Timothy Dalton is partially responsible for this all-blue outfit in Licence to Kill. In a 1989 interview with Garth Pearce, Timothy Dalton said he didn’t want to wear the pastel colours that costume designer Jodie Tillen wanted to dress him in. Dalton said, “The clothes say so much about Bond. He’s got a naval background, so he needs a strong, simple colour like dark blue.” That’s what this outfit is: three different dark blues. However, someone with a naval background would likely prefer trimmer-fitting clothes and not full fits of late 1980s fashion.
Throughout Licence to Kill, Bond combines his casual wardrobe items in different ways, giving a certain realism to part of the wardrobe. Bond does not often mix and match different wardrobe items unless they are basics like navy grenadine ties, solid-colour formal shirts or shoes. When Bond meets Pam Bouvier at the Bimini Barrelhead Bar, he is wearing the same navy teba-style shirt-jacket he wears at the Hemingway House earlier in the film with the purpose to conceal his Walther PPK. The shirt-jacket is probably made of a synthetic material and is too large, most notably in the shoulders, as was the trend in the late 1980s. The shirt-jacket has a four buttons down front, has pockets on both sides and is constructed with a yoke in the back of the shoulders like a shirt. The cuffs are single-button shirt-type cuffs with a large button, and the sleeve is gathered into pleats at the cuff. Bond wears the jacket open and the collar up.
Under the shirt-jacket Bond wears a french blue shirt with a short spread collar and two breast pockets. The placket is folded to the inside rather than the outside so that only a row of stitching is visible to the right of the buttons. This gives the front a neater look than a placket does but still has the extra support a placket provides. The collar and placket are stitched on the edges. Bond’s trousers are faded dark blue cotton and slightly lighter than the shirt-jacket. They have triple reverse pleats, slanted side pockets and two rear pockets. The trousers are the same blue trousers that Bond wears when he arrives in Isthmus City. Bond wears a black belt and black slip-on shoes with his blue outfit.
How funny; I just watched “The Living Daylights” over dinner, and thoroughly enjoyed the film, but I digress.
Good for Dalton in standing up for the colours, but as you say the fir (if there is one) is rather poor. Terrible for Bond, would pass for relatively smart in most of the world today, I fear!
Not much else to say, other than nice work. Considered adding Pushkin to the list? Being so plump, he fills his suits nicely!
The fit of the clothes in this film are too oversized and dated. In my view, the 80s was the worst decade for clothing fashions.
That being said, Dalton was a good Bond. I wish he had made more films.
I think Dalton went purposefully for off the rack choices to add that realism to the role. They’re bad, but because the fashion of the day was particularly bad.
As some people pointed out about the outfit Bond wears at the Hemmingway house, this to an even larger extent works very well in concept but not in execution. I mean, a sober, all dark blue outfit like this totally fits the character of Bond and Dalton sure understood that. I’d also dare to say that both the jacket and trousers, fit aside, look quite a lot more classy in themselfes than what most other people wear in that bar. If the jacket was the correct size (or changed to a QOS-styled harrington jacket) and the trousers and shirt less baggy this would be a perfect outfit. So I’d say Dalton himself is not to blame for the look of this film. He probably only gave the costume designer a very limited coice of classic garments in a limited colour palate to work with. The baggy fit is probably a try from the costume designer (since she couldn’t use her pastels for Bond – as if Sanchez wasn’t enough) to make Bond look “Like he belongs in 1989” just like Jany Temime said about Craig in 2012. Unfortunately for theese two films, that’s how they’ll ALWAYS look as clothes with extreme fashion-influenced fits like this obviously doesnt age well.
Probably the greatest compliment that I can pay to Dalton’s clothes in LTK is that when I saw the film in 1989 I didn’t notice the clothes much – because he was, to use a phrase I hear sometimes, “dressed normal”. His clothes looked no more unusual to me then than any other Bond actor’s.
One thing that I appreciated about Dalton was reading about how he read all of the books and carried over some ideas to the film version of the character (bland colours to fit in, primarily blues and greys, no double breasted jackets as they would restrict access to a shoulder holster, etc). I agree that the looser, baggier fit was a nod to contemporary Miami fashions at the time, and good on Dalton for refusing the pastel colour scheme.
