Roped Sleeve Heads on James Bond

Roped sleeveheads on Daniel Craig's Tom Ford dinner jacket in Skyfall

A Tom Ford dinner jacket with roped sleeve heads on Daniel Craig in Skyfall

Roped sleeve heads are something often mentioned on this blog. Often called a “roped shoulder”, a roped sleeve head describes the bumped shape or ridge of the sleeve’s attachment to the shoulder that can often be found on many of James Bond’s tailored jackets. Roping is a British military style, making it suitable for the naval commander that James Bond is. The Italians and other Europeans have adopted this British style, though it is almost completely absent from American tailoring.

A roped sleeve head lends a more formal and regal look to a jacket, and it is perfect for city suits, navy blazers and dinner jackets. It’s appropriate on dressier odd jackets, but a natural sleeve that follows the shape of the shoulder head is better suited for more casual jackets. Even overcoats and topcoats can take roped sleeve heads, like on Daniel Craig’s Tom Ford Crombie coat in Spectre.

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Anthony Sinclair’s soft shoulders with roping on Sean Connery in You Only Live Twice

Roped sleeve heads draw attention to the shoulders, making the shoulders look stronger without necessarily building up the shoulder line with padding. When there is shoulder padding, roping accentuates it. Roping punctuates the concave shape of the pagoda shoulder, which is apparent on Daniel Craig’s suits in Quantum of Solace.

A Tom Ford Crombie coat with roped sleeve heads

A Tom Ford Crombie coat with roped sleeve heads on Daniel Craig in Spectre

Though roped sleeve heads are most associated with heavily structured jackets, they can be found on shoulders with varying degrees of padding. Pierce Brosnan’s Brioni jackets and Daniel Craig’s Tom Ford jackets have padded shoulders with roping, but Sean Connery’s Anthony Sinclair jackets and Roger Moore’s Douglas Hayward jackets have soft shoulders that also feature roping. Roping may be more defined or more easily achieved with more padding in the shoulders because the shoulder padding supports the roping. On Douglas Hayward’s soft shoulders, the roping pushes the sleeve cap outward rather than upward.

Douglas Hayward's soft shoulders with roping on Roger Moore in Octopussy

Douglas Hayward’s soft shoulders with roping on Roger Moore in Octopussy

A sleeve with roping will be cut larger than a sleeve without roping. The excess eased into the armhole, along with the seams from both the armhole and the sleeve pressed towards the sleeve, creates the roping. Wadding may then be added to sleeve head for a firm shape. Most English tailors who make roped sleeve heads use wadding, and the more structured Italian tailors do the same. James Bond’s roped sleeve heads have wadding. Neapolitan tailors make a shoulder they call “con rollino” that has a roped look without the wadding, and the lack of wadding can give the sleeve head a puckered look. The amount of fullness cut in the sleeve and the amount of wadding used will vary the degree of roping.

There are different, equally valid opinions on roped sleeve heads. Some like them for their regal look, but only think they belong on jackets with more structured shoulders. Other people don’t like them on any kind of jacket because they look unnatural. Dimi Major, George Lazenby’s tailor in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, never tailored roped sleeve heads. This was likely not done for any reason other than his personal preference. Some tailors like roping and always use it, and some tailors don’t like roping and will never use it. Many tailors are flexible with roping and will tailor a sleeve head based on the style of jacket or for customer preference. Except for being out of place on casual jackets, there are no rules as to when roped sleeve heads are or are not appropriate and their presence comes down to personal preference.

A Brioni suit jacket with roped sleeve heads on Pierce Brosnan in The World Is Not Enough

A Brioni suit jacket with roped sleeve heads on Pierce Brosnan in The World Is Not Enough

(00)7 of James Bond’s Casual Staples

Though James Bond is best known for dressing up in suits and black tie, he’s also typically well-dressed in his casual clothing. Considering today’s casual society as well as the ease of action in non-tailored clothes, Bond’s casual clothes have seen more consideration and been more prominent in the Daniel Craig era. Craig’s casual clothes take many cues from what Sean Connery wears in his Bond films, showing that casual clothes from 50 years ago can still be fashionable today. In between Connery and Craig there have been experiments with other casual styles, but the best items remain staples of Bond’s wardrobe.

Polo Shirt

Polo shirts, also known as golf shirts or tennis shirts, are timeless and a staple of Bond’s weekend wear, in short sleeves for warm weather and long sleeves for cold weather. The first polo of the Bond series appears in the first Bond film Dr. No, and it’s a light blue pique knit cotton short-sleeve shirt with two buttons on the placket. In Goldfinger, Bond brings back the polo in light grey and black and wears them under jumpers. In Thunderball the short-sleeve polo returns again, this time in classic navy blue with a Fred Perry logo. Navy became the standard colour for Bond’s short-sleeve polos, which Daniel Craig would again wear in Casino Royale from Sunspel, Quantum of Solace from Tom Ford and Spectre from Tom Ford. In Quantum of Solace he also wears a short-sleeve polo in black, again from Tom Ford. Craig’s polos in Casino Royale and Quantum of Solace have a small breast pocket.

Thunderball Black

The long-sleeve polo is one of Bond’s casual staples for cool weather. Bond first wears one in black cotton on two occasions in Thunderball for sneaking around at night: at Shrublands in the English country and at Largo’s villa in the Bahamas. This polo has three buttons at the top as opposed to the two buttons on the short-sleeve polo. Timothy Dalton brought back the long sleeve polo in blue in The Living Daylights, and Craig brought it back again in Casino Royale. And for cold weather in Casino Royale, Bond wears a black long-sleeve polo jumper, likely in cashmere.


