Sins: Timothy Dalton in Black and White Dinner Jackets

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Happy birthday to Timothy Dalton!

Timothy Dalton’s last project released before he first starred as James Bond in The Living Daylights is the 1986 television serial Sins, which starred Joan Collins. Though the serial is heavily focused on the fashions Joan Collins wears (she had a record 85 costume changes in one production), it also features one of Timothy Dalton’s best-dressed roles (he set the bar low). Collins plays fashion mogul Helene Junot, and Dalton plays her brother and business partner Edmund Junot. Sins also features Bond series actors Stephen Berkoff, who plays General Orlov in Octopussy, and Giancarlo Giannini, who plays Mathis in Casino Royale and Quantum of Solace. Additionally, it has a theme song co-written and performed by Carly Simon, who performed the hit song “Nobody Does It Better” for The Spy Who Loved Me.

All of Timothy Dalton’s outfits in Sins are elegant, and he is expected to dress well as he is someone working in the fashion industry. He wears a number of three-piece suits, including a few double-breasted three-piece suits. Sins takes place from the mid 1940s through 1986 when the serial premiered, and Dalton is featured in scenes from 1959 onwards. All of Dalton’s clothes are practically timeless in style, which was inspired by the renaissance of classic menswear in the 1980s. However, the clothes are unlikely to be bespoke, but they have a slightly better fit than the tailored clothes Dalton wears in The Living Daylights. Apparently dressed as James Bond before he got the role, Dalton wears a black dinner suit and a white dinner jacket a year earlier in Sins. The poor quality of the DVD unfortunately makes it difficult to see all of the details of these outfits.

The start of the film takes place in the mid 1980s and has Dalton attending a black tie fashion magazine launch party in New York City wearing a black dinner suit. The classically styled single-button dinner jacket has classic satin-silk-faced, medium-width peaked lapels with belly and a medium gorge. The jacket is detailed with jetted pockets, three buttons on each cuff and a vent-less rear. The jacket’s shoulders are softly padded and have roped sleeve heads, and the button stance is low. The cut, however, is difficult to determine because Dalton unflatteringly always wears the jacket open. Dalton would look better with the jacket fastened, and the jacket would look better too. I hesitate to judge the fit when the jacket is worn this way, but the shoulders are an improvement over what Dalton wears in both of his Bond films.

If the trousers of other suits in Sins are any indication of the style of the dinner suit’s trousers, they have double forward pleats. They likely have a black satin stripe down the legs. The video is too dark and too poor in quality to see much of the trousers. The legs are slightly full and tapered, following mid-1980s fashion.

The white dress shirt that Dalton wears with his black dinner suit has a moderate spread collar, double cuffs and a hidden-button placket, which was very fashionable at the time. The shirt has a triple-self-stripe pattern, with the triple-stripes framing the placket like pleats. The bow tie at the party is a black satin model in a batwing shape, but another scene after the party in a continuity error shows him wearing a black satin butterfly bow tie (and without the grey hair colouring). Both bow tie styles are classic and go well with his dinner suit. He covers his waist with a black satin silk cummerbund.

Dalton wears a white gardenia on his left lapel, and it is pinned because the lapel does not have a buttonhole for the boutonnière to sit through. Unless one is opposed to wearing boutonnières, peaked and notched lapel dinner jackets should always be made with a buttonhole so the option to properly wear a boutonnière through the buttonhole (as Sean Connery does in Goldfinger and Diamonds Are Forever) is always there. The lapels of this dinner jacket look cleaner without the classic buttonhole, but such lapels sadly provide no place to house the boutonnière, which is now positioned too low on the lapel. The gardenia is also a little too large and overwhelms the outfit.

Later in the serial, at an 18th century-style masquerade ball in Venice in 1982, Timothy Dalton wears something he never wears as James Bond: an ivory dinner jacket. The button one dinner jacket has a shawl collar, which is often thought to be the quintessential lapel style for the ivory dinner jacket, but James Bond has only worn ivory dinner jackets with peaked or notched lapels.

