contrast with corduroy than they do with the other traditional pairings like flannel and tweed. Knitted wool ties are slightly less formal than knitted silk ties, which makes them a great match for such a casual suit like corduroy. The tie’s colour, grey with a hint of purple, is rather dull compared to the rest of the outfit and slightly washes out Moore’s warm complexion. Moore ties it in a four-in-hand knot, and the knot ends up quite wide due to the tie’s bulk.

Moore’s slip-on shoes and belt are dark brown, and the belt’s brass buckle goes well with the light brown colour of the suit. Moore wears dark brown leather gloves with the suit.

The-Naked-Face-Camel-OvercoatOver the suit, Moore wears a single-breasted camelhair overcoat. The full-length overcoat hits just below the knee, which keeps Moore decently warm in the cold and windy Chicago. Like the suit, it has natural shoulders with roped sleeveheads. The overcoat has set-in sleeves, three buttons down the front, swelled edges, straight flapped hip pockets, a welted breast pocket, three buttons on the cuffs and a single vent. He wears the collar turned up for extra warmth. He also keeps warm in a light brown wool flat cap, something James Bond would never wear. They’re associated with older working class men, a category Bond is never associated with. With the cap and large glasses on, Moore looks nothing like James Bond. Over the suit and under the overcoat, Moore drapes a a checked Burberry—or Burberry-style—scarf around his neck. The scarf’s base colour is pale green, the scarf’s check has navy and sky blue stripes lengthwise with black and cream stripes crosswise, and the scarf has a navy lengthwise overcheck and a rust-coloured crosswise overcheck.

Though Roger Moore’s needlecord suit in The Naked Face may not be something James Bond would wear, it’s an elegant suit for informal cool-weather wear. The outfit has a timeless look that would look just as great during this autumn season as it did thirty years ago.

In Memory of Richard Kiel

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With great sadness, on Wednesday 10 September we lost Richard Kiel, the actor who twice played the henchman Jaws in The Spy Who Loved Me and Moonraker. I’ve never heard Roger Moore speak of anyone so kindly and with so much respect as he does for Richard Kiel. When I saw Roger Moore speak at Book Revue in Huntington, NY in 2008, a child asked Moore, “What was Jaws like in real life?” Moore responded, “Well, Jaws in real life is seven-foot-two, and he’s what I call a gentle giant. He is such a nice man, so kind, and we were in Canada a few years ago. Every time he would bring up the subject of UNICEF so I could talk about it. A good man.”

Jaws-Three-Piece-Suit-2Only a month ago I wrote about Jaws’ azure double-breasted blazer in The Spy Who Loved Me, but now let’s look at his more tasteful charcoal chalkstripe three-piece suit that he also wears in the film. It’s a very conservative suit for 1977, and Jaws appropriately wears it for two meetings with his boss, Karl Stromberg. In comparison to the other clothes he wears throughout the film, the three-piece suit is the only outfit that makes him look like a truly menacing character. A man of Jaws’ size must certainly have his suits made for him, and the same tailor or costumier who made the azure blazer probably made the suit as well. The single-breasted suit jacket has the same large, imposing shoulders that the double-breasted blazer has, but it has much more shape through the body for an elegant look. The jacket is a button two with a medium button stance and wide notched lapels. A slightly long jacket helps to anchor Jaws at the cost of emphasising his towering height. The jacket pulls at the button, which may be the result of Jaws’ body type being difficult to tailor. His jacket sleeves are also too long, covering the top of his hands. The jacket is detailed with slanted, flapped pockets and double vents. The suit’s waistcoat most likely has six buttons and the trousers have a slightly flared leg with plain hems.

Jaws-Three-Piece-Suit-3Jaws’ light grey shirt is an unconventional choice that flatters his cool winter complexion. It has a fashionably large point collar that has a generous amount of tie space. The shirt’s placket is stitched 1/4″ from the edge to match the collar and cuff stitching. Jaws’ tie is black with a red diamond motif that has a small black square in the centre of each diamond. He ties it in a four-in-hand knot. Jaws’ shoes are black.

