11 Checks and Patterns James Bond Has Worn

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I’ve compiled diagrams of many of the checks and other small patterns that James Bond has worn in his suits, sports coat and other garments over the series into one list for easy reference. Stripes have not been included and will be the subject of a future article.

Houndstooth1. Houndstooth

The houndstooth (or dogtooth) check is one of the most basic checks and the basis for many other checks. It is woven in an even twill weave with alternating four dark and four light yarns in each the weft (lengthwise yarns) and weft (crosswise yarns). The result is a tessellation of dark and light four-pointed shapes. James Bond wears a houndstooth check suit in Goldfinger and a houndstooth check sports coat in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service.

Pick-and-Pick2. Pick-and-Pick

Pick-and-pick (also known as sharkskin) is a simple pattern woven with alternating dark and light yarns in both the warp and weft of an even twill weave. This results in alternating dark and light diagonal lines, which up close look like tiny zig-zags or steps. This pattern is only used for suits. James Bond wears pick-and-pick suits in From Russian with Love, The World Is Not Enough and Skyfall.

From-Russia-With-Love-Glen-Urqhuart3. Glen Urquhart Check

The Glen Urquhart check is made up of large and small checks and woven in an even twill weave. The large check is the houndstooth check (as seen above) and the small check is a two-and-two check woven with alternating two dark and two light yarns in both the warp and weft. Stripes resulting from having four dark and four light in one direction with two dark and two light in the other direction connect the houndstooth check sections with each other. The true Glen Urquhart is woven with black and white or cream yarns. In smaller scales, this check works best for suits, whilst in larger scales it works better for sports coats. James Bond wears suits with this check—with slight variation—in From Russia with Love, Skyfall and a number of other films. This check often comes with an overcheck in red or blue (with the resulting check often and incorrectly called a Prince of Wales check), and James Bond wears the latter in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service. In Diamonds Are Forever, Bond wears a tweed sports coat with a larger, multi-coloured variation on the Glen Urquhart check. Read more on the Glen Urquhart check.

Glen-Check-(Plain-Weave)-FRWL4. Plain Weave Glen Check

This variation on the Glen Urquhart check is woven in a plain weave. The four-and-four sections become two-and-two (a puppytooth check), and the two-and-two sections become one-and-one. The check that results looks very similar to the proper Glen Urquhart check but with simpler shapes and at half the scale. This check is used only for suits. James Bond wears suits with this check in Dr. No and From Russia with Love. Read more on the plain weave glen check.

Glen-Hopsack-Check5. Hopsack Glen Check

This is another variation on the Glen Urquhart check, but it is woven in a two-by-two hopsack weave (basket weave). The two-and-two sections have the same puppytooth check found on the plain weave glen check, whilst the one-and-one sections form a pick-and-pick pattern. The stripes connecting the puppytooth sections also look different than on the plain weave glen check. This check is used only on suits. James Bond wears suits with this check in Goldfinger and Diamonds Are Forever. Read more on the hopsack glen check.

TLD-Gun-Club-Check6. Gun Club Check

The gun club check is a check made up of intersecting bands of colours and ordinarily woven in a twill weave. The bands are at least four yarns wide. A gun club check can have as little as two colours, but more colours are more common. James Bond wears a gun club check sports coat in The Living Daylights that is made up of five colours, and interesting combinations appear when these five colours intersect.

Barleycorn7. Barleycorn

The barleycorn pattern (also known as crow’s feet) is a tessellation of small pointed chevrons and has its own weave. Bond wears a brown tweed hacking jacket with this pattern in Goldfinger and Thunderball.

Broken-Twill-Barleycorn8. Broken Twill/Barleycorn

The barleycorn pattern has a simpler variation which is essentially a broken twill weave that changes direction every two yarns. It’s like a herringbone weave at its most basic. The result are upward and downward ticks. James Bond wears a sports coat in brown barleycorn in A View to a Kill.