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Polo Neck

The polo neck, also known as the turtleneck or roll neck, is another of Bond’s staple tops, either in the full polo neck or mock polo neck. Every Bond other than Timothy Dalton has worn a polo neck, and it is present in every decade except for the 1990s. The first polo neck that Bond wears is a grey mock polo neck in You Only Live Twice for infiltrating Blofeld’s volcano lair. Bond’s most iconic example is Roger Moore’s black polo neck with a holster worn over it in Live and Let Die. Craig recently returned the polo neck to Bond with full force in Spectre, wearing two mock polo necks and one full polo neck. Like the polo shirt, the polo neck has a rich history with Bond that goes back to the 1960s. Read more about James Bond’s polo necks >


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Camp Shirt

The camp shirt is a staple of Connery Bond’s casual warm-weather wardrobe. The camp shirt is a straight-cut shirt with a single-piece camp collar, short sleeves, a plain front (no placket) and a straight hem to be worn untucked. Connery wears a number of camp shirts in Thunderball, including shirts in blue gingham, pink gingham, rose linen, royal blue, and butcher stripe. Connery wears more camp shirts in You Only Live Twice and Diamonds Are Forever. Roger Moore also wears camp shirts in his Bond films, including a cream voile shirt and a sage green safari-jacket-detailed shirt in The Man with the Golden Gun.

Almost three decades later, Pierce Brosnan brought the camp shirt back to Bond in Die Another Day. In Cuba he wears a blue floral-printed camp shirt and a more elegant white linen camp shirt that has long sleeves. Daniel Craig has not worn any camp shirts as Bond, but he wears similar shirts that have two-piece collars instead of a single-piece collar. His printed shirt in Madagascar in Casino Royale has all the details of a camp shirt except for the camp collar. Another printed shirt that Bond wears when ‘enjoying death’ in Skyfall is a casual shirt that is meant to be worn untucked, but it again has a two-piece collar, long sleeves rolled up and curved tails. This kind of shirt that has a formal shirt’s collar, long sleeves and tails but in a casual cloth is what is most popular today. Some or all of these details can be applied to Connery’s camp shirts to update them.


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Suede Blouson

Since George Lazenby’s brown polyester golfing blouson in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, Bond has worn many blousons in a variety of materials. The suede blouson in particular has been a favourite of Bond’s, including a sage green suede blouson and a shearling blouson in For Your Eyes Only and a grey perforated suede blouson in A View to a Kill. Some of them have the traditional banded-knit bottom and others have a more subtle self band at the bottom. Most recently, Spectre brought back the suede blouson with a tan jacket from Matchless London and blue jacket from John Varvatos. Of the two in Spectre, only Matchless calls their jacket a ‘blouson’, and neither are technically blousons because they don’t blouse over the band at the bottom. The traditional banded bottom is a little outdated now, but the suede blouson lives on in spirit and remains a staple of Bond’s casual wear.


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Trousers in Light Earth Tones

From taupe to tan, from sand to stone, from buff to beige and from khaki to cream, trousers in light earth tones are essential to Bond’s casual ensembles. Bond’s casual trousers are made from a variety of materials. In warm weather Bond wears chino cotton or linen. In cool weather he wears cavalry twill wool or cotton moleskin.

Though the ubiquitous blue jeans aren’t typically Bond’s style, in Quantum of Solace he wears two pairs of jeans in earth tones. Bond wears the Levi’s 306 STA-PREST jeans in cream with a black polo and in khaki with a black shawl-collar cardigan. These jeans have a more dressed-down and rugged look than chinos, but they are dressier than blue jeans and have the elegance of earth-toned trousers.


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Light Blue Swimming Trunks

Light blue is Bond’s colour of choice for swimming trunks since their first appearance in the Bond series in From Russia with Love. The colour of Bond’s light blue trunks was likely chosen to match the colour of the ocean or sea (or bottom of a swimming pool). Bond’s swimming trunks are always trim and short, for less resistance in the water and to show off his fit body. They’re never baggy, as that would slow him down in the water. After From Russia with Love, Bond also wears light blue swimming trunks in Goldfinger, Thunderball (picture above), Casino Royale and Skyfall.


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Brown Suede Chukka Boots

Though suede chukka boots have only been a staple of Bond’s casual wardrobe in Die Another Day and in the Daniel Craig films, they’re a timeless item that goes well with casual clothes in all seasons. Though there are protective sprays, the only limits they have are that they should be avoided in rain and snow. Bond’s chukkas in Casino Royale, from John Lobb, and in Quantum of Solace, from Church’s, are of the dressier variety with Goodyear-welt construction and Dainite® studded rubber soles. In Skyfall and Spectre, Bond wears the more casual type with crepe soles. These are sometimes known as desert boots, particularly when they are unlined. Read more about Bond’s chukka boots >

Poplin: James Bond’s Preferred Shirting

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Poplin is the standard shirting for shirts to wear with a suit—known as dress shirts in America. Poplin is almost always cotton—though traditionally it was silk and worsted wool—and woven in a plain weave. Hardy Amies describes poplin in his 1964 book, ABC of Men’s Fashion:

Poplin is a plain weave cotton fabric, characterized by the slightly pronounced ribs running across it. These are caused by the high proportion of warp ends. Good quality poplin will have as many as 144 warp [lengthwise] ends to the inch, to only half that number of weft [crosswise] picks.

Poplin

The term broadcloth is sometimes used interchangeably with poplin, but poplin is woven with twice as many warp yarns as weft yarns whilst broadcloth has an even number of yarns in the warp and weft. For instance, poplin may have a yarn count of 144×72 (warp yarns per inch x weft yarns per inch) and broadcloth may have a yarn count of 100×100. Poplin’s thicker yarns in the weft give it its subtle crosswise ribs. Overall, poplin and broadcloth are very similar fabrics that are almost indistinguishable from one another. Hardy Amies further discusses what makes a quality poplin:

It will also be of two-fold staple yarn (two single yarns twisted together) used in both directions. Most better quality poplins are mercerized, making a strong, lustrous fabric that is one of the most popular for men’s shirts.

