Jack Lord as Felix Leiter in beige tropical wool via — The Suits of James Bond.

summer hat and suiting

voxsart:

1964.

Sean Connery.

James Bond's Shirts Were Frequently Darted

Matt Spaiser at the Suits of James Bond provides proof of Bond’s back-darts.

Button Stance, Something Today's Designers Should Learn About

Matt Spaiser at the Suits of James Bond explains button stance.

James Bond in pink gingham and sharp sunglasses via The Suits of James Bond.

Click the photo to check out the article on trouser adjusters by Matt Spaiser at The Suits of James Bond. Essential reading.

Required Reading (If You Haven’t Already Heard the Gospel):

In Defense of the High Waisted Trouser

It’s no secret that while the perennially trend-setting Duke of Windsor loved his Scholte coats, he opted to have his trousers made across the pond in New York City.  Word is he favored the lower-rise, sometimes pleat-free American cut over the traditional British style with its double pleats and high natural waist.  He wasn’t alone, and the twentieth century (with the exception of a small blip in the 1980s) saw men’s trousers get lower, slimmer, and flatter.

That’s not all bad, but I want to stand up for the high-waisted British trouser.  I’m talking about a trouser with two pleats (regular or forward-facing), a wider leg, side-straps instead of belt loops, that sits on the natural waist, and almost always carries a hefty turn-up.  The classic.
Not only is a proper British trouser more comfortable, but it wears better and keeps a flattering shape longer.  We all know what happens when a pair of wool trousers that are tight in the seat begin to stretch - the wearer gets the dreaded “diaper butt” and end up with cloth flapping about under his posterior.  A trouser that drapes straight down off your backside, rather than hugging it, not only creates a cleaner line, but it does not deform the trouser every time the wearer sits down.
 
The same benefits accrue in front.  The pleats give the crease some room to breathe, and creases lasting longer and stay sharper.  And the wearer does not have to *ahem* “adjust himself” when he sits down, as the higher rise combined with the pleats keeps everything moving as it should.— image and text via A Suitable Wardrobe.

I look best when comfortable. After I realized this I gave away all of my “skinny” and low-rise pants. It’s not practical to be uncomfortable (and if you’re on this page you probably already know a well-made suit is one of the most comfortable things you can wear). As for the other concern — I don’t think women know or care.

Better perhaps to emulate the forward pleats James Bond sports than the reverse pleats Will (of A Suitable Wardrobe) favors. At the moment they seem a little less old-mannish.

As a side note: all this emulation of Edward VIII, Duke of Windsor, for his sartorial ability is certainly not surprising, but obviously no one is infallible. Though he could perhaps match patterns better than any man, in addition to his preference for a lower-rise, all signs point to his having been a Nazi-lover
— image via The Suits of James Bond.

"

'That is not a well-known brand,' Bond explained to his companion, 'but it is probably the finest champagne in the world.' He grinned suddenly at the touch of pretension in his remark.

'You must forgive me,' he said. 'I take a ridiculous pleasure in what I eat and drink. It comes partly from being a bachelor, but mostly from a habit of taking a lot of trouble over details. It's very pernickety and old-maidish really, but then when I'm working I generally have to eat my meals alone and it makes them more interesting when one takes trouble.'

"

Ian Fleming, Casino Royale.

— via a great post from The Suits of James Bond.

Red Grant in a 3-2 roll, very Ivy/Trad (minus the shirt cuffs and collar).

The greatest sin

To wear a digital watch with non-casual attire is considered a great folly by the sartorially inclined.

A few weeks ago I received a Casio F91-W in the mail from what seemed to be an unknown source. After checking the model on the internet and finding out the F91-W was “the favored watch of Al Qaeda”, I searched the packaging again for clues on who shipped the item. As this remains reality, the watch turned out to be a joke rather than an attempted terrorist recruitment plot.

