A Guide to English Bespoke Suit Style

38

There is nothing else like an English bespoke suit. Ready-to-wear and made-to-measure suits from English brands may look similar at first glance but in reality they don’t come close. Bespoke suits from other parts of the world can fit just as well and may even be better constructed with more handwork, but there is a certain style and kind of taste that can only be found in an English bespoke suit. Some tailors and brands may be able to approximate it, but that is not close enough.

English bespoke style is a unique style of tailored clothing exclusive to tailors trained in England or the rest of Britain or by British tailors and has changed little over the past century. Some things like the amount of fullness in the suit has varied over time, with a lot of fullness being popular in the 1950s and early 1960s, and much less fullness being popular now. But the essence of clothes made by an English tailor has stayed consistent for a very long time, and this is something that nobody else can do in quite the same way. English tailors have their own secrets that they either have not shared with anyone else, or perhaps no other tailors care to or have the skills to copy what they do. Much of what makes an English bespoke suit special cannot be replicated in a factory-made suit or by tailors from other schools of tailoring.

Despite the popularity of Bond’s tailored style, tailors not trained in the English style are unable to replicate Bond’s suit styles accurately. Though this article will explain all the details of what makes English bespoke suits unique, because I am not a tailor I cannot explain how exactly to cut and tailor a suit with these details. I can only point them out in pictures and in the suits I can see and handle in my wardrobe.

James Bond has used four different English bespoke tailors throughout the film series: Sean Connery used Anthony Sinclair (Dr. No, From Russia with Love, Goldfinger, Thunderball, You Only Live Twice and Diamonds Are Forever), George Lazenby used Dimi Major (On Her Majesty’s Secret Service), and Roger Moore used Cyril Castle (Live and Let Die and The Man with the Golden Gun) and Douglas Hayward (For Your Eyes Only, Octopussy and A View to a Kill). These four tailors all have their own takes on English style but they still make suits that look unquestionably like English bespoke suits.

Schools of English Bespoke Tailoring

To have a basic understanding of English tailoring there are three well-known schools of English tailoring: military, equestrian and drape. Though Bond’s tailors do not fit into these three categories, these schools form the foundation for styles of English tailoring.

Ralph Fiennes’ bespoke suit in Skyfall from Timothy Everest follows the traditional military style of tailoring

The military style is the most quintessentially English tailoring style. Just a few examples of houses known as military tailors are Gieves & Hawkes, Dege & Skinner, Henry Poole, Davies & Son, Meyer & Mortimer, G.D. Golding and Samuel Brothers. The military style is known for being stiff with strong shoulders, but some of these tailors like Henry Poole and Davies & Son don’t tailor as strong shoulders as most other military tailors. The majority of English tailors follow the military style, even if they do not make military garments or have a direct military history. The Roman school of tailoring is inspired by the English military style.

Equestrian tailors, like H. Huntsman, Richard Anderson and Bernard Weatherhill, are known to cut a longer jacket but are otherwise very similar to the military tailors. Equestrian tailors are better-known for their single-breasted cuts than their double-breasted. They are also known for working with sportier cloths like tweeds, but all English tailors make country garments as well as city suits.

Roger Moore Suit-The Helpful Pirate
Cyril Castle cut this suit for Roger Moore in The Saint with drape cut

Drape tailors cut a suit that is much different from the military and equestrian cuts in that they aren’t as clean and trim. They have extended shoulders with extra fabric at the sides of the chest, which is known as “drape“. Drape tailors are known for cutting a softer suit than other English tailors, though they’re generally not as soft as Italian, French or American suits. Drape tailoring was created in England by Frederick Scholte, a Dutch tailor. Per Anderson, a Swede who founded Savile Row’s Anderson & Sheppard, learned from Scholte. Anderson & Sheppard is the best-known English drape tailoring house, while its disciples Steven Hitchcock and Steed are said to do a more authentic drape cut than Anderson & Sheppard does today. Roger Moore’s tailor Cyril Castle at times cut a lot of drape in his suits. Though this style was a departure from traditional English tailoring when it started and was first practised by tailors who were not even English, not before long it became one of the most popular styles of English tailoring. Many Americans have taken to this style of English tailoring more than the stiffer kinds as they prefer a softer suit. Tailors in Naples, Italy, like Rubinacci, are inspired by the English drape cut but have a very unique, softer and lighter take on the style.

The three schools of tailoring have all become more similar over time. Because stiff and heavy tailoring is not particularly popular at the moment, the military tailors make lighter garments than they used to. And whilst the drape cut appeals to tailoring enthusiasts, most people today prefer a trimmer garment. The English schools of tailoring are all more similar to each other than different school of Italian tailoring are to each other. English cutters and tailors often move from one house to another, or they start off at a prominent house and break away to start their own.