Because poplin is woven in a plain weave—and typically woven of fine yarns—it one of the most breathable and most lightweight shirtings. Poplins of finer cotton, such as Ian Fleming’s Bond’s preferred Sea Island Cotton, are shinier and feel silkier. This sheen can be seen in some of Sean Connery’s shirts in his James Bond films. However, these finer cottons are also thinner and can be somewhat translucent, particularly if the thread count isn’t high enough to make up for finer yarns. Connery’s shirts are woven densely enough that that are mostly opaque. Finer cottons wrinkle more easily and are more difficult to iron.

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The majority of James Bond’s shirts are poplin cotton, both the shirts he wears with his suits and the shirts he wears with black tie. James Bond wears poplin shirts in solid white, cream and various shades of light blue, from sky to pale blue. Roger Moore occasionally wears striped poplin or broadcloth shirts in his Bond films.

There are other shirtings that are variations on or similar to poplin. End-on-end is a plain weave cloth like poplin but typically alternates between white and coloured yarns in the warp and has white yarns in the weft. If the colour is very light and the yarns are very fine, they are difficult to distinguish from a solid poplin from a short distance. Pierce Brosnan wears blue end-on-end shirts from Sulka in GoldenEye.

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A voile dress shirt in Skyfall with a pique collar and bib

Voile is another similar shirting woven in a plain weave. Alan Flusser describes voile in his book Dressing the Man as “woven from fine hard twisted yarns with reverse twist warp threads, this plain fabric is lightweight, cool, and dry.” Voile yarns are spun to a high twist to allow a low yarn count. A low yarn count means that the cloth is very open and breathable. Voile is a sheer cloth and is either doubled in front, like on Roger Moore’s dress shirt with his ivory dinner jacket in Octopussy, or used on a dress shirt along with a pique bib like on Daniel Craig’s dress shirt with his midnight blue dinner suit in Skyfall.

Zendaline is a similar yarn that, according to master shirtmaker Alexander Kabbaz, is woven of broadcloth yarns in the warp and high-twist voile yarns in the weft. Kabbaz says, “the resulting cloth, for many technical reasons, exhibits the best features of both yarns. Zendaline has an extremely high sheen reminiscent of the finest broadcloths, but retains the soft hand of the Voiles.” George Lazenby and Roger Moore’s shirtmaker Frank Foster is a proponent of zendaline and certainly would have made shirts for Roger Moore out of this cloth.

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Marnie: Sean Connery’s Taupe Herringbone Suit

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For Alfred Hitchcock’s 1964 film Marnie, costume designer James Linn came up with varied wardrobe or suits and sports coats for Sean Connery to wear. For a large portion of the film, Connery wears a taupe suit quite unlike anything he wears as James Bond. Though Connery wears a few brown suits as James Bond, Bond’s are all in dark shades of brown. This suit is in a medium shade of taupe, which is a grey-brown. The name for the colour comes from the French taupe, a noun for the mole animal. A mole is dark grey-brown, and the colour is named after it.

Connery’s taupe suit is a heavy worsted wool woven in a herringbone weave with a white pinstripe bordering each repeat of the herringbone. This suit is what might be called a “town and country” suit, being neither completely a town suit nor a country suit. It is made in a worsted cloth, which is typically worn in town, and it has the details of a town suit, such as a vent-less rear and straight pockets. But taupe’s marginally warm tone brings it into the country. Since taupe is between grey and brown, it makes the transition nicely. Formality-wise, a taupe suit also fits between grey and brown.

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Taupe can be considered a neutral colour, but it has a slight warmth that is most flattering on people with a warm complexion. Sean Connery has a cool complexion and looks better in cooler greys than he does in a warmer taupe. However, Connery looks much better in taupe than he does in warmer and richer country browns. Taupe’s warmth reflects the country’s surroundings but is neutral enough to still look good on someone with a cool complexion. It is therefore an excellent compromise in the country for someone with a cool complexion. Likewise, it can also be a good compromise in the city for someone with a warm complexion because it is neutral enough to fit in amongst the greys of the city.

This suit is made in the same style as all of Connery’s other suits in Marnie, and the cuts of both the jacket and the trousers suggests an English tailor. The jacket is cut with a full chest and a gently suppressed waist. The shoulders are on the natural shoulder line with more padding than his suits in the Bond films have, and the shoulders have roped sleeve heads. The jacket buttons three with the lapels gently rolled over the top button, and it is detailed with flap pockets, three buttons on the cuffs and no vent. Connery briefly rides a horse in this suit, and the lack of vent does not make the task impossible. A vent, however, would likely have made Connery more comfortable on the horse.

Connery is bent forward, causing rumples at the waist

Connery is bent forward, causing rumples at the waist

The suit’s trousers have double forward pleats, a tapered leg with turn-ups, an extended waistband closure and button side tabs to adjust the waist. Instead of the tabs extending forward as they ordinarily do (like on Connery’s Bond suit trousers), these tabs extend rearward.

The cream shirt has a spread collar, front placket and single-button rounded barrel cuffs. The shirts resemble Frank Foster’s shirts, with a familiar collar shape and a placket stitched close to the center. Connery’s narrow tie is solid dark brown in a shiny satin weave, and it is tied in a windsor knot. The tie is held to his placket with a tie bar at the height of the jacket’s top button so it is just barely seen when the jacket is closed at the middle button. Connery’s shoes are medium brown derbys with an elongated and slightly squared toe. The shoes likely have double leather soles for extra durability in the country.

