Bond Suits is venturing into womenswear with a dissection of Judi Dench’s M’s suit in Casino Royale. This may not be as exciting an outfit as Ursula Andress’ white bikini in Dr. No or Barbara Bach’s midnight blue dress in The Spy Who Loved Me, though the former in a way would seem appropriate for this blog’s name, considering it is a type of ‘suit’. M’s outfit is more in the spirit of this blog considering that it is tailored.
For the defibrillator scene where M deals remotely with James Bond and when she speaks with Bond over the phone at the end of the film, costume designer Lindy Hemming dressed Judi Dench in a warm grey suit from Armani. Look to the Stars reported that the Dench donated the suit for a charity auction, and Bond Lifestyle reported that the suit sold for $6,000.
The suit is a ‘trouser suit’ or ‘pants suit’ because it includes a jacket and trousers. Women’s suits may be made up of a jacket and trousers, a jacket and skirt, a jacket and dress, or any number of other garment combinations. The colour of the suit looks different depending on the lighting. The lighting inside M’s office is quite warm, so it can make the suit look taupe. When correcting for the colour of light it still looks warmer than true grey, and there’s no fine line between what differentiates warm grey and taupe. It’s a flattering colour on Dench and picks up the warm grey colour of her hair. The fabric has a napped textured weave, possibly a barrathea wave, and it’s likely wool or a wool blend. Synthetic blends are more common in high-end women’s suits than they are in fine menswear.
The jacket has three oversized buttons down the front and fishmouth lapels with a large belly. The cuffs have a short vent without buttons. The shoulders are straight with a lot of padding to make Dench look more powerful, and while the padding is noticeable, it is not overdone. The bottom hem of the jacket is pointed at the front and curves up at the sides like a shirt hem, which hits mid-hip length. Women’s suit jackets are usually shorter than men’s suit jackets to not overwhelm the body and to emphasise the hips.
Women’s tailoring is not held to the same strict confines of men’s tailoring. Men’s tailoring is expected to be well-fitting, crisp and balanced, with as few seams as possible. While there are a few accepted variations on how the front of a man’s tailored jacket is darted—or not darted—seams and darts are not used on men’s suits for the purpose of decoration. There’s ultimately no practical reason why they can’t be, but the tradition is for men’s suits to look simple and for the cloth to be the main focus rather than the cut.
For women, a tailored jacket can have more seams, and there are no rules as to how many seams there should be or where the seams should go. This makes for more variation in women’s jackets, and it makes the jackets look more decorative. Dench’s jacket has a seam down the middle of each side of the front, with two horizontal waist seams. Most of the edges, seams and darts have bold decorative stitching approximately 1 cm from the edge or the seam. Since there aren’t any strict ‘rules’ in women’s tailoring like there are in men’s tailoring, it can make it a little more interesting but also more challenging to design.
Women’s bodies are usually shaped differently than men’s bodies, typically with more curves and more variation from person to person. This makes their bodies more difficult to fit, and this is another reason for having more seams and darts in women’s wear than in menswear. Dench’s jacket has many seams on the front to give it a lot of shape.
Unlike with men’s suits, which are common to wear for both dressier work and social purposes, women mainly wear suits only in professional contexts, commonly for office jobs and in the service industry. British tailors also commonly make tailored horseback riding clothes for women. Beyond this, there are women who wear tailoring of all sorts outside of traditional contexts, but that is a topic that goes too far beyond the subject of what M wears for her job.
The styles of women’s suits change with fashion and slightly with the age of the person wearing them, though M’s suit in Casino Royale is fairly timeless and appropriate for women of all ages. What mainly changes with the age of the person wearing the suit in women’s tailoring is the fit. Younger women will often wear more fitted suits than older women, but this is not always the case, and it does not need to be the case.
Though we do not see the suit trousers in the film, from the auction listing they appear to have a full, straight leg. Her other trousers in the film are cut this way, and the silhoutte is not all that different from what Daniel Craig wears in the film.
