I Don’t Know Any Tailor Jokes
James Bond: Pierce Brosnan
Director: Michael Apted
Costume designer: Lindy Hemming
Shirts: Turnbull & Asser
Ties: Turnbull & Asser and Herbie Frogg
Lindy Hemming returns with Brioni, Turnbull & Asser and Church’s to dress Brosnan at his most elegant for The World Is Not Enough. The same look from Brosnan’s first two Bond films returns, but it has been refined for The World Is Not Enough.
Like in From Russia with Love and Diamonds Are Forever, Bond’s own wardrobe consists almost entirely of tailored clothes: suits and a dinner jacket. It gives the film a more traditional feel. The only exception in Bond’s own wardrobe in The World Is Not Enough is a ski suit. Bond also steals a uniform for a disguise. Focusing on suits, especially suits that have a timeless style that avoid trends, gives this film a stylish wardrobe that still looks superb today.
The evening wear is almost the same as in Tomorrow Never Dies, minus the waistcoat. Removing the waistcoat tremendously changes the outfit, giving it a far more modern look. There’s neither a waistcoat nor a cummerbund, both modernising the outfit and returning Bond back to his usual ways prior to Licence to Kill. The dinner suit is made of a midnight blue cloth, and it is mohair-and-wool like the GoldenEye dinner suit is, which again emphasises the modern look. The wide peaked lapels take centre stage and look perfect on Brosnan. Because there is no waistcoat, Brosnan wears the dinner jacket fastened (not that he couldn’t have fastened it with a waistcoat), and it has a more flattering effect.
The shirt repeats the formal look of a marcella bib, semi-spread collar and double cuffs, and the front fastens with studs or stud-like buttons.
The most notable part of this outfit are the X-ray glasses. The metal frames are delicate, following trends of the time, and have light blue lenses that suggest the glasses’ x-ray properties. Bond only wears them for a brief—but memorable—moment, and they only enhance his already-superb ensemble.
The Brioni suits in The World Is Not Enough continue the classic button-three style that was popular in the late 1990s, but the fullness from the previous two films has been dialled back. The suits still have a full cut by today’s standards, but it’s full in a classic way without going to extremes. Most of the suits have replaced the pleated trousers with trimmer darted trousers, but they still have turn-ups. With these suits, Hemming again did a fantastic job of looking to the past but picking out from the past what was on trend. I believe finding the overlap between classic styles and current trends is the key to looking timeless.
The first suit is one of Brosnan’s best. It’s a classic charcoal worsted, a first for Bond. The suit has straight pockets and no ticket pocket, toning down Brosnan’s usual British details. I find that the lack of slanted pockets puts the focus back on the Italian cut. The slanted pockets on most of Brosnan’s suits are enough to help us think of British style, even if they can’t turn a Brioni suit British. The jacket still has double vents, which were uncommon outside of British suits at the time, so it still has this nod towards British suits. Vent-less suits were commonly associated with Italian style at this time, though Brioni usually used double vents.
Brosnan wears the suit with a mid blue royal oxford shirt. Deeper blues were popular at the time, but this shade finds an attractive balance between the trendy French blue and the classic sky blue. This shirt debuts a new collar with a higher and wider spread. It is similar to Turnbull & Asser’s Regent collar but higher, slightly narrower and with longer points. The collar is a dramatic one with a significant presence that makes Brosnan look his best. Though the charcoal suit and blue shirt pairing is a repeat from Tomorrow Never Dies, the tie with this suit is more nuanced. It revives the blue and brown combination, but in a subtle navy and bronze zigzag pattern. I think this is the most elegant tie of Brosnan’s Bond wardrobe. It is subtle and hints at Connery’s subtle ties. The suit also has brown and blue threads in it, which the tie mirrors.
It’s the eye wear that dates this wardrobe the most. Small, delicate frames were trendy at the time. Bond wears a pair of glasses with this suit as both a semi-disguise and a gadget. The glasses seemed like a good choice at the time, but they aren’t the kind of classic style that Bond usually gravitates to. Nevertheless, they are subtle and not distracting.