Anthony Sinclair cut Sean Connery’s Bond suits in a middle-of-the-road manner, not adhering to any of the particular schools

Plenty of tailors don’t fit into any of these main categories. Some have a middle-of-the-road cut, like Kent Haste or James Bond tailors Anthony Sinclair, Dimi Major and Douglas Hayward. They don’t fit into any of the categories above but take inspiration from all of them. Bond tailor Cyril Castle has a unique and dramatic style all his own, though he took from different schools of English tailoring at different times and for different types of garments. There is an entire school of tailors who came to the forefront when they worked with fashion designer Tommy Nutter. These houses like Edward Sexton and Chittleborough & Morgan are known for a very exaggerated English style of tailoring, and one that inspired Tom Ford. In the middle of the 20th Century there were Mod tailors and Edwardian-inspired tailors in London who did their own things with English style. Some houses, like Maurice Sedwell, Mark Powell or Roger Moore’s tailor Cyril Castle, tailor unique designs or use unique details that set them apart, but most English tailors do not have a trademark that makes them immediately identifiable from their style. Yet they all have a house style and a method of cutting that they prefer.

The English Bespoke Cut

Despite there being different schools of tailoring and different silhouettes, English-tailored suits in general have a lot in common.

Dimi Major cut a very traditional English-style button three suit for George Lazenby

There are basic single-breasted and double-breasted styles that English tailors generally prefer to make. Single-breasted jackets have one, two or three buttons on the front. While button one jackets, in general, are uncommon for suits and sports coats and are mostly saved for more formal clothes, English bespoke tailors love to make them. Without other buttons for visual balance, the button one style is difficult to get right, though the best English tailors do not shy away from making them. Button two jackets are the most common today, though the button three style is a very traditional style amongst English tailors. Military and equestrian-style button three jackets have a lapel that rolls at the top button, while drape tailors may roll the lapel below the top button. Today it more common than before to see English tailors make the “three-roll-two” style because of popular demand, though it is not traditionally an English style. Lapel roll is usually pronounced with any type of button fastening due to a stiff canvas that can support a lot of roll.

Double-breasted jackets almost always have two buttons to fasten, usually with three to show (6×2). Sometimes English tailors forego the top row of show buttons (4×2). The Duke of Kent’s famous style with one button to fasten and two to show (4×1) was made by an English tailor but never caught on in popularity with the majority of English tailors beyond dinner jackets. Douglas Hayward is one of the few English tailors who made this his signature double-breasted style.

Cyril Castle cut this grey chalk stripe suit for Roger Moore in the traditional button two, show three configuration

Button stance varies, but most do a medium button stance today. This is where the waist button—the middle of three buttons or the top of two buttons—is visually centred on the jacket and hits the upper part of the body’s natural waist. Military tailors often do a higher button stance than other tailors. A medium button stance will look higher than it is if the jacket has a longer cut, which is typical of equestrian tailors. Some English tailors like a lower button stance, which was the case for Bond’s tailors Anthony Sinclair, Cyril Castle and, particularly, Douglas Hayward.

Douglas Hayward cut Roger Moore’s suits, here in For Your Eyes Only, with a very low button stance

English tailors cut a fuller chest than any other tailors. The drape tailors add fullness in the form of “drape”, which is folds of fabric on the sides. The tailors who make a stiffer suit often tailor a swelled chest with a lot of fullness without folds of fabric. Both draped and swelled chests are exclusive to bespoke tailors and cannot effectively be reproduced in a factory. Tom Ford, however, have a lot of chest shape in a factory-made suit, though nobody else does this. The shaped chest is a special part of English tailoring, though some tailors do not put as much fullness in the chest as they used to to create a more modern suit. Douglas Hayward often cut a leaner chest than other English tailors, which made his suits look a bit more continental.

Cyril Castle cut this jacket for Roger Moore with a swelled chest and a suppressed waist

Waist suppression is another key part of the English cut. Military and equestrian tailors are known for cutting a closely fitted waist, often creating a flared skirt in the process. Along with a full chest, the suppressed waist and flared skirt gives the English bespoke suit a dramatic look. Drape tailors don’t usually use as much waist suppression. Anthony Sinclair did not fit Sean Connery’s jackets closely to the waist in an effort to keep his silhouette more elegant rather than emphasise his muscular build.

The flared skirt is a quintessential part of the English suit, and it can be seen in George Lazenby’s Dimi Major suits and Roger Moore’s Cyril Castle suits. While most English tailors cut their skirts with some flare, Anthony Sinclair avoided the skirt flare in Sean Connery’s jackets, which the extended front darted helped accomplish. English tailors cut a skirt that fully covers the seat. As mentioned before, equestrian tailors often cut a longer jacket, which looks elegant when riding a horse and on taller men.

