Bond-Inspired Shirts

52
SHARE

MyTailor-Shirts

Being a fan of James Bond’s clothing, I’ve always wanted shirts with cocktail cuffs. I have many shirts with cocktail cuffs from a various makers, but none of them make cuffs that are exactly the same as the elegant cuff Sean Connery wears in his Bond films. Just like not every spread collar is the same, not every cocktail cuffs is the same either. Since Turnbull & Asser makes their cocktail cuffs differently now than they did for Sean Connery’s shirts in his Bond films, I had to go somewhere else to have them made for me. Connery’s cuff is a rounder and simpler shape than the cuff Turnbull & Asser makes now, so I created my own pattern doing my best to replicate it. I had to find someone who could make me a shirt with this cuff as well as be capable to follow my other directions. I’ve previously tested my cuff design with cheaper shirtmakers online, but cost can often be a good indicator of quality. The high end bespoke English, Italian and French shirtmakers wouldn’t be appropriate for my project since they do things the way they want to and don’t like to be told what to do. I also didn’t want to spend a whole lot of money.

One shirtmaker I’ve always heard great things about is Hemrajani Brothers, also known as MyTailor.com, with offices in Costa Mesa, CA and production in Kowloon, Hong Kong. They offer a substantial selection of cloths, they are reasonably priced, they are very flexible, and they are very capable in what they can make. Even better, they are a pleasure to work with and travel to New York. Being measured in person is the most successful way to get the best fit, though I’ve had success in measuring a well-fitting shirt for online shirtmakers to copy. Hemrajani took my measurements, measured the well-fitting shirt I wore that day, had me try on a sample and took photos of me. They are very thorough. Even so, I wasn’t completely happy with the fit in the sleeves and cuffs at first but they happily remedied it for me. I ordered two shirts, one in sky blue poplin (top right)—something every Bond has worn—and one in sky blue royal oxford (top left and below)—like what Pierce Brosnan often wore.

MyTailor-Shirt-Cocktail-Cuff
The cocktail cuff, which copies Sean Connery’s cuff

Beyond copying the cocktail cuff, I wanted a shirt that resembles an English shirt in other ways, and I took elements from Turnbull & Asser’s shirts and Frank Foster’s shirts to make a Bond-esque shirt. The collar is larger like the ones Frank Foster made for Roger Moore, with 3 1/8″ collar points which sit just shy of 5″ apart, 1 7/8″ back height and 1/4″ tie space. That to me is the perfect spread collar, and it’s appropriate for any occasion. On the other hand, what’s right for me may not be right for everyone else. I need a large collar to flatter my large head, but at the same time I need a collar that isn’t too wide. I feel more confident wearing a shirt with a collar I know is right for me. Like on good English shirts, my collar and cuffs have a fairly stiff sewn interfacing. Hemrajani can do both sewn and the more common fused interfacings, and they can do different interfacing weights. The collar, of course, has removable collar stays.

MyTailor-Shirt-Collar

The placket is another part I had customised from Hemrajani’s standard shirt. I matched the width to Frank Foster’s placket, which at 1 3/8″ is the same width as their standard placket. I originally wanted them to copy Foster’s placket stitching, but since Foster does his measuring in centimetres and Hemrajani measures to the closest eighth of an inch the stitching isn’t exactly the same. The placket is stitched .5″ from the edge, and the stitching is 3/8″ apart, so the buttons still lie over it. The placket has no interfacing.

Instead of pleats at the cuff attachment, I asked Hemrajani to use gathers at the cuffs. Turnbull & Asser and Frank Foster both attach their cuffs that way, and I find it an elegant, but also flamboyant, touch. I also asked for a sleeve gauntlet button, which is a finer detail omitted from Bond’s shirts. On shirts over $100 Hemrajani uses mother-or-pearl buttons, which is a must for me. It’s a small thing that really enhances the luxuriousness of a shirt. I asked for blue  buttonholes and stitching to match the shirt. I didn’t ask for a split yoke, which is what most English shirtmakers do. The split yoke can account for different shoulder slopes, but my shoulders are even enough that it doesn’t make so much of a difference. For someone like Roger Moore who has a much lower right shoulder, the split yoke can considerably improve fit. Like on Sean Connery’s and Roger Moore’s shirts, I had the shirts made with darts in the back to prevent billowing in the lower back. Since I spend most of my day in the office in shirtsleeves, the fit in the body becomes more important than ever.

Download a pdf of the cocktail cuff pattern.

I received no compensation for this review. I just wanted to share my project and experience.

52 COMMENTS

  1. Nice looking shirts, Matt. I think that cocktail cuff turned out very well. Does the quality compare favorably in terms of fabric and construction to some of your other shirts that lie in the same price range?

    • The blue poplin is particularly fine though Connery and Terrance Young did not have a sleeve gauntlet button on their shirts.

      • I know. Frank Foster convinced me that every gentleman’s shirt should have them, though for the films they omitted them to save time and money. Turnbull & Asser only puts them on their finest shirts, which are made of Sea Island cotton.

