Nobody else combines masculinity and sophistication in the way that James Bond does. The masculinity comes from looking as much like the ideal man from the western perspective. This ideal man’s body is lean, strong and overall athletic. it is tall with broad shoulders, a muscular chest and small waist. The ideal man’s torso has a V-shape, which is masculine because it’s not a common shape for women to have. The sophistication comes from a well-tailored suit. A well-tailored suit can give man a more masculine shape, can show off a masculine figure or can downplay a masculine figure. All three of these aspects of tailoring can be desirable, depending on the body type one has. This article focuses on the suits that Bond wears that best deal with a masculine but elegant silhouette.
Sean Connery’s Anthony Sinclair suits emphasise his masculine physique whilst downplaying some aspects of it. Connery doesn’t need much help in the shoulders, and his jackets have soft shoulders that follow his shoulder line but have a little structure to smooth out the shoulders to give them more elegant lines. The chest has a full, swelled shape to build on the strength in the chest. There are two buttons on the front of the jacket in a low stance to create a deep “V” on the front of the jacket to highlight Connery’s masculine shape.
Because Sean Connery had a very athletic physique, Anthony Sinclair decided to soften it by not making the waist as suppressed as he normally would. A tightly suppressed wasp waist in the normal Savile Row fashion with Sean Connery’s fabled 13-inch drop would look neither elegant nor manly. The waist on Connery’s jackets is still very shaped, but it’s not tight. Too much waist suppression can make one look feminine, and stressing an overly athletic physique detracts from the elegance of a suit by making someone look too much like a body builder.
I find that Sean Connery’s narrow lapels in the 1960s also help drawn attention to his large chest. Narrow lapels make the chest look wider by showing more expanse of chest. Connery’s considerably wider lapels in Diamonds Are Forever cover two-thirds of his chest, giving him a visually narrower chest.
For the slighter Bonds Timothy Dalton and Pierce Brosnan, large shoulders on their jackets give them a stronger look. If they wore suits with natural shoulders they wouldn’t have the necessary imposing look that an action hero needs. The shoulders on many of Dalton’s suit jackets, however, were too strong and draw too much attention to themselves. Brosnan’s Brioni suits, however, gave him a more natural look that was still built-up. Additionally, the two buttons in a low stance on Dalton’s suits, like on Connery’s, give him a more athletic look by drawing attention to the chest.
Daniel Craig takes a different approach to looking masculine and strong in his suits. Whilst Connery’s suits work with his body, Daniel Craig’s suits in Skyfall fight against his body. They have the goal to make him look like he worked out so much that his muscles are bursting out of his suit. He wears suits meant for someone with a 38-inch chest and more likely has a chest around 40 inches. Narrow shoulders on the jackets allow Craig’s deltoids to push the sleeves out a little. A too-small chest splays open to give the impression Craig’s chest muscles are bigger. Ripples at the waist further the impression that Craig is turning into the Hulk. Unlike Connery’s method of looking stronger, Craig’s method is devoid of elegance and sophistication. Clean lines, not ripples, are a mark of refinement.
Craig’s method also does not achieve its goal to make him look more muscular. Suits—particularly Tom Ford’s—are very structured and can’t stretch like a t-shirt or jumper to show off the form of his muscles. Knitted, not woven, garments are best used to show off one’s body. A suit that is too small ripples and pulls the same way whether one is too muscular or too fat for it. And putting Craig in a suit that is too small for him has the effect of making him look smaller, not bigger. This method would work better with someone who is genuinely more imposing with a chest much larger than Craig’s 40 inches. Narrow shoulders downplay his breadth and the V-shape of his torso. The short jacket length makes his torso look smaller overall. The positive effect of a short jacket length, however, is that it makes Craig look taller in wide shots by extending the perceived length of his legs. That’s the one way his suits in Skyfall make him look more masculine. However, the lower rise on his trousers partially negates the height benefits of the shorter jackets by shortening his lower half. The suits in Spectre mostly have the same problems but to a lesser extent than in Skyfall. The shoulders in Spectre are wider in comparison to Craig’s body and allow the sleeves to hang more elegantly.
Like on Connery’s 1960s suits, most of Daniel Craig’s suits in Skyfall and Spectre have narrow notched lapels that make Craig’s chest look larger. But one of Craig’s suits in Spectre has wide peaked lapels: the black herringbone Tom Ford “Windsor” suit. These wide peaked lapels have a different effect from wide notched lapels. Peaked lapels point up and out, extending the width of the chest and shoulders. The belly of the lapels added perceived depth to the chest. Wide notched lapels with a higher and more horizontal gorge, as well as some belly, can counter the narrowing effect of wide lapels.
Though the right tailoring can make a man look more masculine or more sophisticated, clothes can not add the attitude, charisma and personality needed to truly be like James Bond.