The older English bespoke way of cutting is highlighted in red on Sean Connery’s Anthony Sinclair suit from Dr. No

Jackets are most commonly cut with front darts ending at the pocket and cut with a side body. Sinclair, Major and Castle cut their jackets with the front dart extending to the hem and without a side body, which helped Sinclair achieve a shaped waist with less skirt flare. Some tailors may cut both the front dart and side dart ending at the pocket and no side body. On occasion tailors omit the front dart entirely for a large pattern, which is a style rarely done outside of American Ivy League style.

Though English style is thought to have straight shoulders, the type of shoulder line varies considerably amongst tailors. Some military and equestrian tailors use a fair amount of shoulder padding and give their suits a straight and squared shoulder line. Others do a straight shoulder that follows the natural shoulder line. And others follow the curve of the shoulder. The amount of shoulder structure can vary from a thick pad to a tiny bit of strategically placed wadding. All of James Bond’s tailors have had soft shoulders, but as the Bond actors are all well-built, the shoulders always look strong. The same shoulder construction on a slighter man would not look at all the same.

Shoulder width can vary amongst English tailors and even within the same tailor. Cyril Castle tailored Roger Moore’s jackets with extended shoulders—to balance the drape—in the 1960s, but for The Man with the Golden Gun in 1974 he made the shoulders as narrow as he could. Currently a narrow shoulder is more popular.

Roger Moore’s Doug Hayward suit in Octopussy has soft shoulders and roped sleeve heads

The roped sleeve head is a quintessentially English look, but it is not a required part of the English look. Some English tailors use them, like Anthony Sinclair and Douglas Hayward, while some do not, like Dimi Major. Its presence or inclusion is less important than one might think to a suit looking English, but it is an important part of a suit’s silhouette and can change it considerably.

There are traditional types of coats and jackets that few tailors outside of England can do, or no longer do. Morning coats are still worn in England but are no longer worn in many other places, and it’s difficult to get a good one from anyone but an English tailor. English tailors know how to cut a waist seam and tails. Like the morning coat, they can also do an evening tailcoat, though because the tailcoat is still worn for functions in Central Europe there are tailors there who also make beautiful tailcoats.

The Classic English Bespoke Details

Whilst the overall cut is important to the look of an English suit, there are many details that almost all English tailors use.

English bespoke tailors always fully canvas their jackets and use multiple layers of interfacings to give their jackets a defined shape. They always fully line their jackets, since partial linings for breathability are not usually a concern in the British Isles. They use Bemberg rayon linings or rayon blends.

Dimi Major cut beautiful notched lapels with belly, a little roll at the base and a straight gorge in the classic English manner for George Lazenby in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service

Lapels are traditionally notched on single-breasted jackets and peaked on double-breasted jackets. Peaked lapels on single-breasted jackets are traditionally saved for dinner jackets and black lounge jackets, but due to fashion trends over the last decade as well as in other eras English tailors will sometimes use peaked lapels on single-breasted suits. English tailors usually cut their lapels with at least little belly, which separates their styles from others’. The gorge, or the seam between the collar and lapel, is cut fairly straight. The gorge is usually at a medium height, but the steepness of the gorge varies from tailor to tailor. There is almost always a bit of a roll at the bottom of the lapel.

English tailors are famous for cutting the jacket’s skirt with double vents, though this standard has only been in place since the late 1960s for suits, sports coats and dinner jackets. Before it was commonplace for them to make single-breasted jackets with single vents and any kind of suit jacket without vents. Today single vents are still occasionally used for sports coats, and dinner jacket are still often made without any vents. But the double vent style dominates English tailoring and has long been known as an English style. Though this is the case, double vents are not essential to the look of a bespoke English jacket.

Well-cut English bespoke double vents on George Lazenby’s Dimi Major suit jacket

Well-cut vents are a mark of the English bespoke jacket. A good tailor can cut any type of skirt can fit any type of body and doesn’t shy away from certain styles on certain body types. A jacket without vents will not pull in the back. A single vent will always stay closed and straight when standing. Double vents are often cut angled outwards so they hang straight down when you see them from the sides. Only bespoke tailors cut double vents that drape so elegantly.

Four cuff buttons are the standard today for all jackets, though Bond’s tailors Major and Hayward sometimes use only three buttons on each cuff. Anthony Sinclair sometimes used only two buttons on the cuff of sports coats.

Slanted hacking pockets with a ticket pocket on Sean Connery’s hacking jacket in Goldfinger

Hip pockets are almost always double jetted and usually have flaps, except on dinner jackets. The slanted or hacking pocket is a quintessentially English look, and it’s one that many English tailors favour, but a jacket does not need to have slanted pockets to be English. At one time they were saved for sportier suits and sports coats, but most won’t shy away from them on city suits today. Ticket pockets are another quintessentially English look and are common for sports suits and jackets, but it’s a trendier look for city suits. Ticket pockets have a smaller flap are aligned to the front edge of the pocket below it, not centred about it. Open patch pockets and patch pockets with flaps and bellows are sometimes used on sports coats and sports suits. English tailors do not use patch pockets to the extent that Italian tailors do.

