Felix Leiter: The Dinner Suit

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The one man at the poker table in Casino Royale who is arguably more elegantly dressed than James Bond is Felix Leiter. Jeffrey Wright plays the latest Felix Leiter in Casino Royale and Quantum of Solace. Like everyone else at the poker table, Leiter is wearing Brioni. His black dinner suit goes a step further than Bond’s in formality and adds a waistcoat, making it more traditionally correct black tie. The dinner jacket is cut with Brioni’s straight shoulders and is a traditional button one with a shawl collar. The shawl collar’s satin silk facings stop a quarter inch from the edge, an old-fashioned detail from tailcoats that at the same time looks very modern. The dinner jacket also has four buttons on the cuffs, jetted pockets and no vent. The buttons are covered.

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The waistcoat is made in the same black wool that the rest of the dinner suit is made in. It is low cut with a U-shaped front, which harmonises very well with the jacket’s shawl collar. The waistcoat is barely visible when the jacket is buttoned, which is the way it should be for black tie. The waistcoat does not have lapels. Like Bond, Felix Leiter removes his dinner jacket at the poker table. It’s an ungentlemanly practice, but at least Leiter looks more dressed with his waistcoat.

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Leiter wears two dress shirts with his dinner suit during the film. Both dress shirts have a spread collar, double cuffs and onyx studs. The first shirt has a narrow-pleated front that takes three studs—with the first starting a distractingly too high—and the second shirt has a marcella bib that takes two studs. The placket on the pleated shirt is stitched on the edge and then stitched on the other side and extended to form the first pleat. Though the placket is stitched on the edge, the collar has regular 1/4″ stitching. The black satin bow tie matches the dinner suit’s facings. It’s a little undersized, but it suits Leiter very well.

If the dress code for the poker game is specified as black tie, Leiter follows it perfectly and is thus dressed better than Bond is. However, the lack of a waistcoat or cummerbund has now become acceptable in black tie—we can partially thank James Bond for that—and that makes Bond and Leiter equals as the best-dressed in the poker game.

15 COMMENTS

  1. Leiter does look good in this, though I agree that the bow tie is slightly on the small side.

    It’s a little different to what you’d usually do on this site but would you ever consider looking at all the suits worn at the table? They mostly look pretty awful but I’d love to see your take on them. Though of course they don’t deserve a post each, one encompassing all would work.
    Perhaps if you’re having a slow week sometime you could do it! It would make a humourous contrast to the (usually) well dressed Bond!

  2. Good post. I really like Wright’s take on Leiter. In past films, Leiter was always depicted as sort of a sidekick to Bond–someone who was neither as suave nor as clever/competent as 007. With Wright, this has changed and we see Felix as more of Bond’s equal and I think this dinner suit epitomizes that notion.

    • You’re right. We haven’t seen Leiter as an equal to Bond since his first appearance in Dr. No. I’ll eventually write about Rik Van Nutter’s Felix, but Norman Burton, David Hedison and John Terry have nothing to offer sartorially. However, I’m considering writing a piece that compares Hedison’s clothes with Moore’s.

      • I would enjoy that comparison. I also think a further comparison of Wright’s Leiter clothes with Craig’s could be interesting,

      • I’m not sure I’d be able to make a fair comparison between Wright’s and Craig’s clothing. Apart from what I’ve written about here, they don’t wear any other suits that are similar. I could make a comparison of their sports shirts. I’ll definitely write about Wright’s linen suit in Quantum of Solace, but there’s nothing similar in Craig’s wardrobe I could compare it to. It’s good enough to stand on its own, anyway.

  3. A terrific dinner suit and, because of my own preference for a shawl collar, I slightly prefer it to Bond’s (though I too prefer no cummerbund or waistcoat).

    I also really like Wright, both as an actor ( he was terrific in Cadillac Records as the great Muddy Waters) and as the most interesting Felix Leiter. He does, finally, differentiate the role from Bond’s with his world-weary, cynical take on the character. It would be nice to see him back in Bond 24.

  4. Mr Wright is a likeable guy but he’s given so little to do in either of his Leiter appearances, it’s such a shame. The movie seemed to swap Mathis and Leiter’s contributions around.

  5. Totally off subject, but it’s a shame Mathis was killed off so early…he was a great character in the novels.

  6. I don’t normally prefer a waistcoat with a shawl collar. However, if there’s one waistcoat style that can be worn with it, it’s this.

  7. Excellent post and I agree that Leiter looks as good, if not better than Bond here.

    I’m a fan of Le Chiffre’s suit at the poker table too and would like to see a post on his outfit.

  8. The shawl collar ‘s satin silk facings are out of place to me, that’s why I prefer Bond’s dinner suit. I think they are only at home on a morning coat or on an evening tailocat, but I am perhaps a bit too old-mannish about it.

    The two shirts look great, I wonder if they are from Brioni too, or T&A.

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