In her final scene of the film, she wears the jacket with black trousers. Because the suit jacket has texture, it pairs well with separate trousers that have a contrasting texture. The black trousers have a smoother texture than the jacket. The same principles of contrasting textures when pairing men’s jackets and trousers applies for women.
Under the suit, Dench wears two different black tops. In the earlier scene the top has a low-cut front, and it’s possible a tank top. The sheen suggests a satin material, either of silk or a synthetic. At the end of the film she wears a top with less sheen that has a higher round neck, which provides just enough space for her necklace.
Her shoes are briefly visible from under her desk. They are black calf high-heeled shoes with a closed toe. She is wearing black sheer hosiery.
If you would be interested in reading more about women’s wear on this blog, or if you would like me to stick with menswear, please leave a comment below. Womenswear, at most, would be nothing more than a very occasional topic here. Requests will be considered. I have my wife to thank for teaching me more about womenswear, and maybe for influencing some of my opinions on it.
Well Matt, lots of very interesting information, I have to say. Your research here looks very informed and well put together. I think it’s really interesting you decided to write something about women’s clothing. Personally I hop onto the suits of James Bond when I get bored on the laptop at home or school. So I read a lot of your articles weekly. I would love to see some more of Lazenby’s suits in films talked about more such as Alfred Hitchcock Presents or even the Kimono that Roger Moore wore in A View to A Kill. I look forward to reading more articles about the clothes Bond Wears.
Bravo! I learned a lot. I’d personally love to see more women’s tailored clothing covered here, like the black suit worn by Cigar Girl.
Thank you, and yes — please start covering womenswear! Long overdue.
Go for it. At the very least we get to learn words such as barrathea.
Barathea is commonly used in men’s evening wear!
adding in women’s suits is a wonderful idea! i follow this blog mainly to see how i can take the concepts that you dissect with men’s suits and apply them to women’s. digging directly into women’s suits with a tailoring and fashion eye, is a real boon.
Call me a sexist, misogynist dinosaur. A relic of the Cold War, if you will (sorry couldn’t resist), but I am not that bothered about women’s wear.
Me too. I realise the entirety of Bond’s outfits and those of other (male) characters has been well and truly mined but the vaguaries and fickleness of women’s fashions hold little interest for me.
While that is mostly true about womenswear, I can think of a few examples of women’s fashion in the Bond films that truly stand the test of time.
Agreed with Matt. There are some fairly classic pieces, especially women’s suits, throughout all six decades of films.
I dont know about the whole women’s wardrobe thing….
Why not? Especially suits worn by super-charming girls. I suggest Eva Green in Casino Royale, who is told (by the Ours) to wear “slightly masculine clothing”
That’s another good suggestion!
I find it necessary to point out to the detractors that today is International Women’s Day. I think we can dedicate at least one post out of the year, every year, to Judi Dench’s M.
I’d love to learn more about womenswear with the same clarity and precision that you bring to men’s suits.
i would second that. it seems like it could be a real challenge!
A fitting post for international women’s day!
As for the occasional post featuring women’s clothing, I take no issue with it. Even Fleming saw fit to occasionally describe women’s clothing in some detail (and often in more detail than Bond’s!), so why not give it some attention here?
Great job, Matt! And extra points for not going the cliched route and first covering the (best-in-the-series-and-iconic) dress from The Spy Who Loved Me. Nice addition to the wealth of information already available here. By all means, cover womensware as well. “The Suits of James Bond” is the better, more inclusive, and more well-rounded for it and any one (man) who isn’t interested simply doesn’t have to click.
Agreed, though it’s known as “Bond Suits” now so technically that could include suits (and other clothing) from the Bond movies in general.
Would welcome expanding into womenswear, thanks.
Perhaps a separate tab in the menu would be good but why not include everybody?! It’s International Womens’ Day!
Great article! I’ve always been interested in an opportunity to learn more about women’s tailoring in general. When you’re the “guy to consult for suits” in your workplace, some women have also asked me for advice (which I can’t assist given my scarce knowledge)
So more input on women’s clothes are more than welcome in my opinion.
