What is your favourite style of jacket vent?

Dr-No-Double-Vents

What is your favourite style of jacket vent?

View Results

Loading ... Loading ...

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.

Goldfinger-Hacking-Jacket-Vent

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.

Marine-Blue-Suit-Double-Vents

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

Comparison: The Button Three Double-Breasted Blazer

Lazenby-Blazer

Reader TheLordFlasheart made the excellent suggestion of comparing similar outfits worn by different James Bonds throughout the series, so I had to find two outfits that I think could be compared fairly. I’ve chosen to begin with comparing George Lazenby’s and Roger Moore’s button three double-breasted blazers. These are the only two Bonds who have worn this naval-uniform-like blazer, and they wore them only five years apart. Considering Bond’s background as a commander in the Royal Navy, this is a very appropriate style for the character. In the naval tradition, both blazers have metal buttons, and both have silver-toned buttons rather than the ordinary brass. Though both blazers are English-tailored, neither have straight, uniform-like shoulders. The shoulders have less padding than military uniforms do for a more natural and civilian look. Roped sleeveheads are typical of the military style, and whilst Moore’s blazer has a little roping, Lazenby’s blazer doesn’t have any. Both blazers, however, have a clean and fitted military-like cut through the body.

The two blazers have the appropriate detail of double vents, though both also have the then-trendy detail of slanted pockets. Slanted pockets are also known as “hacking pockets” because of their equestrian origins, and the blazer’s origins are quite far from that. That makes slanted pockets an unconventional choice for a blazer—especially a double-breasted blazer—but it was nevertheless a fashionable choice. Though unconventional and trendy, I rather like the rakish slanted pockets. Lazenby’s blazer adds a ticket pocket.

Moore-Double-Breasted-Blazer-3

Some aspects of fashion had changed significantly between On Her Majesty’s Secret Service in 1969 and The Man with the Golden Gun 1974. As far as the blazer is concerned, those differences are in length and lapel width. Though Lazenby’s single-breasted jackets have medium-width lapels, the double-breasted blazer has narrow peaked lapels similar to those on a Royal Navy uniform. Roger Moore’s blazer has wider lapels, but since it’s double-breasted the lapels don’t proportionately look too wide. Lieutenant Hip shows how ridiculously wide double-breasted lapels could be in 1974, with the points only about a quarter-inch from touching the armhole. Lazenby’s blazer is slightly shorter than Moore’s traditional-length blazer, which was a trend in the late 1960s. Moore’s blazer has a slightly narrower wrap than Lazenby’s blazer, which was the way Moore’s tailor Cyril Castle cut double-breasted jackets and didn’t reflect any particular trends. Lazenby’s blazer adds the sporty detail of swelled edges, whilst Moore’s has the unique link-button cuffs.

Trouser leg width changed more than anything else between 1969 and 1974. We don’t see much of the trousers that Moore wears with his blazer, but it’s assumed he wears trousers with a slightly flared leg. Lazenby’s trousers and very narrow and tapered, though they are still neatly tailored. Lazenby’s trousers are light grey and Moore’s trousers are charcoal and white, respectively.

Frank Foster made both Moore’s and Lazenby’s shirts. Moore wears his blazer with a blue and white mini-Bengal stripe shirt and a white shirt, whilst Lazenby wears his blazer with sky blue and pink shirts. Lazenby’s shirts have a narrower collar than Moore’s shirts have, and the collar choices were probably what Foster or the costume designer through looked best on the actors rather than what fashion trends dictated. Lazenby’s shirts have single-button cuffs whilst Moore’s shirts have cocktail cuffs. Lazenby’s ties are medium-width navy and red knitted ties, and Moore’s ties are wide slate blue satin and white and navy striped. The tie width, of course, matches the lapel width.

Though Lazenby’s look would certainly look more fashionable today than Moore’s would, I think both Lazenby and Moore wear their blazers very well. Both dress in good taste and neither commit any sartorial sins. Who do you think wore the button three double-breasted blazer better?

Equestrian Pursuits: A Houndstooth Tweed Jacket

Houndstooth-Sports-Coat

Bond’s second hacking jacket of the series is a bit more bold than the first one, but it’s just as traditional. Goldfinger features Bond’s first hacking jacket, a subtle barleycorn tweed. On Her Majesty’s Secret Service features Bond’s second hacking jacket, a bolder houndstooth tweed. But it’s a rather simple check, in black, brown and cream with a red overcheck. The jacket is made by Dimi Major, with lightly padded shoulders, a swelled chest, a nipped waist and a flared skirt. It’s a button three with one button on the cuffs and the hacking jacket features of slanted pockets and a deep single vent. Slanted pockets are easier to access on horseback whilst the deep vent helps the jacket to split in back over the horse.