Breast pockets are usually the typical welt style and straight. Sometimes an open patch pocket is used when patch pockets are on the hips. On rare occasion, sporty suits and jackets may have a flapped breast pocket.

Classic English bespoke-style horn buttons can be found on George Lazenby’s hacking jacket from Dimi Major in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service

Buttons on English bespoke suits and jackets are typically made of unpolished black or brown horn, but sometimes they are grey or navy horn to match the suit. The buttons either have four holes or two holes, and they usually have a recessed, concave circle in the centre that not only looks elegant but protects the stitching when the buttons are handled. Formal jackets and Mod-inspired suits often have cloth-covered buttons. Some rustic sports coats are detailed with leather buttons. Matching a suit with plastic buttons used to be common with English bespoke suits but are not seen as being high enough quality today. Dinner jackets have their own unique types of buttons and trimmings, including special silk-covered buttons on dark dinner jackets and white mother-of-pearl on white dinner jackets.

The edges of the jacket have very fine hand-pick stitching, which can hardly be seen. Sometimes on sports coats the edges are sewn about 5/16-inch from the edge for a sportier look, though this is less common today. Silk-faced lapels don’t have pick stitching.

Gauntlet cuffs on Sean Connery’s Anthony Sinclair dinner jacket in Dr. No

There are a few obscure details that only English tailors do or know how to do. Gauntlet cuffs (turnback cuffs), as Anthony Sinclair and Cyril Castle put on Bond’s dinner jackets, are not commonly made outside of English bespoke tailors, with the exception of Tom Ford. Usually the gauntlet cuffs are constructed separate and simply laid on to the end of the sleeve. Some English tailors can also do unusual Edwardian-style collars that nobody else can do so elegantly. English tailors can also source details like special buttons or frogging.

There are English types of sports coats that English tailors specialise in, like the Norfolk jacket or special riding jackets. Details like pleated backs and belts are not commonly done outside of English tailoring. James Bond wears two half Norfolk jackets in Diamonds Are Forever that take elements from the Norfolk jacket but place them on a more ordinarily cut lounge jacket. Some made-to-measure companies can do Norfolk details, but it is mostly something that English tailors do.

Sean Connery’s half-Norfolk tweed jacket in Diamond Are Forever has some unusual details that few tailors outside of England do so well

Tailors in London’s West End are amongst the world’s best tailors and are experts in creating many different details from the history of English tailoring, even if they may be limited to their own cutting style.

I previously wrote an article about some of the special details that are only found on a James Bond quality suit.

The English Bespoke Trouser

While jackets get most of the attention when it comes to suits, trousers are an equally important part of the suit, and the bespoke English trouser is something unique. English trousers are all done the same way (or ways) across all tailoring schools. The English trouser has trim lines, even when pleated, with fullness in key areas for comfort and movement. English trousers should look trim but always feel comfortable. The leg is either tapered or straight, with turn-ups or a plain hem. The hem is always slanted to cover as much of the shoe with as little break in the front as possible. The hem can be slanted more with a plain hem than with turn-ups.

Sean Connery’s Anthony Sinclair suit trousers have classic double forward pleats

Many find pleated trousers to be the height of sophistication when it comes to tailoring the lower half of the body. Pleats are either single or double and traditionally forward facing, with the folds opening towards the crotch, though some tailors do reverse pleats. Pleats may be sewn down at the top inch or so to direct fullness further down.

Trousers without pleats often have a dart on either side in front for a better fit. Front darts are either aligned with the centre creases or placed further to the sides to better provide fullness over the hips.

Cyril Castle cut Roger Moore’s trousers with front darts in-line with the crease

The English tailors design the rear darts to best fit the wearer. The traditional method is to make one long dart on each side, and when there is a rear pocket the dart will extend through the pocket. The dart is not centred through the pocket because it would get in the way of the pocket’s button, so it is placed on either side of the button, usually to the outside. This method of darting the trousers’ rear isn’t the most aesthetically pleasing when there are rear pockets (though the dart is hardly noticeable), but the English intend for their trousers to be worn with a jacket so the awkward relationship between the rear pocket and the dart would not be seen.

Roger Moore’s trousers from Cyril Castle in The Man with the Golden Gun have darts extending through the rear pockets

The trouser darts are cut in a way to achieve the best shape, and when tailors started cutting their long rear darts it was not common to have rear pockets that would cut through the darts. Some tailors cut the trousers’ rear in a more ordinary fashion, with one or two short darts on each side of the rear ending at the pocket, or ending where the pocket would be. However the trousers are cut, the intention is to create a clean but comfortable fit.

