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.