James Bond’s Odd Jackets and Sports Coats

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Brunello-Cucinelli-Morocco-Jacket-Spectre
Daniel Craig in an unstructured jacket from Brunello Cucinelli in Spectre

The odd jacket finally retuned to the James Bond series in Spectre after a twenty year absence. Bond has worn many odd jackets, sports coats and blazers throughout the series, but why does Bond wear odd jackets sometimes rather than suits?

What is an odd jacket? It’s a tailored jacket that is not part of a suit, simply meaning that it does not have matching trousers. A sports coat or sports jacket is an odd jacket that is worn for participation in sports—such hunting or riding—or worn for watching sports. Most sports coats aren’t made for these sports today, but they descend from this pedigree. The blazer is a specific type of sports coat, though this article will focus on non-blazer odd jackets.

Hacking Jacket
Sean Connery in a barleycorn tweed hacking jacket in Goldfinger

Why do some jackets work on their own whilst others must always be part of a suit? It all comes down to the cloth. Formal and business-like cloths do not make effective odd jackets because odd jackets are simply not all that formal or business-like. This leaves out most worsted and smooth cloths. If it is worsted, it needs to have a large pattern or a heavy texture. Practically any tweed, cashmere, linen, cotton or silk can make a great odd jacket, so long as it doesn’t have pinstripes or chalk stripes. Pinstripes and chalk stripes are businesslike and thus do not work well for odd jackets, which are inherently unbusinesslike.

There is no difference between the cut of a suit jacket and the cut of an odd jacket. Some people prefer a softer construction for their odd jackets and more structure for their suit jackets, but it is not a rule by any means. The way one’s jacket fits and is cut is largely personal preference, but that’s the same whether the jacket is part of a suit or stands on its own. Any odd jacket can be a part of a suit if it has matching trousers, though most jacketings—cloths meant to be tailored into jackets—do not make up well as trousers since they won’t hold shape or a crease. Such a suit would end up being an informal or sporty suit rather than a business suit.

A sports suit, where a sports coat has matching trousers
A sports suit in Moonraker, where a sports coat has matching trousers

For example, Roger Moore’s brown tweed suit in Moonraker that he wears for hunting with Drax is a sports suit. The jacket could easily stand on its own as a sports coat. The donegal tweed cloth is what allows this. The hacking pockets and flapped breast pocket add to the sportiness of the suit’s jacket. But even if it were detailed with straight pockets and an ordinary welt breast pocket, it could still work just as well on its own because of the sporty cloth.

Sports coats are often tweed, which is historically worn for country sports. James Bond has worn numerous tweeds, often subtly patterned or plain. Sean Connery’s brown barleycorn jacket in Goldfinger and Thunderball and Roger Moore’s brown broken twill jacket in A View to a Kill are similar subtly patterned tweeds. Sean Connery wears two tweed jackets in Diamonds Are Forever with sporty Nofolk-jacket-inspired details. In A View to a Kill, Moore also wears a plain grey twill tweed jacket. George Lazenby wears a houndstooth tweed hacking jacket in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service for equestrian sports. Though many of these jackets have sporty hacking pockets, casual patch pockets or horn buttons, it is purely the cloth that makes these proper sports coats. Bond’s last tweed jacket was Timothy Dalton’s gun club check jacket in The Living Daylights.

Houndstooth-Sports-Coat-3
George Lazenby in a houndstooth check hacking jacket in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service

Bond has worn a number of warm-weather odd jackets in addition to the traditional tweeds. In Live and Let Die he wears a tan basketweave jacket whilst in New Orleans. The texture of this jacket, both in the hopsack weave and the possibly linen or silk content, makes it a great odd jacket. In The Man with the Golden Gun, Moore wears a sports coat with a large check that is inspired by traditional tweed checks. This is instead made in a light, open, plain-weave cloth appropriate for the hot South Asian weather. In The Spy Who Loved Me, Moore wears a cotton sports coat with safari-jacket details in Egypt. In Spectre, Daniel Craig wears an unstructured brown wool, linen and silk blend jacket in Morocco.

The-Spy-Who-Loved-Me-Safari-Sports-Coat
Roger Moore in a tan cotton safari-inspired sports coat in The Spy Who Loved Me

Though the right cloth is the key to a proper odd jacket, the details can make an odd jacket special. A true sports coat should have sporty details, such as slanted hacking pockets, patch pockets, bellows pockets, deep vents, a half belt, a throat latch or swelled edges.

