The Thunderball Linen Shirt from Orlebar Brown

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In addition to the On Her Majesty’s Secret Service Linen Suit, Orlebar Brown also gifted me the blue Thunderball Linen Shirt from their latest 007 collection.

The linen shirt is an updated take on Connery’s original outfit in Thunderball, which was made up of a matching camp shirt and trousers. Orlebar Brown’s shirt is made of 100% Italian linen in a plain weave with mid blue in the warp and navy in the weft with specs of white, making it a very interesting variegated fabric. They call this colour ‘Blueprint’, and I find it to be a most apt description. The colour is spot on to the original.

The linen is very lightweight and breathable, making it great for the hottest and most humid locales. While linen is known for wrinkling, this shirt does not wrinkle very much after wearing it for the day. Being in a darker colour helps mask the wrinkles as well. The shirt has a rather traditional fit on me, which helps it wrinkle less.

The shirt is detailed with a ‘Capri’ collar, which is Orlebar Brown’s name for a one-piece camp collar. The collar and front edge have traditional quarter-inch stitching. The shirt is made in Portugal.

There are five white imitation mother-of-pearl buttons down the front. Connery’s shirt only has four buttons, and I like to wear the bottom button open so I can more easily reach my hand into my pocket. On a taller man or on someone wearing trousers with a lower rise, a fastened bottom button will not get in the way of the pockets. I also find the shirt more comfortable with the bottom button open. Like Connery, you could wear the top button open as well, though I prefer to keep it buttoned to limit the amount of chest hair on display.

The shirt is hemmed slightly longer at the back, and there is a short vent at the side seams. The top of the vent is reinforced with a red stitch, an Orlebar Brown trademark. There are shoulder pleats at the back.

Like many of the pieces in Orlebar Brown’s 007 collections, this shirt takes inspiration from one of Bond’s shirts but does not copy it. This is one piece that I am glad they did not copy exactly, but Connery’s blue shirt still served as excellent inspiration. I think that they improved the shirt over the original.

When I wrote about Connery’s blue outfit seven years ago, I compared it to pyjamas because the shirt, with its combination of camp collar, large white buttons and lower patch pockets, paired with matching trousers would have resembled a set of pyjamas if it didn’t fit so well. Most people could not pull off that look, and on most people I think it would be indistinguishable from a set of pyjamas. Wearing matching shirt and trousers is not a look I would attempt as I am not Sean Connery.

Maybe the people at Orlebar Brown read my article and purposefully took the steps to avoid making this shirt look like a pyjama shirt. They succeeded by not putting any pockets on the shirt and using smaller shirt-sized white buttons. The colour of the linen and the contrasting white buttons are enough to give this shirt the look of the original.

This shirt is one of the easiest to wear in the collection, being in a solid dark colour. I see it as an alternative to the ubiquitous navy polo for warm weather, as it’s likewise a casual shirt in dark blue. It’s something I can imagine myself reaching for a lot this summer because the colour is easy to wear.

I’m pairing the shirt with the Orlebar Brown Bond Linen Trousers. It also pairs well with chinos, swim trunks and shorts. You could even wear it with jeans for an updated take on Connery’s all-blue look.

I am wearing a size small and I am 5’9″ and have a 37″ chest.

Photos by Janna Levin Spaiser

15 COMMENTS

  1. Love the colour. This is a really nice shirt, and looks great with the trousers. I must say I’m glad you got this shirt and not the gingham check with the white collar, that one looks like the uniform dress at a Catholic girl’s school in my city!

  2. How lucky to be gifted these nice threads. I’ve yet to be offered any freebies for my own humble ramblings!! Anyway this is a good looking shirt, and a rare case of an improvement on the original without the lower pockets.
    Bond’s matching blue outfit in Thunderball is a rare mis-step in the otherwise excellent costuming of this film. I’m not sure if there’s a name for this kind of ‘suit’ but the only time I‘ve ever seen the like of this is a version generally worn by older Black gents at outdoor events like family reunions and barbecues when I lived in Texas. Similar straw hats also in evidence, sometimes they come with matching loose knee-length shorts instead of long strides, usually worn with wide strap sandals. I used to see them for sale in various bright colours in K and G which is a big box outlet type shop which I think is affiliated with Men’s Wearhouse. Coincidentally that’s where I got a couple of linen camp shirts similar to your style for about $15 each. I have one in aqua and one royal blue but they’re not nearly as nice in the fabric. I wear them with loose off-white linen strides similar to yours, usually on holiday in Mexico or at the height of a humid summer. My shirts have a chest pocket but I’d much rather all my shirts were without pockets like yours. Anyway, nice score there!

  3. Luxire can make a custom replica of this shirt in a 60/40 linen cotton blend of the same colour for $89 USD…about 72 GBP. OB changes 195 GBP. Quite a difference …..take away the 007 tag and you couldn’t give this shirt away for a fraction of their price.

  4. I like the color. Maybe it’s the lighting, but the one in Thunderball looked a shade or two richer than that, closer to a true indigo than the navy-and-blue cambric OB used. I can understand leaving off the hip pockets, but for my taste I would have liked a chest pocket. I like to have somewhere to keep my sunglasses without having to resort to hooking them onto the placket.

    My favorite part of this shirt is that it has a substantial collar. Although camp shirts are coming back into fashion, the ones I have found tend to have fairly small collars. I have a 17.5 inch neck, so I’d almost rather have a mandarin or a tunic collar than one that looks too small for my neck and head.

  5. Very beautiful shirt, Matt. Just today I got the OB striped shirt, also from Thunderball. Lavish. Great fit, fine details, and I especially like the cotton-linen blend fabric. I am a fan of camp collar short-sleeved shirts for summer seaside attire, and this one from Thunderball is my favourite; through the years I found a few items that came close to that, but this by OB is the ultimate one!…

  6. I never feel hugely tempted by Orlebar Brown’s 007 collection, but I do love this one along with the similar pink one they released previously! Very Fleming-esque as well.

  7. I regret they did not give it pockets, to give more accuracy and versatility to the collection. Sunspel had one with 3 patch pockets in light blue cotton-linen last year that was nice but the pockets require a looser fit. I have it, it is very Fleming-esque, perfect for hot weather but maybe a bit old-fashioned for OB to follow.

  8. Impressive how they didn’t go the “let’s just make a colour variant of the rosebud Pinder shirt from last year and resell it” route, though if they didn’t wound up making the matching trousers, the changes might not have been that urgent. I’ll be curious to know how the deep, rich blue will fade after a few washes.

  9. I might have ponied up the money for this shirt if it had the patch pockets. That would’ve made it unique. As is, it seems like just another linen summer shirt, albeit at a huge price.

  10. Would one wear a t-shirt under this to protect the garment from excess sweat? And if not, would a belt be worn with the trousers even if it’s invisible beneath the shirt?

    • This kind of shirt is not designed to be worn with a t-shirt. It’s a very breathable shirt, so anything underneath it will prevent it from being so breathable.

      You can wear a belt under it, as long as the shirt is loose enough around the belt area that the belt won’t imprint in the shirt.

  11. How do you like 100 percent Linen Matt? I have always worn linen/cotton blends for summer. I find with 100 percent cotton the colors often fade (and not in a good way) more than my cotton/linen blends, and cotton/linen blends have been more durable (although the sample size is fairly small so just my own observations on durability). I have never had 100 percent linen, how does it compare overall to cotton/linen blends in your experiences?

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