Minister of Defence: A Flattering Three-Piece for a Corpulent Figure

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Minister-of-Defence-A-View-to-a-Kill

Minister of Defence Frederick Grey, played by Geoffrey Keen, is a recurring character in the six Bond films from The Spy Who Loved Me through The Living Daylights. He’s always well-dressed and very traditionally dressed for the city. Though his clothes are very sober and don’t particularly stand out, they’re remarkable in that they are always very flattering to his short and corpulent figure. Whilst tall and slim men don’t need much help to look good, a well-tailored suit can do wonders for the not so fortunate. The minister almost certainly wears bespoke suits, and they perhaps could be Geoffrey Keen’s own. For someone who is rarely in more than two brief scenes in each Bond film, it’s hard to imagine the film production would spend for a bespoke suit for each film. The Minister appears in two scenes in A View to a Kill, and he wears the same three-piece suit in both his scene at the beginning of the film and his scene at the end of the film.

Minister-of-Defence-A-View-to-a-Kill-2The Minister’s suit in A View to a Kill is dark warm grey with very closely-spaced light grey pinstripes, with about six stripes to the inch. The closely-spaced pinstripes have the effect of making the suit overall look more like medium grey. The suit jacket has a traditional English cut, with lightly-padded straight shoulders and roped sleeve heads. The chest is full cut to give the impression of a smaller waist, and the chest darts are placed further to the side than they typically would be to give a flattering shape to the Minister’s corpulent figure. The button two suit jacket has classic proportions—the lapel width, gorge height and button stance are evenly balanced and do not look dated. That balance is also key to flattering the Minister’s larger figure. The jacket has a single vent, three buttons on the cuffs and slanted hip pockets. The waistcoat has five buttons. The suit trousers aren’t seen, but double forward pleats and braces are likely.

The Minister's second appearance in A View to a Kill, with a light blue shirt and navy tie.
The Minister’s second appearance in A View to a Kill, with a light blue shirt and navy tie.

The Minister’s shirt in his first scene is cream and has a classic English spread collar with a quarter-inch of tie space and button cuffs. With the cream shirt he wears a navy tie with white dots, tied in four-in-hand knot. The Minister’s shirt in his second scene is light blue with a more moderate spread collar, and his tie is navy, again tied in a four-in-hand knot.

14 COMMENTS

  1. Interesting post. I must admit that these type of details escape my mind because none of the people I know who wear suits are “corpulent”.

    (As an aside, I would disagree with something you write: while height may be down to “fortune”, being slim is not)

    I remember reading a long time ago that the best thing that a man can do to have his clothes look good on him is to be in shape. The second thing was to have them fit properly. I think that there’s some debate to that as evidenced by this article.

    • Nothing should come before good health, but alas good health is not the topic of this blog. Geoffrey Keen is certainly not in shape, but there’s no denying that his clothes look good on him. His body type is certainly a challenge for his tailor. When I visited Frank Foster’s shop he was telling a celebrity customer to lose weight. I doubt Geoffrey Keen’s tailor or shirtmaker said that to him.

      • I disagree with what you said about the film’s budget not running to a suit for Geoffrey Keen. The Bond films have astronomical budgets…

      • I wouldn’t describe Bond film budgets then as “astronomical.” I know Desmond Llewellyn had said he wore his own suits, so it wouldn’t be a stretch that Geoffrey Keen also would have.

      • Did you get my earlier e mail about Assignment K? Please do a page on this website. I’m sure the other readers would find it fascinating…

  2. Just as a side note: these “meeting of the minds” scenes at M’s office became too “cut & paste” and generally added nothing to the story and could have been interchangeably edited into any Bond film 1977-1989…all of which added to the lethargy of the series during this period. It’s very much like when Batman & Robin show up to Commissioner Gordon’s office on the old TV show.

    However, back to the subject: beautiful tailoring throughout. While I never considered the minister’s ensemble specifically it is indeed as handsome as anything else.

      • Good point! Five well-dressed old people went to the royal Ascot, one stayed in the city. To me this is exactly why Octopussy and especially A View To A Kill does not work. Roger and the others where far to old to look right in a spy-movie. The scenes where Bond and Sir Godfrey snoop around and then take out two big, much younger guards is just ridiculous. Roger Moore was never a man of action and the most action he ever did where stiff running and little kicks – that was his style, Bond or not – but at the age of 55+ he (understandably) seemed to prefer just having bond in nice dinner scenes and funny Q-lab sequences where he could make fun of the gadgets. As fussy as Brosnan was (especially in Goldeneye) he was always believable as a man of action.

  3. I really admire the kind of tailoring that can make a person with a less than ideal figure look good. I guess the kind of knowledge on how to do this is what we pay for when we go bespoke. A guy with a perfect figure would probably look just as good in a ready to wear suit.
    And even if you are healthy and exercise regularly, there might be some flaws in your figure that you would like to hide. Being a bit pear shaped myself, I kind of hope I can afford this luxury one day.

  4. Its a fairly easy thing to make a fit, athletic, attractive person look good- unfortunately, it seems even easier to make them look BAD. Taking a person in less than stellar physical conditioning a making them look as well put together as this is a nod to the skill of the tailor and the style of the man. Fit isn’t about how a man fits an ideal, its about how the clothes fit the man. I won’t always be on as good a shape as I am now, just as I am not in the shape I was at 21. I hope I can remain as well attired and dapper as this when I reach his age.

    • “Taking a person in less than stellar physical conditioning a making them look as well put together as this is a nod to the skill of the tailor and the style of the man.”

      I think a good example of this would be Sean Connery in DAF. The tailoring of his suits really did a fantastic job of making him look much better than he should have. It’s incredible to think how much he let himself go in the few years between GF and DAF.

      • Anthony Sinclair did indeed do an excellent job at flattering Connery’s figure in Diamonds Are Forever. Yet, Connery’s exaggerated athletic figure almost 10 years earlier wasn’t very easy to tailor either. George Lazenby’s figure is the easiest to tailor of all the Bonds.

  5. You call him corpulent! I passed that point about 200 doughnuts ago and am heading towards Auric Goldfinger’s girth. Seriously though, this is a well suited Minister. A tailor told me that running up a waistcoat for a stout man is a v.tough gig. So much easier to steer the client towards a two piece suit. Though I imagine M would rather this public figure not develop the habit of visiting a secret agency.

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