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James Bond and the Gauntlet (Turnback) Cuff

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Gauntlet Cuffs on Sean Connery’s dinner jacket in Dr. No

Before we are introduced to James Bond’s face in Dr. No, we first see his dinner jacket’s satin silk gauntlet cuffs. The gauntlet cuff, also known as a turnback cuff, is a turned back cuff at the end of the sleeve that extends approximately to the first button. It’s a subtle Edwardian detail that saw a resurgence in popularity in the 1950s and 1960s. The cuff is mostly decorative, but it can add unique character to one’s dinner jacket, suit jacket, odd jacket or overcoat.

There’s almost no restriction on what type of jacket or coat can have a gauntlet cuff. Some say it’s a sporty detail and should only be worn on sports coats and sporty suits. These people may prefer them on heavier cloths like tweeds and flannels because a heavier cloth gives the cuff more relief from the sleeve. Others only favour them on dinner jackets because the dinner jacket descended from the cuff-adorned smoking jacket or they may think the gauntlet cuff is too flashy to be on anything else. A gauntlet cuff can be appropriate on almost any jacket or coat, whether it’s light or heavy, whether it’s formal or informal, or whether it’s single-breasted or double-breasted. Tailcoats and frock coats historically have taken gauntlet cuffs, but the cuffs on those were made in a different style from the cuffs that Bond wears.

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Gauntlet Cuffs on Daniel Craig’s’s dinner jacket in Quantum of Solace

James Bond creator Ian Fleming was a fan of gauntlet cuffs and often wore them on his jackets, from double-breasted suit jackets to country tweed jackets. He dressed a number of his characters in his James Bond stories in suit jackets with gauntlet cuffs, including Sir Hugo Drax in Moonraker, Wing Commander Rattray in “From a View to a Kill” and Dr. Fanshawe in “The Property of a Lady”, for whose dress he describes as “neo-Edwardian fashion”. Fleming uses the terms “turnback cuffs”, “turned-back cuffs” and “turned-up cuffs”, respectively.  Fleming also specified “two new suits with cuffs” for James Bond to wear disguised as Sir Hillary Bray in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service. Cuffs in this case still likely mean gauntlet cuffs, since a British person would probably not refer to trouser turn-ups as “cuffs” like an American would. Fleming never specified gauntlet cuffs on Bond’s own clothes, and the literary Bond would probably not have worn gauntlet cuffs considering the minimalist tendencies Fleming gave him.

In the films, James Bond has mostly worn gauntlet cuffs on his dinner jackets. Sean Connery’s midnight blue Anthony Sinclair dinner jacket in Dr. No and his similar dinner jacket in From Russia with Love have midnight blue satin silk gauntlet cuffs with four buttons. Roger Moore wears an off-white silk dinner jacket made by Cyril Castle with single-button self gauntlet cuffs in The Man with the Golden Gun. Daniel Craig brought back the gauntlet cuff on his Tom Ford midnight blue dinner jacket in Quantum of Solace, and this time the cuffs are are half gauntlet cuffs (more on this below) in black satin silk with five buttons. Though this dinner jacket was an homage to the original Dr. No dinner jacket, Tom Ford is a fan of gauntlet cuffs and has them on many of the dinner jackets in his line. Bond’s only piece with gauntlet cuffs that isn’t a dinner jacket is the Roger Moore’s double-breasted chesterfield in Live and Let Die, also made by Cyril Castle. The cuffs on the chesterfield fasten with one button. David Niven wears gauntlet cuffs as Sir James Bond in the 1967 Casino Royale film, for which his clothes were made by Ian Fleming’s tailor Benson, Perry & Whitley.

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Gauntlet Cuffs on Roger Moore’s dinner jacket in The Man with the Golden Gun

Cyril Castle made many jackets for Roger Moore with gauntlet cuffs before he was Bond, as Castle was Moore’s tailor for The Saint and The Persuaders television series. Most of Moore’s suit jackets and sports coats in the colour series of The Saint have gauntlet cuffs with a single button whilst the dinner jackets usually have gauntlet cuffs with three buttons. In The Persuaders, Roger Moore wears a striped double-breasted blazer with single-button gauntlet cuffs.

There are a number of different styles of gauntlet cuffs, including some that the buttons go through. Gauntlet cuffs are typically a separate piece laid on to the end of an ordinary sleeve, which is obvious in the case of silk cuffs on a dinner jacket. When in the same cloth as the rest of the jacket, they are still typically made from a separate piece and not just folded back. It’s not impossible to have a cuff that is folded back, but if there’s a pattern it will not match. There are other types of cuffs on a jacket or coat, but James Bond only wears the kind that are laid on separately. Gauntlet cuffs work best on narrow sleeves, whereas on wide sleeves they may look or feel too heavy.

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Gauntlet Cuffs on Roger Moore’s double-breasted chesterfield coat in Live and Let Die

All of Bond’s gauntlet cuffs have an elegant curved shape—they all curve out of the way of the first cuff button—but there are slight differences in the way the cuffs are styled. Connery’s cuffs starts at the corners of the cuff’s opening and look the most integrated with the sleeve of all of Bond’s cuff designs. Moore’s cuffs start in from the corner to line up with the center of the button, so the corner of the sleeve opening can be tucked under the opposite end of the gauntlet cuff (Moore leaves the corner of the sleeve untucked). These cuffs, however, look less integrated with the sleeve than Connery’s do. Craig’s cuffs are only half gauntlet cuffs, in which the cuffs wrap around only the outside of the arm. They end at and are sewn into the seam at the front of the arm. The inside of the arm isn’t seen much, but this kind of cuff seems like a shortcut when compared to a full gauntlet cuff.

