(00)7 Current Trends in James Bond’s Clothes

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Daniel Craig’s James Bond has followed fashion trends, popularised fashion trends and even set fashion trends. Of all the James Bonds, Roger Moore has long been known for being one of the most fashion-forward James Bonds, but Moore didn’t even wear anything extreme for the 1970s. Moore also didn’t set trends; he merely updated the styles he favoured in the 1960s. Daniel Craig’s Bond is the one most aware of and most taken to fashions of his own time, and he is the Bond who has likely had the most influence on the fashions of his time. If the James Bond series is a leader of any industry, that industry would be fashion.

1. Shrunken suits

This shrunken trend has been discussed on this blog ad nauseam, but it is an important part of Craig’s look. The suit is James Bond’s uniform, and in Skyfall and Spectre he wears his suits slightly undersized. The chest of his suit jackets is too snug to conceal his PPK, and length of his suit jackets is too short to cover the bum. The trousers fit tightly and have a moderately low rise. Overall the suits look strained on his body. Craig’s suits have not taken this trend to the extreme seen on runways over the past decade and a half, but when he first adopted this look in Skyfall in 2012 it was a shock. Craig helped bring this look to mainstream fashion—many men must have thought, “I thought this look wasn’t for me, but if Bond is wearing this style I should wear it too”. Now that it is mainstream the more fashion forward men have been moving away from it to more classic fits.

2. Mid-blue suits

The mid-blue Prince of Wales check suit in Spectre, colour-corrected.

For the past few years, men have been moving away from the conservative navy and charcoal suits and away from bland black suits in favour of mid-blue suits. Daniel Craig wears two mid-blue suits in 2015’s Spectre: one is a Prince of Wales check with a light blue windowpane and the other is sharkskin. These suits looks decidedly darker on screen than they do in person due to Spectre‘s yellow colour grading. Though light brown or tan shoes are the ubiquitous choice to wear with these mid blue suits, James Bond sticks with his classic and formal black shoes.

3. Blue dinner suits

Though James Bond has been wearing midnight blue dinner suits ever since he first appeared on the silver screen in 1962’s Dr. No, Skyfall pushed the blue dinner suit to mainstream fashion. Before Skyfall, the midnight blue dinner suit was the domain of English bespoke tailors and high-end brands like Brioni and Ralph Lauren Purple Label. After Skyfall‘s poster revealed Daniel Craig wearing a midnight blue dinner suit that was colour-enchanced to look mid-blue, dinner suits in many shades of blue showed up at retailers of all markets. It took 50 years for people to realise that the blue dinner suit is James Bond’s main choice, but thanks to Daniel Craig this classic (and its bastardised lighter variants) is now a popular black tie trend.

4. Ivory dinner jackets with silk-faced lapels

Ivory dinner jackets had unfashionable for a few decades after James Bond wore one in 1985’s A View to a Kill, but costume designer Jany Temime made the bold choice to bring it back to Bond after 30 years for Spectre in 2015. Tom Ford had included ivory dinner jackets—along with bolder warm-weather dinner jackets—in his collections for years, but they didn’t come back into popular fashion until Daniel Craig wore it in Spectre. Traditionally there are societal limitations that restrict the ivory dinner jacket to specific locales and seasons, but men today prefer to not let others dictate how they can wear certain clothes, so many have worn the ivory dinner jacket year-round since Spectre was released. The modern iteration of the ivory dinner jacket features ivory silk facings on the lapels, buttons and elsewhere, something that was previously absent from the typical ivory dinner jacket before Spectre.

5. Shawl-collar cardigans

Steve McQueen made the shawl-collar cardigan cool in the 1960s, but the cardigan has also long been a look associated with older men. Daniel Craig wears a shawl-collar cardigan in Casino Royale, but it’s his Tom Ford cardigan in Quantum of Solace under the direction of costume designer Louise Frogley that helped popularise the garment and make it a young, hip look again. But sometimes it’s not as much about the garment as it is about the man wearing it. Most of us cannot wear clothes like Daniel Craig can, and none of us can wear clothes like Steve McQueen could.

6. Pea coats

Daniel Craig’s Bond helped bring back a classic short double-breasted naval coat called a pea coat or P coat. Daniel Craig wears a pea coat in his first scene as James Bond in Casino Royale‘s black-and-white pre-title sequence, but it is his Billy Reid pea coat in Skyfall that Craig is best known for wearing. This is a versatile coat for casual wear, and during Craig’s long tenure as James Bond it has been a popular piece of clothing.

7. Three-quarter-length coats

The heavy full-length overcoats that were popular in the 1990s when Pierce Brosnan was Bond are now unfashionable in favour of shorter, lighter topcoats. Traditionally a man would own both an overcoat and a topcoat to wear in different seasons, but now that overcoats are unfashionable (they cost more to make than lighter, shorter coats), men are wearing topcoats through the winter. Daniel Craig wears navy top coats in Skyfall and Spectre. He also only fastens the middle of the three buttons on each coat for a dramatic look rather than fastening all of the buttons for warmth, and now many men’s coats are now fashionably made only with two buttons to have a lower opening for that dramatic look. Today’s outercoats are more for looks than for warmth.

Bonus:

Daniel Craig also helped to kill the cummerbund in Casino Royale. Costume designer Lindy Hemming wanted him to go without a cummerbund or waistcoat to make the most of his flat stomach. However, she had done the same for Pierce Brosnan in his last two Bond films. And James Bond was never much of a fan of the cummerbund or waistcoat in the first place, wearing no waist-covering in the first Bond film Dr. No, over 40 years before Casino Royale. People didn’t notice the lack of a cummerbund until Casino Royale (it was the first time people truly paid attention to Bond’s abs), so that helped kill off the cummerbund. Craig wears cummerbunds in his next three Bond films, but starting off his Bond tenure without one has stuck in our minds.