This dinner jacket is made from a ribbed cloth, which was very trendy in the 1980s. It’s either wool, silk or a blend that includes wool or silk. The vertical ribs alternate between thick and thin, and the shawl collar is cut so the ribs are angled downwards towards the centre to accentuate the V-shape of the jacket’s opening.

The jacket is detailed with jetted pockets, three buttons on each cuff and a vent-less rear. The buttons are covered in an ivory-coloured material, most likely the same material that the jacket is made of. The jacket’s shoulders are softly padded and have roped sleeve heads, and the button stance is low. But the cut and fit are, again, difficult to determine because Dalton always wears the jacket open.

The black trousers are likely the same as the dinner suit trousers, but the video quality is, again, too poor to make out any details.

Dalton wears the same white triple-stripe dress shirt with the white dinner jacket. Since the dinner jacket also has a self-stripe pattern, the stripes on shirt clash with dinner jacket. A pleated front or even a completely plain front would have been a better choice for a shirt with this jacket. His bow tie with the ivory dinner jacket is a slim diamond batwing shape, very similar to what Sean Connery wears in Dr. No. He covers his waist with a black cummerbund.

The ball in Venice has a gold theme to celebrate the golden (50th) issue of an Italian fashion magazine. Dalton’s sole effort to match the ball’s gold theme is a gilt flower brooch pinned to his left lapel that acts like a boutonnière. It would be excessively flashy in any normal circumstances, but considering the flashy theme of the ball, Dalton’s dress overall is understated. It’s the classy way to dress for a gold-themed ball.

Both of Dalton’s black tie outfits in Sins take cues from the classic—the Bondian elements—as well as from 1980s fashions—like in the ribbed cloth of the ivory dinner jacket and the fly front of the dress shirt. One could guess that this wardrobe prepared him to be James Bond a year later, but at the time this was filmed, Roger Moore had not yet retired from James Bond. With some luck, Dalton was able to put on a dinner jacket again a year later as James Bond.

10 COMMENTS

  1. I’d say the fit through the waist would be gently suppressed at best being the 1980’s. It doesn’t seem very suppressed but as you said one doesn’t want to make that judgement when the jacket is worn open. The softly padded shoulders are the best part of the jackets, going right against the bulletproof padding of the era. Dalton does benefit from some padding through.

  2. The early-mid 80s ( 1981-1985) fashion was a return to classic style.
    Some feature as the mid-low gorge of the lapels can be considered unflattering,but in general before the coming of Armani’s and Armanesque’s crap was a great age for male fashion.
    I liked (and i like) the clean “Kent” double breasted model (4×2) and the widht of lapels and ties..very proportionate.
    That age was the last hurra of menswear.

    • Notch lapels on dinner jackets aren’t ideal, but they aren’t terrible. They are too ordinary for a dinner jacket, while peaked lapels and shawl collars make a dinner jacket the more special garment that it should be. James Bond’s notched lapel dinner jackets in Goldfinger and Octopussy are good examples of notched lapel dinner jackets and good occasions for them.

    • As Matt has pointed out many times before, Bond wears his dinner suits with as little pomp as possible, rarely a cumberbund or waistcoat, rarely a flower in the buttonhole. I guess the notched lapel is an extension of that, as casual as can be whilst still being dinner wear. I rather like it.

  3. I was under the impression that a notched lapel is worn when having a rather small party. Peak lapels are worn when attending a ball. Or am I wrong?

  4. I was pleasantly surprised when I saw these outfits. To think that a TV show had better dinner jackets for Dalton than a big-budget Bond film like Licence To Kill…
    I’m not too sure if I like the shawl-ivory dinner jacket that Dalton is wearing. Either the button stance is off (excessively low as I the trend was back then) or the rise is too high. I still think that peak lapels are the better lapel for ivory dinner jackets. The shirts (or rather the reused shirt) are all nice and very well detailed but is the batwing too thin?

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