The black Church’s Presley monk shoes are also a bit of their time, but I still think they look cool, especially on Bond. They suit a character who creator Ian Fleming stated ‘abhorred laces’ while being dressier than the loafers he originally preferred. Today double-monk shoes are much more popular, but I prefer Brosnan’s single monks.
His second suit not only one of Brosnan’s most unique suits, it is also one of the most unique suits of the Bond series. It’s a dark charcoal pinstripe three-piece suit (the only three-piece suit of the film), and the waistcoat recalls the famous glen check suit in Goldfinger with its notched lapels. It’s the only suit in the film that fastens with one button, which recalls a Savile Row trend that continues to this day. Of all the suits in the film, this one recalls British tailoring the most, so it’s perfect for the London setting. It reintroduces Brosnan’s usual slanted pockets with a ticket pocket, enhancing the British look. The pinstripe, however, is too subtle for traditional British style, and it gets lost when the suit is soaked. Subtle stripes like this were fashionable at the time, but it would have been nice to see Bond in one of his classic chalk stripes instead. A grey pocket square—the film’s only pocket square—helps bring out the stripes.
There’s only one real issue with this suit: Brosnan wears it with a belt. Belts and waistcoats are not friends because the belt ruins the line of the waistcoat. A belt will create a lump under a well-fitted waistcoat that fits close to the body. Side adjusters would have been better, but braces would have been best. Braces with suits aren’t in character for Bond, but they would never be visible under a waistcoat.
He wears it with a white shirt and a black tie with a bold geometric patterns in red, gold and silver. This tie does not get lost when it gets wet, and it effectively helps Bond stand out in the Q boat sequence. It’s not the most traditionally Bondian tie, but it is a beautiful pattern. A red tie may have been a better choice, however, for both visibility and to follow Bond traditions.
Bond continues the dark grey theme with the next suit, a dark grey tweed windowpane for a funeral in Scotland. The dark grey colour makes it look appropriate for a funeral, but the tweed and its windowpane pattern look appropriate in the country setting. Brosnan’s usual slanted pockets with a ticket pocket add to the country look. It’s an unusual balance to strike between relaxed country and formal funeral, but I think it works well. A dark grey flannel suit may have been an even better choice, like what Sean Connery wears for the funeral at the start of Thunderball, but I like Brosnan’s suit too. I also appreciate that it repeats the grey windowpane from GoldenEye. He wears it with a white shirt and a black knitted cashmere tie. Though the black silk knit is the classic Bond tie, it’s wonderful to see Brosnan get on board with the knitted tie, and cashmere nicely complements the tweed suit.
To dress up the suit for the funeral, Brosnan wears a charcoal double-breasted overcoat in the same style as the Tomorrow Never Dies coat. It’s on screen for only a short time, but it tremendously enhances the funeral look.
The grey pick-and-pick (also called sharkskin) suit might be considered the star suit of the film. The suit recalls the grey pick-and-pick suits that Sean Connery wears in From Russia with Love as well as his numerous other grey semi-solid and glen check suits that are often mistaken for sharkskin. Like most of Connery’s suits it has straight pockets. It’s a joy to see Brosnan dressing this way. He wears it with a white shirt and with the same navy and bronze zigzag tie that he wears at the start of the film. This wardrobe reuses items to create a strong wardrobe identity and a sense of realism.
Brosnan wears this suit twice in the film, and the second time he wears a tie from Herbie Frogg in dark blue with a small pattern of light brown ticks. Both ties have the same colours, furthering Brosnan’s blue and brown sartorial identity.
The navy birdseye suit returns again in this film to continue the Brosnan tradition. It could believably pass for the same suit that Brosnan wears in GoldenEye and Tomorrow Never Dies. It’s even more consistent than Connery’s dark grey flannel suit. He wears it with a white shirt this time, and the tie is red twill with red dots that have a white dot in the centre. It’s a different look for Brosnan, but I find the colour palette uninspired, particularly compared to how he wears his navy birdseye suit in Tomorrow Never Dies with an ecru shirt and bronze tie. It makes Bond look a bit like a politician. Bond rarely wears red ties against a white shirt because the combination looks harsh. In this outfit, however, the white shirt and red tie help our eye focus on Bond in the busy and dimly lit scene at the caviar factory.