Buttons should complement the cloth of the jacket. Tweed jackets should have rustic horn, bone, wood or leather buttons. Lightweight odd jackets should have mother-of-pearl or corozo buttons. Smooth, plain buttons, however, are rarely a good choice on any sports coat. However, changing the buttons on a dressy suit jacket will not make it into a sports coat. Changing the buttons only works on a solid navy jacket, when it can be turned into a blazer.

A-View-to-a-Kill-Grey-Tweed-Jacket
Roger Moore in a grey tweed jacket in A View to a Kill

James Bond wears sports coats when he is not in a formal setting or a business setting but still needs to dress like a sophisticated gentleman. He wears them for social occasions during the day and never at night. Today, sports coats can be worn in less formal business settings and for most social occasions at any time of day, though darker sports coats are better to wear at night. Odd jackets have recently seen a surge in popularity because they allow people to dress up in today’s casual society without worrying people that they will be too dressed up.

Odd jackets can more easily be dressed up or down than a suit can. Most odd jackets need a less formal shirt and tie than a suit needs. Bond usually dresses up his sports coats and often wears the same shirts with his odd jackets that he wears with his suits. These shirts are usually poplin, but Bond sometimes wears less formal shirts like oxford with a tweed jacket or chambray with a cotton jacket. Bond’s shirts have spread or point collars, though many Americans prefer a button-down collar with their sports coats. Bond’s shirts almost always have button cuffs, cocktail cuffs or tab cuffs, though Bond shows in Goldfinger that double cuffs can be appropriate with a more structured odd jacket.

The-Living-Daylights-Gun-Club-Check-Jacket
Timothy Dalton in a gun club check jacket in The Living Daylights

Bond’s ties with his sports coats are often the same as the ties he wears with his suits, but some tend to the less formal side. Bond wears many knitted ties—silk or wool—with his sports coats, which is where knitted ties work best.

Bond sometimes dresses down his odd jackets. In On Her Majesty’s Secret Service Bond wears a shirt with a stock collar and a cravat for an old-fashioned look with his tweed jacket. In Diamonds Are Forever he wears polo and polo neck jumpers with his tweeds. In Octopussy he wears a yellow dickey under his tweed jacket. Bond never dresses down his sports coats by wearing a shirt without a tie, though it is more acceptable to wear an open-neck shirt with a sports coat than it is with a business suit.

Diamonds-Are-Forever-Herringbone-Tweed-Half-Norfolk-Jacket
Sean Connery dresses down his tweed jacket in Diamonds Are Forever with a polo jumper

The trousers should always match the weight of the jacket. With tweed jackets, Bond wears flannel and cavalry twill wool trousers. With lightweight jackets, he wears trousers in tropical wool, gabardine wool or cotton. Cotton trousers can work with odd jackets if the jacket is less structured. This would be corduroy and moleskin for heavier jackets and gabardine and chino for lightweight jackets. The more contrast between the jacket and trousers the less formal the outfit is. However, there needs to be at least enough contrast to easily tell that jacket and trousers are not mismatched suit. Jackets with bolder patterns do not need as much contrast with the trousers.

Shoe choices with odd jackets is more varied than it is with suits. Whilst oxfords are the best choice with suits, derby shoes, slip-ons and boots can all be excellent choices with odd jackets. Bond often takes out his suede shoes and boots to wear with his odd jackets.

29 COMMENTS

  1. I sometimes wear a navy-blue pinstripe single breasted suit jacket, paired with stone coloured chinos. It works well because the jacket/coat is cut for a slim fitting fashionable look, nipped in at the waist (ie not too business-like).

  2. The checked jacket outfit Dalton wore is perhaps the best of all its tenure as Bond. The fit is great -to my taste-, and he looks comfortable and elegant in it.
    It’s certainly an underrated outfit.

    • It would be easier to judge the fir of Dalton’s jacket if he had bothered to button it…

  3. Odd jackets and sports coats add an air of sophistication to less formal settings. There not as formal as a blazer even can be but they look less intimidating to people who think the moment you put on a suit your too dressed up. People these days are generally too casual, some don’t even wear a suit to a funeral or even an odd jacket.

    • Good points, Ryan. I know I’m opening a can of worms here but, when I see all the pictured jackets here, I really do feel Craig’s is the worst of the lot (too short, tight, the usual criticisms)although the way it’s worn in the photo is a lot to do with it. Great colour though, which suits him a lot and it’s astart I suppose, however, pictured alongside any of the rest, it’s not really at the races!