The Man from U.N.C.L.E.: The Black and White Check Suit

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James Bond isn’t the only spy Ian Fleming created. Fleming also created Napoleon Solo, the main character in American television series The Man from U.N.C.L.E. played by Robert Vaughan. Though Solo, like Bond, is a well-dressed spy, his clothes have decidedly American characteristics. His suits are in an updated version of the classic American sack style, updated both for the 1960s and for a more international look. The second series episode of The Man from U.N.C.L.E. titled “Alexander the Greater Affair”, which was later turned into the feature film One Spy Too Many, features Napoleon Solo wearing a black and white glen check suit in a hopsack weave with a large repeat. The cloth is very similar to what James Bond’s three-piece checked suit in Goldfinger is made from, but this suit’s cloth is not as fine.

Click the image for a close-up of the glen check cloth and ribbed tie

Click the image for a close-up of the glen check cloth and ribbed tie

Like the classic American sack jacket, this suit’s jacket has no darts in the front. Instead, the jacket is shaped through the underarm dart and side seam. The shape of an English jacket is not possible without the front darts, but Solo’s jacket still has waist suppression and doesn’t look like a box. The lack of front darts has a clear benefit on this suit: it allows the large check to be uninterrupted on the front of the jacket. Solo’s jacket is updated from the ordinary sack with only two buttons on the front instead of three rolled to two, and the traditional natural shoulders are replaced with padded shoulders that have a slight concave—or pagoda—shape. The jacket has the popular 1960s trends of narrow lapels with very small notches and short, four-inch double vents. The jacket also follows the American tradition of two buttons spaced apart on the cuff, and it also has jetted hip pockets. Black buttons on the jacket match the black in the check but contrast with and complement the cloth as a whole.

The suit trousers follow the American tradition with a flat front, but the trousers are updated with a more tapered leg. The hems are finished without turn-ups, which goes against the traditional method of finishing sack suit trousers. Yes, the American tradition is for flat-front trousers with turn-ups. The lack of turn-ups of Solo’s trousers allows the hem to be slanted, which helps the narrow trouser opening cover more of the shoes.

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Solo’s cream shirt, which is likely pinpoint oxford, has a mismatch of styles. It mixes an informal button-down collar, which was a popular collar in the 1960s in America, with dressy double cuffs. Cary Grant was known to wear this incongruous combination, and it can be seen in Notorious. Solo’s narrow, solid black ribbed tie—which is in the spirit of James Bond’s dark textured ties—is tied in a four-in-hand knot. His shoes are black short ankle boots with elastic, similar to the boots Sean Connery wears in Goldfinger and Thunderball. A black leather belt holds up Solo’s trousers.

Apart from The Man from U.N.C.L.E.’s obvious similarities to the James Bond series, this episode has another connection to the Bond series. Teru Shimada, who would go on to play Mr. Osato in You Only Live Twice, plays the president of a small country who the villain of the story attempts to kill.

Silva: Cream Jacket and Printed Shirt

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Raoul Silva, played by Javier Bardem in Skyfall, is one of the most flamboyantly-dressed villains, yet he’s a well-tailored one. His cream silk jacket fits almost perfectly, the only problem being that the sleeve are too long. It’s made by Mayfair tailor Thom Sweeney, so it’s nice to see a second character in Skyfall—the first being Gareth Mallory—wearing bespoke English tailoring. The button two silk jacket is elegantly-tailored in the English style with softly-padded shoulders, roped sleeveheads, a clean chest and a suppressed waist. The jacket is tailored with classic proportions; the lapels are a balanced width, the length covers his behind and the jacket is closely fitted but not tight. The jacket has slanted hip pockets, double vents, four buttons on the cuffs, and dark brown corozo nut buttons.

