(00)7 Ways We Judge James Bond’s Clothes

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There are many ways that we judge and critique James Bond’s clothes. Here are seven ways we examine Bond’s clothes and judge their suitability for the character. We may emphasise some of these criteria more than others, and we may come to different conclusions based on these criteria. But thinking about these seven points can help us to better understand why Bond wears certain clothes. They can even help us make choices in our own clothes.

001. History

James Bond is a character with rich history, and he carries with him both a personal history and a history of British culture. His clothes reflect both. with his daily outfit being the lounge suit that was invented in Britain. Should he dress in a way that reflects being a representative of Britain, whether its in a well-tailored suit or in something like a Barbour jacket?

Bond has an established personal style that continues to evolve, a mark of someone with a good sense of style. Should he wear clothes that reflect his stylistic history, or is it okay for him to wear completely new styles?

Another aspect of history is that Bond often wears traditional clothing styles and brands that have a rich history, such as the dinner jacket, the naval uniform or the Barbour jacket. Does history make a garment better?

002. Contemporary Fashions

All of the Bonds have been influenced by the fashions of their times, whether we like those fashions or not. Should Bond look of his time, or should he try to avoid looking trendy so the films won’t look dated in the future? When Bond dresses of his time, it gives him a more relevant look at the time of the film’s release though he may look dated years later. If he ignores the fashions of his time, he risks looking old-fashioned.

Was it okay for Bond to wears flared trousers in the 1970s or baggy suits in the late 1980s to look current, or was Brosnan’s approach to avoid to most fashionable suit styles of the 1990s better?

003. Flattering Fits and Colours

Bond is supposed to look tall, slim, strong and healthy. How the clothes work to achieve this is one way we judge them. Clothes should fit well enough that they don’t make Bond look fat or scrawny.

The colours should suit the actor wearing them. Daniel Craig looks great in blue because of his eyes, while Roger Moore looks great in earth tones that make his complexion glow.

004. How the Actor Wears the Clothes

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Some Bond actors look more comfortable in a suit than others do, and we judge them for that. Pierce Brosnan wears a suit like he was born in one. George Lazenby and Roger Moore are former models, and it shows in how they wears their clothes. Sean Connery’s screen presence usually makes him look great in a suit. Timothy Dalton, on the other hand, wasn’t comfortable in suits, and at times it shows. The actor can make a difference in how good the clothes look.

005. Suits the Setting

We expect Bond to be dressed for the setting, not wearing safari suits to the London office, tweeds in the tropics or dinner jackets during the day. We expect him to dress in practical clothes for action. A well-dressed man considers where he is and what he dresses for. Sometimes Bond may be poorly, but immaculately, dressed when he wears a dinner jacket in an inappropriate setting. Though the dinner jacket is Bond’s most iconic look, does that make it more appropriate for him to wear for unusual occasions?

006. Suits the Character

Bond is a traditional British man with some old-fashioned values. He is from a well-off family, he is well educated, he’s a Commander in the Royal Navy and he has fine tastes. What he wears should reflect such a man. He is not the average person.

He often seems to be able to maintain his standards of quality, even in the worst situations. If Bond is down on his luck, should that reflect lower standards in his clothes? How much realism should we expect from Bond’s wardrobe, and what even is realistic for this character?

007. Personal Taste

We can’t ignore our own tastes when judging Bond’s clothes. We don’t always have good reasons for liking or hating Bond’s clothes, and that’s okay. We all have our own personal tastes that we can’t rationalise. If Bond dresses in a way we don’t like, he might not necessarily be poorly attired.

Most of the Bond actors have their own personal tastes involved in their on-screen wardrobes. Roger Moore used his personal clothiers to make his Bond wardrobe. Timothy Dalton wanted Bond to dress in a more relaxed manner. Daniel Craig brought in some of his favourite brands to dress Bond.

The first six criteria are helpful in judging Bond’s clothes more objectively without our personal opinions getting in the way, but there’s always an element of subjective personal taste involved with clothes.

Feel free to leave your thoughts on any of these subjects below.

12 COMMENTS

  1. While I personally tend to look at Sean Connery as my personal favorite and someone I follow as a style icon, I also tend to look at Timothy Dalton. TLD was my first Bond film and I agree that he had some good ensembles like you posted earlier, Matt. The casual clothes in that film weren’t bad, however, LTK was a disappointment.

    • Do you mean LTK was a disappointment from a style perspective or the entire film? It gets a bad rap on the whole but I like it myself. TLD was written with Roger Moore in mind but LTK went in a new direction. OK the clothes may not have been exemplary but the film and in particular the colourful Caribbean setting was fine by me.

      • LTK was disappointing with most of the casual clothes but a great film. TLD was great in style and as a film in my opinion

  2. Very good point about Pierce Brosnan Matt. Ever since Remington Steele he seemed to have that timeless sense of elegance not overly influenced by fashion.

    Despite minor flaws such as some ties, his wardrobe choices seem to have aged well, at least to me.

    • I know what you mean. I’m currently obsessed with his charcoal windowpane suit from Goldeneye. I look at it and besides the low button stance I see little about it that’s not to my taste. When I see some of the suits people were wearing in the ’90s Brosnan came out more or less unscathed.

    • Agreed. From a sartorial perspective Brosnan managed to bridge the difficult gap in maintaining something of the established Bondian tradition of well cut conservative suits but still being more or less up to date with the contemporary trends. And as you say, with the passage of time he still appears to have acquitted himself well during his tenure by having stayed on the right side of the style versus fashion continuum.

  3. I think no making Bond’s clothes too trendy and of the moment always works. Especially the casual wear. The best suits and casual wear is the kind you could wear in virtually any era of the films and not look outdated. Whenever Bond gets too trendy he moves away from how Fleming saw the character.

    • Exactly! Been saying for ages that we expect Bond to be well dressed, which used to mean suited up, but more and more these days being suited up will make you stand out in the crowd not blend in, so it poses a problem for a SECRET agent. This may be why even if you don’t like life Craig as Bond, you have to give him some credit for bringing some decent casual threads into the role – in his fifties! Even moreso they have to find some reason to shoe-horn a tuxedo into the story and that’s proving ever more difficult film by film. The last time being among the most forced. Who ever heard of getting a tux on for dinner on the train?

  4. I would do it for fun on New Years Eve or at work on Halloween. The theater is a guarantee. But even in Brooklyn I’ll still wear a suit to get something from the store. I suppose Bond is also a “last century man” in some ways

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