(00)7 Reasons Why the Goldfinger Glen Check Suit Is So Iconic

31

2024 marks the 60th anniversary of Goldfinger, the film that cemented the Bond formula. If there’s one suit in the James Bond series that stands out more than all the rest, it’s Sean Connery’s three-piece glen check suit from Anthony Sinclair in this film. This suit is often called ‘The Goldfinger Suit’ without any other modifier, yet it’s only one out of Connery’s five suits in the film. It is that much more significant than the other four. Here are seven reasons that together have made this the most popular suit of the Bond series for sixty years.

001. It’s James Bond’s first three-piece suit.

Firsts are always notable, but it’s rare that something is so perfect on the first try. Bond previously wore an odd waistcoat with his houndstooth check suit in the M’s office scene, but an odd waistcoat doesn’t make a three-piece suit. The Goldfinger glen check suit previously appeared in Connery’s film Woman of Straw without the waistcoat, but it’s the waistcoat in Goldfinger that turns this into such a special suit. It’s why this suit stands out far more than his three previous glen check suits, as beautiful as they are.

002. The cloth is classic Bond.

Grey or grey-appearing contrast glen check suits are some of the most classically Bondian suits. As stated above, by the time of Goldfinger, Bond had already worn three of them. Daniel Craig later revived the look in his Bond films to continue the legacy. The Goldfinger suit’s cloth is a very fine glen check—Holland & Sherry call it a ‘split matt check’—in a worsted wool hopsack, and it resembles sharkskin from any distance. The contrast in the weave makes it an unexpectedly vibrant suit. Subtle but interesting is the best way to describe most of Connery’s Bond clothes, and this suit is no exception.

This suit is Bond’s only light-coloured three-piece suit, and a vibrant and light-coloured three-piece suit makes quite the statement. The light colour and the check also mean this suit is a somewhat sporty suit compared to the typically formal three-piece suit. A waistcoat doesn’t necessarily make a suit more formal, but it can make a suit more dandy. Here it makes Bond look more confident in his captivity at Auric Goldfinger’s Kentucky ranch. While most English sports suits are made of a heavier cloth like tweed, this cloth is lightweight to make it an appropriately sporty suit for the warm weather in Kentucky. The lightweight cloth lends a more modern look to this suit compared to the four heavier suits he wears in the film.

003. The fit is superb.

Fit is more important than any other factor when it comes to suits, and the Goldfinger suit does not disappoint. The jacket flows perfectly over Connery’s torso without pulling or bagging. The waistcoat is the perfect length, and it’s just long enough to cover the top of the trousers (braces would have helped it be perfect). The trousers are neither too full nor too slim, but they fit trimly and neatly over the legs. The cut is full compared to what has been fashionable in recent years, but it’s a fit that will stand the test of time because it makes Connery look his best.

004. It’s made in a classic English style.

The suit’s style is classic Savile Row. The soft shoulders give Connery a natural look. The fullness in the chest gives the suit not only a traditionally English look, but it also emphasises Connery’s strong physique and would have provided room to conceal a holstered Walther PPK, had Bond not been in captivity.

The suit’s details are quintessentially English, separating this suit from most others. The jacket’s ticket pocket and double vents are what most people think of as English suit details. The six-button waistcoat stands apart thanks to its notched lapels, which add an additional and unusual dimension to the suit. The trousers’ trim double forward pleats and Daks side adjusters complete the English styling.

The suit makes one concession to 1964: narrow lapels. The lapels updated this otherwise traditional suit with a fashionable detail for the 1960s. Narrow lapels bring a coolness factor to the suit.

005. The outfit is perfectly put together.

The three pieces of the suit fit perfectly with each other—the jacket buttons at the waist, the trousers sit high at the waist and the waistcoat just covers the top of the waistband. The way these pieces of the puzzle fit together as a unified suit is the most important part of the outfit coming together, but that’s not all.

The suit is able to shine because the shirt from Frank Foster is white with a subtle light grey broken stripe. The shirt’s spread collar is a flattering width for Connery’s face, and the shirt also perfectly complements the suit because the collar points end at the height of the lapel’s notches.

The tie is a plain dark navy silk knitted tie, which doesn’t distract from the suit while it emphasises its sportiness. It is most elegantly knotted in a small and tight four-in-hand knot, which sits comfortably in the shirt collar’s tie space. Its dark colour also adds the contrast that Connery’s deep complexion needs. A folded white linen handkerchief in his breast pocket and alternating black two-eyelet derby shoes and side-gusseted demi boots wonderfully complete the look.