I typically wear an antique gold Benrus (now defunct) with a black leather band which I inherited some years ago. The Benrus is a decent mechanical watch which looks classic and still performs well. It pairs with a suit without a hitch.

Well, as you may have guessed, this post is a confession of sorts. I am deeply ashamed of what has happened. I put on the Casio at first mostly just to humor the gifter… but I haven’t been able to keep the damned thing off. There might be some irony in that digital watches killed the Benrus watch company and now despite fashions’ wind blowing in the opposite direction, I’m having trouble going back to a Benrus mechanical. 

Why? Well, there are a number of reasons:

  1. The casio costs roughly ten dollars, so I couldn’t give a damn about it’s fate.
  2. The battery lasts at least ten years so I don’t have to set the watch and wind it every day.
  3. I can instantly tell the date and time.
  4. I can set an alarm.
  5. It has a stop watch, and I love timing shit.

It is simply a more practical device to have around my wrist. I know most (internet gentle)men consider their watch to be the one piece of jewelry they’re allowed (and so functionality is not an issue). I am having difficulty abandoning those functions.

When it comes to these sorts of sartorial dilemmas, I typically first look to answers from one of my icons. I found that James Bond wore a simple-looking digital Seiko in The Spy Who Loved Me (1977) and I already know Fleming’s Bond was all about practicality. I’m also about practicality and I like my watches small, thin, and unobtrusive. Of course for Fleming’s Bond, practicality meant a watch so big and heavy it could double as a knuckle duster in a pinch. For a digital watch, Roger Moore went with something a little different:

  James Bond’s Seiko 0674 LC.

Now I’m considering the silver or gold band upgraded version of my F91-W or similar offerings from Timex to go with my suits and sport coats.  I have two factors working in my favor: 1) Each option is between roughly ten and twenty five bucks and 2) I wear my watches facing me.

From left to right, top to bottom: Casio F91-W, Casio W-201, Casio A158W-1, Casio A168WG-9, Timex T78578, Timex T78677.

Perfection(?), Uniforms, and Fun

Among other novels, I’m currently reading “On Her Majesty’s Service” by Ian Fleming.  Fleming tends to keep the details about his hero as vague as possible, but there are a few times when his wardrobe is expanded upon.

"When the bottle, in its frosted silver bucket, came, he drank a quarter of it rather fast and then went into the bathroom and had an ice-cold shower and washed his hair with Pinaud Elixir, that prince among shampoos, to get the dust of the roads out of it.  Then he slipped on his dark-blue tropical worsted trousers, white sea-island cotton shirt, socks and black casual shoes (he abhorred shoe-laces), and went and sat by the window and looked out across the promenade to the sea and wondered where he would have dinner and what he would choose to eat.”

To me this is close to perfection, and as I attempt to develop my uniform, this is one of the poles I gravitate towards:

image

image

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Photos via The Suits of James Bond.

As far as I recall, this is as close to the James Bond of the novels as the films get.  I wish I could be content to wear this everyday, but as someone with sartorial inclinations, I fear I would get tired of it very quickly.  James Bond (of the novels) of course did not only travel with his navy suit…

"In transit it was six o’clock on Thursday evening and Bond was packing his suitcase in his bedroom at the Ritz. It was a battered but once expensive pigskin Revelation and its contents were appropriate to his cover. Evening clothes; his lightweight black and white dog-tooth suit for the country and for golf; Saxone golf shoes; a companion to the dark blue, tropical worsted suit he was wearing, and some white silk and dark blue Sea Island cotton shirts with collars attached and short sleeves. Socks and ties, some nylon underclothes, and two pairs of the long silk pyjama coats he wore in place of two-piece pyjamas. None of these things bore, or had ever borne, any name-tags or initials."

For a man, wearing a uniform is ideal — for many reasons, you don’t want to have to think about your clothes more than you have to.  Yet there needs to be enough variation within the uniform to keep things fun (after all, that’s why you care about what you wear).