Comparing the cuffs: Anthony Sinclair, left; Cyril Castle, middle; Tom Ford, right

Comparing the cuffs: Anthony Sinclair, left; Cyril Castle, middle; Tom Ford, right

Though gauntlet cuffs are mostly decorative, they have one practical purpose: they protect the end of the sleeve. When worn out, the gauntlet cuff can be removed to reveal an unworn sleeve edge under the cuff. When made in contrasting silk on a dinner jacket, the cuff can be replaced. Half gauntlet cuffs, however, do not protect the full edge of the sleeve and are even more decorative than the full gauntlet cuff. All this said, the protective advantage to gauntlet cuffs is only beneficial on overcoats. The ends of the sleeves on dinner jackets, suit jackets and sports coats should not wear out because one’s shirt sleeves should be a little longer than one’s jacket sleeves to protect the jacket sleeves.

How James Bond Looks Masculine and Sophisticated in His Suits

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Nobody else combines masculinity and sophistication in the way that James Bond does. The masculinity comes from looking as much like the ideal man from the western perspective. This ideal man’s body is lean, strong and overall athletic. it is tall with broad shoulders, a muscular chest and small waist. The ideal man’s torso has a V-shape, which is masculine because it’s not a common shape for women to have. The sophistication comes from a well-tailored suit. A well-tailored suit can give man a more masculine shape, can show off a masculine figure or can downplay a masculine figure. All three of these aspects of tailoring can be desirable, depending on the body type one has. This article focuses on the suits that Bond wears that best deal with a masculine but elegant silhouette.

Sean Connery’s Anthony Sinclair suits emphasise his masculine physique whilst downplaying some aspects of it. Connery doesn’t need much help in the shoulders, and his jackets have soft shoulders that follow his shoulder line but have a little structure to smooth out the shoulders to give them more elegant lines. The chest has a full, swelled shape to build on the strength in the chest. There are two buttons on the front of the jacket in a low stance to create a deep “V” on the front of the jacket to highlight Connery’s masculine shape.

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Because Sean Connery had a very athletic physique, Anthony Sinclair decided to soften it by not making the waist as suppressed as he normally would. A tightly suppressed wasp waist in the normal Savile Row fashion with Sean Connery’s fabled 13-inch drop would look neither elegant nor manly. The waist on Connery’s jackets is still very shaped, but it’s not tight. Too much waist suppression can make one look feminine, and stressing an overly athletic physique detracts from the elegance of a suit by making someone look too much like a body builder.

I find that Sean Connery’s narrow lapels in the 1960s also help drawn attention to his large chest. Narrow lapels make the chest look wider by showing more expanse of chest. Connery’s considerably wider lapels in Diamonds Are Forever cover two-thirds of his chest, giving him a visually narrower chest.

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For the slighter Bonds Timothy Dalton and Pierce Brosnan, large shoulders on their jackets give them a stronger look. If they wore suits with natural shoulders they wouldn’t have the necessary imposing look that an action hero needs. The shoulders on many of Dalton’s suit jackets, however, were too strong and draw too much attention to themselves. Brosnan’s Brioni suits, however, gave him a more natural look that was still built-up. Additionally, the two buttons in a low stance on Dalton’s suits, like on Connery’s, give him a more athletic look by drawing attention to the chest.

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Daniel Craig takes a different approach to looking masculine and strong in his suits. Whilst Connery’s suits work with his body, Daniel Craig’s suits in Skyfall fight against his body. They have the goal to make him look like he worked out so much that his muscles are bursting out of his suit. He wears suits meant for someone with a 38-inch chest and more likely has a chest around 40 inches. Narrow shoulders on the jackets allow Craig’s deltoids to push the sleeves out a little. A too-small chest splays open to give the impression Craig’s chest muscles are bigger. Ripples at the waist further the impression that Craig is turning into the Hulk. Unlike Connery’s method of looking stronger, Craig’s method is devoid of elegance and sophistication. Clean lines, not ripples, are a mark of refinement.

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Craig’s method also does not achieve its goal to make him look more muscular. Suits—particularly Tom Ford’s—are very structured and can’t stretch like a t-shirt or jumper to show off the form of his muscles. Knitted, not woven, garments are best used to show off one’s body. A suit that is too small ripples and pulls the same way whether one is too muscular or too fat for it. And putting Craig in a suit that is too small for him has the effect of making him look smaller, not bigger. This method would work better with someone who is genuinely more imposing with a chest much larger than Craig’s 40 inches. Narrow shoulders downplay his breadth and the V-shape of his torso. The short jacket length makes his torso look smaller overall. The positive effect of a short jacket length, however, is that it makes Craig look taller in wide shots by extending the perceived length of his legs. That’s the one way his suits in Skyfall make him look more masculine. However, the lower rise on his trousers partially negates the height benefits of the shorter jackets by shortening his lower half. The suits in Spectre mostly have the same problems but to a lesser extent than in Skyfall. The shoulders in Spectre are wider in comparison to Craig’s body and allow the sleeves to hang more elegantly.

Like on Connery’s 1960s suits, most of Daniel Craig’s suits in Skyfall and Spectre have narrow notched lapels that make Craig’s chest look larger. But one of Craig’s suits in Spectre has wide peaked lapels: the black herringbone Tom Ford “Windsor” suit. These wide peaked lapels have a different effect from wide notched lapels. Peaked lapels point up and out, extending the width of the chest and shoulders. The belly of the lapels added perceived depth to the chest. Wide notched lapels with a higher and more horizontal gorge, as well as some belly, can counter the narrowing effect of wide lapels.

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Though the right tailoring can make a man look more masculine or more sophisticated, clothes can not add the attitude, charisma and personality needed to truly be like James Bond.

James Bond’s Odd Jackets and Sports Coats

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Daniel Craig in an unstructured jacket from Brunello Cucinelli in Spectre

The odd jacket finally retuned to the James Bond series in Spectre after a twenty year absence. Bond has worn many odd jackets, sports coats and blazers throughout the series, but why does Bond wear odd jackets sometimes rather than suits?