  2. Very nice shirts, Matt and a great idea. The placket is close enough to Foster’s unique design and that is just one of the thingf I do like about his shirts.

    I do find it baffling that, despite Turnbull and Asser actually having the design for the original Connery cocktail cuff still on their files, that they won’t produce this for a customer. To me there’s more than a whiff of self-importance here. If I’m paying a craftsman to produce a pricey, bespoke item then it’s logical to expect things to be done to my taste and specifications. Otherwise, why bother? It seems that this outfit does that.

    BTW, how long is My Tailor’s waiting time? This is the main issue which mitigates against Foster now.

    • Most bespoke makers do things only the way they want to. I would have preferred button-down cocktail cuffs from Foster like the cuffs in The Persuaders, but he didn’t do them even though he said he would. Many bespoke tailors do only what they want to, though some of the younger ones you’ll find will be more open to suggestion, from what I’ve heard.

      MyTailor takes 4 to 8 weeks, which I think is very reasonable.

  3. Hi Matt, great shirts! I was wondering if you could publish your pattern for the cocktail cuff? I can never seem to get it quite right.

    Also, I was watching OHMSS yesterday, have you thought of doing a post on Blofeld’s traditional German outfit in the laboratory?

    Cheers,
    Cam

  4. The cuffs did indeed turn out quite well and I’ve been thinking about getting some shirts from him for a while now, glad to see that you’ve had a good experience.

    Could you share with us a bit more details about the gathers at the cuff. It seems a nice touch.

    • Most shirts have pleats at the cuffs to take in the necessary fullness of the sleeve into a smaller cuff. Rather than put that fullness into two or three pleats, gathers spread the fullness around the cuff.

      • Matt, I may be wrong, but on the second picture of the cuff, it looks like yours has both a pleat and gathers ?

  5. I live near costa mesa and I believe I will pay them a visit. My current tailor cant seem to get the height of the collar right. Is there a minimum order?
    Would you happen to know how much they charge for sea island cotton?
    The turnback cuff that you got, do they have that on display or would I need to bring in the photo?

    • There is no minimum on the first order, but a minimum of 2 shirts per style on subsequent orders. I think that is very reasonable.

      I do not know how much they charge for Sea Island cotton, but you can see the cloth selection on their website, which includes many name brands.

      The cuff is a design I provided, and I’ve now included a link to download the pattern at the end of the article. They actually made the cuff a little smaller than my pattern indicated, but I made my pattern a little larger than Connery’s cuff to be more in proportion to my larger collar. But actually, it turned out just like Connery’s cuff. If you’d like to go with MyTailor, tell them you want the same cocktail cuff they made for me.

  6. Hi Matt – if I contact Hemrajani and tell him to make me shirts like yours, will he be able to exactly replicate your design? Thanks

  7. Hello Matt,

    I see the Mytailor people will be coming through NYC in February. May I ask them for the Matt Spaiser shirt (perhaps with a modification or two), or is there some kind of tailor/client privilege that forbids this? Also, would adding a button and buttonhole to your cocktail cuff yield something like what Connery wore on the yacht in NSNA?

    Matt, I love your blog, and I’m not even that fashionable a 46-year-old. You’re aspirational reading for me, basically. Hmm, what to do when you exhaust the JB material, though? Somehow, you should try to broaden your purview, methinks. Good luck and thanks.

    • The button-down cocktail cuff in NSNA (and The Persuaders) is a little different. It only closes with one button and it’s not as rounded. I’m planning on trying it out the next time I order shirts from MyTailor, but if you’d like a pattern for it I could give you one. It’s not tested, but I’ve mocked it up in card stock.

      Ordinarily I don’t think that tailors would share anything about what a client orders, but I’ve told Hemrajani that people will be asking for shirts like this. I encourage you to modify what I ordered as much as you want. I really don’t believe in buying ready-to-wear shirts any more. Any other shirts in this price range still aren’t going to be made in America, Britain or Europe. However, there is CEGO in New York that makes custom shirts at a very reasonable price. I’ve heard great things about Carl Goldberg there.

      I have almost run out of James Bond material, but I’ve been finding other relevant things to write about.

      • As for james bond material have you considered doing an article on the shirt collars of james bond? I find that height of the collar is indeed different from bond to bond and getting the exact height and spread of the collar has always been difficult for the cutters I hire to make my shirts. My collar has to be tall because I also have a large head, and if another person were to wear my shirts they would look like they are wearing a neck brace. They are also based in Hong Kong. Also tie spaces have always been difficult for me. I have been trying to get a tie space to simulate the era of pierce brosnan in TWINE, but instead I end up looking like ronald reagan.

  8. Just wanted to comment that I’ve been having shirts made by Mr. Hemrajani and his crew for a few years now, and I am quite satisfied with the quality of his work. His customer service is also excellent—for example, when I happened to be in Hong Kong for a relative’s wedding, I arranged via e-mail to have a dress shirt redirected to my hotel, and, when I mentioned I had forgotten to pack my cuff links, Mr. Hemrajani included a set of silver and onyx cuff links for me to borrow, without my asking for it.

