(00)7 Stylish Sneaky Bond Outfits

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When James Bond sneaks about at night, he needs to blend in with his surroundings as to draw as little attention as possible. As Tom Sears of James Bond Radio would say, everyone loves some ‘Sneaky Bond’, and there wouldn’t be any Sneaky Bond if he didn’t dress the part.

Bond’s tactical choices for night have long sleeves for full coverage and are comfortable and flexible so he can do his job without his clothes getting in the way. Usually these outfits are dark to reflect as little light as possible, though he sometimes wears outfits that camouflage with the colour of his surroundings. In reality, black is not the best colour for camouflage unless one’s surroundings are black, and even then it can still make someone stand out. Solid colours are also not idea for camouflage because they outline the body.

However, Bond cannot usually wear tradition military camouflage patterns because he frequently needs clothes that can allow him to blend in socially as well as visually. Camo-chiq isn’t Bond’s style either, and he needs to look stylish in a more sophisticated way. Many of Bond’s sneaky looks are made up of stylish casual staples that anyone can wear.

001. V-Neck Jumper and Polo

Goldfinger features the first Sneaky Bond outfits, and one of them is an unusual combination of a black v-neck jumper over a black short-sleeve polo for when Bond surveils Goldfinger’s factory at night. At a glance it looks like Bond is wearing a long-sleeve polo, but the two pieces come together to do something that neither could do alone. Dark charcoal grey trousers provide a tasteful but very subtle contrast with the black jumper and improve both the outfit’s camouflage abilities and its style factor. Bond’s short black leather ankle boots are more stylish than they are practical.

002. The Long Sleeve Polo

In Thunderball, Bond sneaks around Largo’s Palmyra estate in the Bahamas in a black long-sleeve polo and black trousers, both made of lightweight wool. With only one piece on top, it looks more refined than the Goldfinger outfit and wears cooler for the tropical location. Trim black bespoke trousers and black leather ankle boots complete the elegant look. This outfit sets the gold standard for Sneaky Bond style.

Shiny and reflective pearlescent buttons on the polo’s placket and on the trousers’ DAKS tops side adjusters, unfortunately take away from any tactical benefits that this outfit has. While they make the clothes look more luxurious, luxury isn’t necessarily a benefit when it come to camouflage.

Bond brings back this look in navy in The Living Daylights for his showdown with Brad Whitaker. In navy it is better night camouflage than black, but the outfit lacks the refinement of the Thunderball look.

003. The Grey Mock Neck

Bond does not always wear dark colours for sneaking around. In You Only Live Twice, he chooses a mid-grey outfit for camouflaging inside Blofeld’s volcano lair. He pairs a fitted cotton jersey mock turtleneck with loose grey trousers and black-painted canvas sneakers, for a less stylish but entirely purposeful sneaky outfit. An open-face ninja mask and gloves, also in mid-grey, complete the tactical look. This is one of Bond’s more successful camouflages, but it comes at the cost of looking stylish. Bond does not necessarily need to look stylish in these scenes, but it means that the outfit lacks the charm of most of Connery’s other looks.

004. The Dark Turtlenck

The dark turtleneck was a spywear staple in the 1960s, and today it still has the reputation as the ultimate tactical clothing item. Thanks to the series Archer, it is now known best as the ‘tactleneck’. Paired with a shoulder holster, it was originally made famous by David McCallum as Illya Kuryakin in The Man from U.N.C.L.E. in the mid-1960s. It’s a look that Steve McQueen later wore with more notoriety for Bullitt in 1968. In 1973, the dark turtleneck with a shoulder holster became an iconic Bond look when Roger Moore wears a black turtleneck with black trousers to infiltrate Kananga’s voodoo lair in Live and Let Die.

In For Your Eyes Only, Moore is provided with an all-navy outfit to join Columbo’s team for a sneaky nighttime mission. Not only does he wear a navy turtleneck and navy trousers, he adds a navy polyester blouson on top of it. Navy can be a better nighttime camouflage than black.

In Die Another Day, the dark turtleneck returns in charcoal grey, and it’s made of a heavy ribbed cashmere to make it a cold-weather Sneaky Bond outfit. He pairs it with dark-coloured synthetic winter trousers for a dark tactical look. However, since he is sneaking around a brightly lit greenhouse, this gear is not effective camouflage.

Bond brings back the charcoal turtleneck when he sneaks around London in Spectre, though this time it’s a mock neck. He pairs it with black-and-grey-weave trousers and a dark blue goat suede jacket to conceal the shoulder holster. The outfit is similar to his mission look in For Your Eyes Only but in an updated manner for 2015.

005. The Black Half-Zip Shirt

Bond wears another variation on the all-black look in Moonraker with a half-zip shirt in cotton jersey. It’s a shirt made of a comfortable and stretchy knit, but it is constructured like a shirt and not like a polo or a jumper. This kind of shirt wasn’t all that unusual for the 1970s, but it’s nevertheless a stylish alternative to a polo. When paired with black trousers, it makes for one of Bond’s most memorable sneaky outfits for both searching Drax’s library and investigating his laboratory. It’s an equally stylish look for his evening rendezvous with Corrine Dufour and Holly Goodhead.

