I recently took delivery of an Anthony Sinclair Conduit Cut Special Order suit from Mason & Sons. Since the proprietor David Mason travels to New York frequently, I met with him there so he could fit me with a Special Order suit. A speedy four weeks later my suit was ready, just in time for his next visit to New York, so I met him to retrieve the suit.
The Conduit Cut
The Conduit Cut suit was developed by tailor Anthony Sinclair of Conduit Street in London in the 1950s, which had a Savile Row-style cut but was lighter and felt more natural than a stiff Savile Row suit. Because he worked on Conduit Street off of Savile Row, his suit was later dubbed the “Conduit Cut”. Sinclair tailored suits in this style for Sean Connery to wear as James Bond in his six Bond films throughout the 1960s and 1970s. David Mason of Mason & Sons is now in control of Anthony Sinclair’s name and a few years ago developed updated ready-to-wear and “Special Order” versions of the Conduit Cut to make Sinclair’s legacy more easily available. This line is no longer sold under the “Anthony Sinclair” moniker, which is saved for clothes made in England, and is now sold under the “Mason & Sons” brand.
Sinclair’s original suit that Sean Connery wore was about having a soft and light feel that draped with clean, elegant lines. The new ready-to-wear and Special Order Anthony Sinclair Conduit Cut suits that Mr Mason developed capture Sinclair’s ethos in a more modern way. Though Sean Connery’s suits were lightweight, they were only so by 1960s English tailoring standards. Globalisation has shown people what a lightweight suit properly means by way of tailors in southern Italy, who use lighter cloths and lighter and softer canvases than English tailors traditionally use.
The modern Conduit Cut suit, particularly with the Special Order option for a full canvas (a £125 upgrade), is now light by Italian standards, but it still has the classic English cut and style. If Anthony Sinclair were still alive and making suits today, his suits would most likely be as lightweight as the new Conduit Cut suits. Like the shoulder on Connery’s suit jackets, the shoulder on the modern suit jacket is soft—though unfortunately, but understandably, not as soft—with roped sleeve heads. However, the body of the modern suit jacket is updated with leaner cut than the rather full cut that Connery wore, particularly in his earlier Bond films. It is also updated with timeless medium-width lapels and a considerably higher button stance to appeal to today’s audience, though these can be changed on a Special Order suit. The modern suit trousers have a slimmer cut with a lower rise than Connery suit trousers have, and they have a flat front instead of Connery’s double forward pleats. The Special Order system, however, can make trousers closer to Connery’s fuller, pleated cut.
Don’t let the name “Special Order” fool you. This is a true made-to-measure suit, not simply a ready-to-wear suit in your choice of cloth. It can be the latter if you like the fit and style of the ready-to-wear Anthony Sinclair suit, but it can also be so much more, as my suit demonstrates. The pattern for a Special Order suit starts with a ready-to-wear Anthony Sinclair Conduit Cut suit and is modified for your measurements before it is made at the factory in Italy. It is not a ready-to-wear suit that is altered afterwards. Through the Special Order service I was able to bring my suit slightly closer to Sean Connery’s James Bond suits that served as the primary inspiration of the modern Conduit Cut suit, but I also wanted to keep some of the flavour of Mr Mason’s updated version.
Choosing My Suit
I knew exactly what I wanted to get before I met with Mr Mason, which helped to make the whole process a lot easier. My main inspiration I wanted came from Sean Connery’s blue button one suit in You Only Live Twice, Roger Moore’s marine blue suit in The Man with the Golden Gun and Daniel Craig’s blue sharkskin suit in Spectre.
I went for the button one style like what Sean Connery’s blue suit from Anthony Sinclair in You Only Live Twice has, but I was also inspired by the single-breasted suits that many 1960s British and American television spies like John Steed (Patrick Macnee), John Drake (Patrick McGoohan), Napoleon Solo (Robert Vaughn) and Maxwell Smart (Don Adams) wore. My love for the button one style is also influenced by the styles worn by other 1960s television characters, such as Rob Petrie, played by Dick Van Dyke on The Dick Van Dyke Show, and Oliver Wendell Douglas, played by Eddie Albert on Green Acres. Jazz musicians like Miles Davis who wore the button one style in the 1960s were also an influence on my love for it.
