A James Bond-Inspired Blazer and Trousers from Alan David Custom

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My wardrobe was desperately in need of two items to complete one of my favourite James Bond looks: a new double-breasted blazer and pale-beige wool trousers. When New York City tailor Alan David Custom invited me to try out their tailoring, I immediately knew that I wanted them to this looks that I so desired. I was also excited to be experiencing the work of a tailor in my own city.

While there is a significance to wearing Bond brands, they are not necessary for one to dress like James Bond. Many Bond tailoring brands, particularly at the bespoke level, are out of reach for many people, whether it’s because of price or location. Alan David Custom provides incredible tailoring at a high level and a very reasonable starting price. For those like myself who live in New York City or nearby, their Midtown Manhattan location makes it extremely easy to visit for fittings. I’ve had a wonderful journey and a brilliant result with Alan David Custom, who was able to put some Bondian inspiration into the blazer and trousers they made for me.

About Alan David Custom

Though I’m usually telling the tales of British brands here, the Alan David Custom story is considerably different and has more in common with the story of my own ancestors (who also worked as tailors). It began in 1913 when Alan’s great grandfather moved to America and opened a tailoring shop in Brooklyn. In the 1960s the business moved to Manhattan and in the 1970s it transitioned to retail and sold 1,000 suits a week. Alan joined in the 1990s, but casualisation hurt the business and it ended until 2004. Alan started his own custom business in 2001. Covid almost killed that business, but now it has bounced back stronger than ever.

They make a high volume of hundreds of suits each month, with 40% of their customers coming for weddings. They do not take shortcuts and make every suit with full-canvas construction. Their prices start at $1,300 for a suit, with the average suit costing $2,800. Only the cloth makes a difference in price. The pattern making and sleeve attachment are done by hand, but the suits are mostly made by machine, which is to be expected at this price. The work is done on an assembly line, so people have specialised skills.

Alan David does not have a specific house style and are flexible in what they can make. They say they make ‘a light garment with shape’, which is the same concept that most of James Bond’s tailors follow. If there is a house style based on what I saw at the showroom, it falls into the ‘Updated American’ category like Polo Ralph Lauren, Paul Stuart and Hickey Freeman. There are influences from American, English, Italian and French tailoring in their clothes, but their style doesn’t exactly follow any of those schools of tailoring. I think their style is very much a New York style in that like New York’s culture, it’s a melting pot, but they can lean their style in any of these different directions. As I’m a fan of English tailoring, they were able to make my clothes look a bit more English.

Their well-staffed Midtown Manhattan showroom is open seven days a week, which is very unusual for any kind of tailor. Their hours and location make it extremely easy for me to visit with my busy schedule. It is also in a location that is easy for customers outside of Manhattan to visit. If there’s one downside to their showroom, it’s that it lacks windows, but there are plans to remedy this. I think it’s important to able to look at cloths under natural light to get a proper idea of colour.

The showroom has five tailors working on site to handle smaller alterations so the clothes don’t need to be sent back to the factory.

The alterations shop with master fitter Jay Duval

Their focus is on tailoring, meaning suits, jackets, trousers, waistcoats and overcoats. They sell made-to-measure shirts and ties as well, but they are made by outside companies. The shirts are made in New Jersey by Gambert.

I first learned of Alan David Custom through my stylish friend Ken Stauffer, @oceansographer on Instagram and contributor to BAMF Style and the From Tailors with Love podcast. He is a regular and satisfied client.

I had a wonderful experience working with Alan David’s sales specialist Bruce Crystal and their master fitter Jay Duval, and together they helped me achieve exactly what I was looking for.

The Inspiration and Style

I wanted a double-breasted blazer to replace both my old double-breasted blazer that not longer fit me well and my spring/summer-weight single-breasted blazer that has seen better days. The double-breasted blazer is a classic James Bond wardrobe item that three Bond actors have worn, and as a tremendous fan of Roger Moore I had to have the perfect example in my wardrobe.

Bond’s double-breasted blazers from The Man with the Golden Gun, Moonraker, For Your Eyes Only and GoldenEye all served as inspiration. I like to take my favourite elements of different clothes and combine them. The cut of the Moore’s 6×2 double-breasted suits from Cyril Castle in The Man with the Golden Gun (rather than his higher-fastening 6×3 blazer) was my primary inspiration. I chose Cyril Castle’s style as my inspiration for this blazer because Cyril Castle is a dormant brand. I’ve long been a fan of Roger Moore’s style in his early Bond films but I didn’t have any clothes that resembled his tailoring in those films. I wanted a 6×2 cut rather than a 6×3 cut because I find that the more classic 6×2 style looks better on someone my height and is easier to wear without a tie.

