Kristatos: The Classic Double-Breasted Dinner Suit

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In For Your Eyes Only, Kristatos contrasts Bond’s single-breasted, notched-lapel dinner suit with a double-breasted, peaked-lapel dinner suit that’s slightly reminiscent of the dinner suits Bond wore previously in The Spy Who Loved Me and Moonraker. Not a whole lot of Kristatos’ black dinner suit can be seen. The dinner jacket has six buttons with two to button, and the jacket is cut with a narrow wrap so there isn’t a lot of space between the two columns of buttons. The cut is timeless with natural shoulders and a clean chest, and with its balanced proportions it wouldn’t look out of place today. It follows tradition with jetted pockets and no vent.

Kristatos-Dinner-Suit-2Kristatos’ shirt appears to be just an ordinary white shirt, especially since the shirt has regular mother-of-pearl buttons rather than studs. It is nevertheless an elegant shirt with its plain front. Though it’s not a proper dress shirt, it is an appropriate shirt especially considering the less formal casino environment. The collar is a long moderate spread collar. The bow tie is a classic black satin thistle.

Danger Man: Black Tie Without a Dinner Suit

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In the 1965 Danger Man episode titled “The Ubiquitous Mr. Lovegrove”, John Drake dresses in faux black tie. He wears a dark lounge suit with black tie accessories, something that should only been done when travelling light. However, this episode takes place at home in London, and Drake owns a dinner suit, so it doesn’t make sense for Drake to be wearing a lounge suit as a dinner suit. Black and navy suits are the best to wear in this situation, with charcoal working not quite as well. Danger-Man.co.uk has some colour stills from this episode, and the suit appears to be dark forest green. If the colours are accurate, it’s a flashy colour for a lounge suit, but since it’s not going to be mistaken for a business suit it works better in this situation. The suit also has a self-stripe, which elevates the dressiness.

Faux-Black-Tie-2The jacket buttons two and has natural shoulders with roped sleeveheads, four buttons on the cuffs, jetted pockets, and no vent. The last two details make this suit work better for dressy evening wear. Peaked lapels would also help make a lounge suit work better for makeshift black tie, but this suit has notched lapels since single-breasted suits with peaked lapels weren’t so common in the 1960s. Drake wears the suit jacket with two pairs of trousers. The first pair matches the jacket, and it has double forward pleats and belt loops that are hidden under the cummerbund. The second pair, which looks lighter than the jacket and is probably dark grey, has a flat front. Anthony Sinclair, who also made Sean Connery’s suits in the Bond films, likely tailored this suit as he made many clothes for John Drake actor Patrick McGoohan.

Faux-Black-Tie-3Drake wears proper black tie accessories with the suit. The dress shirt has a bib, spread collar and double cuffs in cotton marcella, and the collar and cuffs have edge stitching. The body of the shirt is a white-on-white stripe and the buttons are black to resemble studs. Drake’s bow tie is black silk but the cummerbund is a fancy patterned silk, and it is possibly in a colour other than black. The shoes are black plain-toe derbies. Early in the episode Drake wears a boutonniere in his lapel buttonhole.

Apart from Patrick McGoohan sharing the same tailor as Sean Connery, this episode has another connection with James Bond: Desmond Llewellyn, who played Q in 17 Bond films, appears in this episode.

Le Chiffre’s Velvet Dinner Jacket

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Although there was an attempt to make Mads Mikklesen’s Le Chiffre in Casino Royale a less flamboyant villain, at the poker table he wears a flashy black velvet dinner jacket with a black shirt. Costume designer Lindy Hemming describes Le Chiffre and his dinner jacket in Casino Royale‘s production notes: “Le Chiffre is a menacing man who lives in a twilight world. He’s not flashy, he’s secretive. He isn’t a man who is much interested in clothes, but what he wears is expensive and luxurious. His Brioni evening suit is velvet, to emphasize richness.” The all-black outfit, nevertheless, is something that identifies him as a villain. The button two dinner jacket has black grosgrain silk facings on the peaked lapels, breast pocket welt, hip pocket jettings and buttons. The jacket has four buttons on the cuffs, and Le Chiffre leaves the last one open. Beyond the velvet cloth, the dinner jacket breaks from tradition with a second button on the front, pocket flaps and a single vent.

Le-Chiffre-Velvet-Dinner-Jacket-2The button four waistcoat matches the black velvet dinner jacket, with the back in a black silk lining. Though proper black tie waistcoats have either three or four buttons, the buttons should be spaced close together and not further apart as they would on a button five or button six daytime waistcoat. The buttons on Le Chiffre’s waistcoat are spaced apart like on a daytime waistcoat, and as one would on a daytime waistcoat Le Chiffre leaves the bottom button open. On the traditional low-cut black tie waistcoat all of the buttons should be fastened. Even though Le Chiffre’s waistcoat is poorly done, four buttons are better than the all-too-common five or six buttons that people often wear today.

