Bond’s White Dinner Jacket in Diamonds are Forever

Sean Connery and Lana Wood in the seventh James Bond film, Diamonds are Forever (1971), filmed and set in Las Vegas.

Sean Connery and Lana Wood in the seventh James Bond film, Diamonds are Forever (1971), filmed and set in Las Vegas.

Vitals

Sean Connery as James Bond, British government agent

Las Vegas, Spring 1971

Film: Diamonds are Forever
Release Date: December 17, 1971
Director: Guy Hamilton
Wardrobe Master: Ray Beck
Tailor: Anthony Sinclair

Background

It’s Friday the 13th! Considered an unlucky day by some, this summer occurrence feels like just the right time to follow James Bond as he tests his own luck in a Las Vegas casino in Diamonds are Forever, the 1971 film that convinced Sean Connery to portray the British secret agent one more time.

Luck appears to be initially on 007’s side as he wins $50,000 at craps and makes the acquaintance of the voluptuous Plenty O’Toole (Lana Wood).

Unfortunately, his luck runs out by the time he and Plenty arrive inside the doorway of his hotel room, where four black-suited thugs corner him with guns drawn and defenestrate his scantily clad “fulsome friend” directly into the Tropicana’s swimming pool.

Once he’s assured that Plenty is alive and well after the gangster’s “exceptionally fine shot” into the pool, Bond prepares for battle… but the gunmen ease out of the room. Entering his bedroom with his trusty Walther PPK drawn, he finds diamond smuggler Tiffany Case (Jill St. John) waiting for him in his bed.

Presumably, I’m the condemned man and obviously you’re the hearty breakfast, right?

Lucky for Bond, “the evening may not be a total loss after all.”

What’d He Wear?

Although it had only been a decade since the Rat Pack’s infamous Las Vegas summit that popularized their tuxedoed persona, Sean Connery’s James Bond is already a walking anachronism when he steps out onto the casino floor in his white dinner jacket. Never mind that the look is relatively timeless for an elegant warm-weather locale, the average gambler in early ’70s Sin City simply didn’t dress like Frank, Dean, or Sammy… though the latter does make a brief appearance in a scene that was ultimately deleted from the final film.

"They ain't never gonna get a cake big enough to put him on top of," jokes Sammy Davis Jr. upon seeing Connery in his off-white dinner jacket as Bond.

“They ain’t never gonna get a cake big enough to put him on top of,” jokes Sammy Davis Jr. upon seeing Connery in his off-white dinner jacket as Bond.

Though it lacks the red boutonnière, this outfit is arguably an early ’70s update of Connery’s iconic summer formal wear in Goldfinger that consisted of an off-white peak-lapel dinner jacket, white-on-white striped shirt with French cuffs, black bow tie, and midnight blue formal trousers.

Bond’s white dinner jacket for the Whyte House hotel and casino may be overdressing, but there’s no denying that he stands out among the sea of garish polyester jackets and Ban-Lon sport shirts.

The Ban-Lon boys stare on dumbfounded as 007 out-classes them all.

The Ban-Lon boys stare on dumbfounded as 007 out-classes them all.

As described by Bond sartorial expert Matt Spaiser at The Suits of James Bond, Connery’s ivory single-breasted dinner jacket is cut like his other Anthony Sinclair tailored jackets in Diamonds are Forever with a clean chest and natural shoulders with roped sleeveheads. The self-faced peak lapels with their high gorges are a traditional and tasteful width, rolling down to a single mother-of-pearl four-hole sew-through button. The four buttons on each cuff are downsized but otherwise identical.

Timeless cut aside, the dinner jacket takes some styling cues from contemporary trends. The double vents in the back are likely about 12″ long to match his other tailored jackets in the film. The slanted hip pockets with wide flaps are an unorthodox alternative to traditional straight, jetted pockets, possibly a concession to the era as well as a tailoring technique to draw attention away from Sean Connery’s increasing midsection.

Bond reholsters his PPK, likely to avoid an accidental discharge, upon finding Tiffany in his hotel room.

Bond reholsters his PPK, likely to avoid an accidental discharge, upon finding Tiffany in his hotel room.

Although Roger Moore would wear a double-breasted white dinner jacket just three years later in The Man with the Golden Gun (1974), Diamonds are Forever marks the last appearance of the classic single-breasted white dinner jacket for more than a decade until the final two films of Sir Roger’s tenure. It would then be another thirty years until 007 pulled a white dinner jacket from his closet when Daniel Craig sported his Tom Ford “Windsor” jacket in Spectre (2015).

Connery wears a white self-striped formal shirt from Turnbull & Asser with a spread collar, pleated front, and mother-of-pearl buttons down the front placket. The double (French) cuffs are fastened with a set of gold-trimmed black onyx oval links.

BOND

Bond’s black silk bow tie is a large butterfly/thistle shape, consistent with early ’70s trends. The medium width of the jacket lapels works in tandem with the bow tie to ensure that one doesn’t dwarf the other.

Bond, unimpressed with Shady Tree's schmaltzy burlesque comedy. No wonder his reaction to the comic's death is basically to shrug and go play craps.

Bond, unimpressed with Shady Tree’s schmaltzy burlesque comedy. No wonder his reaction to the comic’s death is basically to shrug and go play craps.

Aside from his off-screen strip-down prior to his assignation with Tiffany, Sean Connery wears the dinner jacket’s single button fastened throughout the scene. However, behind-the-scenes shots of Connery on location show a little more of his midnight blue trousers with their medium rise, side pockets, and flat front.

Sean Connery on location in Las Vegas with some of the local talent. Photo by Terry O'Neill, 1971.

Sean Connery on location in Las Vegas with some of the local talent. Photo by Terry O’Neill, 1971.

