Assignment K: A Double-Breasted Suit by Douglas Hayward

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Stephen Boyd stars as Philip Scott in the 1968 spy thriller Assignment K, and throughout the film he wears suits by Douglas Hayward. Douglas Hayward tailored Roger Moore’s suits for For Your Eyes Only, Octopussy and A View to a Kill, and he also made suits for Michael Caine, Terence Stamp, Steve McQueen and many other stars. One of the four suits that Boyd wears in Assignment K is a medium grey worsted flannel double-breasted suit. Worsted flannel is can be lighter in weight than the traditional woollen flannel, but being flannel it still has a fuzzy nap. The serge weave is visible under the nap on a worsted flannel, whilst no weave is visible on a woollen flannel. Worsted flannel has a sleeker look than woollen flannel does, but the nap keeps him warm in West Germany’s winter.

Assignment-K-Double-Breasted-Suit-2Boyd’s double-breasted suit jacket has the traditional arrangement of six buttons with two to button, and it is tailored with natural shoulders, a clean chest and suppressed waist. The jacket’s peaked lapels are made in the Tautz style, which means they have a horizontal gorge. They look slightly less formal than standard peaked lapels that point up towards the shoulder. The jacket also has double vents, three buttons on the cuffs, flapped pockets and a royal blue lining. The suit trousers’ legs taper to the knee and are straight from the knee to the plain hem. Not much of the the trousers’ legs are seen, but if they match Boyd’s other suit trousers in the film they have frogmouth pockets and are worn with a belt. The front does not have pleats, but it is probably darted.

Assignment-K-Charcoal-OvercoatBoyd’s sky blue shirt is likely made by Frank Foster. It has a wide spread collar, square double cuffs attached to the sleeves with shirring, rear side pleats, rear darts and a placket stitched close to the centre. Boyd wears two different ties with this suit: the first is solid silver and the second is solid black. Boyd’s shoes are black. Over the suit, Boyd wears a charcoal melton wool overcoat, which he wears over every suit in the film. The coat is three-quarter length to just above the knee. It has three buttons down the front, three buttons on the cuffs, slanted flap pockets and a rear vent. Like the suit jacket, the overcoat has natural shoulders. With the overcoat, Boyd wears dark grey suede gloves.

Assignment-K-Double-Breasted-Suit-3Assignment K has a few connections to James Bond besides both using tailor Douglas Hayward. The director of this film Val Guest, directed parts of the Casino Royale spoof a year earlier. Assignment K also features the actor Jan Werich, who was originally cast as Ernst Stavro Blofeld in You Only Live Twice. Producer Albert Broccoli and director Lewis Gilbert of You Only Live Twice decided that Werich was not right for the villainous role and replaced him with Donald Pleasence.

Emile Leopold Locque’s Questionable Suit

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Questionable taste is often the sign of a villain. Emile Leopold Locque, played by Michael Gothard in For Your Eyes Only, wears a suit that’s just as suspicious as his octagonal-framed glasses. Locque’s light grey flannel double-breasted suit looks too warm to be comfortable where people alongside him are pleasantly swimming and sunbathing. The suit jacket has four buttons on the front with two to button, and the button stance is low, following the 1980s trend. The shoulders are straight and narrow, and the chest is clean and closely-fitted with a little give over the shoulder blades in back. The most questionable part of the suit is the fishmouth “cran Necker” notch lapels, a style that’s rarely made by tailors outside of France. There is nothing wrong with the lapels themselves, but notch lapels of any kind don’t belong on a double-breasted jacket. Notch lapels on a double-breasted jacket are neither an attractive nor a balanced look, and, combined with the jacket’s narrow shoulders, they give this suit an emasculating look. Double-breasted jackets with notch lapels were trendy in the late 1970s through the mid 1980s. Roger Moore wears a double-breasted blazer with notched lapels two years earlier in Moonraker, and the notch lapels place that blazer amongst the worst of James Bond’s clothing.

Emile-Locque-Double-Breasted-Suit-2Locque’s suit jacket also has the unusual, sporty feature of three patch pockets—two hip and one breast—with safari-jacket-style, buttoned pocket flaps. This is another element that puts this suit into questionable taste. The jacket also has deep double vents and three buttons on the cuffs. Though the style of the jacket is odd and not in the best taste, the jacket fits quite well. The back and sleeves drape cleanly, though the low button stance causes some fit issues in the front. The trousers have slightly flared legs with a lapped seam running down the outside of each leg.

