Casino Royale features one of the most iconic clothing-related scenes of the James Bond films. James Bond finds a dinner jacket that Vesper Lynd left on his bed and is puzzled as to how she procured it. He holds it up and exclaims, ‘How the …? It’s tailored!’
Vesper replies, ‘I sized you up the moment we met.’
The term ‘tailored’ can mean any number of things. Bond might be saying that this dinner jacket was made by a bespoke tailor. He might be saying that it’s a ready-to-wear dinner jacket that has been adjusted by an alterations tailor. Or he might simply mean that it’s a tailored-type of garment—lounge suits, trousers and coats—that is impossible to fit.
Bond’s shock at receiving a ‘tailored’ dinner jacket could certainly mean that it was bespoke. If the dinner jacket was bespoke, the only way that could be possible is if it came from James Bond’s own bespoke tailor—which Brioni was standing in for. Vesper could easily have been connected with Bond’s suit maker through MI6. A bespoke tailor needs a proven pattern if they’re going to make suit for someone without at least one fitting (usually two or three fittings), so it had to be Bond’s own tailor who already has a pattern for him. A bespoke tailor cannot simply fit a new client properly on measurements alone without a fitting, and even existing clients need a fitting for each garment they bespeak. A tailor also needs to work from their own measurements, not someone else’s, so even if MI6 has Bond’s measurements on file they might not work for a tailor who hasn’t measured Bond.
With pull and money from the government, Vesper may have been able to get Bond’s own tailor to rush a bespoke dinner jacket to her within a week. We don’t know how much time passed from when Le Chiffre set up the poker game at Casino Royale to the time of the poker game. Bond is briefed on the mission the morning Le Chiffre set up the game, and Vesper likely started planning for the mission at the same time. When Bond meets Vesper for dinner on a train in Montenegro, it could have been as soon as the next evening, which would not have provided enough time for a bespoke dinner jacket to have been made.
Maybe the poker game was a week later, which might have given the tailor enough time to rush the dinner jacket. Le Chiffre was eager to win back the money he lost from the Skyfleet incident as soon as possible, so a week is likely the most time that would have passed.
In any case, it would be highly unrealistic for Vesper to be able to surprise Bond with a bespoke dinner jacket. The amount of time and the lack of a fitting make this scenario almost impossible. But James Bond’s world has never been one based entirely in reality—not even the world of Daniel Craig’s Bond—so we may need to suspend our disbelief for this one, just as Bond may have.
The Brioni dinner jacket that costume designer Lindy Hemming designed for Casino Royale fits exceptionally well. It clearly was made for Daniel Craig with an in-person fitting. There’s no way it could fit him so perfectly on his measurements alone. It looks the part of a bespoke dinner jacket.
A Ready-to-Wear Dinner Jacket with Alterations
To the average person, when a garment has been ‘tailored’ it means that a ready-to-wear garment was adjusted by an alterations tailor. For an alterations tailor to properly adjust a garment, they need to do a fitting on the person who will be wearing it. Measurements alone aren’t enough to be effective, and they certainly won’t achieve the kind of fit we see with Daniel Craig’s dinner jacket on his very muscular body. A person with that kind of physique is very difficult to fit, especially in ready-to-wear.
Bond could be shocked if Vesper had purchased a dinner jacket and had it altered to fit him because it’s quite an impossible thing to do. However, the only way he would be able to tell if this was the case is if she left the order slip or receipt from the tailor with the dinner jacket. A jacket that has been altered well shouldn’t have any visible signs that it has been altered.
Based on the timeline, Vesper would have had enough time to purchase a ready-to-wear dinner jacket for Bond in London before she left or in Montenegro the morning she arrived and had alterations done the same day. Most alterations tailors want more time to do the alterations, but with the funds at her disposal she could have had the tailor rush the alterations within a few hours.
A ‘tailored’ type of garment means the traditional types of clothes that a tailor makes, such as suits, sports coats, trousers, waistcoats, overcoats, tailcoats and dinner jackets—garments with significant amount of shape and structure—as opposed to shirts, jeans, blousons, knitwear, dresses, hats, shoes, etc. Bond may be referring to ‘tailored’ in this sense.
Purchasing a ready-to-wear tailored type of garment for someone else rarely results in a good fit because sizing and cuts vary significantly from one brand to the next. Bond may be aghast that Vesper thought she could purchase a tailored type of ready-to-wear garment that would fit him properly, especially as it would need to be altered to fit him. He’s even more astonished when he puts on the dinner jacket to find that it fits him perfectly.
