Archives for August 2011

Dressing Like James Bond

This article is guest post by Matt Spaiser of The Suits of James Bond.

Every man admires James Bond’s clothing, but have you wondered what makes the secret agent’s clothes so special? It’s mostly about the suits, and a well-fitted suit makes all the difference. But what about the style? Bond’s suits have always been on the more traditional side, often with 3-piece suits for the office, though Bond always found some way to bring elements of current fashion into his clothes. This article will step through the past five decades of James Bond’s style, showing how you too can dress like Bond.

Sean Connery’s suits in the 1960s were classic English Savile Row style. The first thing that comes to mind when we think about 1960s suits are the narrow lapels, but Connery’s were far from the extreme. His suits had softly padded shoulders, a full chest but suppressed waist, and trousers with English double forward pleats and tabs to cinch the waist. Whilst the pocket style and rear vents differed from suit to suit, this cut was always the same. Connery wore mostly suits in shades of blue and grey, with a few dark brown, in solids, herringbones, simple pinstripes and glen plaids. Fabrics ranged from lightweight tropical worsteds to heavy winter flannels, with the occasional dupioni silk and mohair. It all sounds very traditional, but the modern touch to Connery’s suits came with the two-button front. By the 1960s in the United States, two button suits had become the norm, but to the English anything other than a 3-button suit was fashion forward.


When former model George Lazenby took over the roll of James Bond in 1969, he brought a more fashionable style to Bond. His rakish suit jackets were more fitted with a cleaner chest and shorter in length than Connery’s, and he wore flat front trousers instead of pleated. Lazenby wore both 2-button and 3-button suits, with double vents and some with hacking pockets, two now quintessentially English elements. This overall style has seen a resurgence in popularity over the last few years, though today’s style is missing the strong English flair present in George Lazenby’s suits.


Sean Connery returned to Bond and brought the character into the 1970s with Diamonds Are Forever, updating his old style with wider lapels and flat front, wide leg trousers. His new suits were double-vented and many had hacking pockets. When Roger Moore took over Bond his suits were the same in overall style, and as the 70s progressed, his lapels, pocket flaps and trousers widened. These are what the average person notices about 1970s suits, but if you look past that you will find that Roger Moore always wears perfectly tailored suit. No matter how you style a suit, a proper fit is always most important. Whilst some of Moore’s suits incorporated the traditional colour palate found in Connery’s suits, he also wore many more suits in earth tones, plus a large number of silk suits as well. In addition to his 2-button suits, Roger Moore occasionally wore double-breasted suits, mostly in the classic 6-button style with 2 rows to button.


Roger Moore entered the 1980s with a new tailor and more conservative style. The lapels and trousers narrowed and the hacking pockets were gone. His suits were now in more traditional English fabrics with blue and grey chalkstripes for London and tan and brown gabardine for warmer climates. His one consolation to the 1980s was a lower button stance, which happens to suit his figure very well. Timothy Dalton’s clothing is hardly worth mentioning. His suits in The Living Daylights hark back to Connery’s, but have a more relaxed fit. Dalton’s suits in Licence to Kill introduced Italian style to the Bond series, something Pierce Brosnan would continue with in the 1990s.


Pierce Brosnan was known for his Brioni suits, updated for the 1990s with 3-button fronts and reverse-pleat trousers. Whilst many of his suits were anglicized with hacking pockets and double vents, they did not escape Brioni’s strong Roman silhouette. The Brioni silhouette is defined by it’s square shoulders and clean chest, the ultimate power suit. Even though Brosnan’s suits weren’t made in England, they were made from in classic blue and grey solid, pinstripe, windowpane and birdseye English fabrics.


Daniel Craig started off in Casino Royale with 2-button and 3-button Brioni suits, but switched to more fashionable Tom Ford suits in Quantum of Solace. Tom Ford is the most fashionable suit brand Bond has ever worn, but its English-influenced style is rather appropriate for Bond. The Tom Ford suits are cut with strong shoulders, a clean chest and a 3-button front that rolls to the middle button, essentially giving the jackets a 2-button silhouette. The jackets all have double vents and ticket pockets. Though Tom Ford suits have a striking silhouette, they are firmly rooted in classic style. The trousers have a flat front with a lower rise, Daniel Craig’s only concession to current fashions as far as his suits are concerned.

Equally important to the suit are the shirt, tie and shoes.

Most of Bond’s shirts throughout the series are cotton poplin in solid white, light blue or cream. These three shirts go with everything and are all the well-dressed man needs. Connery and Moore were known for their fancy 2-button turnback cuffs (also known as cocktail cuffs, a popular 60s style that rose to prominence from Dr. No), but Bond has worn barrel cuffs and french cuffs throughout the series as well. The key element to the English shirts that Bond always wears is a large spread collar, and English shirts never have a breast pocket. Shirts should be somewhat fitted but never tight.