Tick-Pattern9. Tick Pattern

The tick pattern is simple check woven in an even twill weave where the cloth varies between two dark and two light yarns in the warp and a single colour in the weft. The result is a pattern of small tick marks. This pattern is typically best used for suits. James Bond wears a tick-patterned tweed suit in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service.

Herringbone10. Herringbone

Herringbone is a variation on the twill weave weave where the diagonal rib alternates direction to form a broken zig-zag pattern (when the zig-zag isn’t broken it’s called a chevron weave). When two colours are used instead of one, the herringbone weave becomes a pattern. Ordinarily the warp is light yarns whilst the weft is dark yarns. James Bond wears herringbone suits in black and white in You Only Live Twice and The Living Daylights, a black-and-white herringbone topcoat in From Russia with Love and a brown-and-beige herringbone topcoat in Thunderball. In Diamonds Are Forever Bond wears a tweed sports coat in brown-and-black herringbone.

GoldenEye-Birdseye11. Birdseye

Birdseye is a pattern of round dots on a diagonal grid. It has its own very unique weave. The pattern alternates two dark yarns and two light yarns in both the warp and the weft. In a larger scale the pattern looks like large circles with a dot in the centre. In smaller scales it looks like a simple pattern on dots on a diagonal grid. For example, on the pattern pictured here the smaller light blue dots would hardly show up in a finer scale since the dark blue yarns are woven over those four light blue yarns. If the dark and light colours are reversed it can significantly change the way the pattern is perceived. The navy birdseye suit is a favourite of Pierce Brosnan Bond, and he wears examples of it in GoldenEye, Tomorrow Never Dies and Die Another Day.

There are many more unique and interesting checks James Bond has not worn, and there will be an article on those as well.

Mainly Millicent: Roger Moore’s First Appearance as James Bond

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In an episode of the BBC sketch comedy show Mainly Millicent from July 1964, Roger Moore played James Bond nine years before he officially played the role in Live and Let Die. Mainly Millicent starred English actress Millicent Martin, and in this sketch she plays Russian spy Sonia Sekova on holiday. James Bond is also on holiday and is dressed down in a light grey tweed sports coat with a small, subtle check. The sketch can be found on the Live and Let Die DVD and Blu-ray disc as well as on YouTube.

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In this sketch Roger Moore’s James Bond outfit is almost identical to his Simon Templar outfits. Access to Moore’s wardrobe for The Saint wouldn’t have been difficult since both The Saint and Mainly Millicent were filmed at ATV’s Elstree studios (http://www.tvstudiohistory.co.uk/studio%20history.htm), which are in Hertfordshire just outside of London. Moore actually first wears this sports coat in The Saint’s second series episode “The Work of Art” in 1963. In a January 1964 episode titled “Luella”, Simon Templar convinces a woman that he is James Bond, and he is wearing this sports coat. That episode also features Moore’s Live and Let Die co-star David Hedison. This grey tweed jacket made it into the colour episodes five years later, and I previously wrote about how Moore dresses it down in the episode “The Death Game”. See it in colour!

The same grey tweed jacket in "The Death Game"

The same grey tweed jacket in “The Death Game”

Cyril Castle made this jacket in the usual button three single-breasted style he made for Moore throughout the 1960s. The cuts of the suit jackets and sports coats vary a little in the shoulders and chest, depending on how dressy they are. This is one of the least dressy sports coats and thus has natural shoulders without roping and has more drape in the chest. The waist is cut closely in the back, though from the front it looks a little shapeless. Interestingly, the quarters are cut more square and not as rounded as they ordinarily are on Cyril Castle’s jackets. This jacket is detailed with swelled edges, single-button cuffs, open square patch pockets with rounded corners, a welt breast pocket and short, six-inch double vents.

