Matching Your Trousers to Your Jacket, James Bond Style

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Because the jacket is more of a focal point than the trouser are, people choose their trousers to pair with a jacket rather than a choose their jacket to pair with their trousers. But while trousers usually take a back seat to the jacket, it doesn’t mean that trousers are any less important. Picking the right odd trousers for an odd jacket is essential to completing an elegant, cohesive and balanced outfit. When James Bond picks the trousers he wears with his jackets, he considers the colour, the pattern, the weight and the texture.

Colour

When wearing blue jackets, Bond wears shades of grey from light to dark (but not charcoal), tan, khaki and white. Grey gives a dressier look while the other colours are sportier. When wearing non-blue jackets, Bond opts for darker or lighter shades of the jacket’s colour. This means wearing charcoal or black trousers with medium grey jackets, light or dark brown trousers with jackets in various shades of brown, and cream trousers with tan jackets. The tone-on-tone look here works when Bond does it because he only does it with neutrals in greys or browns. Tone-on-tone does not work so well with non-neutral colours like blues unless there is a high amount of contrast.

Timothy Dalton wearing dark brown flannel trousers with a brown-toned worsted tweed jacket in The Living Daylights for a tone-on-tone look

Bond uses different amounts of contrast between his jacket and trousers. The less contrast between the jacket and trousers the more formal the outfit looks because it approaches looking more like a suit. If there is not enough contrast, the outfit ends up looking like a mismatched suit, so there needs to be enough contrast to avoid that. Varying textures helps when wearing a jacket and trouser combination with little colour contrast.

Bond pairs fawn cavalry twill trousers with his slightly darker brown barleycorn tweed jacket in Goldfinger, and though there is little contrast in colour between the jacket and trousers, the different textures—a rough tweed against a smooth but pronounced rib—prevent it from looking like a mismatched suit. To have less contrast in colour there needs to be more contrast in texture. Bond wears the same colour combination with his brown Brunello Cucinelli jacket and trousers in Spectre, but because there is little difference in texture between the fine weaves of the jacket and the trousers, the combination reads as a mismatched suit from a distance. The contrast is less apparent from a distance because textures reflect light in a similar manner. Because we get dressed by standing directly in front of our outfits laid out on a bed or close-up in a mirror, it’s important to take a few steps back from our outfits to check if there is enough contrast between a jacket and trousers.

The quintessential James Bond tone-on-tone look between fawn cavalry twill trousers and a brown tweed jacket in Goldfinger

When Bond most wants to dress up his navy blazers, he wears them with dark grey trousers, like how Sean Connery’s Bond always does with his navy blazers. This is the lowest contrast possible in good taste with a blazer, and the city colour of grey for the trousers increases the formality of the look than other colours would. Low contrast is a more flattering look on shorter or heavier men because it does not split the body in half.

Bond increases the contrast for a sportier, less formal look. Tan or khaki trousers with a navy blazer not only contrasts in value (light to dark) but also is opposite navy on the colour wheel. Black or charcoal trousers with a medium grey jacket and dark brown trousers with a tan or khaki jacket maintain Bond’s favourite tone-on-tone look but in a sportier way. Though the high-contrast look is more casual, it can be unflattering on shorter or heavier men by emphasising those attributes.

Roger Moore wears dark brown trousers with a tan jacket in Live and Let Die for a sporty high-contrast paring while keeping both his jacket and trousers in the same colour family.

With his jackets, Bond always opts for neutral-toned trousers in greys, browns, white or black. Neutral trousers are less likely to compete with a jacket, which typically has more interest than the trousers one wears. Trousers in non-neutral colours—like navy, maroon or forest green—may draw more attention than the jacket and can bring the eye down away from the face, making one look bottom-heavy. If one chooses to pair non-neutral trousers with a jacket, the trousers should either be a colour featured in the jacket, or the jacket should have a bold colour or pattern to make it visually stronger than the trousers.