Le-Chiffre-Velvet-Dinner-Jacket-3The wool trousers contrast the dinner jacket in texture, if not in colour as well. The trousers look dark grey in some shots and photos, but they are probably black. Velvet reflects far less light than other fabrics do, so comparing different black materials can be difficult. Le Chiffre wears the trousers with braces. The black dress shirt from Turnbull & Asser has a spread collar, double cuffs, a pleated front and a fly placket that hides the buttons. He wears a black bow tie and black calf derby shoes.

Le-Chiffre-Velvet-Dinner-Jacket-4Le Chiffre also has a black overcoat, but we only see him carrying it and not wearing it. He also has a grey scarf with crosswise stripes, and it’s most likely cashmere.

Le Chiffre’s black tie outfit sold for £20,000 at Christie’s in South Kensington at “50 Years of James Bond: The Auction”, which took place from 28 September 2012 to 8 October 2012.

Valentin Zukovsky: The Warm Grey Dinner Jacket

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Valentin Zukovsky, played by Robbie Coltrane, wears one of the more flamboyant warm-weather dinner jackets of the Bond series in The World Is Not Enough. White and other light-coloured dinner jackets are most appropriately worn in the tropics and in summer months in certain other parts of the world (not Great Britain), but Azerbaijan is not tropical and this film takes place during the winter. Zukovsky isn’t the only person in the casino wearing warm-weather black tie, but nobody else is wearing a dinner jacket quite like his. It’s a warm grey four-button double-breasted jacket with one to button. Light-coloured dinner jackets are ordinarily made without facings, but the satin silk lapels, hip pocket jetting, breast pocket welt and covered buttons make Zukovsky’s dinner jacket a rather flashy one. The cuffs button four and the jacket doesn’t have a vent. He wears the dinner jacket with black trousers.

Peter Lorre Le ChiffreFlashy clothes like this satin-faced warm-weather dinner jacket are typically left for the villains, and Zukovsky’s dinner jacket is remarkably similar to the dinner jacket that Peter Lorre’s Le Chiffre (right) wears in the 1954 “Casino Royale” television adaptation. Whilst Zukovsky isn’t exactly a trusted ally, he certainly isn’t a villain either. The flashiness of his dinner jacket, however, indicates that he’s not a man that Bond can put his trust in.

Zukovsky-Dinner-Jacket-2Some larger men can look good in double-breasted jackets since the two columns of buttons break up their breadth. The dinner jacket’s low buttoning give it flattering long lines whilst wider shoulders give the body better proportions. Even though the shoulders are wide, they aren’t built up as not to give Zukovsky extra bulk. The shoulders droop more than they should, but apart from that the dinner jacket fits fairly well. The front is cut with an extended dart, a style that is used by many Neapolitan tailors. The extended dart along with the natural shoulders could indeed mean that was made by a Neapolitan tailor, but tailors often use a separate cutting system for a corpulent man.

Zukovsky-Dinner-Jacket-3With the dinner jacket Zukovsky wears traditional black tie accessories. The white dress shirt has a point collar and double cuffs, both with edge stitching. Though English shirtmakers don’t ordinarily use edge stitching, some think it looks dressier than traditional quarter-inch stitching. The front has narrow swiss pleats and two visible black onyx studs. He wears a classic black thistle bow tie. His shoes are black.

Notorious: The Classic Three-Piece Dinner Suit

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James Bond isn’t the only government agent who is a master of black tie. Cary Grant wears a textbook example of classic black tie as American agent T.R. Devlin in the Alfred Hitchcock film Notorious, which also stars Ingrid Bergman and Claude Rains. Devlin’s suit is the ultimate example of the three-piece black dinner suit. Suits like this one inspired the three-piece dinner suit that Pierce Brosnan wears in GoldenEye. Devlin’s dinner jacket is a button one with satin-faced peaked lapels, and it is cut with a full chest and suppressed waist. The shoulders are straight and wide, made to balance Cary Grant’s large head against his very slim body and to give him more presence. The wide peaked lapels also give him more presence and were fashionable at the time. The dinner jacket has the traditional details of jetted hip pockets, button four cuffs and no vent in the rear. The buttons are black plastic. The dinner suit’s trousers have forward pleats, wide legs, and a satin stripe down each leg. They are finished with a straight hem and no break.