Like most of Moore’s jackets from The Saint, this jacket has very narrow lapels that aren’t all that flattering to Moore, especially due to the drape in the chest. The drape cut was developed in the 1930s when wide lapels were trendy and complemented the wide chest, so ultra-narrow lapels don’t go well with most of Moore’s jackets in The Saint. Despite the narrow lapels, Cyril Castle’s jackets are cut very well.

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In Mainly Milicent, Moore wears this jacket with dark trousers that are probably charcoal. They actually look black, but it is unlikely that they would be. They are cut with narrow, tapered legs. If they are like Moore’s other trousers from this era they have a darted front and frogmouth pockets. He wears his usual shirt from The Saint: ecru with a classic spread collar and double cuffs. The tie, however, is where Moore dresses more like James Bond than Simon Templar. Whilst Templar’s solid ties are satin silk and brightly-coloured, for his first appearance as James Bond he wears the classic Bond tie: a black knitted silk tie, tied in a four-in-hand knot. During a fight, Moore’s tie becomes dislodged from inside his jacket and hangs outside of it for the rest of the sketch, revealing the square bottom. Moore’s shoes are black and have very tall, two-inch “cuban” heels, which were made popular at the time by The Beatles. They’re the trendiest part of the outfit and certainly not something James Bond would wear, but they’re hardly seen.

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It’s not surprising that Moore wears his Saint wardrobe in this sketch, but the black knitted tie is the perfect touch. Someone on the staff for Mainly Millicent must have read Ian Fleming’s novels and knew that James Bond wears a black knitted tie. It was a simple way to dress Simon Templar more like Bond. Since this episode is from the summer of 1964, Goldfinger had not yet been released and that would be the first time the film Bond wears a knitted tie.

The grey tweed jacket in Luella in the scene where Bond whispers to a woman that he is James Bond

The same grey tweed jacket in the Saint episode “Luella” This is from the scene where Templar whispers to a woman that he is James Bond

Woman of Straw: A Brown Houndstooth Suit and Donegal Tweed Overcoat

Woman-of-Straw-Brown-Houndstooth-Suit

Most of Sean Connery’s tailored clothing in Goldfinger was first featured in the 1964 film Woman of Straw, which was made just before Goldfinger. Some of the suits fit the Woman of Straw setting much better than they fit Goldfinger. The brown houndstooth check suit is especially more fitting for Woman of Straw than it is for Goldfinger. In Woman of Straw Connery wears the suit on a country estate, whilst in Goldfinger he wears it to the office for briefing from M. James Bond occasionally knowingly breaks the rules, and I certainly don’t just mean the rules of how to dress properly. Nevertheless, wearing this country suit to the office is not likely something M appreciated. In Woman of Straw we get to see this beautiful suit in its intended setting.

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The suit is a somewhat heavy mid brown and black fine houndstooth check made by Anthony Sinclair. The button two jacket is cut with natural shoulders, a draped chest and a gently suppressed waist. It has country details like slanted flap pockets with a ticket pocket and a long single vent. The jacket has four buttons on the cuffs. The trousers have double forward pleats, button-tab side-adjusters and tapered legs. Unlike in Goldfinger, Connery does not wear an odd waistcoat with this suit in Woman of Straw, though he does wear that beige waistcoat with his barleycorn tweed hacking jacket. The lack of waistcoat gives this suit a much different look than it has in Goldfinger.

The suit's cloth close up

The suit’s brown houndstooth check cloth close up

A blue shirt and blue tie also make the suit look much different than it does in Goldfinger. Blue offers a nice colour contrast to brown whilst cooling down the brown outfit to better flatter Sean Connery’s cool complexion, but for blue and brown to work together they need to have contrast in value. Dark brown and navy don’t go so well together, and neither does light brown and light blue. See the image below of the light brown overcoat and light blue shirt for a combination that doesn’t clash but doesn’t quite work so well either. But light brown with navy works and dark brown with light blue works. The latter is evident here.

