Driving in a Suit

13

Driving-Quantum

When you drive, do you wear your suit jacket or hang it up? James Bond always chooses to drive in his suit jacket because he’s usually in a hurry to get in or out of his car. Besides that, it just wouldn’t look elegant for him to remove his jacket to simply get in the car. There’s no need for Bond to remove his jacket in the car because the magic of filmmaking means that Bond’s suit won’t be wrinkled when exits his car. And since his suit only has to last for a small part of a single film he doesn’t need to worry about seatbelt abrasion. The problems of wrinkling and abrasion have become more noticeable to the average suit wearer with the rise in popularity of lighter cloth weights and higher super numbers, which both make the wool less wrinkle resistant and more prone to shining with abrasion.

Driving-Dr-NoBut what about the physical act of driving in a suit? A well-fitting suit shouldn’t constrict movement. The key to being able to move the arms is high armholes. That means the armhole is smaller and hugs the armpit. Feeling the bottom of the armhole in your armpit may give the impression of being constricting, but it is actually quite the opposite. A higher armhole means that less of the suit jacket moves when the arm is raised, and it helps the arm to move more independently of the rest of the jacket. A little ease over the shoulder blades also gives the arms more range of movement. Nevertheless, it helps to unbutton the jacket when driving.

Driving-TWINEThe higher armhole is demonstrated whenever Bond is driving. The jacket sleeve rides up to reveal most of the shirt cuff, which shouldn’t ride up as much as the jacket sleeve does. If the armhole is too low or the suit is too tight, the jacket sleeve will ride up more.

The same goes for riding a motorcycle as it does for driving a car, though James Bond is probably the only person who rides a motorcycle in a suit. In Skyfall, Daniel Craig wears a suit specifically made with longer sleeves for riding a motorcycle (below) so that the amount of shirt cuff that shows when he is riding is consistent with the amount that shows when he is standing with his arms at his side. It’s nonsensical to expect the same amount of shirt cuff to show no matter the arms positions, and I find it absurd that Skyfall’s costume designer Jany Temime felt that a special suit needed to be fitted for riding a motorcycle. Since the sleeves are expected to rise up when the arms are bent, it looks like the sleeves are too long. Plus, it’s a missed opportunity to show off Bond’s cufflinks!

Skyfall-Motorcycle

13 COMMENTS

  1. This article does remind me of a funny story…

    Many years ago, I would get extremely frustrated that I didn’t look “perfect” all of the time. I was constantly adjusting and readjusting my clothes but it was a losing battle. There was a turning point that was related to Bond. I remember seeing a photo of Pierce Brosnan sitting down in TWINE, and seeing how immaculate his outfit looked. I remember thinking that I needed to buy better fitting clothes, or better fabrics, or more expensive outfits so that I looked the same.

    A couple of months later I saw a behind-the-scenes photo that showed him, in the same position, with his shirt all pulled up, it and his jacket wrinkled, sweat on his brow, and makeup on the inside of the collar of his shirt. It occurred to me in an instant that when I saw him in a film or in publicity stills that his clothes had been arranged to look perfect right before filming. Boy, did I feel foolish – especially as I had worked in the film industry! But it just goes to show how insidious the subconscious accumulation of “pressure” to look as good as the stars is.

    Having said that, I have no problem with the suit sleeves in Skyfall being longer for the motorcycle chase. I’ve ridden motorcycles for 20 years and I didn’t even notice! It’s all about creating an unrealistic ideal of looking good no matter what the circumstances. While there have been some very effective nods to a *slightly* more realistic effect on the clothes (the opening night audience audibly reacted when they first saw how bloody Bond’s clothes were after the stairwell fight in Casino Royale) I think that we will always see Bond looking unreasonably immaculate and put-together – he is a fantasy figure, after all.

    As for real life, thank dog for sprezzatura..!

  2. I take my jacket off every morning and lay it across my back seat. I don’t hang it because my commute involves highway travel and visibility is slightly more important to me than suit care. I do hang it on the back of my door once I get to the office, however.

    I agree with you about the Skyfall sleeves on the motorcycle. It is a bit absurd that the suit was actually tailored to accommodate for the position of his arms in the scene. However, as Flashheart points out, this general idea of Bond looking impossibly immaculate is hardly a new trend in the series. Indeed, Brosnan and Moore were much bigger offenders than Craig if you look at the big picture.

  3. If I know that I’m going to be behind the wheel for any length of time, more than a half hour or so (and with New York traffic this occurs more often than not!) I like to hang my jacket up in the back seat so as to avoid wrinkles.
    That said I don’t find driving in a suit or blazer to be particularly constricting– if one can’t move properly in a particular piece of clothing than it probably isn’t worth wearing!