Since I do not wear a suit for business, I wanted something that did not give the impression of a business suit. This had to be a suit that I could wear day or night for weddings or the opera. Roger Moore’s marine blue mohair and wool suit made by Cyril Castle, Anthony Sinclair’s Conduit Street neighbour, came to mind as the perfect suit for going out in rather than for conducting business in. The vibrant marine blue colour certainly makes a statement. During the day such a colour shines under the sun. In the evening it becomes darker and richer.
Daniel Craig’s blue sharkskin suit from Tom Ford in Spectre is a similar colour to Roger Moore’s marine blue suit, and when I saw the suit at the Tom Ford shop I was amazed at how different it looks in real life to the way it looks on film. In Spectre it’s a dark, muted blue but under the bright lights of the shop it’s a vibrant medium blue. In dim lighting during the evening, it keeps its rich, vibrant qualities but appears considerably darker. It’s a suit that still looks blue—not black—in the evening, but never obnoxiously so. This was the kind of cloth I wanted, and luckily Anthony Sinclair offers just that.
I chose the Super 110s lightweight navy sharkskin (also known as pick-and-pick), which is woven in Italy. The cloth is woven with alternating medium blue and black threads in both the warp and the weft. The high contrast between the two colours woven together gives the cloth an iridescent quality while still being a pure worsted wool. It is far more interesting than a solid blue, but it’s showier and thus less versatile.
At 8 oz the suiting is indeed very lightweight and wears so comfortably that I feel as if I have nothing on, but because it is so lightweight it does not drape as well as something slightly heavier. On the other hand, being only Super 110s means it is hearty and resilient rather than delicate like most lightweight suitings, and it has an excellent hand for Super 110s. Because of the low Super number it drapes better than many other cloths so lightweight, though with the standard half-canvas construction (which has fusing in addition to a partially canvassed front) it may drape better—but not as softly, as naturally or as comfortably—as the unfused full-canvas construction of my suit. The full-canvas construction will conform better to my body than the half-canvas construction would over time, so I may be too quick to judge. Though full-canvas is ultimately better than half-canvas because it lacks fusing, and worth the upgrade for Special Order, the half-canvas suit is still a fine suit for ready-to-wear.
Fitting My Suit
Because the Special Order Conduit Cut suit is a variation on the ready-to-wear suits, there are a large number of sizes in three lengths and in both Classic and Slim fits to start with to be modified. At the shop in London you can try on all of the sizes. Since I met Mr Mason overseas in New York City, I let him know the size I usually wear, the measurements of the suits I usually wear and how I like my suits to fit so he was able to bring me the closest size to try on. In my case at 5’10” (177 cm) and 145 lbs (65 1/2 kg), Mr Mason brought a 38 L Slim fit in both the jacket and the trousers to base my Special Order suit on. This is considering that I like a traditional fit along the lines of what Sean Connery wears in Thunderball, which is not as full-cut as the suits he wears in his first three James Bond films. Though I’m not a tall person and usually take a regular length, the long fitting in the Slim fit is the same length as a regular length in the Classic fit.
Basing the fit of a Special Order suit on a ready-to-wear size gives the client a good idea of what he is getting, and there is less room for error when you know how the suit is being altered to fit you rather than starting purely from measurements. In my case, I already fit into the 38 L Slim Fit very well, but adjustments were made to both the fit and the style—the lines between what is considered fit and what is considered style have blurred these days—to make the suit completely right for me.
Mr Mason pinned up the 38 L Slim suit jacket to make basic fit changes, such as shortening the sleeve length half an inch and taking in the back a little. Mr Mason also corrected the sleeve pitch, and we decided to shorten the jacket half an inch.
