Columbo: Three-Piece Dinner Suit



With New Year’s Eve coming up shortly, let’s look at more black tie inspiration. Milos Columbo, played by Topol in For Your Eyes Only, looks elegant in his three-piece dinner suit. It was most likely tailored by the same man who made who made Columbo’s blazer, Conduit Street tailor Robbie Stanford. The button one dinner jacket has straight shoulders with roped sleeve heads, a clean chest and a suppressed waist. The lapels and collar are very unique in that lapels have horizontal peaks like the Tautz lapel, and the edge of the collar is angled up to form a notch. There are three buttons on the cuffs. The jacket’s buttons are black horn, just like on Bond’s dinner jacket.

Columbo’s dinner jacket unfortunately has two very noticeable faults. The pockets are slanted and have flaps, and the flaps are made worse with a satin silk facing. Slanted pockets are not appropriate on a dinner jacket because of their sporting origins, and bulky pocket flaps are at odds with the dinner jacket’s elegant minimalism. Columbo’s dinner jacket also has double vents, which would be okay if they were a moderate 10″ length like James Bond’s are in the same scene. However, Columbo’s vents are about 14″ long, a quite excessive length since they almost reach the waist. Double vents this long unnecessarily flap about and are especially inelegant for a dinner jacket. Both the pocket style and the vent length are carried over from 1970s fashions, but the dinner jacket does not look like something from the 1970s overall. Though the details are not ideal, they don’t detract from the jacket’s beautiful cut.

Notice the very deep vents, approximately 14" long
Notice the very deep double vents, approximately 14″ long

With the dinner suit, Columbo wears an elegant low-cut, button three, black silk waistcoat. The waistcoat’s U-shaped opening is less common than the V-shaped opening, but it is just as classic. The waistcoat accomplishes its job of covering the waist, whilst it shows off as much of the shirt from as possible. The U-front waistcoat is almost like a cummerbund in that it is hardly seen—or not even seen at all—when the jacket is buttoned. Columbo’s waistcoat has covered buttons in the same silk as the waistcoat’s front, and it does not appear to have lapels.


Columbo wears a white dress shirt made by Frank Foster with a spread collar, pleated front and double cuffs. The shirt’s placket is stitched close to the centre, and it closes with smoke mother-of-pearl buttons, which were also on the shirt Columbo wears with his blazer later in the film. The double cuffs are secured with large, round black cufflinks that have Columbo’s dove emblem in white, and the holes in the cuff are positioned off-centre towards the fold. Columbo’s black silk thistle-shaped bow tie matches his lapels.

The dove cufflinks, plus a number of gold rings.


    • I believe I’ve read previous comments on this blog which stated that the Saville Row houses could not handle the volume requirements needed to dress Bond for a modern film, and thus that’s why they have not provided Bond’s suits.

      I wonder which English tailors would be up to the task?

      • It’s partially the ability to make the volume and partially the cost. It would cost half a million pounds for a Savile Row tailor to make Bond’s suits, whilst Brioni and Tom Ford will do it free. I doubt any English tailor could take on the task without renting additional space and hiring many additional people to take on the work.

    • Can Mason seriously be surprised that he didn’t get the call? As Matt rightly points out, no shop on Savile Row – Sinclair included – is equipped to meet the needs of the modern Bond production.

      Perhaps a nice nod to Sinclair would be if Bond was featured wearing one of the shop’s grenadine ties.

    • I’m pretty sure that no Saville Row tailor expected anything other than that Tom Ford would continue doing the work. Newspapers require good quotes, however.

  1. Thanks for covering this, Matt. Interesting the way this jacket is halfway out of the 1970s and halfway into the more sober 1980s (at least until flamboyance came back around 1986-87). The jacket’s style seems to fit Columbo’s audacious personality as well.

    Happy New Year everybody!

  2. A nice fitting dinner jacket. But I personally don’t like the shape of the peak lapels. The small notch between the lapel and collar IMHO looks untidy. It is unique, though. Have you seen this kind of lapel before, Matt? From what I can see, Columbo’s Navy Blazer doesn’t have these lapels.

  3. Matt, while pocket flaps on a dinner jacket are obviously a flaw, I do not believe that slanted pockets are actually a flaw. Slanted dinner jacket pockets are actually featured in 1930s and 1940s Apparel Arts.

    • Yes, vintage illustrations show slanted pockets sometimes. In fact the earlier the dinner jacket, the more commonplace heavily slanted (but unflapped) pockets appear to be. I suspect this is because some smoking jackets had slash pockets for putting your hands in, which influenced the look of their close relative, the dinner coat.


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