This week see’s the launch of a new podcast that might interest a lot of James Bond fans. FROM TAILORS WITH LOVE is a new fashion based podcast then centres around the lifestyle of James Bond, chronicling the suits and brands from Sean Connery to Daniel Craig.
“I’ve been writing about James Bond’s suits for close to ten years now and have been paying close attention to them for far longer. I started my blog because I knew there was a niche to fill, and since then many other people have started projects that look at Bond’s clothes in other ways. Men have always looked to James Bond to help them dress better, and I enjoy using my knowledge and experience to help them better understand the James Bond look.” – Matt Spaiser.
Article by Matt Spaiser
In the James Bond novels and short stories, Ian Fleming provided James Bond with many of his own personal tastes. Fleming himself shared his character’s preference for a “very dark blue lightweight single-breasted suit”, which is Bond’s suit for warm weather in Thunderball. Fleming specified “navy serge” for Bond’s dark blue suit in Moonraker, and that’s what Fleming wore in temperate climates. Fleming did not specify any details for Bond’s suit, but most of the basics of the literary James Bond’s wardrobe match what Fleming himself wore. And since the basics match, the best guess as to the finer points of the literary Bond’s wardrobe may come from the finer points of Fleming’s wardrobe.
Ian Fleming is often pictured in a dark blue, button two suit made by his tailor Benson, Perry & Whitley, which was located at 9 Cork Street in Mayfair. The suit is tailored in a typical London style with soft shoulders, a full chest and a gently suppressed waist, and the cut is not so different from the Anthony Sinclair suits that Sean Connery wears in his Bond films. The lapels are slightly narrow, following trends from the late 1950s and early 1960s. There are straight, flapped pockets with a ticket pocket on the front and four buttons on the cuffs with shallow gauntlet (turnback) cuffs.
Fleming’s suit trousers are tailored in the English fashion with a high rise, double forward pleats and a full cut through the thigh that is tapered to the hem. The bottoms have turn-ups. Like the jacket, the cut is similar to what Anthony Sinclair made for Sean Connery but a little fuller. Fleming’s trousers are supported by a belt rather than with braces or Connery’s side-adjusters.
James Bond’s alternative suit, a “lightweight black and white dog-tooth suit for the country and for golf”, as described in Diamonds Are Forever, also came out of Ian Fleming’s wardrobe. Just like Bond’s checked suit, Fleming’s own was likely also “battered” and “yellowing”.
Fleming wears a blue end-on-end Sea Island cotton shirt with his blue suits. In Diamonds Are Forever, Fleming specified that Bond wears “dark blue Sea Island cotton shirts with collars attached and short sleeves”, and he previously mentioned a “dark blue Sea Island cotton shirt” in Moonraker. Fleming himself wore short-sleeve shirts because he did not like dirty cuffs, but this meant that his suit jackets would get dirty instead of the more easily washable shirts.
Casual shoes with suits was another shared taste of Fleming and his Bond. Fleming established Bond’s preference in shoes in Moonraker with “well-polished black moccasin shoes” and later mentions in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service that Bond “abhorred shoe-laces”. As military men, polished shoes were a must, but polishing can only dress up casual shoes so much.
Where Fleming and Bond differed in their daily style is with neckwear, and it may have been Fleming’s way of ensuring that Bond was not an exact fashion replica of himself. Fleming famously dressed James Bond in a “black silk knitted tie”, as first described in Moonraker and is mentioned again in six subsequent stories. Though when Fleming wore four-in-hand ties in his younger days, his preference was for bow ties.
Besides their daily suits, Fleming gave Bond other items from his wardrobe. For black tie in Casino Royale, Fleming loaned Bond his “heavy silk evening shirt” and a “thin, double-ended black satin tie”. Bond’s “single-breasted dinner-jacket”, however, was not the same as Fleming’s preference for a double-breasted dinner jacket, which is something a Bond villain would be more likely to wear. In On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, Fleming specified that Bond wears a “dark-blue raincoat”, an item that came from his own wardrobe. Fleming also mentions a raincoat in The Spy Who Loved Me and a raincoat bought from Burberry’s in The Man with the Golden Gun.
The inaugural episode centres around the style of Bonds creator, Ian Fleming. How much of Flemings style and influence went into James Bond wardrobe? How does the literary James Bond differ from the celluloid James Bond and what brands did Fleming associate himself with? The very first episode of From Tailors with Love sets the table nicely for the series as the hosts scrutinise the Ian Fleming capsule collection from Sunspel. They discuss the performance of Sea Island Cotton, the material that features heavily in the collection worn frequently by Fleming.
On the collection Spaiser comments:
“Sea Island Cotton is handpicked and grown in the Caribbean, coveted as one of the most luxurious materials. It’s one of the finest cottons in the world, extremely rare, feels fine and wrinkles a lot down to its light weight. Nowadays Sea Island doesn’t have the same performance that people like. That’s possibly why Sunspel is doing it in knits. They are also doing Sea Island Boxer shorts that were worn by Bond, who wouldn’t want to wear James Bonds boxer shorts?”
Brooker and Spaiser first met when Spaiser was invited on the Menswear Style Podcast as guest to talk about the tailoring of James Bond. Although Spaiser lives in New York and Brooker is based in London, the two writers have forged a unique relationship cemented by their love affair of the James Bond style. The podcast is also hoping to achieve a platform for a book based on the style of James Bond that the two have been working on for the past year.
Commenting on the launch of the Podcast Brooker writes:
“Matt is really the authority, he’s done so much research on his blog, this podcast will be another arm to that great body of work and the information is now accessible to a wider audience. We talk about the style of James Bond a lot, often a 5 minute Skype call will turn into an hour and we just thought it’s about time we put our views out there. It will be interesting not only for Bond fans, but for people that want to learn more about fabrics, tailoring and the history of fashion.”
FROM TAILORS WITH LOVE is now available to download on iTunes and you can catch a brief 1 minute clip of the hosts discussing the Ian Fleming Sunspel collection in the clip below.
Visit Peter Brooker’s Human Research website