Sizing Up Bond
The line ‘I sized you up the moment we met,’ should be probably taken metaphorically as clever wordplay rather than literally. Vesper sized up Bond’s character when they met on the train the previous evening. For someone who knows a lot about tailored menswear, which Vesper does, she could look at Bond and see that he’s approximately a size 42R with an athletic build and a significant drop. There’s not much else she can tell about his body by looking at him, especially when she’s looking at him in a suit.
Vesper sized up Bond’s own wardrobe as well. She knew that she needed to get him a new dinner jacket. Could she plan for this before she left London? Did she think of this when she met Bond on the train and didn’t approve of his style there? Or did she examine Bond’s wardrobe in their shared hotel suite in Montenegro and determine then that the dinner jacket he brought with him was not suitable? Her line comparing his old dinner jacket to the one she purchased—’There are dinner jackets and dinner jackets; this is the latter’—suggests the last scenario. How else could she have known his dinner jacket wasn’t up to snuff and needed to be replaced? In this case, there’s no way she could have procured him a bespoke dinner jacket because there wasn’t enough time.
Ultimately there’s no realistic way that Vesper could have provided James Bond with a dinner jacket that fits as well as this dinner suit does.
This wouldn’t be the only time Bond magically finds or is given an article of tailored clothing that fits him perfectly. Dr. No provides Bond with a Nehru jacket that has been perfectly tailored to his size in Dr. No. The same thing happens again in Quantum of Solace when Bond finds another dinner jacket that is exactly to his measurements. Again in Spectre, Blofeld presents Bond with a suit that is styled the same and fits exactly like the rest of his suits in the film, albeit with an unintentionally poor fit that turned out to be realistic in this situation. Unrealistically acquiring clothes that are perfect for Bond is simply part of the character.
Interesting analysis. I always assumed MI6 had Bond’s measurements, and M was only too happy to share all of them (even the ones that had nothing to do with tailoring a dinner jacket) with Vesper as payback for Bond breaking into her house, hacking her personal computer, and finding out her real name.
But as I wrote, measurements alone aren’t going to produce a dinner jacket that fits as well as this one does.
Handsomely done, Greg. That is the best comment on the article!
“Unrealistically acquiring clothes that are perfect for Bond is simply part of the character.”
In a sentence, you sum up the difference between Bond and the rest of us! :-(
This bit of dialogue sounds nice in theory but never really made any sense to me. Also, if the roles were reversed, I think most people would’ve found that line a bit creepy.
The roles were indeed reversed: Bond also provided Vesper with a dress so ‘the players will be thinking about your neckline and not about their cards.’
Yes, and what about the very nice and well-fitting flannel chalk stripe suit that Bond wore in Venice in FRWL? Maybe M got bespoke suits for his 00-agents stored in local stations all over the word?
Funny but I think it has something to do with the magic ‘Hollywood’ or should I say ‘Pinewood’ ?!
Ahem, Merry Christmas or Happy Holidays or what ever works for you, Michel.
Hollywood – Pinewood: I’ve never made that connection before…..
I’m conflicted on this scene – firstly as Matt has eloquently laid out here the dialogue and resulting rapid suit acquisition make no logical sense, but the conclusion is that we see Craig / Bond in a very well fitting dinner suit that could be among the best fitting of all Craig’s clothes (suits) in all five films. We also get that iconic moment where Bond straightens his tie in the mirror and clearly is impressed with the way he looks as he is growing in the role from a maverick rookie into a sophisticated and more experienced operative.
I’ve often though that – especially with the large step towards more realism during the Craig era – these kind of lapses in logic stick out more and become more incongruent with the tone of the films, but they have always been jarring to me. The tongue in cheek statement above about MI6 having suits stashed all over the world is a great example. Other tailoring-related examples which spring to mind include the acquisition of a white dinner jacket on the Tangier train in Spectre and Bond despite being a SECRET agent being so well known he can walk into the Hong Kong yacht club in his pyjamas with no money and instantly order up a wardrobe-full of Brioni swag on credit.
There must be an amusing parlour drinking game in watching all the Bond films and spotting all the leaps-in-logic in the cannon, which have become so common we may be forced to accept them as “the magic of Hollywood” but I would prefer that scripts undergo ‘logic checks’ before final approval to ensure they make internal sense.
Rod, there is rarely, if nothing, that is logical with Bond series when Craig took over. It came from James Bond to some cheap Hollywood takeover that made absolutely no sense. With the older Bond movies, especially FRWL onwards, there’s plenty of educating materials, but from when Craig took over, it was going down an icy hill with worn tires and no brake.
