British Tailors Are Always Correct
James Bond: Sean Connery
Director: Terence Young
Wardrobe master: Ernie Farrer
Wardrobe mistress: Eileen Sullivan
Tailoring: Anthony Sinclair
Shirts: Turnbull & Asser, Lanvin
Ties: Turnbull & Asser
Sean Connery’s clothes in From Russia with Love are a continuation of what was established for James Bond’s wardrobe in Dr. No, with a larger budget and a larger suit wardrobe. Tailor Anthony Sinclair and shirtmakers Turnbull & Asser and Lanvin returned to dress Sean Connery similar to how he was dressed in Dr. No. While there are more suits in From Russia with Love, they’re mainly a variation on a theme.
James Bond does not dress up in black tie in From Russia with Love, but Sean Connery does as a hunted man wearing a James Bond mask. His midnight blue dinner suit is almost identical to the one in Dr. No, except the shawl collar has a straighter shape with less belly. The updated shawl collar gives the suit a more fashionable look for the 1960s, whereas the Dr. No shawl collar looks a little old-fashioned by comparison. The dinner jacket maintains the traditional single-breasted styling with one button on the front, jetted pockets and silk gauntlet cuffs.
James Bond’s most iconic look was already the dinner suit by the second film. The fake James Bond could have worn anything in this scene as long as he had Sean Connery’s face, but this was the only opportunity to put James Bond in his iconic black tie look. Outfitting Bond in black tie had to be done, just as it has been the case in every Bond film except for two. Black tie in this scene is somewhat shoehorned in, but at the same time it’s part of the reason why James Bond still always wears black tie. If it wasn’t continued in the second Bond film, we might not associate the character with black tie like we do today. For that this wardrobe choice must be commended.
The shirt and bow tie are different from the ones in Dr. No. The shirt has narrow pleats on the front rather than Bond’s usual wider pleats, suggesting it may be from Lanvin rather than Turnbull & Asser. The bow tie is a typical 1960s slim bow tie with straight ends rather than pointed ends.
Lounge Suits and Jackets
James Bond’s wardrobe in From Russia with Love is defined by the lounge suits, of which there are seven. Six of the suits are grey in medium to dark shades. The suits include a navy in worsted flannel or serge, a charcoal silk dupioni, a black-and-white Glen Urquhart check, a dark grey flannel, a black-and-grey plain-weave glen check, a dark grey sharkskin and a charcoal flannel chalk stripe. Three of the suits are heavy flannels, three of the suits are medium-weight to lightweight smooth worsteds, and one suit is silk. The navy suit, charcoal silk suit and charcoal chalk stripe suit are welcome additions to Bond’s wardrobe, while the other four suits feel like they could be repeats of the Dr. No wardrobe.
Bond wears the first suit to the office, but the rest are for the mission abroad. When Bond set out on his mission, did he bring six suits with him? When he leaves Istanbul in his dark grey sharkskin suit, did he bring his chalk stripe suit with him, or does he somehow acquire that suit when he arrives in Venice? While Bond spends a number of days on his mission, three suits would have been perfectly adequate for his time in Istanbul. Two different grey glen check suits seem especially unnecessary. For such a down-to-earth film, the excessive wardrobe is one of the least realistic parts of the film.
Despite the tremendous number of suits in the film, each one is beautiful and helps to further develop the look of James Bond. Each suit is tailored in the same style with a button-two jacket and double-forward-pleat trousers. The only difference from one suit to the next is in the fine details. Some have pocket flaps while others just have jetted pockets. Some have a single vent, some have double vents, and some have no vent. These changes in small details, however, hardly add diversity to the suit styling.
If a whopping seven suits wasn’t already extravagant for a two-hour film, a bespoke grey herringbone peak-lapel chesterfield that’s only purpose is to conceal a gas mask is truly absurd. Not once does Bond wear this coat on screen. It’s merely an accessory that Bond drapes over his arm whenever he has it with him. The beauty of its tailoring is completely wasted.
For the boat chase, Connery dons a navy wool hip-length coat and peaked cap over his suit. While this sort of coat isn’t ideal for wearing over a suit, it’s appropriate within the film’s circumstances. It is a great piece to provide Bond with a fresh, action-oriented look for this scene.