Click the image for a close-up of the weave.

Click the image for a close-up of the weave.

Bond almost never fastens the top button on his button three jackets. On most of Bond’s button three jackets the lapels gently roll at the top button. Here, Lazenby interrupts the roll by fastening the top button. Dimi Major cuts his button three jackets to look great either with both to the top and middle buttons closed or just the middle button closed. Unlike ordinary sports coats, riding jackets are longer and have three buttons placed higher on the chest, with all three meant to fasten. Lazenby’s hacking jacket is cut like a typical sports coat, meaning the bottom button isn’t meant to fasten. Closing the top button puts this jacket more in the spirit of riding jackets. But fastening the top button is also necessary to hold in the day cravat.

Houndstooth-Sports-Coat-2

The beige shirt has a stock collar, which extends around to close at the left side of the neck instead of the front. It looks unbroken across the front and is meant to be worn with a stock tie or a day cravat, of which Bond wears the latter. Bond’s cravat is also beige and is worn with a pin. The beige jodhpurs—likely made of cavalry twill wool due to its elastic properties—are worn with a belt and fit into Bond’s tall, black riding boots. Since I’m not involved in the equestrian world, I cannot judge the appropriateness of the outfit. The only part of this outfit that may be worn outside of equestrian activity is the hacking jacket, and the rest of the outfit should be limited to equestrian pursuits.

Houndstooth-Sports-Coat-3

In A View to a Kill, Roger Moore wears another equestrian outfit, but with a conventional shirt and knitted tie.

The Navy Car Coat

Lazenby-Overcoat

George Lazenby’s car coat in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service is a hybrid of different overcoat styles. It’s a navy three-quarter length, double-breasted coat with elements from the British Warm and the pea coat. Like a British Warm it has six buttons on the front with three to button and suit-like pockets. Like a pea coat it has a large Ulster collar and broad lapels, which allow the coat to button at the top. It has a deeper single vent than most overcoats, one button on the cuffs and slanted hacking pockets with flaps. The mix of styles on this coat works well together. Though Lazenby wears the coat in a city setting over a chalkstripe suit and, later, a navy blazer, the coat can also be worn almost as casually as a pea coat can be. Lazenby wears the coat with a navy trilby and black leather driving gloves.

Lazenby-Overcoat-2

The Button Three Lapel Roll

The World is Not Enough Button 3

The most traditional number of button for the front of a suit jacket is three. But there are a few different ways the lapels can be cut and sewn to control the way the lapel rolls. On inexpensive, fully-fused suits, the lapels don’t roll and are pressed flat above the top button. This is something that James Bond never wears. The opposite of that style would be the “3-roll-2″ style, where the lapels act just like on a button two suit and roll down to the middle button. The top buttonhole is also finished on the reverse side, since that’s the side that is visible. This style is most commonly seen in American sack suits, but it’s not limited to that cut. Cary Grant famously wore that style in North By Northwest, and Bond wore it in Quantum of Solace (pictured below). Some see it as an affected style since the top button can’t close, but it’s a well-established classic.

Quantum of Solace Button 3

The most common type of button three amongst well-made jackets has the lapel gently rolling from at or just below the top button. Most of Bond’s button three suits are in this style. It looks very elegant with only the middle button closed, but the top can be closed as well. We first saw this style on Bond in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service. George Lazenby fastens both the top and middle buttons (pictured below), and the top button breaks the roll. If he only fastened the middle button, the lapel would roll through the top button. Sean Connery’s button three sports coats in Diamonds Are Forever have similar lapels, but he only fasten the jacket at the middle button. Roger Moore wore a few suits in this style made by Douglas Hayward in the 1980s with a lower button stance, and Timothy Dalton wore a navy pinstripe suit in this style in The Living Daylights. Pierce Brosnan most famously wore this style made by Brioni throughout all of his Bond films (pictured top). Daniel Craig’s Brioni suits in Casino Royale followed in the same 3-button style, though a more fitted cut meant that the lapels spread open a bit wider. Every Bond after Lazenby fastens only the middle button, which is usually—and most effectively—placed at the waist to act as a fulcrum for both visual balance and to match where your body pivots. The latter is especially important for action since a button that is placed too low or too high would be restricting.

