The Peaked-Lapel Chesterfield in From Russia with Love

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Though Sean Connery had a limited—but more-than-adequate—wardrobe in Dr. No due to budget restrictions, he was provided with an excessive number of bespoke-tailored clothes for the second Bond film, From Russia with Love. This included seven suits, so he could wear a fresh suit every day of his mission, and a Chesterfield coat that he doesn’t even wear in the film.

Sean Connery wearing the peaked-lapel coat on the set of From Russia with Love with director Terence Young. Note that Young is wearing the same (or very similar) shirt, tie and derby shoes that Connery is wearing. His sunglasses also match the ones Connery wears in the film.

James Bond arrives in Istanbul wearing a charcoal grey silk suit. An airport porter walks beside him carrying his large suitcase and has Bond’s Chesterfield coat draped over his arm, and he brings both to Bond’s taxi. When Bond arrives at his hotel, he’s now carrying the overcoat over his arm. Once he’s in his initial hotel room he throws it on the bed on top of his attache case, and he uses the case to shove it aside so he can open the case. When Bond meets Kerim that day, one of Bey’s sons carries the coat to Bey’s office and gently places it down, taking much more care with it than Bond did.

The coat later resurfaces when Bond carries it over his left arm into the Soviet consulate. This time Bond is wearing a dark grey sharkskin suit. When Bond checks the time on his Rolex Submariner, the coat’s purpose in the film is revealed. As he lifts the coat to reveal his watch underneath, we also see that the coat is hiding a gas mask. Today, there would likely be a team of security officers checking everything carried into the consulate, but the Soviets’ lax security allowed Bond to sneak a gas mask into the building and avoid suspicion.

Bond may not wear this coat in the film because the weather was never cold enough for Bond to need it. Its only purpose was to conceal a gas mask. As soon as Kerim Bey sets off the explosion at the consulate, Bond throws away the coat in the lobby and dons the gas mask to continue on his mission unencumbered by a heavy coat.

The coat was tailored by Sean Connery’s regular Bond-series tailor Anthony Sinclair. A ready-to-wear coat could have saved the production money and not appeared any different on screen, but this coat was tailored with the intention of Connery being able to wear it. Mason & Sons posted a photo of Sean Connery being fitted for this coat by Anthony Sinclair in a blog about Chesterfield coats.

The style of this coat is in the Chesterfield family, even though it’s not a quintessential Chesterfield with a velvet collar. What defines it as a Chesterfield is the fly front and length at least to the knee. Thought it lacks the typical velvet collar, it does not need a velvet collar to be defined as a Chesterfield.

The coat’s narrow peaked lapels coordinate with the narrow lapels on the suit and also slightly dress up the coat compared to one with notched lapels. There are a welt breast pocket and straight, flapped set-in hip pockets. This pocket style is the only style that is traditionally formal enough for the coat’s peaked lapels and fly front. The back has a single vent.

The coat’s cloth is a black and white herringbone heavy wool melton. Chesterfield coats are most traditionally made in very formal fabrics such as solid or herringbone melton in navy, charcoal grey and black, because the style of the coat is a very formal one that is most appropriately worn with suits or black tie. But there’s no limit to the colours and patterns that a Chesterfield can be made of.

This coat’s combination of black and white herringbone makes it appear to be a lighter shade of grey and thus is less formal than the average dark Chesterfield. The peaked lapels do not make this coat more formal because the coat is an overall light colour with high contrast in the pattern. It’s an appropriate coat to wear in the daytime with suits and blazers, but it may still be too formal to wear with more informal sports coats.

Behind the scenes, Sean Connery also wears a dark-coloured flat cap with this overcoat. The cap was likely Sean Connery’s own to keep him warm between takes since he was personally a fan of flat caps. The cap does not suit Bond’s more dressed-up tastes, and if Bond wore a hat with this coat it would have been the dark brown—or possible dark green—trilby he wears elsewhere in the first half of the film.

14 COMMENTS

  1. Is this Melton?
    When you say it, I feel like that, but when I hear herringbone gray, it reminds me of tweed, so I thought it was tweed.

  2. Happy New Year, Matt!

    I desperately need a Melton Chesterfield, to be honest… But I’m always afraid of losing it because of my idiocy.

    Otherwise, having a coat is always more useful than a hat, especially on cold winter days, when you’re out with your lady, and you’re carrying a concealed carry.

  3. Thanks Matt for yet another great article! In deed, the coat did serve its purpose by concealing the gas mask. When looking at the first pic, one can’t help but wishing that Terence Young’s mentorship extended to teaching Sean Connery to wear OTC-socks instead of short, sagging, socks. In most other respects, he did get things just right by letting the working-class lad mimicking his style.

  4. Do you remember the old laser discs from the early 90’s? The running commentaries are really interesting and shed some light on Bonds tailoring, featuring Sean Connery, Terence Young, Peter Hunt, Ken Adam, et al. Here are some snippets of quotes regarding Dr. No.

    “I think Sean’s dinner jacket is one of the best looking bits of tailoring I’ve seen for a long time.” (Terence Young).

    “But I must say though that the whole style that he was dressed in… the half inch cuffs below the sleeve of the suit… was all done by Terence… that’s Terence Young. This is all straight forward plot thing. This is really the story line /…/ It pieces together the mystery of the whole thing.” (Peter Hunt).

    Terence also says that he took Sean to his shirtmaker in Paris (Charvet?) and London (Turnbull & Asser).

    • I’ve heard the laserdisc commentaries. The shirtmaker Terence Young spoke of was Lanvin, and he mentions Lanvin in both Dr. No and From Russia with Love far more than he talks about Turnbull & Asser. However, when Connery spoke of his Bond clothes he talked about Turnbull & Asser, and Turnbull & Asser have some records of Connery’s shirts from the 1960s. Most of the shirts that Connery wears in the first two films look like Turnbull & Asser shirts. Lanvin wouldn’t have been making shirts that look like Turnbull & Asser shirts. The only shirt that I suspect could be from Lanvin is the pleated dress shirt in From Russia with Love.

      • Thanks Matt, for interesting comments. I suspect the voile dress shirt in Dr. No might be from Lanvin as well (no cocktail cuffs). Terence Young probably knew what he was talking about in Hollywood U.K. in 1993.

      • I think Young was wrong. Turnbull & Asser have an order form for Dr. No that includes the voile dress shirt, and the shirt is made in the quintessential Turnbull & Asser style, including their double cuff design. Young also would talk about Lanvin when cocktail cuff shirts came on screen, but I’m doubtful that Lanvin made those.

  5. I love this overcoat! A herringbone overcoat often looks amazing on gentlemen. I receive a fair amount of compliments with my own. I just wish that we could have seen the overcoat used other than hiding the gas mask!

  6. Many thanks Matt for clarifying the issue of the Dr. No voile dress shirt. Research well done! It certainly looks fantastic in the film.

  7. Great post Matt.
    When I was travelling to New York on a monthly basis a few years ago I decided I needed a chesterfield and scored one very similar to this. New with tags from eBay mIne is a Hickey Freeman in similar herringbone. Probably a ‘top coat’ weight, the pockets are the same, the lapels are notched without velvet trim. $99 including shipping! One of my best ever bargains. Sadly I don’t get much chance to wear it these days but if I’m sent to the frozen north again for work I’ll certainly be digging it out!

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