Fleming: Royal Navy Uniform

15

Fleming-Uniform

In the end of the first episode and throughout the the second episode of the miniseries Fleming: The Man Who Would Be Bond, Ian Fleming, played by Dominic Cooper, wears a World War II Royal Navy commander’s uniform very similar to what Sean Connery, Roger Moore and Pierce Brosnan all wore as James Bond. The uniform is made by a bespoke tailor—as far as the story is concerned—with a very clean, fitted military cut. The shoulders aren’t as built-up as one would expect, but they are padded and there’s a little roping at the sleeve head. It is double-breasted with eight buttons on four to button. The jacket has jetted pockets, short double vents and the rank insignia of commander on the sleeve, consisting of three rings of gold braid with the executive curl in the upper braid. Appropriately, the jacket is made in a dark navy, heavy serge cloth.

Fleming-Uniform-2The jacket is tailored to a much shorter than traditional length, which helps Dominic Cooper look just a little closer to the much taller man that the real Ian Fleming was. The shorter jacket length isn’t as noticeable because the uniform is so dark. Fleming is shot in ways that make Cooper look taller, and there aren’t many shots that emphasise how short the jacket is. As a result, it ends up appearing in proportion to Cooper’s body whilst also giving his legs extra length.

Fleming-Shirt-Tie-BracesThe trousers have a flat front with frogmouth pockets and a fishtail—or braces—back. The back is curved up higher to be more comfortable with braces. It’s the same reason why Ralph Fiennes’ trousers in Skyfall have extending tabs that the braces attach to. The braces are beige with brown stripes. They have light brown leather ends. The braces don’t go with the rest of the outfit, but when he’s all dressed it doesn’t matter because the braces are hidden. He wears a white shirt with a long, soft point collar and double cuffs. Fleming ties his black repp tie, naturally, in a four-in-hand knot. His shoes are black lace-ups.

We even get to see what kind of undergarments Fleming wears. His t-shirt has short sleeves and a rather large crew neck opening, but it’s not quite a scoop neckline. His white pants have double reverse pleats and about a 6-inch inseam. The real Ian Fleming specified Bond’s underpants in The Man with the Golden Gun to be made of sea island cotton, which the author probably also wore himself.

Fleming-Underwear

Perhaps the best part of Fleming’s naval uniform is the navy greatcoat. Roger Moore briefly wears a similar greatcoat in The Spy Who Loved Me over his uniform, but we see much more of this coat. It’s a full length coat that hits mid-calf, and in such a heavy weight it’s an extremely warm coat. Fleming wears it unbuttoned because it’s probably too warm to button it up. The double-breasted coat has twelve gilt buttons on the front, with six on each side in a keystone formation. There is decorative stitching on the left front panel of the coat that frames the keystone, from the buttonhole on the bottom right across to the bottom decorative button on the left, and up the row of decorative buttons. Notch lapels allow the coat to fasten to the top. It has straight, flapped pockets, a deep centre vent, swelled edges and a half belt in back that buttons on either end. The epaulettes match the uniform’s jacket sleeves and have three rings of gold braid with the executive curl in the upper braid. With the coat Fleming wears a Royal Navy peaked cap with a black cover—which was later replaced universally with white as seen in the Bond films—and a black peak with a row of oak leaves.

Fleming-Greatcoat

15 COMMENTS

  1. Say what you want about making Cooper look taller, but the length of this jacket is nothing short of a joke; worse than Skyfall. Granted, though the cut is not spectacular, it’s not as blatantly objectionable as the length.

    The sleeve length is also quite questionable.

    -Kurt

    • You’re right about the length. It could have been about 2 inches longer and still had the same effect to make him look taller. Because it’s so dark (both the uniform and the lighting), it doesn’t stand out as much as the short jackets in Skyfall. If the miniseries weren’t lit so darkly it wouldn’t mask so much of the clothes’ imperfections. The shirt cuffs are too large, and the greatcoat’s sleeves are too long, but the jacket’s sleeves look about right.

      • Matt, with your post. One would have to be paying careful attention to notice that the jacket is too short. It must’ve been done intentionally for the reasons you mention.