Despite three costume designers, two suitmakers and many casualwear brands, some of Daniel Craig’s fashions have been consistent amongst multiple films. Part of this may be due to Craig’s input into his wardrobe, and he is sure to provide input for his Bond 25 wardrobe. Should we expect any of these trends to return in Bond 25?

22 COMMENTS

  1. Which Bond had more influence on the men fashions?

    From a Italian perspective, i collect vintage fashion magazine,and i noticed a certain influence of Bond style on Italian suits (at time bespoke) in 1965-66 period.
    Some three pieces single breasted two buttons with lapels on waistcoat (that is not a Italian feature),directly from “Goldfinger”,
    some two buttons with narrow lapels coupled with navy silk knitted ties…a’ la Sinclair.

    I have not noticed specific influence from others “Bonds”,Lazenby,Moore,Dalton,Brosnam,or Craig.

  2. I hope some of the more positive trends will continue for James Bond, such as the fly fronted evening shirt.

    I’d really like Bond, and the fashion industry, to move away from nothing but three-quarter length topcoats, however. People keep defending this trend as looking less “old mannish” than full-length overcoats, but there’s nothing dated about keeping warm, and your knees covered, when it’s below freezing outside. The three-quarter length topcoat has its uses, but I know from experience that it’s not a universal cold weather coat. I wrote a bit about this on my blog if anyone’s interested.

    • Seriously. Here in the Midwest, I laugh at men my age who try to stay trendy and can barely walk down the street in the winter while I’m just fine in my big heavy coat.

      • The lighter, three-quarter length coat has its uses, such as weather that is cool but not freezing. But the distinction is lost on most people and manufacturers now.

  3. Tom Ford’s dinner suit as featured in Skyfall (and its magic predecessor found in an opera wardrobe in Quantum), are truly magnificent. I wish there were cheaper copies that looked good enough to buy. Cummerbunds are the garment that needs to die and just won’t for some reason. And three-quarter coats are going to be as much a fad as shrunken suits are. There are just too many cold places where weather trumps trendy.

    • What, exactly, is wrong with a cummerbund?

      As Matt said in the article, there’s a place for three-quarter coats. The fact that you can find nothing but that now is kind of disconcerting, however.

      • I’m wish Agent 00Soul on this one, there’s nothing WRONG with a cummerbund per se, and I’m aware of their cultural significance, but I’m far more partial to a waistcoat or nothing.
        I personally feel that the big block of silks serves to cut the body in half, which is kinda defeating the purpose of the sleek lines of a suit, especially a dinner suit.

        Of course, all that said, a good cummerbund goes unnoticed. As long as it’s the proper black silk and you keep your jacket buttoned then it’s fine. And I’d prefer a cummerbund than to have people showing that dreaded white triangle between the jacket and trousers.

        I’m not sure I’d call for it to die, but I’ll never choose to wear one.

      • Timothy said it best. It just creates an extra layer of fabric to get messed up that simply isn’t necessary if you do your braces correctly. Even the dreaded white triangle can be avoided with normal length jackets and higher-waist trousers and both will surely be back at some point. If you must wear something – and I’m not convinced you should because dress shirt bibs and now fly fronts are really nice – a waistcoat is much more flattering to the figure and is also noticeable to others.

        Jovan – Cummerbunds are just awkward garments, despite their elegant origin. They get too loose, or they bunch up, or at their best, are supposed to be unnoticed. What’s the point of that? Compare the images of Bond wearing them with those where he isn’t, and even with a costume dept helping him out, he always looks better without one.

        And those upside down pleats? When I was at university in the UK, we called them “crumb catchers.”

      • Okay, I joke, but Timothy, the visuals are not an issue if you’re wearing a dinner jacket. Which you should be at all times!

        Agent 00Soul, none of that should be happening if it has a loop to attach inside your trousers, is properly curved to fit the small of your back, and is adjusted properly. The purpose isn’t to go unnoticed — one can still see an inch or two when the jacket is buttoned, much like a proper evening waistcoat. It’s flatten out your shirt in front and keep your waist covered, but without the bulk of a waistcoat. They came about for warm weather after all. I don’t understand the “crumb catchers” reference. People who are against trouser turn-ups have said something to that extent as well. It’s as simple as dusting them out in both cases. Proper clothing care for the win!

        NB: I like cummerbunds, waistcoats, and going without a waist covering depending on the situation.

    • How about going the jack taylor route and having a built in cummerbund? It looked to me as if Sir Roger had one on his trousers in the beach in for your eyes only?

  4. I hope to see the shrunken suit come to and end for Bond 25. I’m on the fence, though, regarding what they will do. While the shrunken look has definitely fallen out of fashion, it seems to have remained a favorite of Craig. I suppose it would feel more authentic if they kept it even though it’s out of style now since Craig’s Bond (and his literary counterpart) is depicted as a creature of habit. But from an aesthetic standpoint I would welcome a return to something more classic. Because the shrunken suit is now prolific in department stores and retailers, it really has even less of a place in a Bond film.

  5. My day has a great start: I realized once this piece read that my wardrobe holds almost everything.
    Only the peacoat is missing so far but I’ve a good chance to fix it.
    A rewarding experience

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