I think the womenswear idea could be interesting, as long as covering Bond outfits/outfits worn by various Bond actors at premieres/interviews/etc. and articles about menswear tailoring remains the primary focus of that excellent blog.
You wrote about every Suit from the Bond Film.
Bring the Ladies Dresses and Suits.
Despite being one of the myriads of self proclaimed men’s style experts that have been inspired by Bond and other on screen stars of yesteryears I don’t know anything about women’s style. Keep going. It is fascinating and closes a massive knowledge gap in the current style renaissance.
Hey, a suit’s a suit. If anyone from a Bond movie is open to analysis on here, then it really should be anyone from a Bond movie. These are all supposed to be people who are stylish and have access to the best tailoring, and we know there’s women who are fans fo the films as well. Why not give them the same opportunity to discuss and emulate clothes from aspirational characters?
There are quite interesting tailoring and suits for women in the series, especially Moneypenny and M in the Lindy Hemming years. It was a good idea for Women’s rights day (all the better as you did not mention it to avoid it looking shoehorned). I also remember a nice Glen check on Serena Gordon’s jacket in GoldenEye which can be worth a mention. It will be more restricted, apart from MI6 staff at headquarters from 1995, other female characters rarely wear business suits in the films pre-GoldenEye. I can think of Tatiana in FRWL, Anya at the Pyramids and Pam Bouvier at the bank. Perhaps Miss Smallbone in OP or Lois Maxwell’s rare example of a suit in OHMSS wirh a bold check.
Some great examples! Samantha Bond’s Moneypenny wears some beautiful Brioni suits, though we don’t get to see enough of them.
Do you write also about the Birthday Suits from a few Lady´s?
Such as the Sean Connery Article.
I’d love you to do more on women’s style in Bond movies, if it fits. Hey if you started a parallel blog, with frocks as well, even better! Always love your work and honestly what I know about a suit is otherwise nil, yet you have me strangely obsessed.
I think it would be a good idea. I am always an advocate of seeing other characters clothing, just as much as Bond’s clothes. M is an appropriate character to start this topic, considering she is a mother figure for Bond.
I see no problem with you covering women’s wear in the future. I think it would be interesting to see a cover of Tatiana’s suit in FRWL. As always it is interesting to read about things James Bond has worn but I find it interesting to read about other characters in the Bond films as well. As always great post and keep up the great work.
No thanks. I have no interest in dissecting women’s wear.
As usual a well-written article, but I still very much prefer to read about menswear only. Preferably articles on other roles for the Bond actors such as:
Some of those screenshots you shared were ones I took for my blog! See these articles:
While I personally have no interest in women’s clothes beyond getting ideas for gifts for my wife, I could see it being a way to expand the blog. May even be nice to bring a female perspective in, is there a female Matt Spaiser out there?
I personally wouldn’t mind seeing updates of older articles from time to time. As a guy who wears suits 5 days a week to work, those older suit articles are where I have spent a lot of time on this blog. I’ve probably read most of Connery’s Bond’s suit articles half a dozen times each, and Lazenby’s. From a practical side, recommendations on similar cloths available today from British mills and merchants like H and S, Harrisons, Smiths, etc. would be great.
I update old blog posts all the time, sometimes with small changes and sometimes with larger changes. I have considered a post about finding similar cloths to Bond’s suits. I had one planned, but it fell through with the cloth merchant.
Matt, since you were considerate enough to ask our opinion, what about a poll dealing with the integration of women’s clothing on your blog on occasion/ very regularly/never ?
Or a poll about something else !… I like polls, it’s always interesting to know what the other commenters here think about various Bond clothing-related topics. Keep up the great work, by the way !
My own tailor has started doing more and more women’s suits over the last year or two. It’s been really interesting to look at the differences (and similarities). I’d love to see a few more articles on female tailoring, especially those pieces that have stood the test of time.
Thank you for another really great article!
Thanks, Thomas! I’m glad to see you’ve taken an interest in the differences between men’s and women’s tailoring. If you’re willing, I’d be interested to hear your observations.
Stick with classic menswear ! Love reading your blog. Thank you !