Well, one could possibly argue that Bond may have been on the slippery slope ever since he escaped on skis from Piz Gloria…
Haha I get the pun but even at face value your comment makes a valid point. DAF was a Roger Moore film in disguise and for me the canon went rapidly downhill from that point on with only brief respites from the silliness until the Goldeneye re-set!
I know it’s been said before but OHMSS was a great film in many ways – gritty and somewhat realistic (at least in Bondian terms) and staying close to the book, that was largely overlooked for a long time and not included in TV re-runs, Bond-a-thons etc for many years.
Fantasy is among the main elements conveyed to audiences by the Bond franchise. And it clearly also applies to Bond’s clothes, and their ‘magical’ ability to fit. Given it takes several (aka many) fittings for a bespoke suit, Vesper’s observation skills, albeit exceptional, are delusional when it comes to instant measurements, and fittings.
Another thing that always bothered me is Roger Moore’s request for double vents at this stage of a suit’s making. Given his vast and thorough experience in all things suits, it makes this short sequence even more cringe-worthy..
First and foremost, Merry Christmas, Stan!
Now, the meat of the matter – Bond was never about just mythical magic. You have to remember, Bond was based off of actual Special Operation/Intel personnel. This was supposed to be an exposure of the secret squirrels to the general population, not some fancy kid’s cartoon. My father was part of MACV-SOG, and I have been told countless stories of his time (when he was decent). Again, what they did to Bond throughout Craig’s tenure was nothing short of insulting to those with intelligence (and understanding of the Intel world).
There’s a lot more to it than just movie magics. There’s a reason why I choose to be dressed by the venerable Anthony Sinclair, even if just by the legacy of his name rather than himself. He truly understood what it takes. You’ll be surprised.
For now, let’s just leave it at that. Still too early for the turkey to come.
Thanks, Travers, and a Happy belated Christmas to you as well !
Quite impressive stories you must have learned from your father. I am sorry about his state, which I kind of interpret, and hope that you have had the chance of recording him, or writing down his stories.
I was personally lucky enough to meet some RAF Polish veterans in the 1970s London, and listen to some of their fascinating stories. An acquaintance later on admitted that he was a CIA operative in a former life, and I’ll spare you more details on other familiar examples.
Everything leads to the conclusion that flamboyance, in every aspect, is as remote from the life of an agent as bacon would be on the menu of a Riyad restaurant ;)
Fleming’s books, which I truly adored, albeit largely based on his personal wartime experiences, could not totally escape the need to appeal to some exclusive luxury, so needed in the aftermath of WWII.
The choices for cars provided by his employer (in the Goldfinger novel), ranging from a Jaguar 3.4 and an Aston Martin DB Mk III, for instance, raise a serious cloud of doubt, even when serving as a cover for the character he is supposed to endorse.
Clothes-wise, Bond’s choices are more on the dull side of the sartorial spectrum, whilst he displays a remarkable ability to spot flashiness in the villains’ or henchmen’s attire, and perfectly identify their brands. Which makes him extremely clothes-conscious, and nearly on the verge of suspicion himself.
Hope you enjoyed the turkey !
Well, Stan, let me put it this way – despite how gruesome the war was, when he was with MACV-SOG, he was a better man. He told my mother much of his time, and me, a few. But the few he told me stuck with me to this day.
No need to worry on the CIA side of things. I mean, MACV-SOG – the name should ring more than a few alarms on what timeframe, conflict, and of course, the nature of the business, for those who knows. And yes, as expected, imagine carrying while wearing a linen suit in the middle of a former capital city.
Let me put it this way – there’s a reason why most of us hate paying taxes. Government employees of that caliber gets to drive cars and wear clothes that 95% of us would never see in our living daylights. They have (seemingly) endless resources, and of course, fiscal budgets could always use a justifiable increase. But of course, that line of work is also very demanding and very expensive, to add.
To stop beating around the bush, I conceal carry on a daily basis, so I understand that while it’s a difficult thing, it’s not impossible. There’s no magic in tailoring and intel, to be honest, just a lot of factoring and adjusting to make it work. Ironically, because I or any given wet work agents carry, we ought to look even duller than usual, although not so dull that we paint an inverse target on ourselves. It boils down to the most important element of tailoring and wearing clothes of all, one that made the old Bond fascinating – put it on, at the right places, and then forget about it, and you do the talk, not your clothes. Hence why I will never be caught dead wearing Tom Ford, Sexton, or Nutters’. But I do wear three piece a lot, so yeah…
I look forward to the new year with all of us emerge intact and prosperous!