The open-neck look in For Your Eyes Only and GoldenEye with pale beige wool trousers is why I chose a 6×2 blazer and why I chose trousers in a stone colour to pair with the blazer. The Man with the Golden Gun was my inspiration for choosing a double-breasted blazer in an open-weave wool. Moonraker provided the inspiration for a lighter shade of navy and for polished sew-through metal buttons.

I am obviously coming at this from the perspective of James Bond style. But Bond or not, this is an exercise in seeing how Alan David Custom can make a style that I like. They are extremely versatile, but with any tailor there are limits. Fortunately, what I like and what they can make have plenty of overlap. I asked them to copy the Castle look partially because it’s one of my favourite of Bond’s looks, but also because I wanted to see what they are capable of as it’s a fairly unusual look. The result was a success, though I am still shorter and slimmer than Roger Moore.

Before asking Alan David to replicate Castle’s look, I wanted to see what they normally produce because I had to be comfortable with their own style first. When I first met with Bruce, he was wearing a beautiful bamboo jacket from Alan David that I was tremendously impressed with. The shoulders were soft but had a beautiful roping. I chose this shoulder for my own jackets because I love roping and it has a particularly Bondian look. The fit was exquisite. Bruce was kind enough to let me try on his jacket since we’re similarly sized, and I loved how the silhouette looked and felt on me.

Bruce’s taste isn’t all that different than my own, which also gave me confidence working with him. He’s been with Alan David for two years but spent fifteen years at Paul Stuart, one of my favourite stores in New York. I knew I was in good hands when Bruce and I got carried away talking about Bond. When someone is making you clothes, it’s important that they’re on your wavelength.

The Fabrics

The first step at Alan David was choosing the cloths for my blazer and trousers. The blazer is in a 290 gram wool mesh from Reda’s Esquire Blazer and Sport Coat bunch. The code is 7105 63 660, and it’s in a light navy colour. It has a beautiful drape and hand, and it resists wrinkles so it travels well. The texture makes for an interesting and stylish blazer while its open weave wears cool in warm weather. It’s a spring/summer cloth, but the texture means I can wear it into cooler months as well.

The trousers are in a 270 gram Super 110s wool prunelle twill from Vitale Barberis Canonico’s Perennial bunch in a stone colour. The code is 2261 86 520. I wish the trousers were slightly heavier, around 300g or a little more, but they had nothing else available in this colour close to this weight range. These trousers are useful in moderately cool to warm weather, but not necessarily the hottest weather. The cloth has a lovely drape, holds a crease well, stays wrinkle-free and has an incredibly soft hand.

So far I have worn the blazer and trousers in Florida in 80+ degree Fahrenheit weather with high humidity. Because of the humidity I was a bit uncomfortable, but the clothes were bearable.

They have a selection of English and Italian cloths, all good quality, including some very luxurious cloths. I generally prefer English cloths, but most of their English cloths were traditional suitings and heavy jacketings. It’s a good selection, but they did not have what I was looking for in English cloths, so I had to use Italian cloths. Both my blazer and the trousers are quality Italian cloths but are nothing outrageously luxurious. They’re both very popular choices with many tailors and brands and are softer than I would normally choose.

The will do CMT—cut, make trim—for a fee, meaning you can provide your own cloth.

The Fittings

Jay fitting my clothes

Alan David call themselves a ‘custom’ tailor. It’s essentially bespoke because they draft a unique pattern for each customer (the most important part), and the process involves multiple fittings. Where it differs from traditional bespoke is that the person who does the fitting is not the cutter, and the making is done offsite at a factory in Queens that employs 30 people. Their clothes are not made-to-measure.

Jay spent the better part of an hour measuring me at my first visit. He put me in on try-on jackets and try-on trousers to both see how certain clothing measurements like the shoulders and chest work on my body, to get the balance right and to get an idea of how I like my clothes to fit. He used chalk to draw the outline of the lapels on the try-on jacket to show me what shape he thought would work best. I also wore a suit that I liked the fit of to show how I like my clothes to fit. But if you don’t already have a suit you already like the fit of, that’s why tailors like Alan David Custom exist.