The pale blue shirt is made in the same style as Connery’s shirts in Goldfinger, with a wide spread collar, rounded double cuffs and placket stitched close to the centre. The steel blue repp silk tie is tied in a very small four-in-hand knot. Like in Goldfinger, Connery wears this suit in Woman of Straw with a white linen handkerchief folded in a single point in his breast pocket. It may have just been left in the pocket from Woman of Straw when he wears the suit in Goldfinger.

Woman-of-Straw-Brown-Donegal-Tweed-Overcoat-2

Over this suit Connery wears a light brown donegal tweed overcoat that is not worn in Goldfinger. The coat is like a cross between a single-breasted coat and a double-breasted coat in that it has a large overlap and peaked lapels, but the overlap isn’t as large as most double-breasted coats and there is only one column of buttons to fasten. The additional overlap is there for extra warmth. The coat has a fly front that hides the buttons, but if the one column buttons showed they would be off-centre. The coat has slanted hip pockets with flaps, a breast welt pocket, a single vent in the rear and plain cuffs with a short vent.  The coat’s length is to just below the knee, making it a very warm, practical coat for the country. This overcoat may have also been made by Anthony Sinclair.

Woman-of-Straw-Brown-Donegal-Tweed-Overcoat

The Persuaders: The Tweed Norfolk Suit

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In the 1971 episode of The Persuaders titled “A Home of One’s Own”, Roger Moore wears an old-fashioned Norfolk suit. The brown herringbone tweed sporting suit is made up of a Norfolk jacket and matching tweed trousers. The tweed in a light brown and dark brown herringbone is a classic cloth for the country, whilst also flattering Moore’s warm complexion. Though elements of the Norfolk jacket were popular in 1970s fashion, Moore’s is a very traditional model apart from the late 1960’s trouser cut. For background on the Norfolk jacket, I refer to some of the best menswear writers:

Alan Flusser writes in Dressing the Man that the Norfolk jacket is “considered the first sport jacket.”

Riccardo Villarosa and Giuliano Angeli describe the Norfolk jacket in The Elegant Man as “one of the first garments created especially for sporting activities”. They write about the origins of the jackets name: “It appears as if its name derives from the fact that it was cut for some of the guests at the Duke of Nofolk’s hunting party”.

Bernhard Roetzel writes about the Norfolk jacket in Gentleman: A Timeless Guide to Fashion: “It was especially made for shooting, and was therefore a real ‘designer jacket’ in the sense of being designed for a particular purpose, according to the principle that ‘form follows function'”.

Roger Moore’s character Lord Brett Sinclair appropriately wears his norfolk suit in the English country, and it is practical at keeping him warm. However, he does not wear the Norfolk jacket for it’s intended hunting purposes.

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Cyril Castle made Roger Moore’s Norfolk suit jacket in the same cut as the other suits in The Persuaders, with straight shoulders on the natural shoulder line, roped sleeveheads and full, but clean chest. This jacket follows the traditional button four front of the Norfolk jacket, as opposed to the standard three buttons on a regular tweed jacket, and all four buttons are meant to fasten. Though Norfolk jackets most often have a straight front, it’s an acceptable variation for the quarters to the slightly cutaway and curved like on Moore’s jacket. Moore usually has all the buttons fastened on his Norfolk jacket, but sometimes the top or the bottom button is left open in a continuity error. Whilst traditionally the Norfolk jacket has a deep single vent to the belt, Moore’s has deep double vents. It is detailed with swelled edges and two buttons on the cuffs, and the jacket’s buttons are made of dark brown horn.

Though bellows pockets are the most traditional style of hip pocket on a Norfolk jacket, Moore’s jacket has the less sporting but equally casual style of flapped, rounded patch pockets. Compared to standard patch pockets, these have a little extra fullness sewn into bottom of the pocket to make it more useful if Moore wanted to use them.