Bond wears no cummerbund, waistcoat, suspenders, or braces, instead likely relying on his usual “Daks top” button-tab side adjusters. His formal trousers have a black silk stripe down the side of each leg of his trousers down to the plain-hemmed bottoms.

Bond ducks into Shady Tree's dressing room and finds his most promising lead dead so he... goes and plays craps? I'm not sure much of this movie was supposed to make sense anyway, right?

Bond ducks into Shady Tree’s dressing room and finds his most promising lead dead so he… goes and plays craps? I’m not sure much of this movie was supposed to make sense anyway, right?

Bond wears black patent leather cap-toe derby shoes and thin black silk dress socks. You can see more of Bond’s outfit, including his midnight blue formal trousers and black derbies, in this NSFW photo also by Terry O’Neill.

Not that it matters for this particular setting, but derby shoes are less formal than oxfords, which are considered to be the most acceptable lace-up with black tie.

Bond's patent leather derby shoes shine in the dark just before they are shrouded by Plenty's discarded dress.

Bond’s patent leather derby shoes shine in the dark just before they are shrouded by Plenty’s discarded dress.

A Little Nothing He’s Almost Wearing…

Once Bond finds Tiffany Case in his bed, he judges from her attitude and attire that he’ll need to strip down in order to be properly attired himself for what she has in mind.

Bond nonchalantly takes off his black tie kit, hanging the off-white dinner jacket, white shirt, and black tie on a hanger before settling into bed with Tiffany. He’s supposed to be naked, but modesty ruled the day and Sean Connery was evidently given a pair of short, beige-colored briefs intended to match his skin tone.

The condemned man prepares for his hearty breakfast. Note the low briefs, colored to match Sean Connery's skin tone.

The condemned man prepares for his hearty breakfast. Note the low briefs, colored to match Sean Connery’s skin tone.

Terry O’Neill Gallery

Go Big or Go Home

I’ll take the full odds on the ten, 200 on the hard way, the limit on all the numbers, 250 on the eleven. Thank you very much.

“Say, you played this game before,” observes the sharp-witted Plenty O’Toole, who thought she spotted an easy mark with the obvious big spender in his out-of-place dinner jacket until Bond shocked her with his knowledge of how to properly bet on craps. His $50,000 payday, his $5,000 “tip” for her, and the way he “handles those cubes like a monkey handles coconuts” is evidently all that Plenty needs before we next see her undressing in his arms in his hotel room.

Plenty receives a well-earned $5,000 after the grueling task of merely standing next to James Bond for a few seconds.

Plenty receives a well-earned $5,000 after the grueling task of merely standing next to James Bond for a few seconds.

As it turns out, Bond and Plenty did make an attempt at a date before retiring to his room for the night. One of several deleted scenes from this sequence finds the two at a restaurant, serenaded by a topless woman floating through a pool, playing the harp. A waiter has just poured Bond a glass of white wine, but the epicurean agent can’t hide his displeasure.

Bond's snobbery hits an all-time high as he literally (or as close to "literally" as this idiom can get) turns his nose up at an inadequate white wine that he is poured during his date with Plenty O'Toole.

Bond’s snobbery hits an all-time high as he literally (or as close to “literally” as this idiom can get) turns his nose up at an inadequate white wine that he is poured during his date with Plenty O’Toole.

“Uh-uh… no good,” Bond utters. The disappointed waiter retreats with the bottle, much to Plenty’s amazement.

Plenty: Hey, I didn’t think you could really do that! I bet they charge you for it.
Bond: I was under the impression you were paying.
Plenty: Well, it was still a very classy thing to do!

Plenty laughs, but Bond responds with only a smirk.

Plenty: Hey, listen, you’re not a knight or anything like that, are you?
Bond: No, I’m afraid not. A mere commoner.
Plenty: Don’t feel bad. It doesn’t make any difference to me, I’m a Democrat!

After recognizing the topless harpist (“Hi Myrna!”), Plenty decides to end their date early so that she may thank him “properly… for being so great and everything.”

Myrna floats up behind Bond during his date with Plenty.

Myrna floats up behind Bond during his date with Plenty.

In short… whether it’s playing craps or tasting wines, know what you’re doing and you won’t fail to impress.

How to Get the Look

Sean Connery as James Bond in Diamonds are Forever (1971)

Sean Connery as James Bond in Diamonds are Forever (1971)

James Bond’s breaks from sartorial convention in this black tie ensemble would likely be more acceptable in a casual locale like Las Vegas rather than the gambling palaces of London, France, or Monaco… especially now that Sin City is the domain of elderly tourists in their wolf t-shirts and fanny packs.

  • Ivory single-button dinner jacket with self-faced peak lapels, welted breast pocket, slanted flapped hip pockets, 4-button cuffs, and long double vents
  • White self-striped formal shirt with spread collar, pleated front, front placket, and double/French cuffs
    • Gold-trimmed black onyx oval cuff links
  • Black silk wide butterfly-shaped bow tie
  • Midnight blue formal flat front trousers with side pockets, satin stripe side-braiding, and plain-hemmed bottoms
  • Black patent leather cap-toe derby shoes
  • Black thin silk dress socks

Do Yourself a Favor and…

Check out the movie.

The Quote

I’m afraid you’ve caught me with more than my hands up.

Footnote

Interestingly, Tiffany Case and Plenty O’Toole’s rivalry for James Bond’s affections extended beyond the 007 universe as both Jill St. John and Lana Wood were romantically involved with Sean Connery during the making of Diamonds are Forever. According to IMDB, this and the mysterious drowning death of Lana’s sister Natalie Wood fueled a decades-long feud between the two actresses.

One comment

  1. David Merrill

    Great article! Any advice on how to score a double breasted white dinner jacket like Bogie had in Casablanca?

    Like

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