Silva-Cream-Jacket-2Under the jacket, Silva wears a waistcoat and trousers in dark olive tropical wool or mohair. The waistcoat has five buttons, and Silva unstylishly fastens the bottom button. However, if he left the waistcoat’s bottom button open the shirt underneath may be exposed since the trousers have a somewhat low rise. The trousers’ waistband is visible in the notch of the bottom of the waistcoat. The waistcoat has narrow lapels and a small, full collar that are worn flipped up. The trousers have a flat front and plain hem.

Silva-Cream-Jacket-3Silva’s shirt from Prada is the flashiest part of his outfit. The shirt’s printed pattern consists of tan tiles with a white border and navy tiles with a tan border on a black ground. The shirt has a point collar, rounded single-button cuffs and dark buttons. Silva wears the collar button and first button open. Because of how flashy the shirt is, the necktie isn’t missed. It can be awkward to wear a waistcoat without a tie, but the waistcoat’s purpose here is to tone down the outfit by covering the shirt rather than to dress up the outfit. By flipping up the waistcoat’s collar and lapels, Silva rejects the additional formality that the waistcoat would ordinarily give the outfit. This is not a way I would recommend anyone wear a waistcoat, but when you’re a Bond villain you can dress as you please.

Silva’s medium brown chelsea boots add an additional level of flamboyance to his outfit. Though chelsea boots are typically very clean and sleek, Silva’s chelsea boots have an excessive amount of brogueing and far more seams than typical chelsea boots. They have a toe cap as well as a decorative strip of leather across the vamp. Apart from brogueing on every seam, they also have a toe medallion. The boots have thick double leather soles.

Costume designer Jany Temime dressed Silva appropriately in a garish and outrageous manner that perfectly suits the insane Bond villain.

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Gold: Dressing Up a Bold Shirt

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Gold features Roger Moore in a James Bond-esque story but in a slightly more flamboyant wardrobe. Like Moore’s navy double-breasted suit in Gold, the beige jacket in that film could have been picked straight out of Live and Let Die or The Man with the Golden Gun. The jacket—perhaps made of a silk and linen blend—is tailored by Cyril Castle in the same style as the single-breasted suits that Moore wears in his first two Bond films. The button two jacket has softly-padded shoulders, a swelled chest, a nipped waist and medium-width lapels. It is detailed with slanted pockets, deep double vents and flared link cuffs. The tan wool trousers, though similar in value, contrast in texture and hue. have a darted front, a coin pocket below the waistband and a slightly flared leg.

Gold-Beige-Suit-2The shirt is where Moore breaks from Bond style. It has a rust and navy check on a cream ground. Whist the pattern is bolder than something Bond would wear, the shirt has the same spread collar and cocktail cuffs that Moore’s Frank Foster shirts in Live and Let Die have. Such a bold shirt needs a simple tie, and Moore wears a solid rust-coloured tie that pulls out the rust in the shirt’s check. He ties it in a four-in-hand or a double-four-in-hand knot. Though the tie works well with the jacket and shirt, the bold shirt could keep the outfit interesting without a tie. This is the kind of outfit that can be worn well without a tie, but the tie keeps the outfit “tied” together. With the suit, Moore wears dark brown shoes, a wide dark brown belt and aviator sunglasses.

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The Ipcress File: Grey Tweed Jacket

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Michael Caine stars as the unsophisticated spy Harry Palmer in 1965 film The Ipcress File, produced by James Bond film producer Harry Saltzman. Palmer is quite the opposite of James Bond and lives a very unglamourous life. Unlike Bond, Palmer never looks perfect, he wears glasses, he does desk work, he wakes up alone and he shops at the supermarket. Palmer’s clothes, however, aren’t completely unlike Bond’s, but they still leave something to be desired. 1980s Bond tailor Douglas Hayward was famously Michael Caine’s tailor, but it is unknown if he made the clothes for The Ipcress File.