Solids and Patterns

James Bond’s odd trousers are always solid; they are never striped, checked or even semi-solid. Solid trousers are always the easiest to combine with other clothes. Solids may sound boring, but there are reasons to wear solid trousers. Like coloured trousers, patterned trousers will draw attention away from the face and can make one look bottom-heavy. Patterned trousers will usually compete with jackets that have even a subtle pattern. Subtly patterned trousers will often compete with patterned jackets unless they are very carefully picked, but even if it works in one case the trousers will not be versatile, whereas solid trousers should be able to pair with many jackets.

Patterned trousers are best paired with solid jackets, such as blue blazers. A subtle grey glen check can pair excellently with a blue blazer for a sporty look. But no matter how well-executed the look is done, patterned trousers will look dandy, flashy and reminiscent of 1970s trends. Not even the dandy Roger Moore wears patterned trousers in his 1970s James Bond films.

Weight

The trousers should approximately match the weight of the jacket so the outfit looks balanced and neither bottom-heavy nor top-heavy. Heavy trousers go with heavy jackets and lightweight trousers go with lightweight jackets. Heavy woollen flannel and cavalry twill do not pair well with a summery linen jacket nor do tropical wool and chinos pair well with a heavy tweed jacket.

Sean Connery matches the heavy weight of his tweed jacket to heavy cavalry twill trousers in Thunderball

Texture

The texture of the trousers—which comes from the weave, the fibre and the finishing of the cloth—should complement the texture of the jacket so the jacket and trousers match in formality and pair harmoniously. Jackets with a pronounced texture are less formal and pair better with trousers that have texture. A nap reads as texture, though it may look smooth overall. A jacket with a finer weave is more formal and works better with smoother trousers. Finer textures can work well with similar finer textures since there is less noticeable variation between fine textures, whereas pronounced textures in a jacket like tweed and corduroy work best if the trousers are in a contrasting texture. Pronounced textures can read like a pattern, and like similar patterns in two different colours, similar pronounced textures will often clash against one another.

Roger Moore pairs charcoal flannel trousers with a medium grey tweed jacket in A View to a Kill for a tone-on-tone look with complementary textures

For example. tweed jackets are good with other trousers that have a pronounced texture like woollen flannel, cavalry twill, whipcord, corduroy or moleskin trousers, but not with other tweeds. Fine worsted trousers like gabardine are too smooth and lightweight for tweed while cotton chinos are too lightweight and rumpled. Serge blazers pair well with flannel or other twills like wool gabardine or cavalry twill. A doeskin blazer pairs well with cavalry twill trousers or flannel trousers, since flannel trousers ordinarily have a fuzzier texture than the more finely napped doeskin flannel.

Fibres that wrinkle more or cannot be pressed, such as cotton or linen, are best worn with less dressy jackets. Wool, on the other hand, always has a more formal look.

The Fabrics

The following is a list of different trouser fabrics and examples of what they pair well with:

Bedford cord: A heavy, durable worsted or cotton with a lengthwise woven rib that resembles corduroy but has little else in common. It pairs well with heavy, sporty jackets like tweed or moleskin and is also good for casual cool-weather wear.

Brushed cotton: A medium to heavy weight cotton with a soft, brushed surface for casual wear in cool weather. It pairs well with heavy, textured jackets with less structure, but it is better for casual sportswear than pairing with jackets.

Canvas: A rough and durable plain-weave cotton or linen in a medium or heavy weight, best for casual wear without a jacket.

Roger Moore wearing khaki cavalry twill trousers with a navy hopsack blazer in Moonraker, made by Angelo Roma

Cavalry Twill: A heavy worsted with a steep, pronounced double rib in a smooth finish similar to whipcord for cool weather. It pairs well with heavier jackets in tweed, doeskin, cashmere and heavier serge and hopsack. Works well with structured or unstructured jackets. A Bond favourite.