The film’s final suit is the best of Brosnan’s three dressed-down warm-weather suits in the series. It’s an ecru Irish linen herringbone suit with patch pockets and a single vent. I find the single vent choice odd, and it doesn’t look as good as Brosnan’s usual double vents. The trousers revive the double reverse pleats from Brosnan’s first two films, and they prove necessary when Bond is strapped to a torture chair.
He wears this suit with a French blue royal oxford shirt that has Turnbull & Asser’s ‘Number 3’ point collar. This collar drapes perfectly when worn open without a tie. The shirt is also the only time Bond wears Turnbull & Asser’s classic three-button cuff. It’s perfect for this more casual suit and doesn’t look out of place when Bond finds himself underwater in this outfit, sans jacket. Light brown monk shoes perfectly complement this suit. While this film’s climax isn’t the most exciting of the Bond series, I appreciate seeing Brosnan wearing an elegant outfit during this moment.
The ski suit looks fantastic on Brosnan. I am not familiar with ski wear trends, so I can’t say if this outfit looks outdated now, but I think it still looks good. Its green colour is unusual for Bond, but it helps Bond camouflage in wooded areas and stand out against the snow on screen without being as garish as Roger Moore’s yellow ski suit in The Spy Who Loved Me. The sunglasses are the weakest part of the outfit. They were on trend at the time and probably made Brosnan look cool, but I would have preferred ski goggles in this scene.
The Russian Atomic Energy Agency uniform is one of the best disguises in the series. It’s clearly a disguise, but it doesn’t compromise Bond’s coolness like some of Roger Moore’s disguises do. He’s also still dressing as James Bond—he’s wearing his white dress shirt from his dinner suit underneath the uniform. Even in disguise, Brosnan’s Bond isn’t completely giving up his style.
Robbie Coltrane’s Valentin Zukovsky wears some fantastic outfits in this film. They’re flashy and appropriate for a man who operates a casino. The grey mohair dinner suit and the taupe dinner jacket are both fun and creative looks.
Well Done, James
Brosnan’s established sartorial identity from the first two Bond films continues in The World Is Not Enough, but it’s been toned down to a more classically Bond look. I think it has been perfected in this film. This wardrobe’s focus on tailoring makes it a strong one. Wearing a suit is part of the character, and it thoroughly helps Pierce look the part of Bond throughout the film. There are no more tactical military outfits, so Bond always looks like a secret agent rather than a soldier.
The spread collar on Brosnan’s Turnbull & Asser shirts worn with neck ties is one of the most perfect collars. It’s higher than the average collar to give the shirt and Brosnan presence. The medium-wide spread helps give Bond a rakishly British look. Brosnan has never looked better than he does in this collar.
Not Perfected Yet
My main complaint about the wardrobe is that the suits, while hinting at British style, are not quite British enough for Bond. They’re as good as they can be without being British, particularly as some are made of British cloths. But even when they have slanted pockets they still look like Italian suits masquerading as British suits. Considering the circumstances regarding product placement, I think that the suits are as good as they possibly could be. The Turnbull & Asser shirts and ties make up for it.
I find that some of the belts in this film draw too much attention to themselves. I prefer Bond in trousers with side-adjusters, but belts aren’t wrong, and they were in fashion at this time.
Relying on tailored outfits in this film recalls Bond’s origins in a successful way. Some of the outfits recall Connery’s style, but in a pleasantly refreshed way for 1999. Lindy Hemming provided Brosnan with classic Bond looks for almost every scene. The full—but not oversized—fits are flattering on Brosnan, and like Cary Grant’s style they will stand the test of time. Most importantly, Brosnan looks the part of James Bond in every outfit.
Do you agree or disagree with my assessment? Leave your comments below.