Broken-Twill

Broken Twill

Palmer is introduced wearing a tweed jacket in black and grey broken twill. Broken twill has a similar look to barleycorn but is also like a very small herringbone weave. Herringbone is actually a type of broken twill. A grey broken twill tweed jacket actually isn’t so far from the type of jacket Bond would wear. Palmer’s jacket is a button two with natural shoulders. It has narrow lapels with a very gradual roll, making the button two jacket look almost like a button three jacket.

Ipcress-File-Tweed-Jacket-2The jacket also has double vents, a single button on each sleeve—the jacket’s buttons are black plastic—and hip pockets with narrow flaps. Palmer sometimes wears the pocket flaps tucked in, like when he carries a folded newspaper in his hip pocket (see image at the end of the article). Keeping small items in outer pockets does enough to disturb the jacket’s lines without having items sticking out from the pockets. Palmer demonstrates the way no gentleman should carry his newspaper.

Palmer wears medium grey worsted wool trousers under the jacket. They have a darted front, slanted side pockets, an extended waistband, buckle side adjusters and a tapered leg with turn-ups. There ought to be a little more contrast between the jacket and trousers, and a shade lighter in grey would be enough to give the two pieces more separation. The trousers most likely come from the suit Palmer wears later in the film. Palmer’s black shoes keep within the city tones of the outfit.

Ipcress-File-Blue-Shirt-FlannelsPalmer’s pale blue shirt is the least refined part of his outfit. Though the spread collar has a good width, the length of the collar points is rather puny. The collar is stitched 1/8 inch from the edge rather than the traditional 1/4 inch. The shirt has square single cuffs for cufflinks. These are not the stiff single cuffs that one wears for full evening dress but instead cheap, flimsy cuffs similar to the modern convertible cuffs that can be worn either with a button or with cufflinks. Palmer’s shirt has a breast pocket, which further brings the origin of Palmer’s shirt into question.

There is one item that Palmer takes from Bond’s wardrobe: a navy knitted tie. Bond wears a navy knitted tie in Goldfinger, made just a year earlier, and he wears it again in You Only Live Twice and On Her Majesty’s Secret Service. Palmer ties his knitted tie—most likely—in a half windsor knot like George Lazenby ties his knitted ties as Bond. But unlike Bond, Palmer wears a tie bar, and it suspiciously does not keep Palmer’s tie in place.

Tie askew and newspaper in the outside hip pocket

Tie askew and newspaper in the outside hip pocket

Felix Leiter: The Tan Linen Suit

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Jeffrey Wright’s Felix Leiter may have proven to be the only one other than Jack Lord’s who can rival Bond’s style and cool demeanour. In Quantum of Solace he wears a tan linen suit that’s just as nice as any of Bond’s tropical suits. The suit jacket is probably a button two and has natural shoulders and a clean fit. The jacket also has open patch hip pockets, a welt breast pocket and a four buttons on the cuffs. The jacket’s buttons are a summery white mother of pearl. The suit trousers have a flat front and a plain hem.

Felix-Leiter-Tan-Linen-Suit-2Leiter’s white shirt has a button-down collar, front placket and rounded single-button cuffs. The button-down collar looks great open since the buttons keep the collar standing up, even with the first button of the shirt open. The button-down collar also identifies Leiter as an American, even though Cec Linder was the only Leiter to previously wear a button-down collar. The only part of this outfit that isn’t done so well are the shoes. They’re brown slip-ons with a rather bulbous toe and thick black rubber soles. But since they’re only seen in publicity stills and not in the film they’re not worth complaining about too much.

Leiter’s tan suit and white shirt outfit has similarities to the original Felix Leiter’s beige suit in Dr. No and, especially, James Bond’s tan linen suit in GoldenEye. The balanced proportions and classic fit of this suit make it one of the most timeless suits worn by any character in the Bond films.