Chino: Chino describes both the type of cotton that trousers are made from as well as a style of casual cotton trousers made from chino cotton. It sometimes may be incorrectly used to describe trousers made of any cotton. Chino cotton is a durable light to medium weight cotton twill with a fine, steep rib in a soft finish for warm weather that is less dressy than cotton gabardine. It is usually unpressed or pressed without a crease, but it can be pressed with a crease to make it look dressier. It pairs well with unstructured cotton and linen jackets, but it is best for casual sportswear rather than pairing with jackets.

Corduroy: A heavy cotton with tufted lengthwise wales for casual wear in cool weather. It pairs well with heavy, textured jackets with less structure, like an unstructured tweed, cashmere, moleskin or waxed cotton jacket.

Daniel Craig wearing taupe cotton gabardine trousers with his brown jacket in Spectre, made by Brunello Cucinelli

Cotton gabardine: A light to medium weight cotton twill with a fine, steep rib in a smooth finish for warm weather that is dressier than chino cotton but less so than wool gabardine. Unlike chino cotton, cotton gabardine is usually pressed with a crease. It pairs well with lightweight cotton, linen and silk jackets and is good for dressing down lightweight hopsack blazers. Because it is informal it is best with unstructured jackets. A Bond favourite.

Denim: A stiff and durable medium to heavy weight cotton twill for all weather. It is best for casual wear but can pair well with heavy textured jackets such corduroy, moleskin and tweed.

Drill: A durable medium to heavy weight cotton twill with a pronounced diagonal rib in a hard finish for casual wear in moderate to cool weather. It pairs well with unstructured corduroy jackets, but it is best for casual sportswear rather than pairing with jackets.

Duck: A rough and durable plain-weave cotton canvas in a medium or heavy weight, best for casual wear without a jacket.

Sean Connery wearing dark grey flannel trousers with his navy blazer in Dr. No, made by Anthony Sinclair

Flannel: A woollen with an even, fuzzy nap for cool weather that can be worn dressed up or down. It occasionally is woven with a small amount of cashmere for extra softness, though too much cashmere or cashmere on its own typically looks shapeless and won’t hold a crease. It is best paired with jackets of tweed, doeskin, cashmere and heavier serge, and it works well with structured or unstructured jackets. Flannel cloth may be made of worsted yarns rather than the traditional woollen, but that type is typically used for suits rather than odd trousers. A Bond favourite.

Linen: A light to medium weight, usually a plain weave for breathability in warm weather. It is dressier than cotton chinos but looks very informal due to its inclination to wrinkle. It pairs well with linen, silk and cotton jackets, particularly when unstructured.

Moleskin: A heavy napped cotton for casual wear in cool weather, and it is like corduroy without the wales. It pairs well with heavy, textured jackets with less structure, like an unstructured tweed, cashmere, corduroy or waxed cotton jacket.

Roger Moore wearing black mohair blend trousers with his checked jacket in The Man with the Golden Gun, made by Cyril Castle

Mohair and wool: A dressy lightweight fabric with sheen, usually a plain weave. It is a stiff and breathable fabric for moderate to warm weather. Mohair is typically blended with wool or wool and silk because alone it will be too scratchy. It pairs best with hopsack or serge wool or silk jackets.

Needlecord: A medium-heavy cotton with fine tufted lengthwise wales for casual wear in moderate to cool weather. It is finer and lighter version of corduroy. It pairs well with heavy, textured jackets with less structure, like an unstructured tweed, cashmere, moleskin or waxed cotton jacket.

Poplin: A lightweight plain-weave cotton that is less dressy than cotton gabardine but dressier than chino cotton, for warm weather. It pairs well with lightweight cotton, linen and silk jackets and is good for dressing down lightweight hopsack wool blazers. Due to its propensity to wrinkle, it is informal and best with unstructured jackets or casual wear.

Prunelle: A light to medium worsted wool with subtle 45° ribs for moderate to warm weather. It has a more formal look and pairs best with structured wool jackets in similar weights.

