Layer Cake: A Navy Pinstripe Suit Jacket with Jeans

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In the 2004 film Layer Cake, Daniel Craig wears striped suit jackets with jeans instead of the matching suit trousers. It was a popular fashion trend at that time, and it is still popular in some circles. Just as the mullet hairstyle has been described as “business in the front, party in the back”, wearing a pinstriped suit jacket with jeans has a similar effect. The suit jacket on the top is all business whilst the denim jeans on the bottom are as casual as trousers can be. Those who favour the mullet may see some appeal in this unorthodox combination, but like the mullet, this is not a conventionally attractive look. It’s difficult to make any tailored jacket look good with jeans, but rustic tweeds come closest since they match the rough, heavy look of denim. Robert Redford shows a great example of how to pair a tweed jacket with jeans in the 1975 film Three Days of the Condor.

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Craig’s jacket in Layer Cake can by no means be called a sports coat. Sports coats are, as the name suggests, sporty, whilst pinstriped jackets are business wear and part of a suit. The main thing that separates a suit jacket from a sports coat is the cloth it is made from. Sports coats are made from a material that has texture, whether it’s tweed, hopsack, cashmere, silk, linen, corduroy or any number of other materials. These materials are either solid or have a checked pattern. Suits can also be made of any of these textured materials, but they would informal sports suits and not business suits. Business suits are typically made from smooth worsteds and sometimes flannel. They may be solid, semi-solid, striped or have a subtle check.

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Certain cloths can work for both business suits and sports coats, like solid navy serge, bolder checks and woollen flannel. Jackets in these materials, however, need sporty details to make them work as sports coats, These details may include contrasting buttons, swelled edges, patch pockets or slanted pockets. But most worsteds don’t work well as odd jackets, especially not jackets with pinstripes or chalk stripes. And you can’t just put contrasting horn buttons on any suit jacket and turn it into a sports coat.

Daniel Craig’s navy pinstripe jacket is a suit jacket because it is made in a worsted business suit material. The button two jacket is tailored with straight shoulders, gently roped sleeve heads, a lean chest and a suppressed waist. It was most likely purchased ready-to-wear from an English brand. The jacket has a high button stance, straight flap pockets, four buttons on the cuffs and double vents. The jacket mostly fits well, though the sleeves are too long.

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Craig wears the suit jacket with medium wash denim jeans. The jeans have a medium-low rise, five pocket design and straight legs. A wide brown belt holds up the jeans. Craig’s shoes are dark brown chelsea boots.

Craig wears two different shirts with this outfit, a white formal shirt and a grey t-shirt. The white shirt has a tall two-button spread collar, two-button cuffs, front placket stitched 3/8″ from the edge in the traditional English fashion. The placket means that the shirt is from an English brand, and the tall collar likely signifies a brand with a slight fashion edge or a special fashion line. Craig wears the shirt tucked into his jeans.

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When Craig doesn’t wear the white shirt, he wears only a grey crew neck, raglan-sleeve t-shirt under the jacket. Unlike with the white shirt, Craig does not tuck the t-shirt. Though the body of the shirt drapes over Craig’s body, the short sleeves fit tightly around his upper arm. Though t-shirts go well with jeans, it makes the suit jacket look even more out of place with the jeans. T-shirts have a practical disadvantage with tailored jackets. Whilst shirts with a collar and long sleeves protect the jacket from the body’s oils and shedding, t-shirts offer the jacket not protection. Because jackets are considerably more expensive than shirts are, it makes sense to protect them.

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30 COMMENTS

  1. A simply atrocious look and a complete mess, however, I’m sure, very much intended and in keeping with the part. I see nothing wrong with the haircut which would have served him well as 007.

    • Bullshit it may be, but extremely “fashionable”, even today. The guys at Top Gear sported looks like this for years, and it became extremely mainstream to put on one’s suit jacket to “look a bit smart” when wearing jeans (yet another oxymoron, I know).

      Personally, I really don’t like the look at all. The closest I come to this is with a navy linen blazer (not part of a suit), and either beige or white linen trousers, or possibly (but rarely) some jeans.

  2. I used to love that look. Now I hate it. It would work quite well with sportcoat, but this match is just a mess.
    I think that this grey t-shirt (which works well with Craig’s spring complexion) was an inspiration for Casino Royale several casual looks (he wear it on Madagascar, Venice and at the morning before second day of casino play).

    • For what it’s worth, Three Days of the Condor is an excellent movie, for anyone who hasn’t seen it. A clever thriller from an era when they produced that type of intelligent movie. I think Redford liked the jeans and sports coat look and I agree that it’s the only item of tailored clothing which pairs well with jeans. This look here is modern mess and the stills bring home starkly how badly, for still a (relatively) young man, how badly Craig has aged in just over a decade.

  3. I wore this combo all the time back in uni. I’ll occasionally wear a navy suit jacket with dark jeans, a graphic tee and Chucks for old times sake, but it’s hardly a regular occurence.

    IMO, it’s not impossible to pull this look off, but only in extremely limited circumstances. It’s fine for a casual night out with friends, but that’s about it.

  4. It’s not a good look at all. Although I think very appropriate for the character, which is somebody who is trying to be both a criminal and businessman.