What is an odd jacket? It’s a tailored jacket that is not part of a suit, simply meaning that it does not have matching trousers. A sports coat or sports jacket is an odd jacket that is worn for participation in sports—such hunting or riding—or worn for watching sports. Most sports coats aren’t made for these sports today, but they descend from this pedigree. The blazer is a specific type of sports coat, though this article will focus on non-blazer odd jackets.

Hacking Jacket

Sean Connery in a barleycorn tweed hacking jacket in Goldfinger

Why do some jackets work on their own whilst others must always be part of a suit? It all comes down to the cloth. Formal and business-like cloths do not make effective odd jackets because odd jackets are simply not all that formal or business-like. This leaves out most worsted and smooth cloths. If it is worsted, it needs to have a large pattern or a heavy texture. Practically any tweed, cashmere, linen, cotton or silk can make a great odd jacket, so long as it doesn’t have pinstripes or chalk stripes. Pinstripes and chalk stripes are businesslike and thus do not work well for odd jackets, which are inherently unbusinesslike.

There is no difference between the cut of a suit jacket and the cut of an odd jacket. Some people prefer a softer construction for their odd jackets and more structure for their suit jackets, but it is not a rule by any means. The way one’s jacket fits and is cut is largely personal preference, but that’s the same whether the jacket is part of a suit or stands on its own. Any odd jacket can be a part of a suit if it has matching trousers. Such a suit would end up being an informal or sporty suit rather than a business suit.

A sports suit, where a sports coat has matching trousers

A sports suit in Moonraker, where a sports coat has matching trousers

For example, Roger Moore’s brown tweed suit in Moonraker that he wears for hunting with Drax is a sports suit. The jacket could easily stand on its own as a sports coat. The donegal tweed cloth is what allows this. The hacking pockets and flapped breast pocket add to the sportiness of the jacket. But even if it were detailed with straight pockets and an ordinary welt breast pocket, it could still work just as well on its own.

Sports coats are often tweed, which is historically worn for country sports. James Bond has worn numerous tweeds, often subtly patterned or plain. Sean Connery’s brown barleycorn jacket in Goldfinger and Thunderball and Roger Moore’s brown broken twill jacket in A View to a Kill are similar subtly patterned tweeds. Sean Connery wears two tweed jackets in Diamonds Are Forever with sporty Nofolk-jacket-inspired details. In A View to a Kill, Moore also wears a plain grey twill tweed jacket. George Lazenby wears a houndstooth tweed hacking jacket in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service for equestrian sports. Though many of these jackets have sporty hacking pockets, casual patch pockets or horn buttons, it is purely the cloth that makes these proper sports coats. Bond’s last tweed jacket was Timothy Dalton’s gun club check jacket in The Living Daylights.

Houndstooth-Sports-Coat-3

George Lazenby in a houndstooth check hacking jacket in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service

Bond has worn a number of warm-weather odd jackets in addition to the traditional tweeds. In Live and Let Die he wears a tan basketweave jacket whilst in New Orleans. The texture of this jacket, both in the hopsack weave and the possibly linen or silk content, makes it a great odd jacket. In The Man with the Golden Gun, Moore wears a sports coat with a large check that is inspired by traditional tweed checks. This is instead made in a light, open, plain-weave cloth appropriate for the hot South Asian weather. In The Spy Who Loved Me, Moore wears a cotton sports coat with safari-jacket details in Egypt. In Spectre, Daniel Craig wears an unstructured brown wool, linen and silk blend jacket in Morocco.

The-Spy-Who-Loved-Me-Safari-Sports-Coat

Roger Moore in a tan cotton safari-inspired sports coat in The Spy Who Loved Me

Though the right cloth is the key to a proper odd jacket, the details can make an odd jacket special. A true sports coat should have sporty details, such as slanted hacking pockets, patch pockets, bellows pockets, deep vents, a half belt, a throat latch or swelled edges.

Buttons should complement the cloth of the jacket. Tweed jackets should have rustic horn, bone, wood or leather buttons. Lightweight odd jackets should have mother-of-pearl or corozo buttons. Smooth, plain buttons, however, are rarely a good choice on any sports coat. However, changing the buttons on a dressy suit jacket will not make it into a sports coat. Changing the buttons only works on a solid navy jacket, when it can be turned into a blazer.

A-View-to-a-Kill-Grey-Tweed-Jacket

Roger Moore in a grey tweed jacket in A View to a Kill

James Bond wears sports coats when he is not in a formal setting or a business setting but still needs to dress like a sophisticated gentleman. He wears them for social occasions during the day and never at night. Today, sports coats can be worn in less formal business settings and for most social occasions at any time of day, though darker sports coats are better to wear at night. Odd jackets have recently seen a surge in popularity because they allow people to dress up in today’s casual society without worrying people that they will be too dressed up.

Odd jackets can more easily be dressed up or down than a suit can. Most odd jackets need a less formal shirt and tie than a suit needs. Bond usually dresses up his sports coats and often wears the same shirts with his odd jackets that he wears with his suits. These shirts are usually poplin, but Bond sometimes wears less formal shirts like oxford with a tweed jacket or chambray with a cotton jacket. Bond’s shirts have spread or point collars, though many Americans prefer a button-down collar with their sports coats. Bond’s shirts almost always have button cuffs, cocktail cuffs or tab cuffs, though Bond shows in Goldfinger that double cuffs can be appropriate with a more structured odd jacket.

The-Living-Daylights-Gun-Club-Check-Jacket

Timothy Dalton in a gun club check jacket in The Living Daylights

Bond’s ties with his sports coats are often the same as the ties he wears with his suits, but some tend to the less formal side. Bond wears many knitted ties—silk or wool—with his sports coats, which is where knitted ties work best.