Jay was very attentive to listening to what I wanted in both cut and fit. But I also listened to him explain what he thought would work well for me. I didn’t have any disagreements with his suggestions and felt very confident with him. I showed Jay photos of Roger Moore’s jackets that I liked as an example, and he both liked the examples and appreciated seeing the examples of what I liked. Alan David Custom will work with you to get you what you want, but if you don’t know what you want you can trust them to guide you.

Jay previously worked at Smalto and Camps de Luca, two of Paris’ leading tailors.

The blazer and trousers at the fitting

At the fitting about six weeks later, the blazer was close to complete, except it lacked the cuff buttons so the sleeve length could be perfected. They had to lengthen the jacket rear, let out the skirt, widen the vent overlap, shorten the right sleeve a tiny amount and raise trouser rise. These were all small adjustments that could be done by their Manhattan showroom tailors.

They do a basted fitting when they think it’s needed, or when a customer requests it for the experience. Skipping it when they don’t think it’s necessary can speed the process. Because of all the techniques Jay used to fit me and the photos I provided them, they were able to skip the basted fitting.

The Final Garments

The final garments were ready a week after the fitting. The overall look is that melting pot of styles I originally saw at Alan David. They took the British Bond look and applied it through their lens of what defines their New York look.

The blazer is incredibly comfortable. The fit is superb, following the shape of my body with a trim but not tight fit. It has fullness in all the right areas, and the armholes are high, which means the jacket moves well with my body and is comfortable in all positions. I am able to comfortably sit in the jacket with it fastened, as a double-breasted jacket should be worn. I can even comfortably drive wearing the blazer without feeling constricted. The fit and construction are such that I hardly feel the blazer when wearing it. This is the mark of a good fit.

The blazer has exactly the shoulder I wanted. Like Roger Moore’s shoulder from Cyril Castle it is soft and light but with a gently roped sleeve head. The shoulder expression defines the look of a jacket more than anything else, and this blazer has the Bond shoulder.

The 4-inch peaked lapels are elegantly shaped with a small amount of belly. The lapels have a long line from the medium-high gorge down to the slightly low button stance that I requested. This is one of the most important aspects of a jacket, and I am extremely pleased with how it turned out in this area.

The blazer was cut with an extended front dart like on Cyril Castle’s jackets. Unlike Castle’s cut, they also used a sidebody. As a result there’s an extra cut through the side, but it’s not noticeable and only helps the fit.

They did a superb job with replicating Castle’s flared link cuffs, which have two buttons in a kissing manner. They followed the detailed photos I provided. This is the flashiest part of this blazer, which I understand isn’t for everyone. I think the fastening cuff buttons will need to be sewn with a longer thread shank, which will be an easy fix to correct the distorted shape at the cuff.

I provided my own polished nickel buttons that I had previously purchased nearby at M&J Trimming that reminded me of the buttons Roger Moore wore on his blazers in The Spy Who Loved Me and Moonraker. They combine the classic metal blazer button with the modern look of silver metal and a four-hole button.

For the trousers I went with a classic British and Bond style of a flat front, a moderate leg width, plain hems, an extended waistband with a hook-and-bar closure and side adjusters. They do a more ornate side adjusters, which gives the trousers a lot of character.

The trousers are comfortable and fit well too. The rise is high to my natural waist as I like it. The leg may be slightly wide for my taste. I may ask for the legs slimmed down a small amount, but I want to live with them first.

I plan to wear the blazer and trousers together and separately with other season-appropriate jackets and trousers in my wardrobe. They will get plenty of wear throughout spring, summer and early autumn. I will be wearing the blazer with and without a tie.

Visit Alan David Custom’s website to learn more about them.

I’m pictured wearing the blazer with a mid-blue cotton Zendaline shirt from Frank Foster that has a semi-spread collar similar to the collar Roger Moore wears with his blazer in For Your Eyes Only and two-button cocktail cuffs just like Moore wears in The Man with the Golden Gun. In the photos of the trousers without the blazer I am wearing a pink cotton voile shirt from Turnbull & Asser with the high spread collar from The World Is Not Enough and the button-down cocktail cuff from Never Say Never Again. My sunglasses are the Vuarnet Legend 06 from No Time to Die. My brown penny loafers are from Ralph Lauren.

Photos by Janna Levin Spaiser

The blazer and trousers were gifted in exchange for the review.

28 COMMENTS

  1. Beautiful garments. I have to say that, at least to this observer, the ensemble works better without a necktie than with one. There’s just something nicely balanced about the way you look in the bottom nine photographs.

