In this episode of From Tailors With Love, Matt Spaiser and I look at one of the most iconic suits in cinematic history; the timeless midnight blue tuxedo by Anthony Sinclair that Sean Connery wore as James Bond at the casino in Dr. No.
Anthony Sinclair was the original tailor and made the suits for the first four James Bond films. He died in 1986 and was survived by his protege Richard Paine who carried on the brand for a spell. The brand was revived By David Mason in 2012 in time for the London Olympics with the guise of Richard Paine and his son Elliot Mason.
Who decided on the style of Bond?
It’s been quoted many times that Sean Connery wasn’t doing an interpretation of James Bond he was doing his interpretation of Terence Young, the director of Dr. No. In an interview with James King for the official 007 Podcast, EON producer Barbara Broccoli said,
When Terence Young the director took Sean Connery to the tailor and explained to him, you’re getting a Savile Row suit, and you have to basically sleep in it. Just to get accustomed to it so that it feels like a second skin and you mustn’t covet it, you must just treat it as if it’s nothing. When you take it off, just throw it on the floor. Because he wanted him to feel as if he was an animal who was constantly on pursuit. And clothes were just an accoutrement that would get you into places. If you’re worried about splitting the seam on your trousers you’re not going to jump over a wall.
I (PB) ask Matt Spaiser (MS) editor of Bond Suits, how influential was Terence Young when it came to deciding the style of James Bond.
MS – That was one of the first thing people talk about when Sean Connery was becoming James Bond. He really had Terence Young to help him out. In the same way that Ian Fleming defined the style of the literary Bond, Terence Young did a lot to define the style of the film [celluloid] Bond.
Describing the Tuxedo
MS – In the casino he [Bond] is wearing a midnight blue dinner suit with a shawl collar. A very traditional English cut with the single button, forward pleat trousers, and the traditional black tie details. The dinner jacket has satin lapels. He’s wearing a shirt with a spread collar, pleated front, mother of pearl buttons a narrow black diamond pointed bow tie. They’re all very classic. Things that really hold up well today.
Is the cut of the Tuxedo still relevant?
MS – I think someone could wear it today. It doesn’t have the current tight fit. As long as people are wearing black tie people can wear what Sean Connery was wearing in Dr. No. I don’t know about wearing that to a casino, how many casinos nowadays require black tie?
The Anthony Sinclair interview
It’s been well documented that Terence Young encouraged Sean Connery to really live in the suits. Even sleep in the suits to get used and accustomed to wearing them like a second skin.
In an interview with ABC News Anthony Sinclair said:
You’ve got to put guts into a suit. Any well made suit you should be able to take it, roll it into a ball, crush it, stamp on it, sleep in it, and there you are, you’re back again you see.
Can you tell me anything about Richard Payne, the protege of Anthony Sinclair?
MS – When they first started [with Mason & Sons] Richard Paine was a big part of their bespoke operation and he brought a lot of knowledge of the original conduit cut that Anthony Sinclair was doing to the new brand. He’s a wonderful person, very talented.
And can you get the Sean Connery look with the Mason & Sons ready-to-wear (RTW) range?
MS – Mason & Sons [in their RTW range] have taken what Connery was wearing and they have updated it slightly to what most people want to wear. People today don’t want to dress like Sean Connery in the 60s. Those suits are too full cut.
Read our interview with Elliot Mason on reviving the Anthony Sinclair brand in the book From Tailors With Love: An Evolution of Menswear Through the Bond Films, available on Amazon.
What is a full cut?
MS – Connery’s suits have a lot of extra room in the chest. The waist is not very tightly suppressed, his suit trousers are pleated. Those are not things that people today don’t want to wear […] A bit too much extra fabric. If you want the exact style that Connery was wearing, that’s only available in bespoke.
[…] The general look you can get through RTW or special order. I like special order because I get to lower the button stance on the jacket. To make it a little closer to what Connery was wearing, I can get a higher trouser rise. The RTW trouser rise is like a mid-rise. It’s lower than what I care for myself. These days most of my trousers are flat front. But I do have pleated trousers. I only like the forward-facing pleats that Connery wore.
Are there any Anthony Sinclair suits in the EON archives
I did reach out to David Mason and ask if their were any original suits from the early Connery films still in existence. I wanted to share with you some of his correspondence.
There is a brown suit in the EON archive and the navy Chesterfield overcoat from Dr No. I think that is it from Connery’s wardrobe. The You Only Live Twice suit was bought from the guy who was planning to appear on a TV show with it. The new owner loaned the suit to me so that we could reverse engineer a pattern for the replicas that were produced.
Listen to the podcast
You can download the podcast on iTunes, Stitcher or Spotify. Or listen in the player below. Be awesome if you could leave a review it will encourage us to keep creating podcasts like these. If you have any extra information that you think would be relevant to this blog then please get in touch with me here.
Matt has written extensively on the style of Sean Connery and you can learn more about the suits featured in Dr. No on his blog.
You can also listen to an interview with Elliot Mason we did on the podcast in episode 6.
If you’d like to get the ‘Connery look’ you can book an appointment with Mason & Sons for a consultation.