In a brief scene at the Banco De Isthmus in Licence to Kill, Timothy Dalton’s James Bond wears an all-khaki casual outfit. Costume designer Jodie Tillen put Dalton in this comfortable outfit suitable for the warm and sunny fictional locale of Isthmus City in Central America.
This outfit demonstrates the classic-inspired neutral colours and full fits that were popular in the 1980s without being attention-grabbing or fashion forward. The monochrome look is not easy to pull off, but wearing a matching shirt and trousers is a classic Bond casual look going back to the matching light blue polo and trousers in the first Bond film Dr. No. In khaki, this outfit recalls Roger Moore’s safari suits but in the form of everyday sportswear. The colour also makes it reminiscent of an army uniform, particularly with the shirt pockets.
The khaki linen or linen-cotton blend sports shirt has a small point collar with edge stitching and two button-through breast patch pockets with centred inverted box pleats, and the sleeves are rolled up to to the forearms. The wide shoulders and the inverted box shoulder pleats in back contribute to the shirt’s full fit. The shirt’s buttons are brown, lending a more tropical feel to this shirt. The buttoned patch pockets and brown buttons remind us of Moore’s safari outfits without this shirt being a proper safari shirt.
The khaki cotton chinos have a relaxed fit with with triple reverse pleats and slightly slanted side pockets. The chinos are worn with a dark belt.
The outfit is in the same vein as the other casual outfits in the film, such as the dark blue shirt and trousers worn earlier in the film. The full fits may not look so attractive at the moment, but for 1989 they give Bond a relaxed coolness that would have been very appealing at the time.
Is this from a deleted/alternate scene? I just saw the scene in Bank of Isthmus on Blueray and he is definitely wearing blue chinos matched with a navy blue shirt.
It is from another scene. It’s very brief.
Ah yes! The blink-and-you-missed-it withdrawal scene! Never even noticed this outfit! Excellent work Matt!
The one where he withdraws the money. The blue was what he wore when making the deposit.
For a shirt in that style, I generally prefer a camp collar, but with that combination of very full fit and smallish collar, the two piece collar looks better. A camp collar would have been difficult to get to lay right unless it were bigger or ironed down.
As far as the look itself, the shirt and pants are in the same color family, but they’re not perfectly monochrome. The pants are a shade or two lighter than the shirt. The shirt being in a cambric weave, rather than the 2×2 or gabardine twill of the pants gives it a strong textural contrast, as does the subtle flecking from either occasional darker threads or slubbing.
I would say the shirt is a hair lighter than the trousers, not the other way around. But they are so close that the outfit is essentially monochrome, with most of the contrast being textural.
You’re right about the shirt being lighter. I must have been looking at my screen at a weird angle yesterday or something.
Dalton looks terrific in this all-too briefly scene look. And having been 16 when the movie came out, I certainly agree that this relaxed look was cool and comfortable in 1989, yet with a simplicity perfect for Dalton’s Bond. Top marks.
I am more offended by Dalton’s terrible haircut than by his outfit, which is rather bland and neutral.
The guy in a light grey-blue suit and white shirt on the third picture seems to have a much better fitting suit than any of Dalton’s in the movie !
Yeah it may seem a minor detail but that’s what we’re here for. I always thought Dalton’s hair was all wrong for Bond (as was Brosnan’s bouffant in his earlier tenure) and when he slicks it back for the casino scene revealing a serious widow’s peak it looks rough.
Still – dodgy clothes and hair aside, I like LTK – a lot better than TLD as Maryam D’Abo was rubbish! – and most people hate it, so what do I know?
I prefer Brosnan’s poofy 80s hair in Goldeneye, although storywise they probably should have just kept it for the prologue and then given him his 90s haircut for the rest of the film.
I agree. Connery, Lazenby, Moore and Brosnan managed to get a good hairstyle, but Dalton’s hairstyle looks sloppy. It looks like he is just woke up and didn’t have time to brush his hair.
I have to say that I also like the light grey-blue suit that the gentleman in the third picture wears. He also has a better haircut than Dalton. I’d rather read a post about him than Dalton.
For some reason Dalton’s hairstyle changed slightly from TLD to LTK. His hairline does appears to be thinning a little in LTK, so maybe they thought they would brush the front down a bit to cover it. Brosnan’s hair was longer then Dalton’s in GE but his hair appears to be more groomed for some reason.
Connery’s and Moore’s ” hair” do not even look convincing.
Dalton’s hair was great in TLD, donno why they changed it for LTK.
Personally I rather like the monochrome look and Dalton seems to carry this outfit with ease. If the shirt and trousers had a trimmer cut (not skin tight ofc) the outfit would be wearable and clasically elegant whilst the colour recalls Sir Roger Moore’s safari clothing.