    He is quite responsive over e-mail, and I always enjoy his periodic visits to San Francisco. I usually bring my girlfriend to help me paw through his fabric swatches, as he brings a large selection.

    Glad to see you were satisfied with your experience as well, and it will be interesting to see if you can single-handedly revive the Bond-style cocktail cuff!

  9. Thanks for a very interesting article, Matt. I am quite astonished by the fact that T&A doesn’t want to do the Connery cocktail cuff, even if one choose to go bespoke. After all the first interest of bespoke -albeit the fact of having shirts that are perfectly fitted- is to get something you created yourself entirely, providing your wishes aren’t, well, out of place.

    Would you consider the villains and the recurrent characters if you are out of material considering Bond himself ?
    I think there are plenty of nice outfits in the 60s (Emilio Largo, Goldfinger, Red Grant, and of course Bernard Lee’s beautiful suits). Q was also nicely dressed, as well as some memorable allies of Bond : Pedro Armendariz in FRWL and of course Gabriele Ferzetti in OHMSS w ho was very elegant.
    As well as the decades go on, it looks like the villains are getting very poorly dressed (Alec in Goldeneye who is always wearing black, or Carver, or the main villain in TWINE…), with some exceptions sometimes-I think that Le Chiffre’s outfits look great, even if he often wears black too frequently. The Russian mafia boss of the Brosnan era has nice outfits too, even if they are a bit showy in term of colors, if you want my humble opinion !

    Keep up the great work, it’s always a pleasure to read your articles.

    • Bespoke in most cases isn’t really about designing your own clothes. It’s more about a tailor making a suit in his style. Things like number of buttons, vents, pockets, trouser pleats, etc. are up to the client, but the tailor decides how those things are done.

      I have been writing about villains and allies already, and you can look forward to seeing more of them here.

      Thanks for reading my articles!

  10. I have been a client of MyTailor for over a year and can likewise attest as to the quality of their work; and their willingness to go beyond the norm to please a customer.

  11. I´ve been wanting to get my local tailor (who did a fabulous job in tailoring me a sports jacket with a holland and sherry fabric with the suggestions Matt gave me) make me some custom shirts with Connery Cocktail cuffs, however, i didn’t have a precise reference, now that i do, i think i will experiment and see if he can nail them.

  12. As for running out of Bond material, well, they’ll always keep making new Bond films… 😉

    I second writing a bit more about villains and allies as there are some great outfits there. Something else that I would encourage you to consider is the occasional article about a woman’s outfit. Many readers have significant others, and I think it would be interesting for men who aspire to be knowledgeable about fashion and style to know about what makes an outfit for a woman work i.e. colours, cuts, etc. It doesn’t have to be in depth, and if nothing else it could be more of an “appreciation” article 🙂

    You could also branch out a bit about how to maintain “the suits of JB” by having articles such as how to correctly polish shoes, steam a suit (or how often to have it dry-cleaned), what to do if a tie is stained, etc…

  13. Have you ever used Deo Veritas ? I’m having a shirt made by them right now with cocktail-cuffs and the same collar dimensions but remain skeptical about the quality of finished product. Right now I can only surmise.

    • I haven’t but I know someone who has. I provided a cocktail cuff pattern for someone else to use with them and it looks like they have adopted it for all their own cocktail cuffs. However, they weren’t able to execute it particularly well.

  14. You could always do a write up about the suits in the Godfather films . Lots of good suits there. And no one has done it yet ; even though the films are quite famous.

  15. Hey Matt. Just curious, when you say that you have cocktail cuff shirts from various makers, would those include Mason & Sons as well? If so, I’m curious to hear about your opinion on them.

    • Yes, Mason & Son is included. Their shirts have a more modern look than Turnbull & Asser’s, with a slightly different cuff design and a different style overall.

    • So, a completely different cuff design, and by much different construction, I hope that doesn’t include fusing, right?

      • The cuff design is not totally different, and it gives a similar effect to Connery’s. It does have fusing. While fusing in a jacket is a cost-cutting measure, it is not in a shirt. Many very high-end shirts use fusing, particularly those made in Italy.

  16. Good to know. Just one last question. Between these shirts and the Mason & Sons version, which ones do you prefer?

  17. Matt, what ever happened to that interview with Robert Gillotte? A cursory search of the website doesn’t turn it up …

    • The royal oxford has frayed at the collar and cuffs, but otherwise has held up well. The blue poplin has faded considerably. I got fairly low-end fabrics, and fabrics that cost a bit more from them have held up much better. The $130-150 range is much better.

      • Thank you very much for that update! Could you be any more specific about the cloths that you chose? Were they hemrajani brand fabrics or another brand (thomas mason? alumo?)? What was the thread count on the poplin (100? 120? 140?)? Thanks again!

      • These were both Hemrajani brand fabrics. Their higher ranges are better, and I have some of those. I think the poplin’s thread count is 80s, but I’m not positive.

      • Good to know, thanks again for the additional info. And FYI we are all still eagerly awaiting that Rob Gillotte interview! 🙂

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here