Deo Veritas, one of the most prominent online made-to-measure shirtmakers, approached me earlier this year about partnering on a James Bond-related shirt project together. We discussed a few different ideas and they made a few samples, but ultimately we put our resources towards replicating the classic Sean Connery Bond shirt, specifically as seen in From Russia with Love and Thunderball. All details of the shirt have been replicated as closely as possible.
The starting points were the collar and cuffs, the most defining aspects of a shirt. The collar that Connery wears in both From Russia with Love and Thunderball is very similar to the Classic Turnbull & Asser collar with a very similar shape and spread width, but it appears to be just slightly larger in scale and has less tie space. The Connery collar is a moderate spread in both the width of the points and the overall scale, flattering to almost any face. Connery’s collar does not have as much of the outward flare that the Classic Turnbull & Asser collar has, but some of it is still present. This collar has a 3-inch point length, a 1 3/4-inch back height and a 1/4-inch tie space. I draughted a pattern for the collar, and Deo Veritas perfectly executed it.
In the British tradition, the collar is stitched 1/4-inch from the edge and is structured with a stiff sewn (non-fused) interfacing. Only a non-fused interfacing is able to give the collar it’s gentle and elegant roll that can be seen in all of Connery’s shirts. The collar has removable stiffeners, but the stiffeners are of only average quality. I use my own set in most of my shirts anyway.
The cocktail cuffs are the most distinctive aspect of Connery’s shirts. On the shirt pictured here, however, the wrong cuff pattern was used. In the initial development, one of the shirts we attempted to copy was Roger Moore’s fly-front shirt from Live and Let Die, which has a very similar cuff to Connery’s, and by mistake that pattern was used here.
I developed a cocktail cuff for this shirt based on Connery’s cocktail cuff. Compared to the cuff in this photo, Connery’s cuff is slightly smaller in scale, is more rounded and uses a lighter sewn interfacing. The cuff came out perfectly on the initial test shirt but unfortunately there was a mix-up on my final shirt, though the overall look here is not noticeably different. The cuff is stitched 1/4-inch from the edge. In the British tradition, the cuff is attached to the sleeve with gathers around the entire cuff instead of Deo Veritas’ standard pleats. Like on Connery’s shirts, there is no gauntlet button.
The front placket copies the traditional English placket found on Connery’s shirts, in a narrow 1 3/16 inches and stitched 3/8-inch from the edge. There are seven buttons down the front, and the bottom button acts like an extra button on the hips that helps to anchor the shirt in place. Turnbull & Asser only does six buttons, but they don’t extend down as far.
The back of the shirt features a split yoke, shoulder pleats and darts at the waist. Though it’s uncommon to find a shirt with both pleats and darts at the back, Connery’s shirts prove that there is no reason why they can work together. The shoulder pleats provide ease over the shoulder blades and allow for an easy range of motion. Connery needed pleats both for his strong build and to move well in action scenes. The darts give shape to the shirt’s waist, and in the case of Connery’s shirts the shape was gentle. Connery had a very large drop from his chest to his waist, and he needed both darts and pleats to fit his unusually athletic figure. A normal man like me can still benefit from having both pleats and darts in the back.
Darts on Connery’s Turnbull & Asser shirts were used to clean up the fit around the waist and not used to give his shirts a tight fit. Likewise, I gave my measurements to Deo Veritas to achieve a similar type of fit and not the close fit that I usually like. However. this shirt does not need to have the fuller fit of Connery’s shirts and can be done in the same style with a closer fit.
I requested less taper in the sleeves (Deo Veritas usually cuts a close-fitting sleeve) and gave them a little extra length so that they would not stress at the elbow when bending my arm, and I recommend this—even if you like a close fit—to extend the life of the shirt. I also find fitting the sleeves like this to be necessary because the sleeves are positioned in an angle slightly more downward than on a traditional English shirt, but the position is not so downward as to inhibit movement.
The shirt tails are rounded with a gusset for reinforcement, but they do not exactly copy—and do need to exactly copy—Turnbull & Asser’s signature hexagonal gusset design.
Deo Veritas typically uses thick buttons when choosing their mother of pearl option, but I requested thin mother-of-pearl buttons to follow the English tradition for this shirt, and I think thinner buttons look more elegant and find them easier to fasten.
The fabric is the Light Blue Poplin 120s that can be purchased on the Deo Veritas website. It is a lightweight, 2-ply, 100% Egyptian cotton by Soktas. Being poplin, it is not the easiest fabric to iron, and it is by any means wrinkle-resistant, but it much better in both senses than Sea Island cotton is. Deo Veritas added it to their site especially for this project, and its smooth, shiny finish makes this the perfect fabric for the Connery look. The price is $125 before adding the cost of mother-of-pearl buttons and sewn collar and cuff interfacings.
I encountered a lot of shrinkage with this fabric (as is typical for any good cotton), but Deo Veritas builds in shrinkage to the shirt. Since I only laundered the shirt once before taking the photos, it will shrink slightly more from that in the next couple of washings.
To receive all of the specifications noted here, advance to the measurements section of the Deo Veritas Shirt Designer and input CONNERY SHIRT SPEC under the box near the bottom of the page labeled “Other”. This will ensure that all the special features shown follow the spec and pattern that is featured here.
Mother of pearl buttons and sewn interlinings need to be selected when building the shirt to get those options because of the extra cost, but by requesting CONNERY SHIRT SPEC you will get all the proper details I worked out with them.
With my Deo Veritas shirt I am wearing tuc-pleat (shallow forward pleat) flannel trousers with D-ring side tabs from Paul Stuart and a midnight blue garza grossa grenadine tie from Sam Hober. The photoshoot was held outside of a neo-Gothic townhouse where Sean Connery himself lives on the upper two floors for part of the year.
I received my shirt free as part of this project.
Photos by Janna Levin