I also wanted a lower button stance than what the ready-to-wear suit has—I think it is too high not just for me but for any body type—so Mr Mason pinned the jacket closed where we thought the waist button should be for me. I highly recommend that anyone getting a Special Order suit should lower the button stance, whether the jacket has two buttons or one. With my single button on the front of the jacket, the high button stance of the ready-to-wear suit would look especially unbalanced, but I also feel the button stance should be lowered just the same for a button two jacket. Connery’s suit jackets have an even lower button stance than what I went for, but we have different body types and different heights. I am not Sean Connery and I did not expect this suit to turn me into him.
Though the lapel width can be altered for those who want the narrow From Russia with Love look or for those who want the wide Diamonds Are Forever look, I chose to stick with the standard lapel width. I kept the standard double vents and slanted pockets but omitted the ready-to-wear suit’s ticket pocket. The suit’s buttons are a beautiful blue corozo to match the suit, which are finer and have more interest than the plastic buttons that Sean Connery’s suits have while still having the same idea of matching the buttons to the suit. Corozo can match the suit better than horn can, particularly in a blue suit. There are four working buttons on each cuff, in both the ready-to-wear and Special Order Anthony Sinclair suits. The lapels are finished with pick stitching.
For the 38 L Slim trousers I let out the fork and the seat, raised the rise a little so the trousers comfortably sit at my waist, and widened the trouser legs 3/4 inch. I kept with the ready-to-wear model’s flat front style instead of Connery’s double-forward pleats, which are also available. I chose slanted side pockets and a button-through pocket only on the right side of the rear, though other pocket configurations available. The waistband has an extension with a hook-and-eye closure, a coin pocket under the waistband and slide-buckle strap side-adjusters (the same style that is on Daniel Craig’s Tom Ford suits in his Bond films), which do an excellent job at holding up the trousers.
There are limitations to the special order suit because it’s not a bespoke suit (which Mason & Sons never says it is). Gauntlet cuffs on jackets and lapels on waistcoats are not possible. But the fit can be altered in many different ways, and that’s what matters most. These photos show the suit after only the initial fitting, and no alterations (which Mr Mason would ordinarily do if necessary) were performed after I received the suit. Alterations after receiving a made-to-measure suit are expected, and even bespoke suits have a final fitting before they are delivered. For a first try with an Anthony Sinclair Special Order suit, the results of the fit of my suit are exceptional. The back of the jacket may have just a little too much fullness, and the trouser waist is a little large, but I felt it was best to wear the suit a few times to allow it to break in before performing alterations. The factory that makes the Anthony Sinclair suits is highly accurate with the Special Order modifications, but David Mason (as well as Elliot Mason, from what I’ve been told) has an excellent understanding of made-to-measure system that he uses, which is very important for getting reliable results.
The Anthony Sinclair Conduit Cut Special Order suit is a suit for all types of men, from those who want to wear to have fun with their suits to those simply need a suit. At its core, the suit has the unassuming, pared-down look that Sean Connery was so well-known for wearing in his Bond films. Starting with a cut so basic means that through the Special Order system the suit can be turned into many different things for many different people. The system is so versatile that it can make a suit for those who want Connery’s graceful 1960s look with narrow lapels and sophisticated forward-pleat trousers, while it can also make a suit for those who want Daniel Craig’s 2010s shrunken look that is too tight at the chest and has low-rise trousers. There is so little else available that captures the essence of a James Bond suit as well as the Anthony Sinclair Conduit Cut suit does.
The Conduit Cut is also far more than just a James Bond suit. Because the Conduit Cut suit is so elegantly simple at its heart, it is truly a suit for anyone who wants or needs to wear suit. The Special Order system makes this a reality through all of the adjustments that can be made. I don’t feel like James Bond when I wear this suit; I feel like myself, and that’s the only thing I should feel when I wear a suit.
This is not a sponsored post, and no material compensation was given to me in exchange for this review.
Find out more about the suits at Mason & Sons.
I am wearing the Anthony Sinclair suit with a light blue fine twill shirt made by Hemrajani Brothers, a burgundy grenadine tie from Turnbull & Asser and black quarter-brogue oxfords from Brooks Brothers Peal & Co made by Crockett & Jones.
Photos by Janna Levin