This is a personal post about designing my custom made James Bond shirt. It is not an advertorial and wasn’t paid for. All photographs are of the final finished shirt(s) and taken by David Wade of Vogue Shot photography.
There are now ample custom shirt makers online, but as a pre-existing customer of Deo Veritas what made this company stand out for me was a steadfast, almost stubborn desire to get everything ‘just so’. Seemingly no query or request is too much trouble. Bearing this in mind I tasked Deo Veritas with recreating a shirt I have always sought yet been unable to find off the peg or in my price range for custom (under £100 or thereabouts) – the James Bond cocktail cuff.
It did take a little while to get there but in the end we pretty much nailed it. Short of visiting Frank Foster personally in London or finding a vintage Turnbull & Asser hanging in some old gent’s wardrobe, this is about as near as I was going to get. Furthermore I also wanted a close variation on the blue contrast collar and cuffs shirt worn by Michael Kenneth Williams as Chalky White in Boardwalk Empire, minus the detachable collar for ease of everyday wear. Evidently this would be a more straightforward request as no amendments would need to be made.
The journey to Bond started when Deo Veritas got in contact to discuss my requirements. I hoped for something like the shirt Sean Connery wears in Thunderball; the cream one after he’s left the spa and returned to London. It’s seen most clearly in M’s office worn beneath a brown mohair suit. Perhaps not the most obvious choice to emulate but I’ve always intended to add a fine cream shirt to my wardrobe so this seemed the perfect opportunity. The shirt in Thunderball looks to be cotton poplin, which at the time of ordering Deo Veritas did not offer so instead I went for cream twill (they now stock a closer cream pinpoint). Regarding the style and fit, I opted for a forward point collar, not quite as wide as the Thunderball shirt, with slim darts and a non-fused collar. I could have chosen an English Spread collar but at 3” it felt a tad too wide. Like most online tailors offering a reworking of the cocktail or ‘flowback’ cuff, the Deo Veritas version was a smidgen off model, in that the curve did not start before the second button and was overly acute. To help explain exactly what was required I got in touch with Matt Spaiser at The Suits of James Bond.
Matt is an expert in the clothing of James Bond, no question, and he’s written two excellent posts for Clothes on Film (Dr No and OHMSS). We had a brief chat about what the cocktail cuff, based on Connery’s T&A version, needed to achieve but presently wasn’t and I then passed these instructions onto Deo Veritas. I sent my order through for both shirts about a week later. I should point out for reference a rough indication of my build: I’m 5’ 8” with a 38” chest and short 24″ arms.
Deo Veritas is a 2007 established Chicago based company that, in their own words, “provide outstanding shirting, perfecting the customer experience”. To place an order you log onto their site and use the shirt designer tool, which is a breeze and a great way to procrastinate even if you’re not planning to buy. You’ll need to take a variety of measurements, including chest, neck and shoulder to wrist, which are then stored on site for future use. Re-ordering is a synch, and if you over-indulge it only takes a second to adjust the measurements. Deo Veritas’ motto is “combining old world craftsmanship with 21st century technology (we aim) to provide you with the best looking and fitting shirts you’ll find anywhere”. Obviously you can make your own judgement about that, but they do want to achieve the best they can for the money you pay. Incidentally, although Deo Veritas are based in Chicago their shirts are made in Hong Kong via “a stable of artisan tailors and seamstresses”.
About a month after ordering my two shirts arrived, attractively packaged in a glossy black box surrounded by tissue paper. The Boardwalk Empire was extremely impressive: nice even stitching, perfectly sized slim fit, luxurious ‘Pompei Classico’ light blue cotton with fine white stripes. In fact my only issue was that the removable collar bones protruded slightly in the fabric when the top button was closed. I just removed them and the collar actually sits better without. All in all a superb shirt, and refreshingly long in the body too so it doesn’t pop out if you drop your money clip. What’s more it could even work with the Peaky Blinders look, if you’re so inclined.
Unfortunately there were a couple of issues with the Bond shirt. Firstly the twill fabric was clearly not going to work. It was far too thick for the cuff and the collar combination; it would have to be lightweight poplin. Secondly the cuff itself was curved far too severely, not rounded enough. As such it didn’t fasten correctly. Evidently something got lost in translation. Deo Veritas were most accommodating though. They admitted their error interpreting the design and asked for details on how I’d like it rectified. At this stage I thought it best to contact Matt Spaiser again. Matt has a diagram featured on his website denoting the shape and dimensions of a cocktail cuff. He gave me permission to send it to Deo Veritas for reference.
Based on Matt’s diagram, a month or so later Bond shirt #2 arrived. The cream shirt you see me attempting to model in the photographs is this version. It seemed as though Deo Veritas really ‘got’ the concept of the T&A Bond cuff this time around, that it’s subtler and softer than the variation they presently offer. The cuff had a rolled rather than folded feel, entirely even when fastened. Actually my only slight concern was that the sleeves felt 1” too long, which was probably my fault because Matt’s version of the cocktail cuff was nearly that much longer than Deo Veritas’ own and I did not take that into account by amending my measurements. Nonetheless the shirt itself, the cut, poplin, collar, finish and cuff is excellent. It is not an exact copy of the Thunderball shirt but is a close approximation. Most importantly it’s tailored to me.
I can thoroughly recommend Deo Veritas. They are a genuine, knowledgeable, eager to please company utilising contemporary techniques to produce very good quality shirts at fair prices. For custom variants NOT available on their website just get in touch with as many details as you can; they will keep going until they’ve got it spot on, and then some.
© 2013 – 2014, Lord Christopher Laverty.