I wonder when this look will come back into style? Everything always does…
I agree – Dalton is an underrated Bond actor. His two films weren’t too bad (esp. TLD). But from a sartorial point of view a misery.
It didn’t stop me from buying an all black longsleeved shirt and cream turn up chinos in the summer of 1989. My outfit did not go particularly well, but I knew deep down I was dressing like Dalton’s Bond, and that was cool enough. Most young people at my school wore baggy clothes at that time, so it meant Bond was a little more relevant. If we are going to frown at Dalton’s stylists for anything with regards to License to Kill, it has to be his hairstyle. I have no idea what they were thinking… everyone I knew in the summer of 89 had hair like Bros!
What’s the point really?!
By now all that can be said by way of criticism of Dalton’s wardrobe in this movie would seem to have been said. You either despise it for its deviation so far from anything of the cinematic Bond image that went before or you admire some spurious sense of “authenticity”. But, what really sticks out for me is how cheap looking the clothes in this movie seem and regardless of the decision to break with Bond’s previous image, his wardrobe should never look cheap. Fleming’s Bond’s wardrobe – with his sea island cotton and silk shirts, Burberry raincoat and alpaca suit – wasn’t cheap and his suits all seemed from description to have been London tailored, and this is where Dalton’s strivings for this “authenticity” fail.
If he wanted a neat, yet casual, blue ensemble to respect the literary Bonds image and fit the movie’s timeframe then this would have done nicely; https://www.bondsuits.com/the-navy-blouson/
I agree 100% with your assessment. What some people call “authenticity” is more likely an attempt to make Bond look more “plebeian”, i.e., to remove any vestiges of the British Gentleman. In these postmodern days, the “British Gentleman” is, of course, the epitome of privilege, post-colonialism, sexism, patriarchy, and all the other bogeymen of the pseudo-intellectual Left that (unfortunately) dominates public discourse. Hence Craig’s more blue-collar characterization, which, incidentally, clashes with super-expensive Tom Ford designer wear.
Dan, I couldn’t agree more with your comment !
A decent fit would certainly have improved the outfit. And perhaps just simple charcoal or dark grey trousers, too.
This is also a situation where I think Dalton could have pulled off an item much better than Moore did : his leather blouson in AVTAK. In a such a bar, it seems perfectly appropriate, in my humble opinion.
Dalton approached the role with the novel Bond in mind. He reasoned, and realistically I might add, that while Bond as a character is a jet-setter, it’s largely on the government’s dime. Bond is, even for all his skills, a civil servant, and thus likely isn’t knocking down huge paychecks. The films put Bond in the early years in Saville Row suits, but Dalton’s mindset, (Which I’ll admit I agree with) was that as a civil servant, Bond didn’t have thousands of pounds available to buy countless suits at SR. I’ve read all the books, and Dalton’s assessment is pretty correct. Fleming’s Bond has a navy blue suit and knitted tie combo that he wears frequently in the books. The same suit makes an appearance multiple times. That indicates that when Bond buys a suit, he gets mileage out of it.
Another thing to consider is that, at the start of the film, Bond is essentially “on vacation.” He’s in Key West. He’s at least staying a few days, maybe at the most a week, and therefore, he’s living out of a suitcase. That means that Bond has limited clothing choices at his disposal, which is why certain clothing items make multiple appearances, which makes sense. When I make an overnight trip, I usually re-wear the jeans I wore on the trip up the next day if they’re fresh.
From Key West, Bond basically goes straight to Ithsmus City, and while he may have sprung for new clothes while he was there, he’s limited to what’s available at the shops in the fictional city. He doesn’t make a return visit to London to raid his closet before they go.
Don’t get me wrong, Sean Connery and Roger Moore look fabulous in their respective films, but I don’t knock Dalton at all for pushing for an off-the-rack look for his Bond. He was really trying to bring Fleming’s Bond to the screen, and based on my own experience reading the books, Dalton’s choice was quite honestly in line with Fleming’s Bond as written. Bond was never presented as living an extravagant lifestyle in the domestic scenes in the novels before going out on the mission.