Persuaders-Norfolk-Suit-Back

The Norfolk jacket ultimately has two defining features: the belt and the sewn-down braces. The belt buttons through the jacket’s middle button and secures to the right of it with another button. Traditionally the belt is removable, but on Moore’s jacket the belt is sewn down to the back and sides. The braces-like straps are attached from the top of the front hip pockets, up over the shoulder and down to the belt at the waist in the rear. According to Villarosa and Angeli in The Elegant Man, the stitched braces are “designed to support the weight of cartridges in the pockets”. Since the braces go over the chest, the Norfolk jacket does not take a breast pocket.

The suit trousers with the Norfolk jacket match the style of the other trousers in The Persuaders and are made by Cyril Castle’s trouser maker at the time, Richard Paine. They have a dart on each side of the front, and an offset jetted frogmouth pocket cuts through the dart. The trousers legs are tapered to the knee and straight from the knee down in the style popular in the late 1960s. Fashions had already moved to wider and flared legs by the time of this show.

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With the Norfolk suit, Moore wears a beige poplin shirt made by Frank Foster with a spread collar, a front placket and button-down one-button cocktail cuffs. He first wears the collar open with a yellow, gold and brown floral silk day cravat, which keeps the outfit looking casual whilst guarding his neck from the cold. Later in the afternoon for drinks and cards at a local Inn where he is staying, Moore switches the day cravat for a buttoned collar with a gold tie that has a faint self-stripe pattern. He ties it in a four-in-hand knot. His shoes are brown side-zip boots with a square toe.

Moore also wears this Norfolk suit in the episodes “Greensleeves” and “The Time and the Place”.

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Poll: Should Bond have worn a tweed jacket for Skyfall’s climax?

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Should Bond have worn a tweed jacket for Skyfall's climax?

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Skyfall gives a few nods to past James Bond films to commemorate the series’ 50th anniversary, and the most notable of these nods is the return once again of the Aston Martin DB5 that Bond first drives in Goldfinger. In Goldfinger, Bond is first seen with the Aston Martin at the Stoke Park golf club in the English countryside and soon after in the Swiss mountains wearing a brown barleycorn tweed hacking jacket. The hills of Scotland where Bond takes the Aston Martin in Skyfall could have provided a great opportunity to bring back the tweed sports jacket. Instead, Bond wears a Barbour waxed cotton sports jacket.

Skyfall-Barbour-Jacket

The Barbour jacket in Skyfall is the limited edition by To Ki To, designed by Tokihito Yoshida. It is made in Barbour’s classic olive waxed cotton with three buttons down the front, flapped bellows pockets on the hips. It’s not the traditional Barbour with a zip front but rather a sports jacket like Bond’s tweed jacket in Goldfinger is, so it’s not as practical as the traditional Barbour jacket. Barbour calls the current version of the model the “Beacon Sports Jacket” and describes it as such:

The three-pocket waxed Beacon Sports jacket is an iconic blazer-style button through, inspired by the limited edition Barbour Sports Jacket worn by Daniel Craig in the James Bond film, Skyfall in 2012.

It’s an excellent choice Bond considering Barbour’s English heritage and the damp, cool Scotland location, and it’s about time Bond wore a Barbour. But at the same time, Bond has a long history of wearing tweed and it’s a shame Bond didn’t use this opportunity to wear it. Apart from the brown barleycorn tweed hacking jacket in Goldfinger and Thunderball, Bond wears a houndstooth tweed hacking jacket in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, a herringbone tweed jacket and a plaid tweed jacket in Diamonds Are Forever, a tweed-inspired lightweight plaid jacket in The Man with the Golden Gun, a donegal tweed suit in Moonraker, a brown tweed jacket in Octopussy, a grey tweed jacket and a brown barleycorn tweed jacket in A View to a Kill, a tweed-esque gun club check jacket in The Living Daylights and a charcoal windowpane cheviot tweed suit in The World Is Not Enough.