The shirts and ties, which are the easiest ways to change up the way a suit looks, hardly have any variation at all. Throughout most of the film, Bond wears the same pale blue poplin shirts with navy grenadine ties. With the final suit, Bond changes the blue shirt for cream, but the tie stays navy. The consistency defines Bond’s look, but a little more variety in this department would have been welcome.
He also brings back the trilby, which usually appears brown, but it may be green like the Dr. No trilby. Later in the film he wears a dark grey C-crown trilby that originally belonged to the late Captain Nash. Both hats look cool on Connery and continue the classic Bond silhouette that was originally established in Dr. No‘s gun barrel sequence.
The only true casual attire in the film is in Bond’s first scene of the film, which finds him in light blue swim trunks and a indigo-blue gingham cotton shirt-jacket. The shirt-jacket belonged to Terence Young and was loaned to Connery for the scene. Despite Bond spending much time on the beach in Dr. No, he never wears swim trunks, so it’s a successful first foray into swimwear for Bond in From Russia with Love.
The pale blue swim trunks are typical for the 1960s, with an elasticised waist and a short inseam, but they look great on Connery. They establish light blue as Bond’s favourite swim trunk colour, which continues throughout the series.
From Russia with Love is one of the most grounded Bond films of all, and the wardrobe reflects that. There’s little flash or glamour in any character’s style. Even Tatiana Romanova’s style is accessible for a Bond girl. Each character’s personality is allowed to speak louder than their costumes, which is a strength of the film and its wardrobe.
Well Done, James
Bond never once looks out of place in From Russia with Love. He’s always dressed appropriately for the occasion and for the location. The suits are all perfectly tailored and are timelessly stylish. Connery still looks exceptional today in every outfit.
Not Perfected Yet
The lack of variety is the main issue with this wardrobe. One or two of the grey suits could have been exchanged for something in blue or brown. Instead of a second glen check suit, this could have been a good time to introduce Bond to the herringbone suit. A blazer or another sports coat could have been a good choice too, particularly in place of the flannel suit or one of the checked suits.
A third shirt in addition to the solid pale blue and cream shirts would have been a nice way to shake up the wardrobe without bringing more variety to the suits. White poplin would have been a classic choice, but something like a blue end-on-end or blue hairline stripe could also add more texture to wardrobe without breaking away from the established Connery-Bond look.
A black tie could have been a nice addition to the navy ties. Switching up the grenadine tie with a knitted tie, whether in navy or Fleming-esque black, could have been a subtle way to add variety to the wardrobe without breaking from the look of Connery’s Bond.
Connery also repeats an mistake from Dr. No when he buttons the bottom button of his suit in the hotel room inspection scene. Throughout the rest of the film he doesn’t make this mistake that disrupts the lines of his suit, but unfortunately he can’t help himself in this one scene.
From Russia with Love continues with Bond’s style from in Dr. No, but it’s maintains the successes of the original wardrobe without the mistake of putting Bond in clothes that are inappropriate for the weather. While the outfits throughout the film are just about perfect in style and fit, they are let down by a lack of diversity for the number of suits that Bond wears. In the next Bond film Goldfinger, that problem would be corrected by including more diversity across the same number of tailored outfits.
Do you agree or disagree with my assessment? Leave your comments below.
I’ve been looking forward to this post ever since you made one for Dr. No. I would agree that while that the film’s wardrobe is faultless, classic and timeless (and does a good job of establishing Connery Bond’s signature uniform of grey suit, blue shirt, navy tie, and black shoes), some variety in the outfits would have improved the film and made it even more interesting.
In this film I am a particular fan of the Navy suit, Dark Grey Sharkskin suit, and the 2 checked suits Bond wears as Connery looks amongst his coolest and elegant in these outfits whilst also being appropriate for the weather cool to moderate weather he finds himself in (the other outfits are also really nice but I don’t think aren’t quite as memorable to me and some such as the dark grey flannel suit and the charcoal silk suit aren’t very practical for Bond’s mission or aren’t that well suited to the locale he is in; it is still better than in Dr. No however).
I agree that a sport coat (maybe in mid-grey or muted brown with dark grey trousers), navy blazer or a blue suit would have been a better choice to take the place of the dark grey flannel suit (which I think may have been a little warm for the Istanbul weather) or one of the check suits to shake things up but are still suited for Bond’s cover as a business man. A white shirt, blue striped shirt, black grenadine tie, and similar black and navy ties in knitted silk or repp ties would have also at least given some variety in textures to the outfits whilst still keeping the sober color palette of Connery’s Bond wardrobe.