The clothes that Locque wears with the suit, by contrast, are very tasteful. The pale blue shirt has a moderate spread collar, square two-button cuffs and a front placket. The black knitted silk tie, tied in a four-in-hand knot, is the literary James Bond classic and is a good complement to this somewhat sporty suit. Locque’s socks are grey to match the suit, and his shoes are black.

The Avengers: Steed’s Signature Suit

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With the first day of September here, it’s time in the Northern Hemisphere to look toward autumn clothes. John Steed of The Avengers, played by Patrick Macnee, wears mostly autumn appropriate clothes with some of the most interesting details. Previously I’ve written about his navy high button two suit and his grey three-piece suit with covered buttons, but now I’m finally getting around to writing about one of his signature suits. This signature suit jacket style has a button one front, no breast pocket and a velvet collar that usually matches the colour of the suit. The jackets have different pocket and vent styles. Macnee said of his signature suits:

I like the idea of velvet for the collars, it helps mould and complement the suits. There are no breast pockets and only one button to give the best moulding to the chest. Plus a deliberately low waist, to give the effect of simplicity, but with an individual style.

According to the book Reading between Designs by Piers D. Britton and Simon J. Barker, Macnee designed his own suits with the help of tailor Bailey and Weatherill of Regent Street. Steed’s signature style made its way in various forms throughout all the seasons of The Avengers and The New Avengers.

Notice the mother-of-pearl buttons on the waistcoat

Notice the mother-of-pearl buttons on the waistcoat

The pale brown flannel suit featured in this article—he also wears his signature suit in other shades of brown, grey, blue, olive and burgundy—is taken from the 1967 episode “The £50,000 Breakfast” and has a button one front, a velvet collar and no breast pocket. Single-button cuffs, double vents placed further to the sides than usual, and slanted, jetted hip pockets contribute to the ultra-sleek look of the suit. The jacket is cut with straight shoulders on the natural shoulder line, a clean chest, closely-fitted waist and flared skirt. The low waist that Macnee mentioned in the quote above is particularly flattering to his not-so-slim figure. The suit’s waistcoat has six buttons and a straight-across bottom. The trousers have a trim, tapered leg and probably a flat front. The buttons on the suit are black mother of pearl.

Steed-Brown-Suit-Velvet-Collar-4Steed wears a cream herringbone silk shirt with a wide spread collar—it’s not quite a cutaway collar—that has a copious amount of tie space. Such a wide collar is not flattering to Macnee’s very round face, and a more moderate spread would be ideal for him. However, the wide collar and large amount of tie space provide plenty of room for the windsor knot he uses to tie his steel blue repp tie. A simple tie is necessary because there is so much going on in the suit’s details. Steed’s umbrella has a pale brown canopy that matches his suit and a whangee wood handle. His sandy beige bowler hat has a dark brown ribbon. Steed’s shoes are light grey suede slip-ons with cap-toe and monk strap, but the vamp is low like on a slip-on shoe rather than high like on a monk shoe. The shoes are actually very similar to George Lazenby’s shoes in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service. Steed’s light grey socks match his shoes.

Few people could get away with dressing like John Steed, and even Steed looks somewhat ridiculous. But his clothes show creativity in a way that doesn’t look garish or sacrifice good tailoring, and they serve as an excellent inspiration for those looking to have a little extra fun when bespeaking a suit.

Could it be herringbone flannel?

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The exact cloth of Sean Connery’s blue suit in Goldfinger and Woman of Straw is a difficult one to make out. It’s a heavy cloth and has a mottled appearance, so it’s certainly a woollen. But is it tweed or flannel? It has a subtle stripe effect that suggests the cloth is woven in a herringbone weave, so I thought it could be a herringbone tweed. But in herringbone tweeds the weave is well-defined and easy to see. In a woollen flannel, however, the nap mostly obscures the weave, which is the case with Connery’s blue suit. So, could it be herringbone flannel?