On Her Majesty's Secret Service Button 3

Daniel Craig’s suits in Skyfall (pictured below) also have a lapel that rolls from the top button, as you can easily see when the jackets are unbuttoned. But because the jackets are so tight the chest is pulled open more than it looks like it was designed to be. The revers are shown a little bit below the button but not all the way down to the middle button like on the Quantum of Solace suit. If you look at the image of the buttoned suit below you’ll notice that the lapel roll ends at the top button and below that it is just pulled open because it’s too tight.

Skyfall Button 3

A lapel that rolls needs canvassing to give it shape and body, which is why some makers just sew canvas in the lapels and fuse the rest of the front. The amount of roll is controlled by the cut of the lapel, where the lapel is attached to the collar and how the innards of the suit are constructed. And a lapel roll isn’t just limited to the button three jacket. Sean Connery’s button two jackets had elegant rolls, especially starting in From Russia With Love as the lapels got narrower. In comparison, Roger Moore’s button two jackets had more typical, flatter lapels.

The Blue Overcheck

OHMSS Prince Of Wales Suit

In On Her Majesty’s Secret Service George Lazenby takes the black and white Prince of Wales check suit that Sean Connery often wore and adds a blue overcheck. The black and white check pattern part is slightly off from a typical Glen Urquhart check. The overall large check is taller than it is wide, as it typically is, but the finer horizontal lines are emphasized. The cloth is most likely woven in an even twill like the standard Prince of Wales check is. One interesting thing that tailor Dimi Major does is he rotates the cloth 180 degrees on adjacent panels. This can be seen by looking at the horizontal stripe sections in the pattern. On the lapels a white stripe in on top, on the front body panels a black stripe is on top and on the sleeves a white stripe is on top again. Some tailors match their checks this way instead of the more logical way of matching them in all the same direction.

OHMSS Prince of Wales Check Cloth

The illustration below is the closest I can come up with to figuring out the atypical check pattern. Click the image to enlarge:

OHMSS-Glen-Urquhart-Check

The button two suit jacket has natural shoulders, a clean chest and a close cut overall, with a shorter jacket length. The cut is in line with the current fashions of then and now, though unlike today’s fashionable suits this suit does not look shrunken. The jacket is detailed with three button cuffs, steeply angled hacking pockets with a ticket pocket and double vents. The double vents are deep and have an outward flare. The suit’s buttons are made of dark grey horn. The trousers have a flat front and narrow legs. This suit is full of late 60’s English flare and is the most fashionable suit Lazenby wears in the film. It’s the most fashionable we’ll see Bond until Roger Moore gets settled in the role.

OHMSS Prince Of Wales Suit

The sky blue shirt made by Frank Foster picks up the blue windowpane in the suit. The shirt has a point collar and single-button barrel cuffs. The navy knitted tie has a soft, dull look with slight pilling that would suggest wool as opposed to the standard silk. The shoes are black.

OHMSS Prince of Wales Suit

Lazenby in Black Tie

George Lazenby Dinner Suit

September 5th was George Lazenby’s 73rd birthday. In honour of that let’s look Lazenby’s peak-lapel dinner suit by Dimi Major. The dark, single-breasted, peak-lapel dinner suit is Lindy Hemming’s preference for Bond, and that’s what she always dressed Pierce Brosnan and Daniel Craig in for the five films she worked on. But before GoldenEye, On Her Majesty’s Secret Service was the only time Bond wore this style. Otherwise, his peak-lapel had all either been double-breasted or white, or both. Lazenby’s dinner suit is probably midnight blue, and that’s practically confirmed by the dinner jacket’s dark blue lining. The dinner jacket naturally buttons 1, and it has a clean chest and natural shoulders and is fitted through the waist. It is cut a bit short, following late 60’s trends. The jacket is detailed with double vents, 3 buttons on the cuffs and jetted pockets. The trousers have a darted front, a black satin stripe down each leg, button side-adjusters and a lower-than-traditional rise. The overall cut of this dinner suit is very similar to what Daniel Craig will be wearing in Skyfall, though none of the fashionable aspects are taken to the extreme. The jacket is closely fitted without being so tight that is creases. The jacket is shorter to lengthen the legs, but not so short as to draw attention. And the trousers have a lower rise, but not so low that the shirt is exposed below the jacket’s button. Lazenby’s dinner suit is tastefully fashionable and would look just as fashionable today as it did 43 years ago.