Seersucker: A lightweight plain-weave cotton with a puckered and rumpled look for warm weather. It is almost always striped. It pairs well with linen, silk and non-seersucker cotton jackets, and it can also be worn casually.

Serge: A light to heavy worsted wool in an even twill weave that has 45° ribs for whatever weather the weight is suitable for. It has a more formal look and pairs best with structured wool jackets in similar weights.

Silk: Usually medium to light in weight in a plain weave for moderate to warm weather. With its sheen it has a dressier look and pairs well with warm-weather jackets like hopsack wool or linen.

Silk and cotton blend: More casual than pure silk, a silk and cotton blend is usually lightweight and is softer than pure silk. It pairs well with unstructured linen or silk jackets for warm weather.

Silk and linen blend: This usually lightweight blend has the breathable properties of linen with some of the sheen and wrinkle-resistance of silk, and the formality of it is between the two. It pairs well with linen, silk, hopsack wool and cotton jackets, particularly when unstructured.

Tropical wool: A dressy lightweight worsted in a breathable open plain weave for warm weather. A standard for odd trousers in warm weather, it pairs well with lightweight worsted wool (such as serge or hopsack), linen and silk jackets. Works well with structured or unstructured jackets.

Tweed: A rough, heavy weight woollen for cool weather that pairs well with heavy informal jackets like cashmere, doeskin, corduroy or moleskin but also works well for casual wear.

Venetian: A medium weight worsted in a satin weave with a lustrous, smooth finish. Good with sporty tweed or corduroy jackets in moderate to cool weather.

Whipcord: A heavy worsted with steep, pronounced ribs in a smooth finish similar to cavalry twill for cool weather. It pairs well with heavier jackets in tweed, doeskin, cashmere and heavier serge. Works well with structured or unstructured jackets.

Roger Moore wearing stone-coloured wool gabardine trousers with his navy blazer in For Your Eyes Only, made by Douglas Hayward

Wool gabardine: A light to medium weight worsted twill with a fine, steep rib in a smooth finish for moderate to warm weather that is dressier than cotton gabardine. A standard for odd trousers in moderate to warm weather, it pairs well with light or medium weight worsted wool (such as serge or hopsack), linen and silk jackets. Works well with structured or unstructured jackets. A Bond favourite.

44 COMMENTS

  1. “James Bond’s odd trousers are always solid; they are never striped, checked or even semi-solid.” Except for the checked trousers in CR…

  2. One addition: IMO as a matter of principle one shouldn’t pair an odd jacket with black trousers. There’s too much danger to end up with that (well-known) salesman-look.

    • As a general rule this is good advice. I stand to be corrected but I think literary Bond wore black trousers to Blades in Moonraker with a ‘heavy silk shirt’ but I don’t recall the jacket (was it part of his dinner suit?). I have a pair of black odd trousers which don’t get dusted off very often at all. Maybe with my green and black striped boating blazer! My school uniform was navy blazer and black trousers with gray v-neck jumper and blue or white shirt, so that’s a combination I steadfastly avoid in adulthood.

  3. Great article, funny that I get to see an ad for Dalton-esque Stefano Ricci underneath it, talk about targeted advertising…great placement!
    Stuff doesn‘t look too garish, still far from my favorite high-end designer.

  4. How’s this Matt for a (00)7 Essential James Bond Odd Trousers to Own list:

    Charcoal woollen flannel
    Grey woollen flannel
    Dark-brown woollen flannel
    Light-grey tropical wool
    Fawn wool cavalry twill
    Tan wool gabardine
    Khaki cotton gabardine

    • That’s very close to the list I’ve come up with. I would replace the dark brown woollen flannel with corduroy, which is something Bond has worn with casual wear. In today’s casual culture I think it would be useful to add, but I like my dark brown woollen flannel trousers too. I’d probably also replace light grey tropical wool with a dark grey, for a more Bondian choice, but either would be good.