006. The suit is a focus on screen.

Director Guy Hamilton must have known how special this suit is because he places a tremendous focus on it. There’s a scene devoted to Bond getting dressed in the suit, and he makes a grand entrance into the cabin of Auric Goldfinger’s private jet in this suit. Shots are framed and lit to show off the suit. Connery is posed to make him and the suit look their best. We also get to see the suit with the jacket off to better show off the waistcoat and trousers. The suit is almost the star of its scenes.

007. Sean Connery’s screen presence never hurts.

The suit would have been the star of its scenes had it been worn by any actor other than Sean Connery. Connery’s screen presence dominates every scene of every film he is in. His body and the way he moves it makes almost any garment look good. He looks at ease in the suit at all times, and he makes this iconic suit even more extraordinary.

Why do you think this suit is special? Leave a comment below.

31 COMMENTS

  1. It’s a thing of beauty.

    It doesn’t hurt that Connery looked his best in the film.

    From a personal point of view, I’d be more likely to wear the midnight blue Tom Ford from QoS, or the cream linen from OHMSS.

    But it’s not my suit, it’s Bond’s, and as you say, it is THE Goldfinger suit. And because Goldfinger is the Bond film that people who aren’t hardcore fans think of, when they think of Bond films, it’s arguably not just the Goldfinger suit, but the Bond suit.

  2. Excellent article. You nailed it as usual. The light weight of the suit with the waist coat is a very attractive combination for warmer weather. I have a MtM Goldfinger suit on order from Anthony Sinclair. Very excited to get that this year for a trip to Venice.. My plan is to wear it during the day on the Orient Express before changing into a dinner suit. So the timing of your article couldn’t be better. THANK YOU.

  3. It is of course iconic due to its screen time, the way it is filmed and how Connery wears it. And it sees some action as well. And of course Goldfinger’s cult status as a film helps.
    However, I prefer the simplicity of the Saint Sophia suit in FRWL with the iconic blue cocktail cuff shirt and grenadine tie (and trilby), truer to my preference for Young’s version of Fleming’s Bond.

    • Yes, but in this third film of the frenchise it was all about expanding 007’s repertoire (a new car with special gadgets, a three-piece suit, tweed, a white dinner jacket and a very nice striped dress shirt with cufflinks, etc.).

  4. Yes this iconic suit without the waistcoat Sean wore in the film Woman of Straw.

    Spoiler Alert
    The iconic Tuxedo that Sean wore in the trailer for Goldfinger also appeared in Woman of Straw at the wedding reception

    In an interview Sean gave to F Lee Bailey in 1967 Sean kept all his clothes
    I wonder what has happened to the collection since he died in October 2020?

    • Almost all of the suits and jackets that Connery wears in Goldfinger were made for Woman of Straw. Only the dinner suit and brown suit at Fort Knox were new to Goldfinger.

      Connery took all of his clothes from the production and paid his accountant with most of them. There are photos of Connery wearing some of the clothes outside of Bond, like the blue Thunderball dinner suit at the You Only Live Twice premiere, but I’m sure that most or all of his Bond suits left his possession long before he died.

  5. IMHO, this suit has only become iconic because of Connery and the movie. Of course it is well made and fits the actor superbly thus creating the resulting symbiosis actor/suit . One has only to marry this suit to some other man (especially those who cosplay a little too much) and it loses it’s magic quite quickly! In the movie ‘Catch me if you can’ DiCaprio dons this suit and looks like a teenager with a big head playing ‘James Bond’ which I believe proves my point. I have seen many a Youtube fashion video of individuals wearing the same suit to ill effect because they are just not Sean Connery! It depends on the wearer’s physique and how they move otherwise it’s just another grey 3-piece suit suitable for a funeral. Without prejudice.

    • DiCaprio doesn’t look as good because his suit has a completely different cut. If DiCaprio’s suit had been as well cut as Connery’s, he would have looked so much better. It needs Sinclair’s softer shoulders; the large shoulders make DiCaprio look more like he’s playing dress up. The poor shirt collar also ruins his whole look, and it’s why his head looks so big. I think he would have looked far better had he dressed exactly like Connery.

      I’m sorry, but I don’t think this suit is remotely suitable for a funeral.

      • Granted. I may have rushed my response, this grey suit may in fact be too light to be acceptable unless of course it’s being worn by the deceased! Dark navy and dark grey are acceptable substitutes for black if black is not available.