  4. Personally, unless I’m hot, I leave the jacket on. But wear sportcoats most of the time. If I wore suits more often I’d probably take of the jacket 50% of the time.

    As far as constriction is concerned, I’d imagine a double vented sportcoat with an action back would be the least constricting (see the post on Brosnan in Rem. Steele). The double vent would make it easier to buckle the seatbelt and the action shoulders would allow good arm movement.

    I saw one online last year and passed. I have seen one in my size since. I’ve been kicking myself a little bit for that.

  5. I typically take my sports jacket off and hang it up when I’m driving. More than anything else, I really just get nervous that my seat belt will somehow pop off one of my buttons. Plus I may as well avoid wrinkles when I can help it. I rarely had mobility issues on the few occasions I kept my jacket on while driving.

  6. I’m driving with jacket off. Reason is, as you pointed out, low armholes. They make the jacket constricting, even for a handshake. The fit is perfect when I’m standing still, though. 🙂

    I don’t wear suits every day, so this is not that big of an issue. Hopefully, my next suit will be bespoke.

  7. Funny, I have never thought about the way the suits Bond wears react after driving.

    I wear suits, blazers, and sport coats on my motor scooter sometimes. I have never really payed attention to the position of the sleeves. I suppose it is a good opportunity to show off the French cuffs. I have worn suits while on bicycles too, as absurd as that might sound today.

    Like David mentioned, while in a car it depends upon weather conditions. For me it also depends upon the occasion and the type of coat. For a job interview or a black tie event, I would hang it upon one of those convenient hooks to prevent any risk of wrinkles. The rest of the time I just unbutton the waist.

  8. Usually, if I’m only driving for a short period of time, I would wear my jacket as much as possible. I admit it’s silly that I do this mainly because, like you said, James Bond almost always does it. Besides, when I’m going to a party, sometimes I would directly drive up to the lobby, give my keys to the valet parking attendant and directly go inside. I like to think this is pretty cool(Ignoring the fact that I drive a 1.5L Ford Fiesta instead of a sportscar).
    However, if I’m going to be driving for a while I always take my jacket off and hang it from the backseat hanger. It’s just too uncomfortable to wear it for too long. Not because my jacket is constricting but because I would worry too much about creasing it.

  9. I keep my jacket on all the time (in or out of the car) since I carry a concealed firearm everyday for work (law enforcement investigator). I also have the jackets properly tailored to minimize printing of the firearm and other items. My tailor does a great job with this, especially since the Glock 21 I carry is fairly large. After getting into the car, I always pull the jacket outside of the seatbelt to make access to the gun easier in case I have to draw it quickly inside while still belted in. This also keeps the wrinkles down.

    Keep up the great work on the site, Matt!

  10. I’ve kept my jacket on for driving for a while and haven’t noticed this “seatbelt abrasion” being spoken of…

    Regarding Skyfall, I think the main reason they made another suit for the motorcycle chase was so it wouldn’t be as constricting. I agree that it was unnecessary to lengthen the sleeves. I recall reading somewhere that they made the jacket and trousers looser fitting as well as weighed down the tie with something or another (washers, perhaps?) so it wouldn’t flap around as much. The way I see it, they shouldn’t have made his suits so damn tight to begin with that it necessitated that! Jimmy Fallon’s most likely off the rack O’Connor suit looks better and more comfortable than Daniel Craig’s supposedly made to measure ones. That’s a damn shame.

  11. Perhaps Matt you can comment on the use of jacket vents on the suits seen in Skyfall. I notice in the first scene in Skyfall in Istanbul that Daniel Craig is wearing a suit with a very short center vent, I have never seen one this short. His Dinner Jacket also has a standard length center vent, which is unusual. I am not sure but I think the charcoal rope stripe suit has no vent, hence perhaps another reason why it appears slightly tight on bond especially during action scenes, or perhaps not. I have not checked the other Daniel Craig bond movies but do you know any reason why the center vent is used so much in Skyfall?

    • Every suit jacket in Skyfall has a standard length (roughly 10″) single vent, including the three suits you mention. The suits in Casino Royale are mixed between single and double vents, but you can read my articles on those suits to see which suits have which vent styles. The dinner suit in Casino Royale is the exception, which has no vents. All of the suits and the dinner suit in Quantum of Solace have double vents. I do not know the reason for the odd choice of a single vent on everything in Skyfall, since double vents would make Daniel Craig look taller, they move better in action scenes and they are more British.

  12. When i was working as an usher at a convention center, i met an attorney who taught me how to properly fold a suit when a hanger is not available. Turn the suit inside out, and fold it in half. I still use that trick till this very day.

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