Strangways: A 1950s Silk Suit

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Kingston-based British agent John Strangways, played by Timothy Moxon, is talked about far more than he is seen. He appears in the opening scene of Dr. No and is soon killed. His death brings James Bond to Jamaica and is the reason for Bond’s first cinematic mission. From the looks of his suit, it would appear that Strangways hadn’t returned to England for quite some time to update his wardrobe. His suit has a full cut dating it to the 1950s.

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Strangways’ suit is made of silk and is the natural silk colour, which is a light beige. The jacket has a full cut with drape in the chest and a nipped waist. The shoulders are soft and natural, and in following the drape cut they are slightly extended. The jacket has two buttons on the front with a medium stance. The lapels are slightly on the narrow side, and they have a low buttonhole. The welt breast pocket has a steep slant and is placed low on the chest. The hip pockets are difficult to see, but I believe they may be open patch pockets. There are three buttons on the cuffs and no vents. The suit trousers have forward pleats—likely two on each side—and very full, tapered legs with plain hems.

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With the suit Strangways wears a white shirt with a short spread collar and button cuffs. His tie is deep red with a subtle tonal pattern and is tied in a four-in-hand knot. It has a crest or some decoration embroidered on the top, though I can’t tell what it is. He also wears a white linen handkerchief stuffed into his breast pocket.

Strangways’ shoes are perhaps the most adventurous part of his outfit. They’re casual two-eyelet desert boots in tan suede with crepe soles. Though they are less formal than the rather informal suit, they fit the relaxed country club setting.

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19 COMMENTS

  1. Overall I think this looks extremely elegant and comfortable, although the jacket seems a little bit long for my taste. I think a fine example of true casual smart, rather than the grotesque rubbish that passes for this category of dress nowadays.

  2. Interesting. I would never have guessed that it’s silk – at first glance it looks more like tropical wool. Normally one can recognize silk by a soft sheen or by the famous slubs. Furthermore silk has a very characteristic drape (a bit like linen but more fluid). But sometimes it’s not easy to distinguish it from wool (depends on the weave).

  3. I see. A bit like Blofeld’s Mao suit from YOLT – doesn’t look like silk either (except the slubs).

    Best, Renard

  4. @Hagensen
    At first I also had my doubts about it but I trusted Matt’s description stating it is silk 🙂 And I don’t have the blue-ray version.

    • It looks like it is part of the tie’s motif. A lot of 1950s and early 1960s neckties had those little designs, sometimes called by vintage tie collectors Mid-Century Modern or Atomic Age patterns. The tie’s style, with it’s vertical stripes and the motif by the knot, reminds me more of the mid-to-late 1950s, rather than 1962. The same could be said of the suit.

  5. I’m not very much a fan of loose fits such as this, but I can’t deny it does look comfortable. The unpadded, extended shoulders veer a bit too close to looking poorly fitted to my liking. I think the only way to make extended shoulders work is if you have a decent amount of padding to hold it up. Even then, though, it’s easy to make it look terrible.

    I do love the colour, though. I wouldn’t have thought it would work as well as it does.

    • In tropical, humid heat like Jamaica it’s really got to be loose fitting, even more so if you wear a tie, otherwise you just end up dripping with sweat. Remember that aircon in those days would have just been a few fans on the ceiling.

  6. Silk cloth can be matt like wool or cotton,depends from processing.
    The most beautiful type of silk fabric for men is the matt “tela di seta” (“canvas of silk”) popular in Italy in 40s and 50s.

    • Indeed – Italy has a long “silk tradition”. Even today nearly every tailor and shirtmaker offers silk as cloth for suits and shirts (which can’t be said of other countries’ tailors). And Italian tailors have the reputation of knowing best how to deal with silk (most notably Neapolitan tailors). It requires skill because the tailoring process is a lot more complicated due to cloth’s fluid nature (difficult to cut). And according to Alan Flusser the last mill producing dupioni silk is in Italy (but he doesn’t say where it is located).

  7. A very full cut suit, indeed. But just the thing for a tropical island, I guess. I understand Timothy Moxon said that he was astonished that EON not only had a suit made up for his brief appearance – they let him keep it! The shoes remind me of “brothel creepers”. Demobbed troops at the end of WWII were issued cheap shoes with crepe soles. I’ll let you figure out the brothel connection.

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