In the Part 1 in this series on my midnight blue wool-and-mohair wedding dinner suit I described the process that led to me to getting this dinner suit for my wedding and the fabrics I chose for it. In part two I describe the cut and details of this dinner suit, how it relates to James Bond’s dinner suits and the detail that sets it apart from most other English bespoke suits made today. This dinner suit is my idea of perfection in a dinner suit—or at least one variation on it—as far as James Bond style and classic English style are concerned.
Only in a bespoke suit can one get a cut and style so close to the Anthony Sinclair original. Bespoke suits are made with better techniques than almost all ready-to-wear and made-to-measure suits. The jacket’s shoulders are constructed like Connery’s jacket shoulders were: very light with little wadding and with roped sleeve heads. Despite this light shoulder construction, the canvas gives the shoulders a strong expression. The whole jacket feels light but firm and is true to the feel of Connery’s suits. The chest of my jacket is cut a bit leaner than Connery’s was for an updated look, and the waist is closely fitted but not tight. As I am much shorter and leaner than Sean Connery was when he was James Bond, I cannot expect to look exactly the same as Sean Connery did.
The fit of this suit will improve over time as the well-made canvas in a bespoke suit conforms to the body over the course of a few wears. This photoshoot is only my second time wearing the dinner suit.
What is most unusual about this jacket is that it is cut with the front dart extended through the hip pocket to the hem of the jacket, the same way that Anthony Sinclair cut Sean Connery’s James Bond suit jackets in the 1960s and 1970s. Dimi Major cut George Lazenby’s Bond suits this way and Cyril Castle cut Roger Moore’s Bond suits this way. Though this was common for English tailors at one time, they have since moved away from this method of cutting in favour of cutting a sidebody, though a number of tailors in Naples, Italy still cut suits using this older method.
The extended front dart achieves a slightly different shape at the skirt of the jacket than the more common sidebody method used today. Mason & Sons has started using this older method of cutting again with their Anthony Sinclair bespoke suits to stay true to look of the original Anthony Sinclair suits. Their customers have been requesting this method of cutting—an unorthodox request—to get more accurate copies of the old James Bond suits, and my dinner suit is the first that they have cut in this method after much development.
This dinner jacket is the traditional single-breasted style with one button on the front. Instead of the classic Connery shawl collar from Dr. No and other films, or the notched lapels that he wears on two dinner suits, I opted for peaked lapels covered in midnight blue satin silk on this dinner jacket. Connery only wore peaked lapels in his Bond films on his ivory dinner jackets, but I prefer the look of peaked lapels instead of a shawl collar with my rather boxy head. It’s still a Bond look on a dinner suit, but more of a Lazenby and Brosnan look than a Connery look. I also wanted peaked lapels so I could have a lapel buttonhole to wear a boutonniere for my wedding. I think that buttonholes are a bit awkward on a shawl collar, though I’m not entirely against it. I don’t like pinning boutonnieres to the outside of a lapel, so getting peaked lapels with a buttonhole was the best solution. There is a flower loop sewn behind the jacket’s lapel so a flower stem can stay in place without a pin. The lapels are 3 1/2 inches wide and are cut with a little belly, and they have a very pronounced roll up from the low-positioned single front button.
I especially like the elegantly curved shape of the jacket’s front cutaway below the button, compared to the slightly straighter way Anthony Sinclair cut his. It reminds me of the curved cutaway on George Lazenby’s dinner jacket in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, but my cutaway is slightly less curved than his was.
I chose 10-inch double vents for this dinner suit, which is a more modern option compared to the more traditional ventless style for a dinner jacket. English tailors have been making dinner jackets with double vents since the middle of the 20th Century, and Sean Connery’s dinner jacket in Dr. No has double vents, so there is a precedent for them on a dinner jacket. I prefer the way they drape compared to a ventless skirt, and I find them more comfortable. As I will be spending much time wearing this dinner suit to operas, double vents are better for sitting and help prevent wrinkling in the skirt.
The jacket is detailed in the traditional manner for an English dinner jacket, with straight double-jetted pockets, self-faced in the body’s material and not in the lapels’ silk. The buttons are covered in midnight blue satin silk to match the lapels, with one on the front and four on each cuff. The sleeves are finished with rounded gauntlet cuffs in midnight blue satin silk, a feature that Mason & Sons only do with bespoke. The gauntlet cuffs wrap completely around the jacket’s sleeves, unlike the half-gauntlet cuffs that Tom Ford and other tailors do. This is the most traditional way to make a gauntlet cuff, and it looks great from any angle.