    Matt,
    regarding odd jackets, you mentioned that they should be made of textured material or have a checked pattern. But can a wool jacket be an odd jacket with the right details? What do you think of a wool jacket with a glen check pattern in light brown and cream with a subtle light blue overcheck? From a distance, the jacket looks solid beige. If it has patch pockets and contrasting buttons, do you think it can be worn as an odd jacket?

    • The material is more important and the details come second. It sounds like this jacket would look better as part of a suit. Is it part of a suit? But it might not look bad paired with brown or maybe cream gabardine trousers.

  5. Admittedly I’m not Matt, who I’m sure will have a better answer than I to this, but isn’t the objection to worsted wool jackets not wool jackets per se?

    I think the point is that a worsted suit jacket normally has a very fine and smooth finish that makes it look inappropriate as a less formal odd jacket. A rougher or softer finish to the wool might mean that a jacket that otherwise has many of the features of a suit jacket could be a very successful odd jacket – many flannel or tweed odd jackets would fall into this category.

    • The jacket isn’t sold as part of a suit and yes, it is worsted. Anyway, the jacket isn’t mine but I saw it in a shop last week. The fit and price was good so I was thinking of buying it. I was thinking of pairing it with my cream or slate blue trousers. But I guess I’ll look around some more.
      Thanks for the help, gents!

  6. Another terrific post, thank you. Ashamed to say that I wore this combination quite regularly in the early noughties. God it looks horrible now.

    I hope you will, in due course, look at the two, very sartorially self-conscious overtly Bondian films that came out this year: Kingsman, and The Man from UNCLE. Perhaps they could keep us going till the return of the real thing in November?

  7. Like most movie cameras, my vision is trained to only look at people from the waist up so I feel others do the same to me. I may notice someone’s jacket, shirt, tie or hair as well as their face and general health long before I even think of looking at if they’re wearing jeans, chinos or a matching trouser set. Unless it’s a kilt, then it usually jumps out at me…

    So I’m not at all offended by this Lauer Cake look. The T-shirt doesn’t really work with the jacket but otherwise I see nothing wrong with wearing dark or navy jeans with a smarter jacket and shirt, even a waistcoat or tie, and I highly doubt many others would. The visitors to this blog, obviously, have a stronger interest in the traditions of suits, but I fear we’re in a minority. So long as the jeans aren’t full of holes and covered in grass stains and are vaguely the colour of the jacket, I say go for it…

    …and that’s why my children will be saying I dress like someone from the noughties.

    • Jeans with a suit jacket are a sartorial oxymoron – rugged workwear paired with refined businesswear. I don’t care what our children say – we are the grownups, and we should be teaching the children.

    • Dan

      Perhaps. I see your point but I think there’s a happy medium. It doesn’t always have to look like Jeremy Clarkeson.

      The same rules that say business and casual can’t go suggest a man in a skirt is an oxymoron and yet David Beckham famously wore a sarong, Eddie Izzard is one of the best dressed comedians around and kilts…are technically Man Skirts. Isn’t it ok to break these unwritten rules so long as you know you’re breaking them? Or else women would never have started wearing trousers.

      There’s more on jeans and jackets here
      http://stores.upscalemensfashion.com/blog-1/how-to-wear-a-suit-jacket-with-jeans/
      They come to the conclusion that “it depends”.

  8. Good point, Dan, and all views are to a certain extent subjective. I think he looks a mess here but in keeping with the part. I don’t like T shirts under a jacket generally, preferring a casual shirt with a collar. That is my view and it is purely personal. However, a blazer or sports jacket over jeans can look very good, in my opinion. A suit jacket over jeans just suggests to me confusion and an inability whether to dress smart or smart casual.

  9. Dan,

    David Beckham is a freak covered in tattoos – certainly not my idea of a stylistic role model. As far as kilts go, they are OK in select circumstances IF one can genuinely claim Scottish ancestry – otherwise they are simply costume.

  10. The most egregious crime here is the jacket being pin striped and thus more likely to be orphaned from a suit, as opposed to a plain worsted navy wool jacket which might possibly have been a blazer. As Matt says, linen, hopsack etc to give the jacket some texture, along with details such as patch pockets or contrasting buttons, set apart a blazer from an orphaned suit jacket.
    My wife has on occasion encouraged me to try what I call ‘The Clarkson’ , or ‘The Mullet’ – blazer and jeans – but I keep telling her it’s a difficult outfit to pull off. Casual strides like linen, chinos or white jeans help to match the level of formalities from top to bottom. She also likes the t shirt under a blazer look which is something I point blank refuse to do!

  11. The suit jacket over non-matching trousers is something I find tolerable (as an Aussie), even though I don’t do it myself. It lets the wearer get some value from the suit jacket even after the trousers have been ruined. Of course, the wearer has to accept that strangers will probably think that he got his clothes from a charity shop… The jacket over T-shirt, I think, is a ’80s/90’s rock star thing:- “I’ve got heaps of money but I don’t care about rules”. A softer version of a punk look, if you like. And I agree with Benedict- the boots do look like Aussie RM Williams. But it’s been a long time since farm workers could afford their gear.

  12. Matt what type of jacket would you have put Craig in rather then the odd choice of a striped suit jacket?

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