Front or side trouser pockets may either be on the side seam, slightly slanted off the side or frogmouth (cross) pockets, which are an equestrian style that sit across the front of the trousers and are easier to access on horseback. Some tailors use offset jetted pockets. Coin pockets that sit at the base of the waistband on the front of the trousers are occasionally done.

Roger Moore’s Douglas Hayward suit trousers in For Your Eyes Only have frogmouth pockets

One rear jetted pocket is more common than two, and it is placed the side of the dominant hand. It shows that the trousers were made for someone who could choose to place the rear pocket on the side of their dominant hand. Plenty of people prefer to have two rear pockets, either because they like to use two or prefer the symmetry of it. Traditionally the trousers did not have any rear pockets as there would be plenty of pockets in the jacket and waistcoat that are more easily accessible. Rear pockets are either single-jetted or double-jetted.

The waistband of English bespoke trousers usually has a 2- to 3-inch extension across the front with a square end, and it has a hidden hook and bar fastening. This keeps the waistband straight and gives it a clean look. Because the waistband does not close with a button, there is a French bearer—a button inside the fly—to secure the trousers.

Ralph Fiennes’ bespoke trousers from Timothy Everest in Skyfall have rear tab extensions for braces

The most traditional method of English trouser support is button-on braces. Traditionally the trousers would be cut with a raised fishtail back to better position the braces. Now trousers sometimes have tab extensions in the rear to similarly raise the back so they have an optional fishtail back for braces. Buttons for braces are usually plastic and sewn inside the waistband, but sometimes on trousers with a fishtail back they are sewn to the outside of the waistband in front. Often a fishtail back has adjustable straps with a slide-buckle to trim the back of the trousers.

In the postwar era it became common for English tailors to put side adjusters on their trousers. The ‘DAKS Tops’ style has three buttons on either side of the waistband which secure to a tab. The tab is connected to elastic bands that are hidden inside the back of the waistband.

Sean Connery’s Anthony Sinclair suit trousers in Dr. No have DAKS Tops-style side adjusters

Today the more effective style of adjuster with straps and a slide-buckle is more common, but this kind can wear out more quickly and doesn’t work as well with heavier cloths. The straps may be centred to either the waistband or the seam at the base of the waistband. The buckle is placed over the side seam. Few non-English tailors know how to make effective or attractive side adjusters.

Belt loops are not uncommon either and were popular in the 1970s through the 1990s.

Buttons on trousers may match the jacket buttons or be a subtle plastic, but English tailors commonly use unique rimless smoke mother of pearl on the trousers, which they put on the rear pockets and on DAKS Tops-style side-adjusters. Trouser buttons are never seen with the jacket on, but it’s nice to have these special buttons.

Sean Connery’s Anthony Sinclair trousers in You Only Live Twice have smoke mother-of-pearl buttons on the side adjusters

Trousers are almost always lined in front to the knee. The inside of the waistband is curtained, which means it has a pleated lining that extends a few inches below the waistband to cover the inner construction of the trousers and the top of the pockets. The pleated “curtains” allow this lining to expand when moving and sitting down.

Equestrian tailors also specialise in styles of riding trousers like Jodhpurs, which are full through the thigh but fit snugly below the knee. For country sports and golf, English tailors also make breeches, which are trousers that end below the knee. They most commonly make them in the form known as “plus fours”, which extend four inches below the knee.

English Bespoke Waistcoats

The standard English bespoke waistcoat has six buttons rather than the more common five. Waistcoats are often cutaway—usually curved but sometimes angled—from above the bottom button, which means the bottom button cannot fasten. Some tailors do single-breasted waistcoats with seven (like Dimi Major) or eight buttons, but this is not common. In the 1960s it was popular amongst English tailors to cut waistcoats with a straight bottom.

Sean Connery wears a classic English bespoke-style waistcoat with six buttons and lapels from Anthony Sinclair in Goldfinger

Modern English double-breasted waistcoats have six buttons in a keystone arrangement and a straight bottom. The buttons on both single-breasted and double-breasted waistcoats are vertically spaced close together to maximise the size of the top opening while ensuring the waistcoat isn’t too long, which is unflattering and more difficult to fit close to the body. Other tailors often make the mistake of spacing the buttons too far apart.

The standard pocket arrangement is to have four welt pockets on the front. Some country waistcoats have flapped lower pockets instead of welt pockets. Bespoke tailors sometimes put lapels on their waistcoats, especially on double-breasted waistcoats. Few other tailors do this.

Another view of the Anthony Sinclair waistcoat in Goldfinger

The back is made in the jacket’s lining material and has a strap to adjust the fit in the waist.

For evening wear, waistcoats are low cut with three or four buttons for single-breasted waistcoats and four buttons for double-breasted waistcoats. The buttons are vertically spaced very closely together on evening waistcoats, more closely than on daytime waistcoats to maximise shirt exposure. They almost always have lapels.

