Drape in Sean Connery’s Suits

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Glen-Urquhart-Check-Suit-Drape

In Dressing the Man, Alan Flusser defines drape as:

The manner in which a garment hangs from the shoulder or waist. For example, the English drape (or English lounge) is an intended style feature of men’s jackets or outercoats pioneered in the early 1920s by the Prince of Wales’s maverick tailor Frederick Scholte, inspired by the guards coat; it is characterized by fullness across the chest and over the shoulder blades to form flat vertical wrinkles for form, comfort, and the impression of muscularity. The draped silhouette dominated men’s tailored fashions throughout the 1920s and 1930s.

The classic drape cut has large, padded shoulders and a nipped waist, to emphasise and build upon a man’s V-shaped torso. Drape has the intention to make a man look stronger. Sean Connery’s Anthony Sinclair suit jackets were cut with a mild amount of drape, though his jackets do not have the built-up shoulders of the classic drape suit. Though Cyril Castle made some of Roger Moore’s suits in The Saint with a draped chest, the drape was mostly absent from his James Bond suits. The extra chest fullness practically serves James Bond, by not only offering extra ease in movement but also better concealing his PPK. Even though the chest is larger than usual, it doesn’t mean the suit is a size larger. Very few tailors still do a drape cut, and even Anderson & Sheppard who was once known for their drape now mostly cuts a trim, clean chest. Drape has a markedly old-fashioned look that isn’t in line with today’s trim fashions. Still, English tailors use drape in the most basic definition of the term: they allow the cloth to hang from—but also conform to—the body, rather than cling to it.

Roger Moore Suit-The Helpful Pirate
A drape cut in The Saint

17 COMMENTS

  1. I might get some snarky replies considering what site I’m posting on, but what’s the difference between a drape cut suit and a suit that’s simply too big in the chest?

    • Typically a suit that is too big will look messy across the shoulder blades in the back. Everything falls neatly on a drape cut and tapers in at the waist. Only the chest is larger, the rest of the jacket is not. And it’s larger in a different way than a larger size would be cut, but a real tailor would need to tell you the specifics.

  2. I own many suits in both styles, and I wear whatever one makes me feel better on that day. Though I have to say that the Tom Ford stuff certainly makes Mr. Craig look like a very tough Tough Guy…

  3. Very informative, Matt. I too have suits of both types, and I actually have a preference for my MTM Ralph Lauren suits from 2009, which have a classic drape without overpowering shoulders but are also nicely cut and follow my body without “clinging.” I look forward to a post on a clean chest.

  4. I like the drape cut a lot. It gives plenty of shape and interest to the jacket, and the creases the illusion of well-developped pectorals, which is always pleasant to the eye. Matt, do you mean there is no more tailor or ready-to-wear brand known for doing/able to do a drape cut, except perhaps Anthony Sinclair ? It’s really a shame.
    Speaking of something else, Connery’s jacket shoulders are impressive and very large. If I wasn’t aware he was a bodybuilder and -thanks to your articles Matt- that he wore natural shoulders, I would swear these are straight, padded shoulders, like the ones Brosnan sported in TWINE for example. How did you identify them as natural shoulders, Matt ? I would like to understand the method, if there is one ! Thank you.

    • Whilst Connery’s suits have some drape, they aren’t really a drape cut, which is much fuller. I’ve never seen drape in a ready-to-wear suit, though some of the full-cut suits that were popular in the late 80s-early 90s may count as drape. There are still a number of tailors who do drape, like former Anderson & Sheppard cutters Edwin DeBoise and Thomas Mahon, and Italian tailors like Rubinacci. I too had thought that Connery’s shoulders were padded but in a 1966 issue of GQ Anthony Sinclair says that he does not use any shoulder padding. He used a stiff canvas to keep everything looking structured and neat, but the shoulders are not built up at all.

  5. Connery had the benefit of having very square shoulders which require less padding, a similar advantage that many Italians have. That is why, in my opinion, the soft shoulder of Neapolitan tailors like Attolini look far more flattering on similar physiques than on someone like Prince Charles, no disrespect, who has sloping, Anglo Saxon shoulders. Unlike modern jackets, I believe the shoulder is cut wide enough to hang off the outside of the arm, rather than over the top of it, which gives both the appearance of a bigger shoulder and a slight drape.

  6. I think a slightly draped chest (same as “swell chest”?) would balance me out. Because of my slight build, my head tends to look heavier than the rest of my body!

  7. It’s all about perspective. A good tailor should advise you on what suits best your physique, a mistake many people make when they slavishly try to follow fashion or achieve a look which doesn’t suit them?

    • I assume you were responding to my post? In hindsight I’m definitely sure that drape looks good on me, having tried on some vintage stuff from the ’80s that wasn’t horribly exaggerated (nor had the horridly low gorge lapels). Then again they also had padded and slightly extended shoulders, which probably helped a bit. Again, not ridiculous, more an homage to the ’30s if anything.

      I now own a MTM suit with a clean chest (the house cut that they follow). Overall it looks really good on me, make no mistake, but some more drape there would make it even better IMO. Just one lanky guy’s opinion of course. Working out has helped some. 😛

  8. I think that the a full drape chest not work well with the slender lapels of 60s (worst with the Moore’s skinny lapels).
    For narrow lapels is better a clean chest and not extended shoulders.

  9. Might want to peruse the Cutter and Tailor discussion on ‘drape’ (from around 2010), which sheds some light on the myths and assumptions surrounding it. I don’t think the photo heading this post is ‘drape’ at all, but rather slight creasing in the armscye because Connery has his hands behind his back.

    So-called ‘classic drape’ you refer to, with the padded shoulders, is really the American take on it that was popularised in the ’40s. Scholte drape is different. The most interesting is that there there are more photos of the Prince of Wales (Edward VIII) with clean-chested coats than with so-called drape.

    • I have indeed read through that discussion at Cutter and Tailor, as well as spoken with tailors on this. I’ve replaced the image on this page with another one that shoes Connery with his arm at his side and a slight fold in the chest. It has the suggestion of drape rather than being an obvious drape. There’s more drape here than on the Prince of Wales’ typical jacket.

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