Connery started the series with only one tie, a navy blue grenadine. Grenadine ties look similar to knit ties (the ones that have square bottoms)  but are not related in the least. Grenadine silk is woven, not knit, and the ties are constructed likes any other normal tie. Later, Connery expanded to wearing black, navy and brown knit ties and black and brown grenadine ties. Connery’s Bond showed how it’s possible to dress with with such a limited tie collection, which is often the case for travelling businessmen. George Lazenby introduced the red knit tie to Bond, and it wasn’t until Roger Moore became Bond that Bond wore non-solid ties. Roger Moore wore striped and patterned ties, but he still wore many solid ties like his predecessors. Dalton wore mostly solid ties as well. Perhaps the best argument for solid ties is that they never go out of style. Avoid loud, busy ties like many worn by Pierce Brosnan, as those all look dated now. Daniel Craig opts for simple woven macclesfield ties, understated and formal.

Aside from suits, Bond occasionally wears sports coats, though we haven’t seen those in a number of years. We have seen country tweed and cotton safari jackets, but Bond’s favourite is the navy blazer, coming from a naval background himself. Bond’s navy blazers are either single-breasted with two buttons or double-breasted with six buttons. And of course the buttons are metal, often in silver instead of brass. Navy blazers always have double vents. Bond wears his blazers with or without a tie, and with grey, beige or white trousers.


Bond’s footwear is always professional, just as everything else is. With a suit, the shoes are always black leather with a leather sole. Throughout the series Bond has worn all the classics, including cap-toe oxfords, 2-eyelet derbies, plain-toe monk shoes, elastic-sided ankle boots and horse-bit slip-ons. The last two are harder to pull off in a business setting. For more casual suits and sports coats, Bond also has worn essentials such as brown suede chukka boots and brown wing-tip full brogues.

Bond sticks to the classics. He ties four-in-hand knot, not a windsor. He doesn’t wear a solid black suit unless it’s to a funeral. And he doesn’t wear rubber-soled shoes with a suit. He sets an excellent example for how to look professional and command respect, in or out of the office.

Matt Spaiser is New York based graphic designer. He blogs at

Links: Double Monks, Fall Season, Asian Haberdasheries


• Black double monks duel. (

• It’s officially start of the fall season on The Sartorialist. (

• The birth of  high-end menswear labels in Asia. (

• Brooks Brothers big on patchwork this fall. (

• Classic argument for sticking to classics.  (

• Your 3 roll will eventually become the perfect 3/2.5 roll.  (

• What is a dandy to do on a hurricane day. (

Buying a Pair of Shoes for £300: Church’s, Crockett & Jones or Tricker’s?

Picking out a good pair of shoes is something that I’ve wanted to do for a while. That’s not to say that my current crop of dress shoes is terrible – I’ve got a small but solid collection that served me very well for the past few years – but I’ve long fancied a pair of solid, Northampton-made jobbies that both look the part and can stand up to the elements. After long periods of lurking and reading through old StyleForum threads I narrowed down my search to three manufacturers who produce a reasonable range of quality shoes at around the £300 mark: Church’s, Crockett & Jones and Tricker’s.


I started by looking at Church’s, whose mid-market collections seem to be, at full price at least, the most expensive of the three, though it’s not hard to find a pair on sale for around £300 from any number of retailers. A common, largely unsubstantiated, view that I came across in my travails is that the quality of Church’s shoes has gone down in recent years, especially since they were bought by Italian fashion giant Prada. This opinion seems more due to the fact that they now have a fairly large, modern(ish) production line, and are therefore not quite as “handmade” as some of the other Northampton-based manufacturers, than for any real decline in standards. From what I can gather, most long-term Church’s wearers continue to be very happy with the quality of their shoes, especially in terms of fit and comfort. A number of people said that they weren’t particularly hard wearing, but as they gave no indication of the model of shoe, nor the kind of activities they were doing while wearing them, I could neither confirm nor deny these claims (and let’s not forget that James Bond wears Church’s!).

Crockett & Jones
Crockett & Jones’s reputation has soared in recent years. The prevailing view seems to be that, in terms of quality of leather, design and value for money, their shoes are hard to beat. Excepting their country range, C&J’s tend to be sleeker than Church’s or Tricker’s, which makes them a good match for Italian-made suits. Their general narrowness may be a concern for the wide-footed (C&J’s standard fitting is E, Church’s is F), but it really depends on the type of last used during construction (a StyleForum search for “’Crockett and Jones’ + lasts” will provide you with all the info you’ll need on the subject). As always, try on a number of pairs before you buy to avoid disappointment.