  2. Really nice blazer. I particularly like the buttons which are classic but not too flashy. The cuffs are a nice Moorean touch. This has given me a lot of inspiration as I’m thinking about getting a new blazer made this year. Thanks!

  3. Great work Matt. Looks really good on you. Personally, I would not taper the trousers much. The blazer is a “big, bold statement” and if you slimmed the trouser much beyond the current width you mind end up looking unbalanced.

    Thanks again for sharing and good work Alan David

      • I also vote to keep the trousers, they give a strong and grounded look without sneaking into baggy territory.
        Love the jacket, Matt! I’ve been so tempted to ask somebody to make me a flared link cuff jacket just like this and yours looks fantastic.

  4. Excellent style, well adapted to your physique . The look is IMHO very Ralph Lauren-ish but with an English undercurrent which tones down the Ivy League vibe . The pink T&A shirt with cocktail cuffs is smashing, did not know it was available as rtw or was it custom? Outstanding photography as usual, full marks.

    • Thank you! The shirt is bespoke. I wish they’d make a ready-to-wear shirt with this collar (they won’t even acknowledge its existence), but I don’t think they would offer this cuff ready-to-wear.

  5. Glad to see you’ve discovered Alan David. He has been making tailored clothing for me for more than 20 years. Alan and his staff
    were always attentive to my needs and (sometimes unusual) requests, several of which were inspired by this blog. I have received many positive comments over the years on my suits and sports coats, and much credit goes to Alan et al. for the exacting work they do, both in terms of fabric choice and (especially) fit. The pandemic has, unfortunately, drastically reduced my need for tailored clothing, but I still hear from Elsie from time to time and hope and expect to return there before too long.

    • I’m glad to hear from another happy customer! If you’re leaving the home, there’s always a need for tailored clothing. I’m a big fan of casual tailored clothes.

  6. Beautiful blazer. Excellent choice of buttons. Really like the link buttons on the sleeve cuffs.
    The trousers need to be tapered below the knee and a turn up would help, I think.

  7. Beautiful garments Matt, they nailed the style details and fit. I would also say any tapering to the trousers should be very minimal if any. You could perhaps have slightly less break but that’s preference. Wise move to live with them for a while.

  8. Seems like Alan David is a good choice for a tailor seeing as they have no house style, reasonably priced and are pretty versatile with what they can do. I don’t live near New York unfortunately so hopefully their virtual tailoring is good enough.

  9. At first glance what jumps out to me is the great fabric. I don’t like navies that are so dark they are almost black so the lighter navy was a great choice and I love the texture which might not be obvious at a distance but provides a real depth with the close-up shots.
    The pics from the front look great.
    If I had paid for bespoke I wouldn’t be so happy with the rear view. The waist seems to have been made so fitted that the skirts flare out around the hips. I’d consider letting out the waist a bit for a less aggressive contour, and the rear upper sleeves (pitch?) need those ripples smoothing out.
    My other critiques are probably just personal preference. I seem to be in the minority leaning towards more tapered hems but if that thought is rejected consider shortening the length for less break. I’m also no fan of linked cuffs but that’s a Roger trademark which you obviously enjoy.
    The overall outfit looks great with either shirt and will likely be hugely versatile and can be dressed up or down for a number of occasions. I’d never heard of this tailor before so hope he’s doing well.

    • The waist has a quite a bit of extra room, it’s not aggressively contoured at all. I was almost expecting people to say the fit is too full! I think what you’re seeing is the shape of my body rather than the shape of the jacket. I agree that the sleeves need some work.

    • I agree with most of your comments Rod, except the trouser length which looks great. But as you said, that’s more down to personal preference.

  10. . . . this dapper ensemble would also serve most creditably as a Bertie Wooster village tennis match or seaside retreat costume! Very good Spaiser, wot wot!

    • While serge is a 2×2 twill weave, prunelle is a 2×1. Both have 45-degree angles. Gabardine can vary with either a 2×1 or 2×2 twill, but it has twice as many warp yarns as weft yarns so it has a 63-degree angle. The finish is shinier than serge or prunelle. Prunelle tends to have a flatter and smoother look than the others. Gabardine’s weave has a tighter look.

  11. This suit looks best on you because your face is ashen and the trousers makes it look brighter. Connery got away with gray because he had darker skin with yellow tones as well as a tanned face. Ashen faces without yellow tones need bright colors.

    • Thank you. I find that trousers don’t have much impact on the face. It’s the colours near the face that matter most. I look good in light colours, but bright colours wash out an ashen face. Roger Moore’s warm complexion looked best in bright colours.

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