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The tweed hacking jacket in Goldfinger

Scotland would have been a great place for Bond to wear a tweed jacket again, since Scotland is known for tweed, namely Harris Tweed. The cool, damp weather is perfect. Bond finds the Barbour jacket in the Skyfall Lodge, so he wears it for his showdown with Raoul Silva (Javier Bardem). But would a tweed jacket have been appropriate considering the context? Of course! A tweed jacket is harder-wearing than a waxed cotton Barbour jacket and just as great for action. If Bond could wear a sports jacket made of waxed cotton he could just as effectively have worn a sports jacket made of tweed. The cut of Bond’s Barbour jacket gives it no advantage over a tweed jacket either. Since tweed jackets are designed for country sports like shooting, they are very practical for a scene full gunfire. Tweed jackets are especially practical for shooting if they have bi-swing shoulder pleats and bellows pockets to store extra rounds. And a tweed jacket had the same details as Bond’s Barbour sports jacket, like the bellows pockets, it wouldn’t be any dressier. There’s nothing that Bond’s Barbour jacket did that tweed could not have done just as well, if not better.

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Tweed is once again popular and not just for old men. Trendy shops like Topman (which provided Daniel Craig chinos’s in Skyfall) and H&M sell tweed or tweed-esque sports jackets. Other shops that provided clothes for Skyfall sell tweed sports jackets, like Acne Studios, Billy Reid and, of course, Tom Ford. Tweed is hardly a thing of the past, and if Bond wore a tweed jacket unfortunately-cut like his suit jackets in Skyfall he would look trendier than he does in his Barbour sports jacket. And we know from The Golden Compass that Daniel Craig looks brilliant in brown tweed. For a fashionable look, Bond could wear the collar of a tweed jacket turned up like he does with his Barbour. Many traditional tweed jackets have a throat latch that connects either side of the collar across the front when it is turned up, so turning up the collar of a tweed jacket would not be inappropriate.

For Bond to wear a tweed jacket instead of the Barbour sports jacket, he would need to wear something underneath it other than the Henley shirt and round neck jumper that he wears with the Barbour sports jacket. He could keep the jumper and wear a collared sports shirt under it instead of the Henley, or he could keep the Henley and wear a polo jumper over it instead of the round neck jumper. Either way, a shirt collar is necessary under a tweed jacket, both to prevent the tweed from irritating the neck and to prevent the oils on the neck from soiling the tweed. The rest of the outfit, however, would go perfectly with a tweed jacket in olive—like the Barbour—or in medium brown like Connery’s jacket in Goldfinger. The corduroy trousers, the pebble grain leather boots and the scarf would still go perfectly with a tweed jacket.

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Overall, the Barbour sports jacket is a fantastic choice for Skyfall‘s climax, and it is certainly much classier than Pierce Brosnan’s tactical gear for battle. But a tweed jacket would have been just as appropriate for the character, the story and the location. Not using a tweed is a missed opportunity to further connect Goldfinger‘s Aston Martin scenes to the Skyfall‘s Aston Martin scenes, a well as connecting Bond’s country wardrobe from the past to the present.


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The Golden Compass: Atomic Fleck Suit

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In the 2007 fantasy film The Golden Compass, Daniel Craig’s character Lord Asriel dresses in a 1940s-style brown atomic fleck tweed suit. Atomic fleck is similar to donegal tweed but has larger, more pronounced contrasting flecks and slubs. Craig’s tweed is a basketweave in brown and white with large white and yellow flecks. The flecks almost make the suit look like it is sparkling, which reflects the magical aspects of the movie. The flecks also symbolise the spots on Lord Asreil’s “dæmon”, the snow leopard. The “dæmon” is one’s soul that takes the form of an animal.