Notorious-Black-Tie-3Underneath the dinner jacket, Devlin wears a black low-cut waistcoat. The waistcoat can hardly be seen, and that’s the way it should be. It probably has four buttons, and the buttons are closely spaced on the front. Two buttons can be seen peaking out above the dinner jacket’s button. Traditionally, black waistcoats for black tie are made in the same cloth as body of the dinner suit with shawl-style lapels in silk to match the jacket’s lapels and trouser stripe. Since the waistcoat can hardly be seen, this is only a likely possibility of what the waistcoat may look like.

Notorious-Black-Tie-2The dress shirt has a marcella bib, spread collar and double cuff. The collar and cuffs have traditional quarter-inch stitching, and the shirt does not have a separate placket on the front. The front closes with two square mother-of-pearl studs, and the cufflinks match the studs. There only problem with the shirt is that in some shots the left side of the collar seems to have a difficult time laying flat under the waistcoat. Either Cary Grant’s shirts weren’t made to take collar stays and the collar wasn’t starched enough, or he didn’t like collar stays. The black satin silk bow tie matches the jacket’s facings. The bow tie is a thistle shape and is a little smaller than usual. Alan Flusser writes in Dressing the Man that “its width should not extend beyond the outer edge of a person’s face, and definitely not beyond the breadth of the collar.” This bow tie easily meets those requirements. Devlin wears a white pocket handkerchief with his dinner suit, though the amount of it peaking out of the breast pocket varies throughout the scene. Devlin’s black shoes are plain-toe oxfords (balmorals to the Americans), and whilst they are shiny it is difficult to tell if they are patent leather as they properly should be.

Notorious-Black-Tie-ChesterfieldWhen Devlin leaves the party he dons the full-length chesterfield coat that he carried in with him. The double breasted chesterfield is most likely charcoal grey and it has six buttons with two to button. We see Devlin fastening the anchor button inside the coat—which is behind the middle button on the left side—when he puts it on. The coat has peaked lapels, straight, flapped hip pockets, a welt breast pocket, three-button cuffs and a centre vent.

Goldeneye: Ian Fleming in Black Tie

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Though Dominic Cooper who plays Ian Fleming in the recent miniseries doesn’t look anything like Fleming, Charles Dance does. Dance has a small role—and his first screen film role—as one of Emile Leopold Locque’s henchmen in For Your Eyes Only, but he stars as Ian Fleming in a 1989 television movie called Goldeneye. Though Ian Fleming is typically seen in photos wearing a bow tie, I’ve never seen a photo of him in black tie. In Goldeneye, Fleming wears a black double-breasted dinner suit in a scene that takes place during the years of World War II.

Charles-Dance-Goldeneye-Black-Tie-2The dinner jacket has straight military-like shoulders with roped sleeveheads, peaked lapels and, as is traditional on a dinner jacket, no vent. However, the picture quality isn’t good enough to tell how many buttons are on the dinner jacket. Ian Fleming was a fan of double-breasted suits, and he dressed Hugo Drax in a double-breasted suit similar to one of his own with “turnback”—or gauntlet—cuffs. It’s very likely that the real Fleming would have owned a double-breasted dinner jacket. Fleming preferred to dress in a rather relaxed manner, and the double-breasted dinner jacket is just slightly less formal than the single-breasted dinner jacket. Plus it allows him to forego a waist-covering in a more legitimate way than Sean Connery does in his Bond films.

The picture quality isn’t good enough to tell if the dinner suit’s trousers have pleats, but based on the silhouette they most likely have double forward pleats. That was the standard style that English tailors made at the time. Narrow black braces hold up the trousers. Not much had changed in English tailoring from the time this takes place during World War II to the late 1980s when Goldeneye was made, and the biggest difference came with lighter-weight cloths. This dinner suit doesn’t look as heavy as one that would have been worn in Ian Fleming’s time, but otherwise it’s fairly convincing.

Charles-Dance-Goldeneye-Black-Tie-3Fleming’s white dress shirt has a marcella bib, and though marcella-front shirts are ordinarily without a placket—like Daniel Craig’s dress shirt in Skyfall—for a cleaner, dressier look, this shirt has a raised placket that takes three black onyx studs and has quarter-inch stitching. The spread collar and double cuffs are made in cotton marcella as well, and they have quarter-inch stitching. The cufflinks match the studs. The shirt has shoulder pleats in the back. The black bow tie is a classic thistle shape, and he wears a white puffed silk handkerchief in his breast pocket. The shirt and bow tie are classic and, like the dinner suit, look just as good now as they did in 1989 or during World War II.