      • I agree the DiCaprio suit has a less than perfect fit, especially the trousers rise and waistcoat, but I don’t think the shoulders are that shocking. They balance his head, which isn’t narrow, well and the padding may be overdone but gives him some stature. The natural shoulders look great on Connery because he had a tremendous build already. On someone with an average build -and I am talking of anyone in general, not DiCaprio-, I don’t think a little padding can be wrong, if done well.

      • It’s not the amount of padding that I find problematic, it’s the very stiff and square shoulder shape. Some people can pull it off (like Pierce Brosnan), but I find it looks too forced on most people. I grew up when almost all suits had this kind of shoulder, and I thought it looked too unnatural then.

    • For Bond wearing suits for funerals and mourning: cf. Thunderball, You Only Live Twice, Diamonds are Forever, The World is Not Enough, and Spectre.

  6. Do you regard it as apposite to mix a stripe with any kind of square print / check, even if the stripe is as subtle as (barely), seen on the Frank Foster shirt?

    • There’s no problem at all to mix checks and stripes, so long as the scales are different. Here the stripe in the shirt and the check in the suit are both barely visible, so they’re not competing. If I were to wear a shirt with a more visible stripe with this suit, I’d avoid a hairline stripe because it would compete with the fine scale of the check. I’d also avoid wearing an awning stripe because it would compete with the larger overall plaid. Anything in between, like a bengal stripe, half bengal stripe, pencil stripe or candy stripe, would go nicely with the suit.

  7. The details of the suit could be better in my opinion though. The buttons looks like plastic, wider lapels would have suited Connery and lastly, the “floating” chest pocket cannot be unseen, it should meet the lapel, or have I missed a common style, Matt?

    • Polyester buttons like these were once the standard in English bespoke suits for their formal look. The horn buttons that later became popular were considered too rustic, hence why Anthony Sinclair used them on flannel suits but not worsteds.

      The breast pocket does not need to meet the lapel. On larger men, even with medium-width lapels, it’s not uncommon for the breast pocket to be ‘floating’. Breast pockets used to be placed lower than they are today, which contributes to this.

      • Thank you for the succinct answer. I always leave informed after a visit to one of your articles.

  8. Theoretically if you were going to pair this suit with suspenders what colour of elastic, hardware and leather would you have chosen (black paddles I suppose to match the shoes)?

    • I’d go with black or white leather ends, or possibly braided ends. The elastic usually matches the colour of the ends. Hardware doesn’t matter; either nickel or brass would be fine. Bond is wearing gold cufflinks and probably has his usual gold watch under his cuff, so I would choose brass fittings. I’m surprised you didn’t ask about the ribbon, but I would probably choose a shade of blue or grey. The braces would never be seen, so you can have plenty of fun there. The ends may show if you’re as active as Bond, so it’s important to go with black or white.

      • Oh, I thought that the ‘ribbon’ was simply termed ‘elastic’; my mistake! I’d match it to the tie as well. Therefore I guess I’d elect for black paddles; I 100% agree with you about braided paddles being best. I think that this relatively light-coloured suit benefits from dark counterpoints like the tie and the shoes, so yeah, black paddles (and were it me I’d have supplanted the navy knitted tie with a black knit one).

      • The elastic in good braces is only at the back. The standard material for the front is a rigid ribbon. I don’t recommend braces that are all elastic.

  9. To me, the magic is how relaxed Sean is able to appear in it, hanging out in Kentucky, sipping a bourbon. It’s a three piece suit – it’s the most formal type of lounge suit you can get, but somehow the cloth and the pattern and the cut make it look incredibly comfortable, almost casual. All the more remarkable given that he is actually a prisoner of Goldfinger!

    • A three-piece suit is more formal than a two-piece suit of the same cloth, but a three-piece suit in a high-contrast checked cloth such as this is less formal than the two-piece dark brown worsted he wears in the following scene at Fort Knox. Cloth is more important than anything else when it comes to suit formality. This suit looks relaxed because it is a relatively relaxed suit. The Sir Hilary Bray suit, for example, is an even sportier three-piece suit.

  10. its just perfect, but really the way the lapels roll, the way the collar lines up with the gorge.
    little things, but in a series where every suit is great, this one kind of stands out

  11. Would you recommend this suit and fabric for a low contrast person?

    If so, would you suggest a darker shirt and a lighter tie?

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.