006. The Safari Suit

Roger Moore’s safari suit in Octopussy

To match his tan stone surroundings while sneaking around Kamal Khan’s palace in India in Octopussy, Bond dons a tan safari suit of matching shirt and trousers to blend in. Even though it’s nighttime, matching the light-coloured building in light-coloured clothes is better camouflage than Bond’s usual dark outfits for after-dark excursions. The next morning, the outfit looks right at home in the jungle when Kamal is hunting Bond.

007. Black Tactical Gear

For the training exercise in The Living Daylights, for infiltrating a Soviet chemical weapons facility in GoldenEye and for sneaking onto Carver’s stealth ship in Tomorrow Never Dies, Bond wears all-black outfits of military or military-esque gear for his sneaky missions. As the action in the Bond films became more intense, so did Bond’s action wardrobe. These outfits often include vests, jackets or jumpsuits that prize function over form. None of these are outfits that a civilian could wear, but they work well for some of Bond’s most hardcore operations.

21 COMMENTS

  1. The best Sneaky Bond outfit is 100% without a doubt the velcro-closed dinner jacket from The Living Daylights, and I’m honestly surprised it’s not on the list!

  2. Well you could also mention the fake reversible suit when Moore was hang gliding in LALD which turned into a cream suit … or the equally fake reversible Cuban Army uniform in Octopussy. Incidentally the Mission Impossible films blatantly rip off the Bond series in many ways and in Ghost Protocol Tom Cruise somehow manages to fake reverse a Russian Colonel’s uniform tunic into a bomber jacket!!

    I have to admit I always thought the polo and v-neck in GF was just a long sleeved polo. I think the black long sleeved polo is the classic sneaky Bond outfit and one of he many reasons I love Thunderball is that we get to see it twice – once while he’s sneaking round Shrublands (with grey/taupe strides) and again (same polo perhaps?) when he’s sneaking round Palmyra in all black.

    When I was a kid in the seventies pop culture was littered with Bondian references including a series of adverts for boxed chocolates called ‘Milk Tray’ in which a Bondian character in black roll neck (tactle-neck!) would employ all manner of derring do to sneak into a foxy lady’s boudoir and leave her a box of chocs and a business card. “… and all because the lady loves Milk Tray”!! Brits of a certain vintage will remember this. Others can probably find it on YouTube if interested!

  3. Although not technically a Sneaky Bond outfit, I love the Brioni charcoal grey suit, light blue shirt, and Turnbull & Asser brown/navy/light blue pattern tie that Pierce Brosnan wears while sneaking around Elliott Carver’s satellite lab in Hamburg in Tomorrow Never Dies. Apart from the Goldfinger pre-titles adventure and Switzerland tailing operation/night reconnaissance mission, the Sneaky Bond in the Tomorrow Never Dies sequence from infiltrating Carver’s lab to dealing with Dr. Kaufman to the parking structure car chase is one of my favorites!

  4. Hey Matt,

    Long time reader of your blog, and I’m looking forward to the book coming out soon. One quick suggestion though.
    Could you make “(00)7” a tag?
    I know you’ve done a few of these articles in the past, but they are very hard to find nowadays.

  5. Did you rule out camo fatigues, such as worn by Pierce Brosnan I Die Another Day?

    Definitely good for sneaking. I also liked Timothy Dalton’s black parachute suit in The Living Daylights.

    And I have to say, the dark turtle neck is such a classic. My favorite.

  6. Funny how I’ve seen the film probably hundreds of times and I only just realised that Bond is wearing a black v-neck jumper over a short sleeve polo in Goldfinger. I always assumed he was wearing a long sleeve one like in Thunderball, which I think looks much better.

    Thunderball is probably one of the best aged films in terms of casual wear, which is pretty impressive given its over 50 years old and casual wear tends to age worse than business and formal wear.

    • Agree with all of this. But it’s not just the casual wear. The midnight blue dinner suit at the casino and the silver sharkskin suit at the Junkanoo parade in particular are two of the best in the entire series for me. Connery never looked fitter, and there are FIVE stunning ladies!

  7. It could be argued that Bond’s choice of shoes for sneaking in Goldfinger is not ideal.

    Those shoes would be making some noise when walking on solid/hard surfaces.

    • Goldfinger is the film that made a big jump in taking the series out of reality and into fantasy, and the Aston is a big part of that, but the opening scene is not far behind – that you could be wearing an immaculate (un-wrinkled) dinner suit underneath a form fitting dry suit … and shined calf leather-soled dress shoes that appear non the worse for wear having been recently submerged in water!

  8. I discovered in the Dr. No documentary that Terence Young gave Ursula Andress one of his own shirts (she mentioned it was Italian, handmade and pink) during the filming but it’s surely another one not used in film since they clearly didn’t have the same size.
    On another note, Matt, I never understood the difference between a mock neck and a turtleneck ?

    • It’s possible that Young’s shirt was disassembled and remade for Andress, in which case it’s still made for Andress.

      A mock neck is a shorter turtleneck that is not intended to fold over. Some are constructed as folded and sewn to the neck.

  9. Timothy Dalton wore an all navy sneaky outfit in LTK. It almost recalls the all navy outfit from FYEO but Dalton wear a dark navy sports shirt and not a polo neck. I’m pretty sure he wears a navy light weight blouson in that scene. The dark night photography makes it hard to make out details.

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