James Bond’s Dapper Dinner Jackets

With their origins at a London bespoke tailor, the suits of 007 are sharp—almost as sharp as a dagger shoe

Sean Connery getting fitted for one of his classic suit jackets by Anthony Sinclair.
Sean Connery getting fitted for one of his classic suit jackets by Anthony Sinclair. Public Domain

Along with the requisite high-tech gadgets and gizmos, it wouldn’t be a James Bond movie without 007 sporting an impeccably fitted dinner jacket (usually accompanied by some high-stakes hijinks). The dinner jacket—or tuxedo, as it’s less elegantly referred to in the United States, or smoking (as in le smoking), as it’s wonderfully called in some parts of Europe—has been around since the late 19th century when the Prince of Wales lopped of the tails of his tailcoat for less formal, but still fancy, dinner parties. It’s thought to have made its way across the pond after the prince invited the wealthy James Potter of Tuxedo Park, New York, to his estate in 1886. For the occasion, Potter had a dinner suit made at the prince’s British tailor, Henry Poole & Co. When he returned to the States, he wore the get-up to his country club, the Tuxedo Club, and thus tuxedos were born in the U.S.

James Bond’s Dapper Dinner Jackets
More tailoring of Connery’s jacket by Sinclair at his shop on Conduit Street in London’s Mayfair district Public Domain

Sean Connery, along with some expert tailoring, established the classic Bond dinner jacket look. Made by bespoke tailor Anthony Sinclair, the first dinner jacket premiered on the silver screen in the 1962 Bond film, Dr. No. Sinclair was known for crafting a slimmer-fitting, pared-down style of suiting, or the “conduit cut” as it became known.

James Bond’s Dapper Dinner Jackets
Sean Connery in Dr. No, 1962 Public Domain

The comprehensive site The Suits of James Bond details the inaugural dinner jacket:

The shawl collar and all other silk trimmings are in midnight blue satin silk. A nice feature is the silk gauntlet cuffs, the turn-back at the end of the cuffs. It’s an Edwardian decoration, and perhaps the only purpose of them is when they wear out they can be replaced. Otherwise, the cuff fastens normally with four silk-covered buttons. Like any proper single-breasted dinner jacket, this one fastens at the front with only one button.

James Bond’s Dapper Dinner Jackets
Roger Moore in The Man With the Golden Gun, 1974 Public Domain

The 1974 Bond film, The Man With the Golden Gun, introduces us to the white dinner jacket (cream dupioni silk, to be exact). While most of 007′s dinner jackets over the space of 23 films are timeless, this one, worn by Roger Moore, is more pre-disco, with its wide lapels, oversized bow tie and Moore’s Bain de Soleil bronzed complexion. Again, The Suits of James Bond explains:

The cut is Cyril Castle’s classic double-breasted 6 button with 2 to button and has a narrower wrap. The shoulders narrow and gently padded. The jacket has double vents and the pockets are slanted and jetted. The cuffs button 1 with a turnback detail and don’t have the link button feature that Roger Moore wears on his other suits in the film.

James Bond’s Dapper Dinner Jackets
Daniel Craig in Skyfall, 2012 Public Domain

Fast forward to Daniel Craig as James Bond in the recently opened Skyfall. Classic and updated for 2012 (and paired with a less treacherously oversized bow tie), the Tom Ford navy suit jacket has that super-fitted, semi-shrunken look of a Thom Browne suit. Deferring to The Suits of James Bond for jacket details:

The shoulders are straight and narrow with roped sleeveheads. It’s a traditional button one with a shawl collar, faced in black satin silk. Also in satin silk are the buttons and pocket jettings. The dinner jacket has three buttons on the cuffs and a single vent, a first for Bond on a dinner jacket. I’m not sure the reason why a single vent was chosen; it’s too sporty for semi-formal wear and it’s really only something Americans do. It’s the only non-traditional detail in the outfit.

Forty of the exact same suit, with slight variations, were used to make Skyfall (reinforced knees, blood splattered or longer sleeves, depending on the action-packed sequence). Thankfully, no ruffled polyester shirts, belled pant legs or turquoise cummerbunds were harmed in the making of this latest Bond thriller.