Bill Tanner: Double-Breasted Charcoal Flannel Suit


Though Bernard Lee’s M generally wasn’t a fan of double-breasted suits—but he wears one in Dr. No—his chief of staff Bill Tanner prefers them. James Villiers plays Tanner in For Your Eyes Only to take M’s place for the one film whilst M is on leave, as a result of Bernard Lee’s death. Tanner wears two double-breasted suits of the same style in For Your Eyes Only: a charcoal rope stripe suit, which was already covered here two years ago, and a charcoal flannel suit. The charcoal flannel suit and the rest of the outfit have a very conservative approach. The suit is most likely made by an English tailor.


The jacket has six buttons with two to button, but Tanner fastens only the bottom button in the manner attributed to Prince George, Duke of Kent. The middle row of buttons is made to fasten as well as the bottom row that Tanner fastens. Though the button stance is slightly lower than what is common today for English tailors, it’s only about an inch lower. A higher button stance, however, is better if the wearer chooses to only fasten the bottom button. The jacket has a classic British military cut with straight, padded shoulders with roped sleeveheads, similar to what Dege & Skinner or Gieves & Hawkes make. The jacket has a clean chest made fuller by leaving the middle row of buttons open, a gently shaped waist and a flared skirt. It is detailed with flapped pockets, deep double vents and three buttons on the cuffs. Neither lapel has a buttonhole.


Tanner wears two different shirts and ties with this suit. The first shirt is medium blue end-on-end with white stitching to bring out the white in the shirt’s weave. The shirt has a spread collar, placket and double cuffs with the link holes placed close to the fold. The collar, cuffs and placket are stitched 1/4 inch from the edge. Tanner wears a solid navy tie without a discernible weave, tied in a four-in-hand knot. The colours of this outfit recall a common combination that Sean Connery’s James Bond often wears with his charcoal flannel suits. Tanner also wears a navy and white striped silk pocket square with a thick navy border, which is stuffed casually, but elegantly, into his suit jacket’s breast pocket. The navy in the pocket square picks up the navy in the tie whilst the white stripes bring out the white in the end-on-end shirt.


The second outfit is not as nice as the first. The shirt is a complicated shadow stripe pattern of grey and maybe other colours on a cream background. The shirt’s warm tone does not flatter Tanner’s winter complexion. It has a moderate spread collar and sleeves too short to be seen. The tie is solid burgundy, likely repp, and tied in a four-in-hand knot. He does not wear a pocket square with this outfit.

Bill Tanner: Double-Breasted Rope Stripe Suit


In For Your Eyes Only, M’s chief of staff Bill Tanner, played by James Villiers, dresses in a manner very suitable for a man in a high position. He wears classic double-breasted suits that are cut almost exactly the same as what you’d find from an English tailor today. His suit jackets have six buttons with two to button, and their lower placement is the only thing that separates them from what’s currently fashionable. The jackets have a classic Savile Row silhouette with a clean chest and straight, padded shoulder. They have flapped pockets and double vents. Neither lapel has a buttonhole. For this article we’ll just look at the charcoal rope stripe suit.


The shirt Tanner wears with this suit is a fine grey and white stripe. Grey shirts aren’t nearly as popular as blue and white, or even cream, but they’re a classically-stylish option in lighter tints. It has a small spread collar and rounded button cuffs. Tanner adds colour to his outfit with the tie and pocket square. The striped tie in navy and alternating red and brown for Winchester College. He ties it in a four-in-hand knot, and he matches a navy silk pocket square to the navy in the tie.

Buttoned at the bottom

Buttoned at the bottom, not the same as in the photo above

There’s a continuity error in the way Tanner buttons his suit jacket. In some shots he buttons the jacket the conventional way, with only the middle row fastened. In other shots he has only the bottom row fastened. Both are legitimate ways to fasten a double-breasted jacket, but the stiffer canvas on this jacket means the lapel doesn’t roll over the middle button so well when only the bottom is fastened. There are also a couple of fit problems with this outfit. The back of the coat doesn’t fit so well over the shoulder blades and the shirt sleeves are too short—but the jacket sleeves look fine. But overall it’s a very tasteful outfit and it commands the authority necessary for his position during M’s leave.