Felix Leiter: The Tropical Beige Suit

19

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Felix Leiter, James Bond’s American counterpart, has never been as cool as when he was first portrayed by Jack Lord in Dr. No. Lord’s successor Cec Linder plays Leiter as a stodgier character, dressed in Ivy League style, whilst Lord dresses younger and more fashionably. Since it’s only 1962, the suit has a lot in common with 1950s styles. The suit is made in beige tropical wool. The button three jacket has padded shoulders with roped sleeve heads, and a relaxed cut through the body with front darts. The back has short double vents—a popular 1960s style—that are no deeper than 6 inches and are more for style than for function. The hip pockets are welted like the typical breast pocket, another style that was more commonly seen in the ’60s. The lapels are a little on the narrow side, with tiny notches. The cuffs have three buttons, spaced out, and the suit’s buttons are light brown horn. The suit trousers have a flat front, cross pockets, side adjusters and turn-ups.

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Leiter’s white shirt has a spread collar, double cuffs and a front placket. The tie is solid dark brown. His shoes are brown moccasins. His most well-known accessory is his pair of cat-eye sunglasses, which have since become primarily worn by women. Nevertheless, Felix Leiter looks hipper than Bond with his sunglasses, which he places in his outer breast pocket when he removes them. No Felix Leiter other than Jack Lord, except perhaps Jeffrey Wright, comes close to having a competing screen presence with Bond, and his cool look has a large part to do with it.

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19 COMMENTS

  1. Agree. Beautiful suit and he looks Latin cool. I would prefer a two button jacket and a light blue shirt but the overall look is unbeatable in a warm climate. Difficult to carry off in an English winter.

  2. Very nice. I think the cat eye sunglasses definitely date his outfit the most.

    Tropical wool may get short shrift by certain internet clothing enthusiasts for wrinkling more, not being as durable, and other such complaints, yet as we can see here it is still far less wrinkled than linen or cotton would be — both of which aren’t known for lasting as long as your classic 10 ounce worsted would either. I suppose it’s only up for debate whether it keeps you as cool as other, non-wool summer fabrics would.

    • I work in a city and in the summer time, the heat can be brutal. For my money, linen or cotton-linen blends keep me the coolest.

    • Agreed. I’m quite fond of his portrayal of Leiter. Hopefully he’ll return in the next installment.

      Also, he wears a similar look to this one in Quantum of Solace. It would make for an interesting comparison, but I will leave further comparison to Matt.

  3. Would it be too tangential to ask you to review one his Hawaii Five-O suits? I’ve even heard he wore Brioni during much of the show…

  4. Nice suit seemingly at a cross roads between the 1950s and the 1960s. it fits the American agent, locale, and era. I don’t think the flat front pants do Lord any favors. And maybe its the angle of the photo, but Connery does tower and seemingly physically overpowers Lord. But he was coolest Leiter (not that the competition is tough), at least until Jeffrey Wright, who I think perfect as his version of a cynical American agent of the post 9/11 era.

    • Christian, I would like to understand what you think is wrong with the flat front trousers here.
      I personnaly prefer pleated fronts for lounge suit, formal or semi-formal trousers, whatever the physique of the wearer may be, and flat fronts are certainly more 60s than 50s, but I think that it contributes here to an interesting sartorial contrast between Bond and Leiter, especially when they are checking the samples with Quarrel : they are both well dressed but always in a different way : two button vs. three button jackets, pleated vs. flat fronts, double cuffs vs. turnback cuffs, different color of shirt, suit, etc… And Leiter isn’t particularly fat I guess, so I think flat front trousers look correct on him.

      • Le Chiffre,

        I don’t think there is anything wrong with the flat front trousers, and I personally prefer them. I just think that Lord looks a tad heavy in the photo above.

  5. Very nice outfit, and as some of the villains’, it interestly contrasts with Bond’s own clothing, yet only in mostly in term of colour of the suit, since both wear a plain white shirt and a dark tie. This appropriate, and elegant outftit sure makes Leiter (plus his physique and his attitude) very cool. Jack Lord is really the best Leiter in term of, well, attraction power and male sensuality. Rik Van Nutter, who plays Leiter in Thunderball had quite a nice and cool style too, but he unfortunately looked 10 years older than Sean Connery. Plus he wore his sunglasses too much, even with his dinner jacket… the best way to be noticed, by the way…

    The scene between Bond and Leiter is also interesting, since it -well, it does a little…- demonstrates the superiority of Bond’s/British tailoring, especially when Bond is beeing “caught” by Leiter : in some screenshots, we clearly see the not so good tailoring of Leiter’s jacket -in term of collar and sleeves.
    But I guess Leiter’s not-perfectly-fitting suit was chosen on purpose, perhaps to make him look even cooler… it certainly isn’t very disturbing. I wouldn’t hesitate between having to wear Leiter’s beige suit or one of the Skyfall’s lounge suits !

  6. Sharp threads for a cool customer. This Leiter manages to outfox Bond and disarm him – no small feat. Every time I’ve seen this great film I’ve wondered why they need to bring in Bond at all if Leiter is on the scene. Strangways was a MI6 man, but his murder was incidental to Dr. No’s interference with US rocket launches, which would concern the CIA rather than MI6. This Leiter is also similar to the literary Leiter, quite a gung-ho man in his own right.

    • Jamaica was still part of the British Empire at this time. So it’s Bond’s “beat” as I believe he says in the movie.

      • Fair point, Christian. And Bond did have brave Quarrel, a CIA asset, take him to Crab Key so it is a joint mission. The moccasins are quite daring for a fellow in a suit in 1962. Wouldn’t deck shoes be kinder to Leiter’s feet, on Jamaican terrain?

  7. As I said in the Olive Suit comments, this is one of my favorite suits from the series. It is also a nice reference – albeit probably just a coincidence – to his literary counterpart who id wearing a tan suit when he is first introduced in Casino Royalle. One quibble though, shouldn’t this be in Dr. No rather than Goldfinger?

  8. If I’m not mistaken, Jack Lord has a warm complexion. I’m somebody with a cool complexion and would personally try a style similar to this? Would a navy shirt suffice instead of a white shirt or would a white shirt still look good?

    • Stick with a white shirt. Dark shirts should not be paired with suits, especially not with ties. The colour of the suit should have rosy undertones rather than golden undertones if you have a cool complexion. Lord’s suit has the rosy undertones you would need.

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