Basted for Bond: Examining Timothy Dalton’s Licence to Kill Suits


A new “Basted for Bond” infographic breaks down the baggy, oversized suits designed by Jodie Tillen and made at the tailor shop at Universal Studios that Timothy Dalton wears in Licence to Kill. These are high-end clothes, yet the unflattering and dated look they have distracts from their luxuriousness. This infographic details the aspects of the suits in Licence to Kill , such as the built-up shoulders and aircraft-wing lapels on the dinner jacket, that make them look so dreadful today. When flattened into an illustration, the proportions don’t look so bad. But when on a man, the weaknesses of the late 1980s fashions comes to life.


  1. Hi, Matt – I was wondering why the Bond franchise chose to switch from bespoke English tailoring to suits made by major brands instead from the Timothy Dalton era onwards? I understand that according to Lindy Hemming, this was to mass produce as many suits as possible in short time spans for action sequences, but there were obviously such action scenes in the films preceding “The Living Daylights” as well. Is it simply a matter of product placement? Would love to hear your insights on the matter. Thank you in advance.

    • I understand that for The Living Daylights there wasn’t enough time to have suits tailored. There weren’t any action sequences in suits in that film. Licence to Kill was not made in the UK, so they wouldn’t have been able to get a bespoke English tailor. Licence to Kill also had a lower budget, and there must have been many suits needed for the finale. There wasn’t tailoring product placement until GoldenEye.

  2. Wow! Never realised they were SR suits. I think that today SR is one of the most beautiful and elegant brands with superb cloths, patterns and cut. Ferociously expensive, however.

  3. The suits for Moore’s last two 1970’s movies were also from a tailoring house outside Britain (Angelo Roma). These also look dated but far better fitting and aesthetically pleasing. Dalton’s outfits, without exception, in this movie are wrong for the Bond character. This could be argued for Moore’s Angelo suits but the British influence could be seen in their execution. This also applied to Brosnan’s Brioni suits. The LTK suits had none of these redeeming features!

    Regarding the fact that LTK wasn’t made in the UK, this too applied to Moonraker but the result was different as already noted. Angelo produced 7 versions of the grey silk suit for that movie and only the last version survived filming. So, the production of multiple versions of Bond’s suits wasn’t anything new. I feel this excuse is a little overstated, to be honest, and am inclined to believe the other contributor’s suspicions of product placement being at least a contributory factor

    • The bespoke suits that were used in the older film were a lot more hard wearing. I rewatched From Russia With Love recently and the suits there look perfect after a fight scene. Compare with the time 30-40 suits were used for a scene in Quantum of Solace. Yikes!

    • Yes. The weight of suiting fabrics has become lighter and lighter over the decades. As well as the specific problem you point out the lighter the fabric the harder it is to tailor, rumples easier, sits less smoothly etc.

    • Well, also these days stunts are a lot more rigourous than they were in the 60s-80s. At most, back then you’d need less than 10 suits. Nowadays, you need multiple as stunts become more demanding on the actor and the stuntman. For example, in Spectre, some suits were specially made with openings in the back jacket to allow a safety wire to be attached. Some were made baggier to allow harnesses underneath and what have you.

      Factor in the fact that fight scenes are a lot more demanding than they used to be (no karate chops here!) and you can see why they need to mass produce the suits today.

  4. Is new to me that Ricci did the suits for that movie.
    At time (late 80s-early 90s) Ricci produce very elegant ties (some really wonderful),and classic luxurious shirts,but don’t remember a Stefano Ricci line of suits in those days.
    Was a strange choice..they could select others RTW firms.
    For exemple Chester Barrie,or why not ,the darted two buttons line of Brooks Brothers.
    But Stefano Ricci?

    • I learned about Stefano Ricci at the Designing 007 exhibition four years ago. Costume designer Jodie Tillen wanted Bond to be fashionable. Chester Barrie and Brooks Brothers would not have given Bond the desired fashionable look.

  5. Yup now I have figured out who gave Dalton the crappiest Bond suits ever. However the shoulders look really similar to that of the Brioni shoulders that Brosnan and Craig sported. Do you like these suits or the Brioni suits better? Also, I really think this would look horrible on paper. These suits look a lot like the late 70s Moore except for the hella low gorge lapels. Why is it that the costume designer was never informed that two buttons on a dinner jacket is wrong? If the dinner suit was with peak lapels it would have looked o.k. rather than the crappiest outfit bond has ever put on. Was it a rule back in the 80s, or was it not introduced then?

    • Brosnan’s Brioni suits are considerably better than these. They have some of the same details, but they fit.

      Black tie rules have existed in their present state since the 1930s.

  6. Even the suit jackets had no buttonholes ? That is one more sin on Ms Tillen’s record…

  7. The jackets don’t look that bad made into infographic but when you see them on Dalton they are far to large for him. But that was the fashion if the time. Don Johnson wore a similar style in Miami Vice, which was cutting edge in fashion at the time. But they should have gone a bit more classic for a Bond film really. I liked Dalton’s interpretation though, close to the novels.

  8. I’ve never heard of Stefano Ricci before so I just googled them/him.
    I found this.

    With those prices, they are, as my old cockney English teacher would say, “having a giraffe”. I’ve bought vehicles that cost less than that tie.

    Won’t be googling them again!

    Thanks, though, Matt, for adding Dalton to the Basted for Bond series. It had to be done.

    • I pass their shop on Park Avenue whenever I’m in New York and did some research. They strike me as a company that would dress a Bond villain, not Mr. Bond himself.

  9. Matt , do you know any makers who make triple reverse pleated trousers today ? I have never seen a pair up for sale.


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