Sean Connery’s James Bond is introduced to us in 1962 in Dr. No wearing a traditional midnight blue shawl-collar dinner suit (tuxedo for the Americans) made by tailor Anthony Sinclair. The shawl collar and all other silk trimmings are in midnight blue satin silk. A nice feature is the silk gauntlet cuffs, the turn-back at the end of the cuffs. It’s an Edwardian decoration, and perhaps the only purpose of them is when they wear out they can be replaced. Otherwise, the cuff fastens normally with four silk-covered buttons. Like any proper single-breasted dinner jacket, this one fastens at the front with only one button. Only in Licence to Kill does Bond mess up with two buttons on the front of his dinner jacket.
Traditionally a dinner jacket should not have vents, but it is acceptable for a man of action such as James Bond to have two vents at the back. If you insist of wearing a dinner jacket with vents, make sure there are two, never one, as two vents are more formal than one. The trousers have a traditional rise with double forward pleats, as is typical of English tailoring, and of course the silk stripe down the side of each leg.
The shirt is the standard one worn in England with black tie: a white shirt with a pleated front, spread collar and double cuffs to take cuff links. Connery’s shirt is made of a luxurious sheer voile, a high-twist plain-weave fabric usually made of cotton. The buttons on the front of the shirt are the usual mother-of-pearl buttons that are found on any well-made shirt. Some may insist on studs for black tie while others only wear them with white tie. James Bond does not wear studs very often. According to director Terence Young, as told in Hollywood U.K. in 1993, this shirt is from Lanvin. However, stylistically it resembles Turnbull & Asser shirts.
Now take a close look at the bow-tie. You will notice the diamond pointed ends. This is not an easy thing to find these days, particularly in such a narrower shape. His breast pocket is adorned with a simply folded white linen handkerchief. On his feet he wears black socks and black patent leather (or just well-shined) cap-toe oxfords. When Bond is travelling from his club to the office, he puts on a navy chesterfield coat and carries a black homburg, the most appropriate outerwear for black tie.
However, there is one thing missing here: Bond does not wear a waistcoat or cummerbund. Occasionally Bond has worn either but more often than not he goes without a waist covering.
Bond’s black tie outfit worn in Quantum of Solace pays homage to the original but with a few changes: this time he wears a cummerbund and his trousers do not have pleats. And apart from the width of the lapels, every other detail is the same. Both are within the realm of classic style and neither will ever look dated. This concludes the first post on The Suits of James Bond and for the rest of the week we will continue to talk about the clothing Bond wears in Dr. No.