Having one of James Bond’s suits is not enough to wear a suit like James Bond does. The suit itself is only halfway to dressing like James Bond. Wearing a suit like James Bond starts with having the right mentality, and without knowing how Bond wears his suits you might just look like you’re playing dress-up rather than suavely wearing your clothes and owning the look. You don’t need Bond’s wardrobe budget to wear a suit like Bond, and you can even wear a suit from Marks & Spencer or Jos. A. Bank in a Bondian manner. Here are seven rules to follow if you want to wear your suit like Bond.
1. Be comfortable and confident in a suit.
Bond looks great in a suit because he is comfortable and confident in it. If you’re not used to wearing suits, you might not need to go through the extreme of sleeping in a suit like Dr. No‘s director Terence Young recommended Sean Connery do, as legend has it. But if you’re not comfortable in a suit you won’t look good in a suit. Comfort in one’s clothing does not just mean a pyjama-like comfort or tracksuit-like ease. It’s more about looking and acting naturally in a suit and not looking like you’re wearing a costume.
Becoming comfortable in a suit takes time and regular wear, and not even sleeping in your suit can make this happen overnight. The rare person can look comfortable in a suit the first time he puts one on, but most people need experience wearing tailored clothing to look comfortable and confident in it. The James Bond character would have worn tailored clothes in school as a young man, so by the time we see him as an adult the suit is a second skin for him. Sean Connery wasn’t used to wearing suits before he was Bond, but wearing a suit was not foreign to him either and Terence Young trained Connery how to wear one more confidently. Roger Moore and Pierce Brosnan are the Bonds who look most comfortable in a suit because by the time they were Bond they had plenty of experience playing roles that involved wearing well-tailored suits.
The rest of the rules help us follow this first rule of being comfortable and confident in a suit.
2. A good fit matters.
A good fit helps us to wear a suit in a Bondian manner for many reasons. A suit should not be a straitjacket. A good fit is a comfortable fit, which helps us to be more comfortable and act more naturally in a suit. A suit that is too small makes us look uncomfortable (even though Daniel Craig is comfortable in his too-tight suits), while a suit that is too big makes it look like the suit is wearing the person swallowed by it. Being slim or in good shape can help a suit look better, but there is no such thing as having the body for a suit. A well-tailored and well-fitted suit can make anyone look better, both by balancing the proportions of the body and by inspiring confidence.
3. Take an interest in your clothes.
If you’re reading this article, you have enough interest to wear your clothes as well as James Bond does. James Bond wears his suits well because he has both good taste and a good sense of personal style. He cares enough about his clothes to put in the effort to look his best, and he wears suits not just because he has to but because he wants to.
4. Handle the suit, don’t fuss with it.
Wearing a suit like Bond involves the right balance of being aware of the suit and forgetting about it. Know how to button it and when to button and unbutton it, but don’t fuss or play with your buttons. Make sure that shirt cuffs don’t get caught inside a jacket sleeve. Lift up your trouser legs when sitting down so they don’t stretch at the knees and so the crease is not pulled out. It’s okay to put your hands in your trouser pockets, but your suit jacket better have double vents or else the jacket will bunch up over your hands. Check yourself out in the mirror when visiting the toilet to make sure everything is in place, but don’t do it when in public.
5. Don’t remove your jacket in public.
A suit jacket is not an outercoat and is meant to be worn when in public. Don’t take your jacket off at dinner, at a wedding or at a business meeting. James Bond looked like an amateur suit-wearer when he doffed his dinner jacket at the casino table in Casino Royale. When at work it is apporpriate to remove your jacket in your private office like James Bond does in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, whether or not you are wearing a waistcoat. Though a waistcoat helps the outfit to look more finished, it does not take the place of a jacket. If you remove your jacket in your office, you should put it back on for meetings, even if the meeting is in your own office. Someone who removes his suit jacket looks both uncomfortable in a suit and lacks confidence in a suit. Walking through the desert in your suit, à la Roger Moore in The Spy Who Loved Me, is the rare occasion when it is appropriate to remove your jacket.
6. Dress for the occasion.
Knowing when to wear a suit is key to wearing a suit like Bond does. It is important to not overdress or underdress in a suit. Overdressing in a suit looks like you’re wearing costume. Underdressing in a suit, such as wearing a suit when you could be wearing a dinner jacket instead, is not something Bond would do, but it isn’t always poor form either. When in doubt, slightly overdressing in a suit is what Bond would do.
When the character of James Bond was conceived in print in the 1950s, and when Bond first appeared on film in the 1960s, professional businessmen wore suits and thus Bond always wore a suit. Since then the world has changed and the average man does not wear a suit daily. Just because James Bond wears a suit to the office does not mean that you should as well. Few offices today require suits. If a suit is not required for your job or part of your work culture and you are not the boss or in upper management, a suit is not appropriate. If you can’t wear a suit to work, there are still many occasions to wear a suit.
7. Accessorise appropriately.
Part of Bond’s mentality to dressing comes is about not drawing undue attention to his clothes and following the customs of classic English style. With rare exception for less formal summer suits, Bond always wears a formal shirt and tie with his suits. The shirt should always be light in colour: white, light blue or cream, with the rare pink shirt. Ties should not draw attention and should be solid or subtly patterned in muted dark to medium colours. Shoes with blue, grey and dark brown suits should always be black in the Bond tradition. A subtle pocket square is optional. Branching away from these suit accessories would take one away from James Bond style and take more confidence to pull off, though for the less experienced suit wearer, Bond style is the best place to start.