Charles-Dance-Claus

And if you’ve forgotten who Charles Dance plays in For Your Eyes Only, to the right is a picture of his character, Claus.

Poll: What is your favourite type of lapel on a dinner jacket?

James Bond’s dinner jackets—or tuxedos—have featured the three basic types of lapels:

Daniel-Craig-Peaked-LapelPeaked/Pointed/Double-Breasted Lapel: The most formal type of lapel, the peaked lapel is the standard on the double-breasted suit, the evening tailcoat and the morning coat. It can also be found on dressier single-breasted suits lounge suits. The peaked lapel was carried over from the formal evening tailcoat to the single-breasted dinner jacket. Sean Connery first wore this style on his ivory dinner jacket in Goldfinger, and Daniel Craig has most recently worn it on his black dinner jacket in Casino Royale.

Sean-Connery-Shawl-CollarShawl Collar: Combining the collar and the lapel into one continuous curve, the shawl collar is the dinner jacket’s original type of collar and comes from the smoking jacket. It’s marginally less dressy than the peaked lapel, but it’s perfect for the casino. Sean Connery introduced James Bond in his midnight blue shawl collar dinner jacket in Dr. No, and Daniel Craig continued with the midnight blue shawl collar dinner jackets in Quantum of Solace and Skyfall.

Sean-Connery-Notched-LapelNotched Lapel/Step Collar: The standard for the single-breasted lounge suit, the notched lapel is a less dressy option for dinner jackets. Some would even say it’s inappropriate for a dinner jacket, being too much like a standard lounge suit. It’s utilitarian: when made in classic proportions the notched lapel can be buttoned up in the cold. James Bond has worn dinner jackets with notched lapels on a number of occasions, and often those occasions are small, private affairs where the less formal style is suitable. Today the dinner jacket is rarely worn for these private affairs, making the notched lapel a less appropriate style for the dinner jacket. Many ready-to-wear notched lapel dinner jackets are simply black suits with satin facings and trimmings, and those should be avoided. Sean Connery introduced the notched lapel dinner jacket to the Bond series in Goldfinger, and Timothy Dalton last wore it in a low-gorge model in Licence to Kill.

When James Bond wears multiple dinner jackets in the same film they never have the same type of lapel. Diamonds Are Forever and The Living Daylights are the only Bond films to show Bond in three different dinner jackets, and in those films all three lapel styles are represented. Vote in the two polls below for your favourite type of lapel on the jacket on a dinner jacket, for both the black/midnight blue dinner jacket and white/ivory dinner jacket.

What's your favourite lapel type on a black/midnight blue dinner jacket?

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What's your favourite lapel type on a white/ivory dinner jacket?

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Felix Leiter: The Dinner Suit

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The one man at the poker table in Casino Royale who is arguably more elegantly dressed than James Bond is Felix Leiter. Jeffrey Wright plays the latest Felix Leiter in Casino Royale and Quantum of Solace. Like everyone else at the poker table, Leiter is wearing Brioni. His black dinner suit goes a step further than Bond’s in formality and adds a waistcoat, making it more traditionally correct black tie. The dinner jacket is cut with Brioni’s straight shoulders and is a traditional button one with a shawl collar. The shawl collar’s satin silk facings stop a quarter inch from the edge, an old-fashioned detail from tailcoats that at the same time looks very modern. The dinner jacket also has four buttons on the cuffs, jetted pockets and no vent. The buttons are covered.

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The waistcoat is made in the same black wool that the rest of the dinner suit is made in. It is low cut with a U-shaped front, which harmonises very well with the jacket’s shawl collar. The waistcoat is barely visible when the jacket is buttoned, which is the way it should be for black tie. The waistcoat does not have lapels. Like Bond, Felix Leiter removes his dinner jacket at the poker table. It’s an ungentlemanly practice, but at least Leiter looks more dressed with his waistcoat.

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Leiter wears two dress shirts with his dinner suit during the film. Both dress shirts have a spread collar, double cuffs and onyx studs. The first shirt has a narrow-pleated front that takes three studs—with the first starting a distractingly too high—and the second shirt has a marcella bib that takes two studs. The placket on the pleated shirt is stitched on the edge and then stitched on the other side and extended to form the first pleat. Though the placket is stitched on the edge, the collar has regular 1/4″ stitching. The black satin bow tie matches the dinner suit’s facings. It’s a little undersized, but it suits Leiter very well.

If the dress code for the poker game is specified as black tie, Leiter follows it perfectly and is thus dressed better than Bond is. However, the lack of a waistcoat or cummerbund has now become acceptable in black tie—we can partially thank James Bond for that—and that makes Bond and Leiter equals as the best-dressed in the poker game.