Where to Find English Bespoke Tailors

Savile Row in London’s Mayfair is the centre for English bespoke tailoring, but tailors are or have been located on many other streets in Mayfair, like Conduit Street, Mount Street, Sackville Street, St George Street, Old Burlington Street and Davies Street. And beyond Mayfair, English bespoke tailoring is practised by many bespoke tailors throughout other parts of London’s West End and the City of London, but there are other tailors in other parts of London—George Lazenby’s Bond tailor Dimi Major was located in Fulham, London—and throughout the United Kingdom.

David Reeves provides English-style bespoke in New York City

Where else can you get a suit in an English bespoke style? Outside of England, there are a few English tailoring shops, either run by English expatriates or by English-trained tailors, like Leonard Logdail, Yosel Tiefenbrun and David Reeves in New York.

Daniel Craig wears a Tom Ford suit in Spectre with a Savile Row-inspired design and construction

Tom Ford makes their suits in the manner of English bespoke tailoring, and he has based his signature look on a design originally created by English Savile Row designer Tommy Nutter. Along with Ralph Lauren Purple Label no other ready-to-wear suit comes as close to English bespoke. But they do some of their own things that separate their suits from English bespoke in style.

38 COMMENTS

  1. Thanks Matt!

    “Anthony Sinclair cut Sean Connery’s Bond suits in a middle-of-the-road manner, not adhering to any of the particular schools”
    -Sinclair generally is associated with the Edwardian, a tailoring school you did not even mention in your article – why not?

    • Sinclair is not associated with Edwardian tailoring. During Sinclair’s era, Edwardian tailoring was more of a trend than a school of tailoring, and it was not a trend that Anthony Sinclair followed all that closely. Cyril Castle was more influenced by the New Edwardian trend of the 1950s and 1960s in his narrow trousers and fancy details, but Sinclair did not cut his jackets in a very closely fitted Edwardian manner. And I did mention “Edwardian-inspired tailors”, but a short-lived trend is not a school of tailoring and does not deserve so much room in this article.

      • But what about the Conduit Cut? It is often used synonymously with the Edwardian, and I think that it would have merited a more detailed explanation. Fleming was not a client of Savile Row tailors, but of those off Savile Row (as you are). And therefore the Conduit Cut is quite relevant with regard to Bond style – those of the big Savile Row firms not so.

        And about the Edwardian style: I think that in fact it had a (perceivable) influence on Bond style in 1960s (drainpipe trousers, narrow lapels, gauntlet cuffs etc.). That Sinclair cut Connery’s jackets with a bit more drape may be due to C’s particular body shape and the holster Bond is carrying underneath. I don’t see much drape on Sinclair’s own jackets, see
        http://www.bondsuits.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/10/Anthony-Sinclair-Man-About-Town-1957-58-Suit1.jpg

      • I have never heard anyone other than you just now use “Conduit Cut” synonymously with “Edwardian”. The Conduit Cut really wasn’t all that special. “Conduit cut” was just a nickname for Sinclair’s suits, and it’s just a variation on English or “Savile Row” cuts. Sinclair said himself, “I make only a Savile Row style.” The term “Savile Row tailoring” is just a synonym for English tailoring. It is thought to be the best place for tailoring, but it’s not fundamentally different the styles that tailors throughout London make. Both Connery and Fleming had their suits made around the corner from Savile Row. Just because their tailors weren’t on Savile Row does not mean they didn’t make their suits the same way.

        Edwardian in the mid 20th Century was more about details than about a certain cut. Sinclair did not cut drainpipe trousers, but drainpipe trousers were more about Edwardian trends than a school of tailoring. Narrow lapels were part of overall fashion trends and were not something that has anything to do with a school of tailoring, not that there ever was an Edwardian school of tailoring. Gauntlet cuffs are an Edwardian detail that all sorts of tailors used in the 1950s and 1960s, from equestrian to drape. Sinclair’s suit in that photo looks not one bit Edwardian. It looks like a suit that has the softness of a drape suit with the cleanness of an military suit. This look is not exclusive to Sinclair.

      • I think that the “Conduit Cut” (Sinclair,Castle..and?) was synonymous of contemporary (for 50s and 60s) London bespoke.
        Was a more modern,clean style compared of other traditional houses of Savile Row of those times, with two buttons suits,and a particular sensibility for fashion trends (more Castle, a bit less Sinclair).
        The “new Edwardian” was a trend mostly of 50s,and shouted “London”in the sense that you could wear a Sinclair or a Castle suit in New York,Rome or Paris and be okay and at ease,but in a new Edwardian suit out of some streets of London you were like in a sort of fancy dress.