    • That is actually a very good list, but what about navy? I think in wool trousers or cotton chinos; navy would be a very bondian choice, as a it was a staple of the literary Bond.

      • The literary Bond did not wear navy trousers with odd jackets. His navy trousers were always part of his suits. See the paragraph about non-neutral trousers for why navy trousers are not a versatile choice.

  5. Nice going Matt! Not quite the (00)7 essential odd trousers others wanted but still very informative and helpful.

    Quick question. Whenever I try and wear a jacket-trouser combo with minimal contrast, my family always comments that it doesn’t look good at all.

    Perhaps it’s because of the color, but I would like your input on this.

      • Thanks, Jay!

        It sounds like there is enough colour contrast in that combination. Does the fabric of the trousers complement the fabric of the jacket in weight and texture? Or could your family just be biased against the camel-coloured jacket? Some people don’t care for that colour in a jacket, hence the criticism Roger Moore often gets.

      • Thank you for being so prompt Matt.

        The trousers match in weight, but not in texture. They are smooth while the jacket is fuzzy.

        Whenever I asked them why they look bad, the answer is the same. “Too much tan.” (Even though they have nothing against all blue…) I guess they are somewhat biased against the color. I personally like it. Whether or not it looks good against my complexion is another matter

  6. Mr. Spaiser, I very much enjoy reading your sartorial insights regarding 007 and his supporting characters! Do you feel like sharing any comments regarding the wearing of a waistcoat with odd trousers and odd jackets, such as Mr. Connery’s outfit which includes a waistcoat, cavalry twill trousers, and the famous barleycorn hacking jacket in Woman of Straw? Thank you for your valuable time and attention!

    • Thanks for reading! A waistcoat can work very well with an odd jacket, particularly in a material like doeskin wool or tweed. Because it’s on the upper half of the body, it can be either neutral or in a bold colour, but in a bold colour it needs to carefully be paired with the rest of the clothes so that everything else looks balanced. A colour for the waistcoat can be paired with the jacket the same way a tie would be. Many people like to wear a sleeveless cardigan under a jacket, and you can look for inspiration there when choosing a waistcoat.

  7. Matt do you like Tim Dalton’s brown check jacket pairing with dark brown trousers? I prefer the high contrast Roger Moore look personally.

  8. Fantastic source of information again. I like how this blog is able to provide a wealth of useful advice on menswear while still retaining the underlying theme of Bond.

    I am attending a Village wedding (Church ceremony followed by marquee reception) this coming May and have been thinking of putting together a tweed jacket/odd trousers get-up for it using the guidelines set out by this article. Do you think this would be appropriate for a wedding where the dress code is given as ‘Smart but comfortable’ (vague I know)? Any suggestions?

      • I had just done that actually. Groom’s reply was simply “Smart like a normal wedding, however the event will be fairly informal.”
        Sounds like he is either not necessitating too much specificity, or doesn’t know what he wants.
        Seems like i will have a fair amount of freedom here.
        Thank you for you quick reply.

      • You could probably get away with an odd jacket and trousers with a low-contrast combination, but I think a sportier suit like a glen check or tweed would be better if you have that.

  9. Thanks for the suggestions; the glen check is a good idea. Currently own neither, so have a blank slate in that regard.

    Thanks again

  10. Hi Matt, just a question , if I added a waistcoat to the Sean Connery navy blazer look, what color of waistcoat would compliment the navy blazer and dark grey trousers?

    • A sleeveless cardigan in burgundy or forest green would pair nicely, but it wouldn’t be a Bondian look. If Connery’s blazer were serge instead of doeskin, a doeskin waistcoat in burgundy or forest green would pair well.

  11. I have a little doubt Matt, I have a tan/beige odd jacket that I would like to pair with trousers that are a shade lighter but I am having difficulty if it will look mismatched. The jacket is 64% cotton and 36% polyester and is rather smooth, while the trousers are also 56% cotton and 44% polyester but feels much thicker than the jacket but equally lightweight. Will this combo work?

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