Fox-FlannelI never saw or even heard of herringbone flannel until a reader of The Suits of James Bond who is a fan of the Connery Bond suits found a Fox Brothers herringbone flannel cloth in his search for a cloth to replicate the blue suit. Fox Brothers is one of England’s most well-known manufacturers of flannel, and their Char Blue Herringbone Jacketing flannel is a close match to what Connery’s blue suit in Goldfinger is made of. The cloth is a 500/530 gram or 18 oz weight and is featured under Fox’s jacketing range. It is based on a cloth from the 1930s, when practically all suits were made from heavier cloths than what most suits are made from today. Though it’s labelled a jacketing, it makes a good suiting for cold weather. It would have been a more typical weight for a winter suit in the 1960s when Connery wore his suit. Connery’s blue suit indeed looks to be quite heavy, especially compared to his usual lightweight worsteds. However, I’d guess that Connery’s suit is made from a cloth slightly lighter than this one. The herringbone pattern on Connery’s suit looks larger than this cloth’s pattern, and his suit is a richer blue than Fox’s char blue. Whilst it may not be a perfect match, it is the closest I’ve seen to Connery’s suit and gives insight to what Connery’s suit is likely made of.

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The Fox Brothers cloth is code FS405 B2237/84 and can be purchased online at The Merchant Fox.

Woman of Straw: The Charcoal Flannel Suit and Navy Overcoat

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It’s time again to look at one of Sean Connery’s Goldfinger suits in its original setting in Woman of Straw. Both Woman of Straw and Goldfinger end with Sean Connery in the same charcoal grey woollen flannel, three-piece suit. This slightly rustic suit does just as well in Woman of Straw‘s country setting as it does in Goldfinger‘s dressier setting of Bond on his way to meet the president. It is Connery’s usual Anthony Sinclair suit. The button two jacket has natural shoulders with roped sleeveheads, a full chest and a nipped waist. It has four buttons on the cuffs, jetted pockets and no vent. The waistcoat has six buttons with five to button, though Connery fastens the bottom button. Because the bottom button is not meant to close, the bottom of the waistcoat bunches up rather unattractively. The trousers have double forward pleats and button side adjusters.

Woman-of-Straw-Grey-Flannel-Suit-2The shirt and tie in Woman of Straw differ slightly from what Sean Connery wears in Goldfinger. The elegant white shirt has a self-stripe pattern, which is either created by a mini-herringbone weave or a fancy white-on-white weave. Due to the country context the mini-herringbone is more likely since it’s not as formal as a white-on-white stripe. The shirt has a spread collar, front placket and double cuffs with rounded corners. The black satin tie is a little formal for a woollen flannel suit, but at the same time it creates a pleasant contrast with the texture of the flannel suit. It is tied in a small four-in-hand knot. Like he does in Goldfinger, Connery wears a white linen handkerchief in his breast pocket in Woman of Straw, but here it’s folded in a single point instead of in a TV fold. His shoes are black.

Woman-of-Straw-Navy-OvercoatSean Connery wears two stylish double-breasted overcoats in Woman of Straw that didn’t make it into Goldfinger. Over this charcoal flannel suit he wears a very dark navy double-breasted, knee-length overcoat. It has six buttons with three to button, narrow notched lapels and slanted hip pockets. The overcoat is cut with natural shoulders, has set-in sleeves and is slightly shaped through the body. There’s no name for this style of overcoat, but nevertheless it is a very elegant coat. With the overcoat Connery has a dark hat with a white lining, but it’s difficult to what type of hat it is or what colour it is. A trilby would be most likely considering the relative informality of the coat and flannel suit, and it could be the same brown trilby that Connery wears in Goldfinger or one similar to it.

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M: The Double-Breasted Grey Flannel Suit

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Ralph Fiennes isn’t the first M to wear a double-breasted suit. Fifty years earlier in Dr. No, Bernard Lee wore his one and only double-breasted suit as M. Like many of Lee’s suits and Fiennes’ double-breasted suit, this suit is flannel. In particular, this suit is a mid grey woollen flannel, which has the old-fashioned look that’s well-suited for the character. Whilst Fiennes’ suit is traditional and not characteristic of any era, Lee’s suit is very characteristic of suits from the 1950s. Its large, padded shoulders and wide lapels were outdated for 1962, as was the buttoning style. The jacket has four buttons in a keystone arrangement with one to button, which was never a very popular style with English tailors. It wasn’t uncommon in the 1940s and 1950s, but by the 1960s the low-buttoning double-breasted suits were out of fashion. The style returned in the 1980s and has been out of fashion since the mid 1990s. It’s not as classic as the style of Ralph Fiennes’ double-breasted suit, but if it is cut well—which can’t usually be said for the baggy 1980s examples—and fits well it can be a good choice for shorter or heavier men.