      • “I have never heard anyone other than you just now use…”
        -See Michael Anton’s “The suit”, p.58: “…the Edwardian, also known as the ‘Conduit Cut’,…”.
        And at the bottom of the page: “…like its namesake made before the Great War, made with narrow lapels and drainpipe trousers
        but modern detailing. (…) was immortalized by Sean Connery when he wore it in the early Bond films,…” .
        I can’t really say who is right, but anyway – since you seem not to know Anton’s book (strange, since he is an American author) I would recommend you to read it (quite some interesting details on menswear and its history).

        All the best,
        Renard

      • Oh, I know Anton’s book. He misunderstands the Conduit Cut (Anthony Sinclair’s cut), and as many people before and after him do, he mistakes the narrow lapels for meaning more than just the lapels being narrow. You know that Sinclair did not cut drainpipe trousers. You have been following this blog for too long to not know that Anton is wrong about this. Do you need me to explain more or are you just looking for an argument?

      • Matt,
        I am personally not looking for an argument here myself, but :
        Can you explain to me your phrase about the narrow lapels ? I didn’t read the book but I fail to understand this sentence. Maybe it’s my not so good American.
        Also, what are drainpipe trousers ? Very narrow and short trousers ? Do you have an example ?
        Thank you !

      • Many people mistakenly believe that a suit with narrow lapels mean that the suit is slim cut. This is because that suits with narrow lapels often do have a closer fit. Edwardian suits had narrow lapels and a very close fit, which came back to mainstream fashion in the 1960s. Connery’s suits had narrow lapels but with a full-cut jacket. The overall cut is more important to the school of tailoring than the width of the lapels. Sinclair widened the lapels for Diamonds Are Forever but still cut his suits almost the same way as his did in the 1960s. He cut the chest with less fullness for Diamonds Are Forever as well, but the cut primarily did not change. Lapel width has little meaning as to the cut of the suit and is more about following trends.

        Drainpipe trousers have a very narrow leg. Look at some of Roger Moore’s suits in the colour series of The Saint. Sinclair cut a trim leg but not an extremely narrow one.

      • I am tempted to say yes because arguing with you is always a pleasure. But I don’t see any need for that with regard to this issue. Drainpipe: Connery’s trousers were cut considerably trimmer than the common 40s/50s trousers, but drainpipe? I am not sure. Show me what you think a true drainpipe trouser is, then I can answer.

      • See here for an example of drainpipe trousers:

        https://www.bondsuits.com/a-first-look-at-the-bond-25-suit-style/

        Or just do a quick Google search if you don’t know what drainpipe trousers are.

        Connery’s trousers were trimmer than what was popular in the 1940s and 1950s, but they were not especially trim for the 1960s.

        A word of advice: Do not argue with someone if you do not know what you are arguing about. It’s a good way to get you banned from commenting on this blog.

  2. What a phenomenal resource. Thanks for the effort to put this post together.

    One question: Which school, if any, would Ian Fleming’s tailor Benson, Perry & Whitley fit into? Drape perhaps?

    • I’d say they’re fairly middle of the road, like Anthony Sinclair. They didn’t use much drape, just a swelled chest. Fleming was not a fan of the drape look, and he wouldn’t have used a tailor that did a drape cut.

  3. Does anybody else think that both Lazenby’s three-piece suit and Moore’s DB suit are better tailored and just more memorable than Connery’s nondescript TB suit? I am not talking about which suit is more “Bondian” (whatever that means) but just about elegant, flattering tailoring.

    • In short, and unsurprisingly, yes, I do! The Thunderball suit is fine but, I agree, nothing special. I happen to find the examples from Sinclair in Goldfinger and Diamonds Are Forever the most, as you put it, elegant and flattering.

      • David, I would be curious to know what you think are the striking differences in cut between the Sinclair suits in Goldfinger and Thunderball ? Except the draped chest vs clean chest, and the turn-ups vs no turn-ups on the trousers, they seem quite similar to me. Maybe it’s the suitings in Goldfinger that you prefer ?

    • Dan, I think that better tailored and more memorable are two different things. About being more memorable, I agree that the Thunderball suit (I presume we talk about the light grey semi-solid?) is less than the two others. But that’s because when you remember a suit you also take into account the cloth and the style of the suit. A striped flannel is definitely going to catch more attention than a semi solid grey, and double breasted and 3 piece suits catch more the eye than a simple 2 button single breasted.
      About one cut being more flattering than the other I still think it’s definitely a matter of personal taste and also related to the wearer’s specific build.
      I think the three of them look great. The Castle cut does a great job at making Moore slimmer than he really was.
      About Connery and Lazenby I guess they were both of the same build so I presume both cuts could suit them fine.
      I like what you pointed out -the nice shape of Lazenby’s jacket when unbuttoned- but one the other hand when he buttons his other suit jackets the amount of waist suppression can give to the suit a slight feminine look that better be avoided.
      I agree though that the Connery’s jackets in his first two films looked quite wide in the chest, especially unbuttoned, it’s probably due to the drape, but that fullness was quite unnecessary.
      I wonder if anyone knows pictures of Connery wearing a suit that would be not Sinclair and cut more close to the chest in the 1960s ? So we could make a comparison.