The trousers have a high rise and double forward pleats just like Sean Connery’s had, but when wearing the jacket the high rise and pleats are hidden and the trousers have a very modern look. The legs are trim but very comfortable, with a fairly straight leg that ends in a 16-inch hem. These trousers show that double pleats, and fairly deep pleats at that, are not incongruous with trim trousers. The pleats and the crease down the legs are sharper than on any other trousers I have due to the crispness of mohair and its ability to take a good crease.
The waistband, made in the material of the body and not faced in satin silk, has a square extension and a hidden hook and bar closure. There are “Daks tops”-style button-tab side-adjusters with three buttons on each side and elastic through the back of the waistband. There is a button-through single-jetted pocket in the back on the right. The hems are angled to be much lower in back to get maximum shoe coverage with little break. The trousers are lined in front to the knee.
The only thing that didn’t turn out how I wanted was the buttons on the trousers. I wanted smoke mother-of-pearl buttons (something English tailors commonly use on trousers) and I got beautiful black horn buttons instead. Considering that the trouser buttons are never even seen in polite company, I completely forgot to bring this up to David. Changing the buttons is very easy, but I don’t think it’s worth the trouble to change them as there is nothing wrong with the buttons as they are. James Bond’s evening trousers in the 1960s had black buttons anyway and I am happy to keep them as they are.
The bespoke jacket has two labels inside the jacket. There is an “ANTHONY SINCLAIR MAYFAIR” label, which recalls Anthony Sinclair’s famous Conduit Street location rather than their current home at Mason & Sons in Marylebone. This label is sewn to the lining below the inner right breast pocket. The other label is inside the inner right breast pocket and has my name hand-written on it.
The plum-coloured lining seen here is a fun choice, especially with how different it looks depending on lighting.
What I Wore with It
For the wedding I wore this dinner suit with my pleated-bib white voile shirt from Frank Foster, which was perfect for the warm day and kept me very cool in combination with the mohair-blend suit. In these photos I am wearing a white herringbone shirt from Frank Foster that has a spread collar, a fly front and cocktail cuffs. The herringbone shirt is heavier and is better for cooler weather. Though some may find the combination of a shirt with cocktail cuffs and a jacket with gauntlet cuffs excessive, I like the symmetry of the combination. Roger Moore did the same with his dinner jacket in The Man with the Golden Gun.
The bow tie is black satin silk with diamond-point ends from Mason & Sons. It is not a perfect match with the midnight blue lapel facings, but it doesn’t need to be. Sean Connery, George Lazenby and Roger Moore all wore black bow ties when their dinner jackets had midnight blue facings. I am a fan of the pointed bow tie because it stands out from a more typical bow tie, but I also wore it at the request of my wife. The white linen pocket square is also from Mason & Sons.
I’m wearing the trousers with white moire braces from Albert Thurston. These are the same braces that Daniel Craig has worn with his dinner jackets in a few of the Bond films.
At the wedding I wore a white silk carnation boutonniere from Fort Belvedere. I wanted to wear a flower in my jacket’s buttonhole and I did not want to pin something to the outside of my lapel. I did not trust that a florist could prepare a fresh flower to wear through my buttonhole, so I thought the safest route would be to wear a silk flower. The quality of the flower is excellent and I bought others for the men in my family to wear at the wedding.
I am wearing black calf cap-toe oxfords from Brooks Brothers Peal & Co., made in England by Alfred Sargent. Though patent leather shoes are most traditional for black tie, calf leather shoes with a good shine are acceptable for black tie today. I bought these shoes over a decade ago, but since I wear them only for special occasions they were in good enough shape for my wedding. A few years ago I replaced the laces with flat laces to make the shoes look more formal. They take a good shine and look good with a dinner suit. Though plain-toe shoes are typically said to be best for black tie, patent leather cap toe oxfords were an historic option. I originally intended on wearing a new pair of plain-toe shoes, but it was a better choice to wear shoes that I knew would be comfortable.
Photos by Janna Levin Spaiser