      • Indeed – but I would be less inclined to believe that hiding the length of this jacket was a carefully weighed decision, and more a quick kludge of the wardrobe department.

        I should have specified – I was referring to the shirt sleeves/cuffs in my comment; jacket sleeves looked fine. Didn’t even notice the greatcoat until now, but the sleeves look positively ridiculous.

        The eccentricities and polar extremities of fit issues here lead me to believe that a lot of the clothing used here was pulled out of wardrobe surplus, and hacked up to fit where necessary.

        In particular, it looks as if the canvassing under the jacket’s right shoulder has become detached from the outer fabric and has bunched up with the padding. I have a Brooks Brothers #346 DB jacket that did just that. Never fixed it, as the jacket is a bit on the rough side.

        -Kurt

      • It’s quite possible the uniform and greatcoat are authentic and this is what they could find. That would explain some fit issues, though some could have easily been fixed. The shirt, however, I’m sure was made for the production, and there’s no excuse for the oversized cuffs.

      • I can see that – and the jacket’s cloth seems to have the period weight to it – but it still seems ludicrous to use such a short jacket, if such was the only thing available (not to mention stretch the sleeves, no doubt).

        One would think that using an authentic, dark navy double-breasted civilian suit jacket of the period – with suitable modifications – could have opened up the doorway to a proper jacket length and still have filled the bill accurately.

        But then again, the actor himself doesn’t even resemble the man he’s portraying. Guess there’s little point in getting the jacket right anyway, to some.

        -Kurt

  2. I don’t see the point in the short jacket if it’s too dark to notice. They may as well have given him a correctly tailored jacket. Trying to disguise his lack of height is silly when he is stood beside his female costar which puts his height into scale. I’ve never believed a short jacket adds the illusion of height. Quite the opposite in my opinion.
    Cheers
    Ryan

  3. One thing that I thought was a neat touch with the jacket despite it’s fit issues is that they actually gave Fleming the correct rank insignia, something which the Bond films have failed to do to date. Bond, like Fleming is supposed to be a commander in the Royal Navy Volunteer Reserve, the “wavy” Navy (so called because of their wavy rank bands). So far, the Bond films have incorrectly given Bond the three straight gold bands of a Commander in the regular Navy. So they got that right at least… It might actually point to the uniform being from the period as Matt speculated.

    • I don’t think a short jacket necessarily makes a man look much taller, but a jacket that is longer than traditional definitely makes one look shorter.

      To your point, Daniel Craig looks significantly taller in QoS as compared to Skyfall. But I’m not sure this can be attributed soley to the length of the jacket. It may have more to do with the overall fit.

    • Agree 100%. Nice to see the RNVR stripes correctly used finally, but then the period detail has been very good so far. Of course Elliot’s eye was used for all RN officers after early WW1 so its not really noting him as being Executive branch.

      • Good points about the RNVR stripes. There is even a “wavy” RNVR regimental tie. However, I am sure they got the wavy stripes right in every Fleming documentary, such as “The secret life of Ian Fleming” with Jason Connery and “Ian Fleming, Bondmaker” with Ben Daniels. The stills I have seen from the 1989 Goldeneye with Charles Dance also seem to include the wavy stripes. This uniform seems very similar in size to the one used in “Ian Fleming, Bondmaker”. Since the two actors are of similar height, I wouldn’t be surprised if it were the same one, in case it is authentic.

      • The ‘wavy navy’ RNVR (and RNR?) stripes were abolished in 1952 – officers after this date wore the same insignia as regulars, but with an ‘R’ in the loop above the top stripe. The ‘R’ was itself phased out in 2007. Therefore, James Bond would never have worn wavy braid on his cuffs, whether on film, or in the books.

  4. I’ve got to know about that undershirt. Where can you find such a thing? The collar is the perfect size for a crew neck, enough to unbutton the collar and discreet enough not to bulge under a shirt. And the sleeves are a proper circumference so you can’t see them through your shirt. I’ve been looking for something like this for a long time. Anybody got a clue?

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.