    • Just for fun, let’s rank the odd jackets from best to worst:
      1 – Sean Connery’s barleycorn tweed hacking jacket in Goldfinger
      2 – George Lazenby’s houndstooth check hacking jacket
      3 – the Moonraker sports suit
      4 – the grey tweed jacket in A View to a Kill
      5 – the tan cotton safari-inspired sports coat in The Spy Who Loved Me
      6 – the tweed jacket in Diamonds Are Forever
      7 – Dalton’s gun club check sport coat
      8 – Craig’s Cucinelli jacket

      For the sake of completeness, I would have ranked the plaid sport coat from TMWTGG at 3.5, the other DAF tweed jacket at 6.5, and the blue herringbone from NSNA at 7.5.

    • Oddly enough I’d agree completely with Dan’s ranking here and insert the brown barleycorn jacket from A View To A Kill and the briefly glimpsed sports coat from the opening of Octopussy somewhere in the mid reaches (5.5 each) for the sake of completeness.

      Belated congratulations to Matt for this excellent post and I’d draw attention to 2 other sports coats worn by the Bond actors in roles outside 007 but covered on this forum before; Brosnan in “Noble House” and Moore in “The Saint”. The former wears a beautiful light brown houndstooth hacking jacket with a dark blue over check in the 2nd episode of this mini series and the latter has a terrific dark blue tweed sports coat with grey flecks in the first colour series which, in terms of colour and style would look very current.

    • The problem with the light brown unstructured jacket in Spectre is there is too much waist suppression and the jacket could be little longer. I don’t mind a slightly short jacket but Craig in Spectre and Skyfall are too short. The material and colour are great.

    • I know it’s controversial here, but I’d probably rank Craig’s jacket higher – at least ahead of Dalton’s check and Connery’s DAF tweed. The picture used in this post is probably the least flattering imagineable. It comes across much better in the film, where the relaxed cut also contrasts nicely with the more built-up Ford suits.

    • David,

      I had forgotten about the brown barleycorn jacket from AVTAK – it is excellent – I might rank it in the top three, even though I’m not crazy about the tan shirt/yellow tie combo. This hacking jacket might be the softer-shouldered long lost brother of Connery’s iconic GF hacking jacket. The rust sport coat from OP is not bad, but the buttons are clustered too close together and the button stance is a little low for a hacking jacket – I might rank it around 6-6.5.

  4. Bond’shirt with the hacking jacket in Goldfinger has cufflinks. But, it’s true, never again after that. The cocktail cuff in Spectre is a great idea by Craig/Ford/Temime.

  5. It wasn’t until I saw the pictures side-by-side here, but I just realized that the Cucinelli jacket ensemble looks like it’s supposed to be Craig’s take on Connery’s Goldfinger barleycorn tweed jacket look. The same as his white dinner jacket with a carnation imitates Connery’s.

  6. An outfit which I don’t think has been cover is Max Zorin’s navy double breasted odd jacket, it’s not really a blazer as it looks like it has regular buttons it really just looks like a standard double breasted suit jacket, but he pairs it with light grey slacks. Be a good future post Matt.

  7. Matt, first thank you for always answer my questions. It is helping me a lot and i am puting together a nice wardrobe in bond style. I would like to know if i could change the linen Summer suit for a linen Summer Odd jacket to be used with open neck shirts (just like bond do in all his linen Summer suits). Because here in Recife is almost impossible to find suits in linen. And as here is very hot, linen cloths and open neck shirts are great during the day .

  8. Matt, i have a doubt: i see that bond wear Odd jakets only during the day, because is a more informal outfit. But in hot places like Jamaica, bond wears light Grey suits, that are also a day wear. How should I use an air force blue Odd jacket at night and look like James Bond?

  9. The thing that annoys me is about whenever I wear a sports jacket or blazer to a social function. usually Somebody always makes the comment why are you wearing a ‘suit’ or some variation of that, when it’s pretty obvious that i’m wearing contrasting trousers to a sport coat. I recently corrected someone that that I was wearing a sports jacket not a ‘suit’, tan linen at the time and my trousers with darker tobacco brown. Have thing’s gone so far that we can’t tell the difference between a lounge suit and an odd jacket ?. Matt does this happen to yourself at all ? Have people vocabulary’s become that narrow ?

  10. I don’t usually correct people either, but it was a person who I felt was being a bit smart and trying to infer I was over dressed. Usually most people even those with limited knowledge of men’s wear can see I’m wearing a jacket and not a suit. In the end I dress to please myself and be appropriately dressed for the occasion.

  11. Hi Matt, would you be able to suggest a good collection of odd trousers to have in a man’s wardrobe to account for odd jackets, blousons, knitwear etc, and to accommodate the four seasons?

    • Here are some classics that I find most useful. For cool or cold weather: mid grey and charcoal flannel, fawn cavalry twill. For moderate weather: mid grey, charcoal and tan gabardine. For hot weather: light grey and tan tropical wool.

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