I’m a big James Bond fan.
I always aspired to have the poise and confidence that my favorite fictional spy is known for. And this summer, with the combination of the heat and my new-found interest in reading Ian Fleming’s original novels, I set out on a lofty goal. One that would require hours and hours of online research and much pause/play of the film Casino Royale. All in hopes that I could dress like James Bond.
In the film, Bond visits Nassau on “vacation” and is seen sporting a light grey linen suit with a very cool white dress shirt worn underneath. Now for those of you that may need a refresher, check out this excellent blog post to get a better view of the original shirt from the film.
It’s this white shirt that I wanted to recreate. My reasoning was two-fold. First, it’s the perfect time of year to sport a sophisticated short sleeve dress shirt and secondly, I could wear it under my new linen/wool sportcoat.
Let’s go through it from the beginning and then you can tell me how authentic (or inauthentic!) I may have been.
We’ve dubbed the shirt, Royal.
So, if this was to be a warm weather shirt, we had two options – cotton or linen.
Linen breathes like a screen door and is a warm weather staple, albeit a wrinkly one. Cotton is not only breathable, but versatile – it looks right at home in either the office or on a warm cafe patio.
We could have went either way, but to stay true to the film, we chose cotton.
Here’s where things get interesting. Because second to the fabric, I’d argue that the collar style has a huge impact on the overall level of formality of a dress shirt. A very shallow, frumpy looking collar is going to convey a relaxed look. Consequently, you’re nixing any chance of wearing a sportcoat, as any weak collar will fold under the pressure of a jacket. On the other hand, a stiffer collar will hold up better and look a little more dressy.
Bond’s shirt had a very strong collar. It was almost the type of collar you’d expect on a more formal evening shirt. But this selection makes sense when you look back at other bond films; his style is often traditional and simple. That is, he’s not wearing bright color or bold pocket squares. And usually when he’s dressed casually, it’s still more dressed up than those around him.
So we chose our 2-inch traditional collar to keep the shirt dressy and to pair well with a jacket.
Let’s talk about the epaulettes. Common on many military uniforms, epaulettes were typically functional – one would button them down over their berets. Today, you rarely see them on clothing, expect the odd shirt at the mall, and even then it’s usually marketed towards a much younger audience. And this is rather odd, because epaulettes are a very masculine feature on clothing.
In my opinion, this is what makes the shirt. Because it’s a very unique detail, and honestly, it’s pretty subtle, isn’t it? With the white on white, you can barely make them out until you look close. And this is something people are only going to notice when they are up close talking to you. They aren’t a distraction, but an enhancement.
Here’s where we departed a little bit from the film. We wanted to have a little fun with the contrast lining inside the collar, but we didn’t want anything too distracting. In other words, we didn’t want to add color for the sake of adding color.
What we ended up with was a very coastal, and in my opinion – Mediterranean, fabric. The blue refers to the top and bottom contrast button threading, and will pair nicely with the summer sportcoat I built a month ago.
Clean, neat, and masculine.
That’s how I would describe Bond’s succinctly.
A couple other things you should know is that we cut the shirt a little on the short side so that one could wear it untucked. However, there is enough shirt tail to still be tucked in neatly, without fear of the sides coming out.
Make it your own
Naturally, you can grab the shirt for yourself by visiting our online store. Alternatively, you can take the tips above and build your own shirt. Because many of the style points above transcend fabric and will help you to build one awesome summer dress shirt.
What do you think? How did we do? We tried our best to capture the key details of this shirt, while still adding a little BE uniqueness.
By Ryan Wagner