Bond sometimes dresses down his odd jackets. In On Her Majesty’s Secret Service Bond wears a shirt with a stock collar and a cravat for an old-fashioned look with his tweed jacket. In Diamonds Are Forever he wears polo and polo neck jumpers with his tweeds. In Octopussy he wears a yellow dickey under his tweed jacket. Bond never dresses down his sports coats by wearing a shirt without a tie, though it is more acceptable to wear an open-neck shirt with a sports coat than it is with a business suit.

Diamonds-Are-Forever-Herringbone-Tweed-Half-Norfolk-Jacket

Sean Connery dresses down his tweed jacket in Diamonds Are Forever with a polo jumper

The trousers should always match the weight of the jacket. With tweed jackets, Bond wears flannel and cavalry twill wool trousers. With lightweight jackets, he wears trousers in tropical wool, gabardine wool or cotton. Cotton trousers can work with odd jackets if the jacket is less structured. This would be corduroy and moleskin for heavier jackets and gabardine and chino for lightweight jackets. The more contrast between the jacket and trousers the less formal the outfit is. However, there needs to be at least enough contrast to easily tell that jacket and trousers are not mismatched suit. Jackets with bolder patterns do not need as much contrast with the trousers.

Shoe choices with odd jackets is more varied than it is with suits. Whilst oxfords are the best choice with suits, derby shoes, slip-ons and boots can all be excellent choices with odd jackets. Bond often takes out his suede shoes and boots to wear with his odd jackets.

Navy Blazers: More Than Navy Suit Jackets with Metal Buttons

Dr-No-Blazer

What is or isn’t a blazer? By one definition, a blazer is a tailored jacket in navy—or less traditionally in other solid colours—with metal buttons. By another definition it’s a tailored jacket with thick, bright stripes, and it may or may not have metal buttons. Only the first type of blazer is relevant to James Bond. “Blazer” is neither another term for a tailored odd jacket nor a suit jacket, though the term has increasingly been used as such since traditional blazers have because less popular. Bond’s blazers are always blue, from the almost black Royal Navy uniform shade to a bright marine blue.

Single-breasted or double-breasted

Blazers can be either single-breasted or double-breasted. All of James Bond’s single-breasted blazers have two buttons and double vents. Sean Connery wears three similar single-breasted blazers in Dr. No, Thunderball and Diamonds Are Forever. Roger Moore wears two similar single-breasted blazers in The Spy Who Loved Me and Moonraker and another in single-breasted blazer in A View to a Kill.

Lazenby-Blazer

Bond’s double-breasted blazers all have six buttons. Some of Bond’s double-breasted blazers have two to button in the traditional configuration with the top row placed further apart. Other blazers have three to button like a naval reefer jacket, which makes the jacket look rather columnar and give it a higher buttoning point. However, this style looks appropriate for a naval commander. The double-breasted blazers all have double vents like the single-breasted blazers have. George Lazenby wears a double-breasted blazer in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, Roger Moore wears double-breasted blazers in The Man with the Golden Gun, Moonraker and For Your Eyes Only and Pierce Brosnan wears a double-breasted blazer in GoldenEye, which has the last appearance of the blazer in the Bond series.

The cloth

Blazers can be made in a variety of different cloths. The most common cloth for a blazer is wool serge. Serge is worsted wool in an even twill weave with a 45° wale. Heavier serge with more defined twill wales looks better as a blazer. Serge is one of the most common materials for a suit, but in navy it can be a great choice for a jacket on it’s own. Serge blazers are the most formal type of blazers due to the cloth being the same as what is often used for a business suits and military uniforms. Plain-weave worsteds are not as good of a choice for a blazer. George Lazenby’s blazer in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, Roger Moore’s blazer in For Your Eyes Only, and Pierce Brosnan’s blazer in GoldenEye are likely made of serge.

The-Spy-Who-Loved-Me-Navy-Blazer

Hopsack wool is a worsted commonly used for warm-weather blazers. Hopsack is a basketweave and is open and very breathable. Roger Moore’s double-breasted blazer in The Man with the Golden Gun and single-breasted blazers in The Spy Who Loved MeMoonraker and A View to a Kill are hopsack.

Doeskin makes for the ideal cool-weather blazer. It’s a densely napped flannel woolen with a sheen, not the skin from a deer. It is woven in an even twill weave like serge, but the weave is traditionally not visible through the nap. Sean Connery’s three blazers in Dr. No, Thunderball and Diamonds Are Forever appear to be doeskin, even though he wears two of them in tropical locales. Roger Moore’s double-breasted blazer in Moonraker also appears to be doeskin.

Diamonds-Are-Forever-Blazer

Other cloths can make excellent blazers. A soft, thick cashmere is excellent in cold weather whilst silk and linen are exceptional in warmer weather.

The buttons

Some follow the definition that a blazer must have metal buttons to be a blazer. Metal buttons reflect the maritime heritage of the garment. All of James Bond’s blazers have metal buttons, whether brass (polished or unpolished), polished nickel or gunmetal. Pewter buttons are a subtler alternative to brighter metals. At the moment, blazers with metal buttons are unfashionable. Some think they are for old men, some think they are for preps, and others think they are for security guards. The classic metal buttons have solid blank with a shank (metal loop) that sews onto the jacket. Crests should only be worn on the buttons if the crest has a personal significance. Naval motifs on the buttons are common, and Bond wears shanked buttons with such a motif in GoldenEye. Many of Bond’s shanked buttons are simply plain metal.

GoldenEye-Blazer-Buttons

In The Spy Who Loved Me and Moonraker, the buttons are metal (nickel on the single-breasted blazers and brass on the double-breasted blazer) with four holes, and the buttons are sewn on with a contrasting navy thread. These buttons have a more modern look than shanked buttons, but they keep the blazer tradition by sticking with metal. Enamel buttons in a metal case are another classic choice for a blazer, but Bond has not worn these.