I agree the clothing is excessively baggy, but that’s not Dalton’s fault at all. It was merely the style of the times. Connery’s suits hold up well, but that’s mostly because his Bond wore a lot of suits and tuxedos, and the 60’s look isn’t terribly different from present day. Even so, Connery’s Bond had a few outlandish costume choices that don’t hold up well at all, like the onesie he wears in “Goldfinger.” Moore’s suits were all great, but are distinctly 70’s. Dalton’s clothes aren’t too terribly different from modern day styles in appearance, save for the baggy fit that was popular in the decade of his films.
What can I say? I do like the idea of a casual ensemble to wear to the bar, but it’s rather poorly executed. Daniel Craig does a much better job in Quantum of Solace, for example. Some didn’t like the idea of James Bond wearing jeans, but at least everything fit him well. Here it looks like he’s wearing a pajama shirt.
At least they got the shoulder holster right!
I guess they wanted to make the outfit “of its time”. Roger’s earlier 1980’s casual wear was certainly if it’s time too but it looked expensive and more appropriate to the Bond image albeit one which had already somewhat evolved. Dan, sadly there are few, if any, actors I can think of who have this British Gentleman image now. In 1989 there were still a few and Dalton himself, if his clothing were handled like Connery 2 decades earlier, by a Terence Young figure, could pulled it off but he didn’t want to. From all I’ve read or heard of Timothy Dalton he’s a man of conviction and his own meanings on situations etc and the Licence to Kill wardrobe mess is, to a large part, as Matt also points out, down to him. That it could have been even worse still doesn’t excuse this result. The producers needed to be forceful and protective of their product. Ending up in a shirt line this after years of Turnbull and Asser or Frank Foster is inexcusable! A London tailor ended to provide his clothes too. End of story. Le Chiffre, I agree about the leather blouson look for Dalton (provided it was as nice a version as Moore’s but I doubt it would’ve been if it kept with this movie’s trends!) but perhaps for this climate it mightn’t have been so comfortable unless a very lightweight suede like the FYEO blouson. Dalton’s leather car coat in The Living Daylights wasn’t bad but the clothes worn with it brought it down. Kyle, I have to agree. Choose between Craig’s un-Bondian jeans and t shirt ensemble or this here? I’d reluctantly plump for Craig’s look. Having said all that, his beach bar ensemble in Skyfall and the Madagascar outfit in Casino Royale are no better than Dalton here.
Craig’s clothing was appropriate in both instances mentioned above, since he’d gone to pieces in one instance and undercover in the second.
Also, Craig has worn a lot of polo shirts and chinos but I can’t remember when he was in a jeans and t-shirt ensemble. Has he worn such an outfit?
On the subject of Dalton’s outfit here… yeah, not a great look. His wardrobe in The Living Daylights is underrated, but there’s really not much to recommend in Licence to Kill. A shame, since it’s one of my favourite films in the series. Great actor, handsome fellow, average dresser.
Craig wears a polo with jeans in Quantum of Solace. He wears a few t-shirts in Casino Royale, but not with jeans.
Didn’t Craig wear a light grey t-shirt with jeans when they arrive in Venice in Casino Royale ? Or was it with a pair of chinos ?
It was linen trousers, no?
Thanks for jogging my memory, Matt!
The only time Craig wore jeans was in a combat scenario, which is in line with the novels. He also wore his t-shirts in Casino Royale with either v-neck jumpers, cardigans, or leather jackets, so at least he was dressing them up.
Ditto to many of the previous comments. The shirt, especially, isn’t within a bull’s roar of a proper fit. But let’s remember that Bond here has totally gone off the reservation and become a renegade – a fugitive from his own organization. So therefore, he is just not capable of presenting himself as a smooth professional. But at least he got the colours right. When it’s all said and done, the old tactics would not work against psychos like Sanchez and his goons – Bond has to steal their playbook and their brutal methods.
Matt , any idea what brand the blue shirt is from ?
Sorry, I have no idea.
Is French blue quite a dark shade?
Yes, it’s a medium-dark shade of blue.