Unfortunately for consumers, Crockett & Jones’s current surge in popularity and relatively small production capacity has resulted in a backlog of orders. This might be bad for those wishing to get their hands on a pair ASAP, but it is a plus in other ways: they don’t have the kind of massive financial backing that will allow them to increase production without sacrificing quality and, thankfully for us, have decided that the latter is more important.


Finally we have Tricker’s, who are most famous for their range of hard-wearing, thick-soled country boots and shoes. The boots, especially, come in a dazzling array of limited styles and colours and are immensely popular with the Harajuku kids here in Tokyo. Unfortunately, the general clamour for Tricker’s heavily-brogued boots seems to have blinded many to their two very good dress shoe collections: Jermyn Street and 1829. In terms of quality and value for money these lines are favourably compared to Crockett & Jones’s. Most of their leather-soled shoes have channel stitching, and some even use oak-tanned leather, which is something that you’re unlikely to find on full-price shoes costing £300.

The decision

Image courtesy of Andersons of Durham

In the end I decided on a pair of black Crockett & Jones’s Swanseas with Dainite soles (I plan on doing a lot of walking in these babies, come rain or shine, so rubber soles was a must). As is my terrible luck, the very last pair in my size sold out about a day before I placed my order, and with C&J’s current production backlog it would be at least several months before I could get my hands on a pair. Needing some shoes before autumn and winter hit, I decided not to wait and found a couple of online retailers who had a plentiful stock of Tricker’s Newburys (pictured above) for almost exactly the same price as the Swanseas. I’d already tested out a pair of Tricker’s that used the same last and felt confident enough to buy them “untried”. Hopefully in a few weeks’ time I’ll be able to report back on the fit and quality of these shoes, and on the service of the online retailer who provided them. As for a pair of Crockett & Jones’s, well, maybe next year…

If – The Straw Boater

I vaguely remember reading a copy of The Chap magazine once which proclaimed that the straw boater was the hat of the century. This distinction was achieved by virtue of the fact it could be worn by both the gentleman and butcher’s boy.


The straw boater is descended from the sailor’s hats issued to midshipmen in the Royal Navy near the end of the nineteenth century. The aim was a simple one, to provide protection to sailors from the sun in tropical climates.

These hats were later adopted by children in Victorian England and became part of their school uniforms wearing their school or house colours as bands. Anybody who watches those British dramas set in Victorian England will be familiar with the idea prevalent at the time of dressing small boys as sailors as part of their Sunday best.

Later, as a lighter and cooler alternative to the bowler, they became a popular form of summer headwear for gentlemen and costermongers in the East End of London – hence the butcher’s boy reference. Thanks to Lock and Co Hatters for that potted history.

Of course these days the Panama is the hat of choice for the summer, with the boater relegated to an eccentricity only seen at the Henley Royal Regatta. And there it seems to have languished for the most part. So, an odd form of head gear to discuss on these pages you might think.

But I’ve always had a bit of trouble when it comes to hats. I’ve tried many and purchased a few, but I’m never quite sure if they truly suit the shape of my face and head. In this I am not alone. Cary Grant gave up hats for similar reasons, and in so doing helped hasten its decline in popularity.

However, unlike Mr Grant, I’ve become folliclly challenged and the passage of time increasingly makes finding a hat a matter of necessity rather than luxury. This is particularly true of the summer when unguarded the top of my head is lightly grilled. Of course the classic summer hat would be the panama, but again I’m yet to find a shape that suits me.

And this brings me to our unusual and eccentric friend the boater. Recently I’ve seen it worn to great effect, in some rather unusual ways, which has prompted me to give it a second look. The first time was at a street party earlier in the year. One of the fellow organisers had one, which paired with a Hawaiian shirt, cargo shorts, desert boots and sunglasses looked far cooler in the flesh than it sounds in the re-telling. I’ve also seen it used with great subtly and charm with jacket and jeans. In some ways I justify my interest in this hat based on my theory of contrast, as outlined in a previous posting.

But despite all this, I fear this wonderful bit of now ignored headgear will forever remain on my ‘if’ list – short for, if only I had the courage.

Links: Eyewear Store, Stree-Style Trend, Fabrics Manufacturer…


• Your eyewear says more about you than your shoes. (

• A new breed: wannabe street-style icons. (

• Review of Carlo Riva – the finest shirting fabrics manufacturer. (

• Deep thoughts about style vs. appropriateness. (

• Seasonal nostalgia: the tropical white jacket. (

• This is probably the longest list of card holders on the Internet: (