      • Le Chiffre, you made several points, so I will try to address them one at a time: (1) ” better tailored and more memorable are two different things” – I agree up to a point, but I also think that good tailoring, along with material, pattern and color helps make a suit memorable. (2) “The Castle cut does a great job at making Moore slimmer than he really was.” – this isn’t completely fair; Moore wasn’t overly brawny, but he was in excellent shape for a 47-year old in TMWTGG. When he takes his shirt off to show Hai Phat his (fake) third nipple he certainly doesn’t look overweight. The TB suit, on the other hand, does nothing to flatter Connery’s (still) athletic build. (3) “I like what you pointed out -the nice shape of Lazenby’s jacket when unbuttoned- but one the other hand when he buttons his other suit jackets the amount of waist suppression can give to the suit a slight feminine look that better be avoided.” I have to disagree here; as Matt pointed out in another post, Lazenby’s suits are an object lesson in how to make a suit that is trimly fitted and slightly rakish without being tight and constricting. As for the “feminine” part, while I realize that we are now entering the realm of subjective opinion, I always thought that, for all of his acting inexperience, Lazenby exuded a confident, cat-like masculinity in the way he moved and the way he wore his clothes. The glen check suit he wears when he breaks into Gumboldt’s office is one of my all-time favorites.

    • Le Chiffre, I agree that, overall, there aren’t as you put it really “striking” differences between the suits in Goldfinger and Thunderball (after all it was the same tailor and the sports coat was even reused, which never occurred between other bond movies!). It’s probably that there were more tailored pieces in Goldfinger as opposed to Thunderball which, due to tropical location, had a more limited formal wardrobe and those that were seen in the latter movie were hum-drum. The brown office suit was very forgettable and the grey suit worn in Nassau is pretty pedestrian too. Goldfinger had the sports coat, the first appearance of an ivory dinner jacket, that blue suit worn to Q’s workshop and the glen plaid 3 piece. That’s about it.

      • David, good points too on your side. Goldfinger has definitely more iconic pieces than Thunderball and I agree that the Thunderball brown suit is quite forgettable (nothing really special plus an obvious continuity error with the blazer he wore before). I am fan of the 3-piece flannel suit of the beginning though, although it’s quite similar to the one Connery wore at the end of Goldfinger.
        Dan, I never said Moore looked terrible in TMWTGG. I agree that he looks fine when taking off his shirt (quite subjective and not really the topic of this blog, ahah by the way). He just didn’t have an athletic physique like Connery : he was big and that was it. You probably have read or heard somewhere the anecdote of Moore saying himself (and laughing about it) that Cubby Broccoli had to « starve » him before doing his first Bond movie. That and ruining his marine blue suit, sounds not like a very nice producer
        About Lazenby, I said the suit (meaning the silhouette) can -only can- look feminine. NOT Lazenby. He certainly knew how to move and how to wear a suit -after all he was a model- and I agree with you that he looks perfectly masculine and charming in OHMSS. Which is one of the reason it’s in my top three Bond movies by the way. But put a similarly cut suit on an average man with an average build, I don’t think the effect will be similar. That was my point, I guess it’s clarified now !

      • Le Chiffre, I, too, agree with David’s assessment that GF had more memorable tailoring than TB. I have also heard the story about Moore starving before shooting YOLT – he had gotten a little chubby shooting The Persuaders (too much high living, I guess!) I also appreciate your clarification re: the trimly fitted OHMSS suit. An “average” man (which means a little paunchy nowadays, unfortunately) would not look good in a suit like that. But then again, good tailoring can partially remedy a less-than-ideal physique. Connery was really overweight in DAF, but the tailored suits with the low button stance and the high side vents helped quite a bit.

      • Le Chiffre, one more point, BTW. As our exchange demonstrates, it’s very difficult to separate discussion of tailoring (the topic of this blog, as you correctly point out) from considerations of physique. After all, tailoring is supposed to flatter physique and hide flaws as much as possible – witness the built-up “Roman” shoulders on Brosnan’s suits, which made his slender build look a little more imposing and “Bondian”.

  4. What I especially like about Lazenby’s suit is that it maintains a flattering tapered silhouette even when he leaves it unbuttoned, as in the photo above.

  5. @Matt Spaiser – Would you consider all of the Cyril Castle suits Moore wore as the Saint to be ‘drape cut?’ They are in my opinion some of the most flattering suits ever cut, though perhaps not as simple and elegant as Anthony Sinclair’s; huge chest, soft & extended shoulders and heavily suppressed waist.

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.