George Lazenby Dinner Suit

Lazenby wears the dinner suit three times in the film, with at least two different ruffled-front shirts from Frank Foster. I’ll discuss the shirts in more detail later. He wears a black satin silk thistle-shaped bow tie that matches the lapels. That’s probably done more for the filming and less for the character. He follows Connery’s tradition of not wearing a waist-covering. When we first see Lazenby, he is wearing a black trilby with his dinner suit, a slightly informal hat for black tie.

George Lazenby Dinner Suit

Tailoring for the Times: Sean Connery and George Lazenby

Every Bond has made some fashion concessions to the times they lived in, and some have more than others. In this series of articles we’re going to take a look at each Bond, comparing the subtle nods to the times in his tailoring as well as the more obvious ones. But this assessment won’t be considering the classic elements that come in and out of fashion, like pleated versus flat front trousers. Casual clothes, which are far more influenced by the times, won’t be discussed here.

SEAN CONNERY (1962-1967)

1. Narrow lapels: They were slightly on the narrow side in Dr. No, but starting in From Russia with Love the lapels became the narrow ones commonly associated with the 1960s. And with narrow lapels comes narrow pocket flaps. Menswear designer and writer Alan Flusser wrote, “The lapel of a well-styled suit should extend to just a fraction less than the halfway mark between the collar and shoulder line.” All other lapel widths are measured in comparison.

2. Tapered trouser legs: Anthony Sinclair tapered his trousers in a military fashion, though they were tapered quite dramatically. A full thigh (Connery had large thighs) tapers into narrow bottoms.

2-button suits had becomes something of a fashionable element in the 1960s in comparison to the more traditional 3-button suit, but 2-button suits had already been around for years so it’s difficult to count it as something of the times. By the late 1960s they had become the standard and have been in that position ever since, so it’s not something we think about being fashionable now. But it was still no fashion extreme since 1-button suits and 4-button suits were far trendier at different points in the decade.

The cut of the jacket takes elements from a number of English styles, with its full, draped chest, soft shoulders and suppressed waist. None of that can be attributed to any decade. As for other wardrobe elements, Connery popularized cocktail-cuff shirts. That style saw its greatest popularity in the 1960s though it was not something popular enough to become dated since. And since tie width goes along with lapel width, that will not be mentioned going forward.

GEORGE LAZENBY (1969)

1. Shorter jacket length: Lazenby’s suit jackets were slightly shorter than the standard English jacket, a trend that saw some popularity in the 1960s. But unlike the modern fashion, the jacket isn’t short enough to draw attention to its shorter length.

2. Narrow-leg trousers: Narrow-leg trousers were also popular in the 1960s, and, compared to Connery’s trouser leg, Lazenby’s trouser leg fit closer through the thigh. Still, others at the time were wearing even narrower trouser legs.

3. Additional flair: Some of Lazenby’s suits had steeply slanted hacking pockets, a part of the 1960s’ “Peacock Revolution” to which Lazenby’s deeper vents and more rounded quarters can also be attributed.

But for the most part, Lazenby wore classic, close-cut English suits with softer shoulders than the typical Savile Row suit has. His trousers had a lower rise than Connery’s but not at all low by today’s standards. His most dated piece are the two ruffled-front dress shirts.

SEAN CONNERY (1971)

1. Wide lapels: Connery’s lapels are now on the wide side, and thus his pocket flaps are wider too. The 1970’s doesn’t have monopoly on wide lapels; they were popular for a good portion of the 1930s as well.

Everything else is pretty much timeless. Trouser legs are still tapered, though not as much as before. Connery’s pleats from before are also gone, and flat-front trousers had become much more fashionable by the late 1960s. Both pleated and flat-front trousers are equally classic.

Sean Connery’s narrow lapels and George Lazenby’s closer cut have been very popular since the mid 2000s, though designers like Tom Ford and Ralph Lauren are trying to bring back a look similar to what Connery wore in Diamonds Are Forever: a classic cut width wider lapels. In the next article we’ll take a look at the increasingly wide lapels, as well as the return to classic style, in an assesement of Roger Moore’s fashion choices.