Acquiring the James Bond Style of The English Spy in St James’s & Mayfair
Many gentlemen come to Mayfair & St James’s specifically to acquire the sartorial style of James Bond, the quintessential English Spy.
St James’s & Mayfair’s reputation as a hotbed of spies goes back to Restoration England – the 1660’s when London was really swinging – and St James’s Palace was the centre of all. Spies are famed for their love of fine wine, fine tailoring, hand-crafted shoes and custom made gun barrels, all of which are associated with the St James’s and Mayfair as are Private Members Clubs. All this combined with the areas proximity to MI6 continues to draw the worlds best dressed spies to this area.
Ian Fleming briefly lived in Mayfair at the now defunct St James’s Club off Berkeley Square. He was a member of the private member’s club, Boodles at 28 St James’s Street while 007 was a member of the fictional Blades located on the site of real life Pratts on Park Place off St James’s Street near the St James’s Hotel & Club.
Unlike his choice in cocktails and gambling games however the sartorial style of James Bond can only truly be acquired in Mayfair & St James’s, London where the retail premises of the members of London’s Ancient LIVERY GUILDS still practise their ancient crafts.
Within a half-mile radius of the legendary Dukes Bar on St James’s Place, in which Ian Fleming came up with 007‘s martini’s “shaken not stirred”, like James Bond, you may have your hair cut at Geo F Trumpers on Curzon Street, purchase your hats from Lock & Co on Jermyn Street, have a last made for your bespoke shoes at the cordwainers, Lobb – also on Jermyn Street in fact right by his shirtmaker Turnbull & Asser again on Jermyn Street.
As to suits, James Bond only wore bespoke. A gentleman can consult the list of Guild Members of the Worshipful Company Of Merchant Taylors for Bespoke Tailors either on or “off the row” – the row, being Saville Row.
Bespoke tailoring is a particularly English art distinct from custom and tailor made in its links to the ancient Guilds & Livery Companies. A bespoke suit is a handmade construction built to last a lifetime. A bespoke suit is still considered new after ten years. Any gentleman who has had a bespoke suit made will attest that it is difficult to find the same level of ease and comfort in a custom made or tailor made suit.
Both Fleming and 007 were particular about their suits, a two piece blue suit for London and a distinctive houndstooth for the country. Of course a gentleman spy always dresses for dinner and James Bond like a modern day Beau Brummell has kept Black Tie as a gentleman’s wardrobe mainstay. He also knew how to wear the more formal White Tie which much to Anna Wintour’s dismay all but Benedict Cumberbatch struggled to put together at the Met Gala 2014.
We know through biographies that Ian Fleming and James Bond by association had his suits made “off the row” by Perry & Whitely Ltd on Cork Street in Mayfair, now sadly closed.
Ian Fleming was quite specific about where James Bond purchased his understated style, referencing 007‘s shirt maker and shoe maker in all his books. However, like all gentlemen and spies, Mr Fleming was careful never to disclose the name of either his own or James Bond’s tailor.
Naturally he was not as discreet about naming the tailors of his enemies. Count Lippe in Thunderball for example has his suits made at Anderson & Sheppard, “off the row“ 32 Old Burlington Street.
This is no reflection on Anderson & Sheppard, many gentleman value the undisputed mastery of Anderson and Sheppard, including my own father, Fred Astair and numerous royals. Ralph Lauren, Manolo Blahnik and Tom Forward are also loyal Anderson & Sheppard clients.
After closed discussions with your tailor about your suit while in Mayfair & St James’s, you may also stock up on wine from Berry Brothers & Rudd on St James’s Street, and nab your handmade cigarettes from Morlands on Grosvenor Street. As to your choice of gun or riffle 007 probably left that to the discretion of MI6, though I imagine Ian Fleming was a regular visitor to the gun rooms of Purdey’s on Mount Street Mayfair or William Even’s on St James’s Street, St James’s.
Finally you can pick up your Aston Martin from their showroom on Park Lane.