Lee’s jacket has jetted pockets, 3-button cuffs and no vents. As is traditional on a double-breasted jacket, both peaked lapels have a buttonhole since both sides of the jacket have fastening buttonholes. For From Russia With Love, Bernard Lee wears a more contemporary suit, though it’s still a little more traditional than Sean Connery’s suits.

M-Dr-No-2Though Bernard Lee’s M’s is known for his bow ties, he wears a black four-in-hand tie that has a fancy self pattern in his first appearance in the James Bond series. The tie is a fashionable, narrow width and it’s much narrower than his lapels. Though the narrow tie is a bit incongruous with the wide lapels, it works much better than the opposite would. He uses a tie pin to anchor the tie to his shirt. Lee doesn’t return to wearing four-in-hand ties until the final act of On Her Majesty’s Secret Service. His shirt is a fine bengal stripe in light grey and white, which complements his grey hair and grey eyes. The shirt has a spread collar, plain front and double cuffs. He wears a white linen pocket handkerchief that is mostly obscured by his wide lapels.

Gareth Mallory: The Double-Breasted Suit

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Gareth Mallory, played by Ralph Fiennes, wears a double-breasted suit after becoming the new M in Skyfall. The double-breasted suit, however, makes him look more like Bill Tanner in For Your Eyes Only than the first two Ms. Today the double-breasted suit is a more traditional look, and that’s likely why costume designer Jany Temime dressed Fiennes in this suit for this scene instead of the more contemporary two- and three-piece suits he wears prior to becoming M. Another thing that makes this suit look more traditional is the soft, heavy navy woollen flannel chalkstripe cloth. Heavier cloths look more old-fashioned than lightweight cloths. Since Bond has just come in from the cold and has hung up his overcoat, M’s choice of a heavy flannel suit is clearly a very practical one.

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The suit jacket has the classic arrangement of six buttons with two to button, and Mallory buttons only the top of those two buttons. The jacket also has double vents, four-button cuffs and flapped pockets. This suit has the same straight shoulders with roped sleeveheads that Mallory’s other suits in the film have, but a fuller chest and wider lapels contribute to its more traditional look. It has a classic Savile Row cut: nipped at the waist and flared at the skirt. Whilst the suit is a little old-fashioned, it isn’t outdated and it looks great on Ralph Fiennes. It’s made by Timothy Everest, who typically makes more fashion forward suit.

Not much is seen of the suit trousers, but they are likely the same flat-front, tapered-leg trouser with braces he wears throughout the film. Mallory wears a cornflower blue shirt with a spread collar and double cuffs. His red ribbed silk tie is tied in a four-in-hand knot. James Bond has also worn a similar outfit of a flannel navy chalkstripe suit with a blue shirt and red tie, thought Bond’s suit was a three-piece suit and not double-breasted. He wears this outfit for his meeting with Sir Hilary Bray in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service.

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Grey Flannel Trousers

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On the 51st anniversary of the release of Dr. No we look at Sean Connery’s favourite complement to his navy blazers: dark grey flannel trousers. The trousers in Dr. No are closer to charcoal and don’t provide enough contrast with the blazer, but in Thunderball he wears trousers a little lighter that look better with navy. Connery’s trousers are made from woolen flannel, which is a very soft but very warm-wearing cloth, making it an odd choice to wear in Jamaica. These flannel trousers are made in the same style as Connery’s suit trousers, with double forward pleats and turn-ups. The waistband has a square extension with a hook-and-eye closure and side-adjusters with the usual three mother-of-pearl buttons on each side.

Bond fastens his shoulder holster down to his side-adjuster

Bond fastens his shoulder holster down to his side-adjuster