I have 2 questions Matt. First, is there a glimpse on what footwear Dalton wears with this outfit (if not any idea on what it could possibly be and what shoes would go with the ensemble)? And second compared to the other outfits in the movie how much do you like this over the other outfits ( I understand however that many of the clothes in this film are too baggy and dated)?
I don’t know what footwear he wears with this, but brown boat shoes or handsewn loafers would go well with it and would fit in with the times.
I don’t care for this outfit personally, but I think there are some good ideas in it that can be used in other ways.
Hey Matt, It seems like you really like this outfit, but I was taught that it was a bad idea to wear khaki on khaki like this. Blue on blue is fine but not Khaki. Your thoughts?
I wouldn’t say I really like this outfit. I think that wearing the same colour top and bottom is pretty much the same no matter what the colour is. Like blue on blue, this gives a very uniform-like look.
LTK and it’s clothing is a constant conundrum; how to engage an Italian tailoring house, whose clothing sells for eye-watering prices (or at least currently does and I’ve no reason to think this wasn’t the same in 1988) and still produce an end result which is one of the absolute sartorial low points of the entire series!
In TLD, the star only came on board at the 11th hour and the wardrobe had to be pulled together as best they could with a couple of modestly priced tailors and the result wasn’t remarkable but it, overall, did the job ok. Had they gone this route again they would have been better advised but regretably they wanted a “modern”, casual look and it looked unworthy of Bond both then and since. I agree that this outfit isn’t the worst at least in terms of colouring if not style and it would have certainly looked very current in 1989.
I rejoiced 5 years later when Pierce was announced to the world and the rushes of “Goldeneye” were revealed. Dalton may have had his admirable qualities in what he brought to the role in terms of authenticity but the wardrobe will NEVER be one of them!
David, great points as usual. I think Brioni is the always obvious Italian tailoring choice. They are the always classic Roman look with hints of the fashions of the times. There current cut is as classic as you can get but also nods to the current trend of a close fit. I think they could have used higher quality casual wear in LTK and also a sports coat or navy blazer would have been welcome. They were both very trendy in the late 1980’s. If anyone has seen Tim Dalton on Wogan with some of the cast and Cubby back in 1989 to promote LTK you would see that he doesn’t like to get dressed up, he is wearing a navy windbreaker, dark blue sports shirt and navy trousers. A Bondian casual look yes, but considering all the other men are wearing a suit or blazer he looks considerably under dressed.
I agree. He had absolutely no interest in selling the role in that way anyway. Connery was equally slobbish if left to his natural devices but i think he would have at least worn a sports coat for such an interview. Brioni would have been far better than Ricci. I would actually be curious to see examples of their tailoring from the late 1980s for the sake of comparison.
The real-world reason is that they moved the production entirely to North America and then used off-the-rack luxury brands that were commonly available in Miami and the Caribbean.
The in-universe reasoning is that he was at that point burned and had to scramble to get whatever clothes he could find to fit the persona of the mercenary ex-spy he was trying to sell. The problem with that justification is that if Bond has a tailor in Hong Kong that can get him a full wardrobe in a day even while under a burn notice I’d think he’d have the same thing available to him in Miami.
hmmm….Brioni was a popular seller in USA in late 1980s. Even some suits by Polo Ralph Lauren. Don’t forget that LTK wasn’t the first Bond movie produced outside Pinewood for tax reasons. Moonraker used French studios but Roger still used the same designers and outfitters which he had in preceding movies.
David, good points here. He certainly would have looked better in Brioni. I remember last year in Paris I was walking Avenue des Champs-Elysées and there was the Stefano Ricci flagship there. I did look at the window and most of the clothing and accessories were gaudy and in very poor taste. Nothing had a classic look. I couldn’t help myself to compare it with the Brioni flagship store who used to be in the same avenue at the time. There was no comparison ! And the Stefano Ricci prices were about 10 to 20% more expensive. An evening shirt for € 800… No comment !
Exactly. I have noticed this myself. Ricci is tacky and nothing which Bond should ever be involved with. In LTK I’m guessing only the suits came from Ricci. The shirts were worse in that they looked like some cheap things from a chain store.
There would have been many brands better then Ricci at the time. Armani i’m sure should have been considered considering how many films he outfitted at the time. Armani’s style was flexible. His suits for Kevin Costner in The Untouchables being a good example. Armani also made suits for Kurt Russell in Tequlia Sunrise (1988) in a full cut style that was better fitted then Dalton’s Ricci suits.
This is a good point, Iconic Film Style. I used to think Armani did nothing but baggy fashion suits in the ’80s, but a closer look has proven me wrong over time. They also made Bruce Wayne’s suits, and I’m sure others, for the Dark Knight trilogy. They have dated remarkably well (along with a lot of suits from the 2000s, actually).