I believe that buttons other than metal buttons can be used on navy jackets, though whether or not the jackets still qualify as “blazers” is debatable. These buttons need to be different from suit jacket buttons, so that excludes navy or black buttons in plastic or corozo. Horn buttons in any medium to light shades of brown work. Unpolished horn gives the jacket a less assuming look whilst polished horn whilst polished horn, particularly in light shades, can give a shiny gold effect closer to traditional blazer buttons. Smoke mother-of-pearl buttons are great on navy odd jackets and give a blazer look without the metal buttons. Smoke mother-of-pearl buttons are silvery, shiny and almost look like metal, but their variegation makes them more interesting. For lighter-weight jackets in hopsack or linen, blue or white mother-of-pearl buttons are an excellent choice as well, whilst darker horn buttons may look too heavy. For doeskin and cashmere jackets, wood buttons can give the jackets are more rustic look.

Whether or not a navy jacket with non-metal buttons is technically a “blazer”, it can still be a wonderful odd jacket. If the navy odd jacket were to return to the Bond series, this is the form I could see it returning in rather than as a traditional blazer.

The details

Blazers are cut and fit the same as suit jackets. Some people prefer a looser fit for their blazers, sometimes so they can wear a jumper underneath, but there’s no rule that says a blazer should but cut differently than a suit jacket should. All of James Bond’s blazers are structured, cut and fit exactly the same as the suit jackets he wears within the same films as the respective blazers. Most of James Bond’s blazers have details that make them more than ordinary suit jackets with metal buttons. The blazers in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, Diamonds Are Forever and Moonraker have swelled edges for a sportier look. All of Bond’s blazers have double vents to follow British tradition, though blazers in the American have single vents. The double vents are key to wearing a blazer like Bond.

Bond wears a navy blazer on his date with Miss Taro

Bond wears a navy blazer on his date with Miss Taro

The pockets on Bond’s blazers are rarely ordinary straight, flapped pockets, though that is what the single-breasted blazer in A View to a Kill and the double-breasted blazers in For Your Eyes Only and GoldenEye have. All three of Sean Connery’s blazers have open patch pockets for not only the hip pockets but for the breast pocket as well. Patch pockets are the most casual type of jacket pocket and are never found on business suits. Roger Moore’s double-breasted blazer in Moonraker has patch pockets on the hips with flaps. The breast pocket on these blazers is an ordinary welt breast pocket since an open patch breast pocket wouldn’t match the flapped hip pockets, and a flapped patch breast pocket would look rather heavy on the chest.

Moore-Double-Breasted-Blazer-3

Many of Bond’s blazers have slanted “hacking” pockets, which are taken from the double-breasted military greatcoat rather than from the hacking jacket in the case of the blazer. Some of Bond’s blazers with slanted pockets also have ticket pockets.

When and where to wear a blazer

The navy blazer has proven to be one of the most versatile garments. In some parts of America, blazers are appropriate business dress, but they are essentially a type of sports coat and are best worn socially. Bond mostly wears his blazers socially, and he only wears a blazer to the office in Thunderball because he’s hurrying in from the country. Blazers are the most formal of all sports coats due to being a solid, dark colour. A blazer isn’t all that far off from being a navy suit jacket, which is what allows it to be worn in dressier settings. Like a navy suit, the navy blazer is great both during the day and in the evening.

For-Your-Eyes-Only-Blazer

Blazers have a maritime heritage and are always appropriate by the water. Bond wears blazers on tropical islands in Dr. No and Thunderball, aboard the RMS Queen Elizabeth sunken in Victoria Harbour in The Man with the Golden Gun, and in the Mediterranean in The Spy Who Loved Me, For Your Eyes Only and GoldenEye.

Blazers do not need to be worn near water. For social occasions in the city they don’t stick out too much amongst the suits. In the country they’re perfect for drinks at the country club.

What to wear with a blazer

James Bond has worn many different colours in his trouser with his blazers. The trousers worn with a blazer need to contrast the blazer to avoid looking like a mismatched suit, and thus navy, black and charcoal trousers do not pair well. Sean Connery pairs his blazers with dark grey trousers—a shade lighter than charcoal—to dress up the outfit as much as he can. The less contrast there is between the jacket and trousers the more formal the outfit is.

James Bond has worn medium grey, light grey, tan, beige, stone (light taupe) and white trousers with his blazers. Any shade of grey is a great choice for the city or a dressier look, particularly in the evening. Tan, beige and stone give the blazer a sportier and more casual look, and these colours are best worn in the daytime. White trousers, give the blazer a nautical look and should only be worn with a blazer on the water, where Bond wears his blazer with white trousers in The Man with the Golden Gun and The Spy Who Loved Me. Even when worn by the water, white trousers with a blazer can come off a costume-like. Cream and British tan are other great choices to wear that Bond has not worn with his blazers.

Navy hopsack blazer with beige cavalry twill trousers in Moonraker

Navy hopsack blazer with beige cavalry twill trousers in Moonraker

The trousers Bond wears with his blazers are always wool, in woolen flannel for greys and cavalry twill or gabardine for earth tones and white. Tropical and fresco wool, silk, linen and cotton gabardine are other great trouser materials to pair with a blazer, particularly hopsack and lighter serge blazers. Cotton chinos are acceptable with a hopsack blazer, but they should be pressed.

The options for shirts are ties to wear with a navy blazer are limitless. Bond usually wears similar shirts and ties that he would wear with a navy suit. Bond occasionally wears his blazers without a tie for a more casual look. The colour of the shoes should complement the trousers. Oxfords can dress up the outfit whilst slip-ons can dress down the outfit. The many different items that can be worn with a navy blazer to dress it up or down contribute to the incredible versatility of the garment.