The-Golden-Compass-Atomic-Fleck-Tweed-Suit-4The button three suit jacket is cut with a draped chest and straight shoulders with roped sleeveheads. It has jetted pockets, three buttons on the cuffs and no vent. The suit trousers have single forward pleats, slanted side pockets and wide straight legs with turn-ups. The cut of the suit has a slight 1940s look partially due to a full-cut chest, slightly high button stance and wide trouser legs, but the heavy tweed cloth plays a bigger part in making the suit look old. The Golden Compass, however, does not take place during the 1940s or any other time in our world’s history. It’s a fantasy film that takes place in an alternate world.

The-Golden-Compass-Atomic-Fleck-Tweed-Suit-3The contrasting grey waistcoat is one of the most interesting parts of the outfit. The waistcoat’s cloth is a fancy jacquard wear of rose-like diamonds. Though fancy waistcoats are typically silk, this one is not. It is most likely flannel wool. The waistcoat has six buttons, and Daniel Craig leaves the bottom button open. The buttons are shanked pewter and half of the edge is scalloped. There are four welt pockets on the front, and the edge of the waistcoat is finished like a buttonhole and stitched with brown thread. The waistcoat’s back is made in a grey lining material. Whilst the waistcoat is a very elegant and well-cut piece, its cool grey somewhat clashes with the warmth of the rest of the outfit, and it’s a missed opportunity to add more colour to the outfit. A forest green or burgundy waistcoat would add colour and better complement the brown suit

The-Golden-Compass-Atomic-Fleck-Tweed-Suit-2Daniel Craig’s cream shirt has a spread collar, front placket and double cuffs. The collar, placket and cuffs are stitched 1/4 inch from the edge. Craig wears a finely knitted dark brown silk tie, tied in a four-in-hand knot. He also wears a white linen handkerchief casually folded in his breast pocket with two corners pointing up, which is infinitely more stylish than if he meticulously folded and ironed the handkerchief to have two defined points sticking out.

The-Golden-Compass-Atomic-Fleck-Tweed-Suit-ShoesWith the suit, Craig wears brown, 5-eyelet, cap-toe derbys. The vamp on these derbys extends to the back of the shoe, and the eyelets are on flaps that are sewn on top of the vamp in the “blucher” style. The shoes’ wide last and rounded toe gives them a casual look beyond the metal-reinforced eyelets and thick rubber soles. They are laced in an over-under method, where the laces alternate crossing over and under the eyelet flaps. This lacing method reduces friction and is easier to tighten than typical lacing methods.

Besides Daniel Craig, The Golden Compass also features James Bond series alumni Eva Green and Christopher Lee.

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

Q’s Town and Country Style

Q-Goldfinger

Who is wearing the trendier suit in Goldfinger, James Bond or Q? Except for narrow lapels and covered buttons, Bond’s blue suit is classic in every way. Q’s (Desmond Llewelyn) solid brown tweed suit, however, has many features that date it to the 1960s. Like Bond’s suit jacket, Q’s suit jacket has narrow lapels, but it also has narrow pocket flaps that are placed rather low. The short double vents are another 1960s detail. But perhaps the most outdated part of the suit is the way the quarters are cut. The front of the jacket cuts away below the waist as it ordinarily would, but the curve of the front edge into the hem has a very small radius that’s almost—but not quite—a sharp corner.

Q-Goldfinger-2The suit’s overall silhouette, however, is a classic button two jacket with natural shoulders and just a little drape in the chest. The jacket also has swelled edges and 2-button cuffs. The trousers likely have single or double forward pleats, which were the common suit trouser styles in England at the time. They are finished with turn-ups. Q’s suits almost always have fit problems, and on this suit the collar stands away from the neck and the sleeves are too long. This is because actor Desmond Llewelyn has round shoulders and needs his jackets to be cut longer in back to be balanced. He’s not an easy man to fit.

Q’s cream shirt has a spread collar and double cuffs. His tie is black with narrow burgundy stripes and a narrower white pencil stripes below each burgundy stripe. If it is a regimental tie, can anyone identify it? His shoes are brown, which match the overall town-and-country look of the outfit.

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