Overall the film does a great job at really showing off Connery’s Bond sober-sophistication (and the versatility of a navy grenadine and light blue shirt) but compared to the more colorful wardrobes of Goldfinger, OHMSS, The Man with the Golden Gun, and The World is Not Enough, From Russia with Love could use a bit more variety in color to make it more interesting.
I’ve been looking forward to this review of FRWL! Excellent observations, as always.
Something I noticed several years ago was the very large suitcase Bond brings to Istanbul, which struck me as odd for what’s to be a fairly short trip. If he’s got to accommodate seven suits, that might explain it. What I think might be the real reason for the similar grey suits is, from all my research, the film was rushed in production and suffered numerous logistical problems, not to mention the deteriorating health of Pedro Armendariz. My thought is, hey, (in their minds), it’s a grey suit, and most audiences won’t notice the subtle changes. Maybe it’s supposed to be only two or three grey suits?
One other small detail is the hat he wears that belonged to Grant is, in fact, the MI6 agent’s hat Grant has just killed, and it’s obviously ill-fitting on Robert Shaw.
Finally, when Bond leaves the train with Tatiana, he’s only carrying the attaché case, and the Lektor, but not the suitcase, implying the peacoat and peak cap belong to the SPECTRE agent and Bond has appropriated them, and the black pinstripe suit in Venice he’s either purchased or is waiting for him there.
Can’t wait for Goldfinger!
Thank you, Mark!
I don’t think the suits are intended to be two or three because there are no continuity issues. He wears different suits on different days of his mission.
See this post for the journey of the second trilby Bond wears: https://www.bondsuits.com/captain-nashs-grey-c-crown-trilby/
We actually see Bond take the car coat and peaked cap from the SPECTRE agent’s truck in the film!
The suit in Venice is dark grey, not black.
so the funny thing is with this is that the train was going to Venice anyways, so Bonds suitcase would have joined him (or he would have joined it), i think. its not very clear, not that it really needs to be.
i guess i just find it kind of fun to keep track of how Bond would pack for a trip.
(its fun to watch the guys wrestle Bond’s giant suitcase in the back of the car in Dr No)
Isn’t the most significant change from DR NO the extent to which the waistband of the trousers has dropped?
While the trouser rise was lowered, it’s not a significant change. More significant changes come with the suit jackets. The button stance on the jackets was lowered, the lapels were narrowed a little and the angle of the gorge has changed.
Evidence towards my theory that most, though not all, James Bond actors look their best in their second films!
You’re right, three out of five Bonds ain’t bad! You might even argue four, since Brosnan looks really damn good in his two lounge suits and dinner suit in Tomorrow Never Dies, but I still think he looks better in TWINE.
Lazenby looks perfect in his first :) I guess the “not all” is aimed at Timothy Dalton’s second outing.
Great write up Matt, loving these overall wardrobe reviews. I agree with you on greater variety in the suits given how many Bond wears. I also agree that an odd jacket and trousers would have helped. Others may disagree but I wish at this point Connery’s Bond had introduced more variety in the ties by wearing other conservative colours like burgundy or forest green. These would have really suited Connery’s complexion too and would have helped with the multitude of grey suits in this movie. He could also, as you have previously suggested introduced other textures in the ties like herringbone, ottoman etc. My choice for the odd jacket would have been the navy blazer from Dr No worn with the Royal Navy regimental tie which Roger Moore wore in LALD. This would have solidified Bond’s sartorial connection to his naval background at an earlier stage in the series and in my opinion looks much better with a navy blazer than a navy grenadine. Looking forward to Goldfinger.
Yes, the suitcase Bond brings to Istanbul is actually rather large, a detail that adds to the relatively grounded and realistic qualities of the film. The larger size was obviously needed to take all the suits and shirts, etc., not to mention the luxerious ladies wear that Bond brought with him for “Mrs. Somerset”. I really like the casual gingham “shacket”. Interesting to note that it was borrowed from the director, while the watch was borrowed from one of the producers (Cubby).
While Bond realistically could have packed all those clothes in that suitcase, why would he? Packing two suits would have been enough he had planned on being in Istanbul for a couple weeks. It’s a lot of clothes for someone to travel with on business. He wasn’t expecting excitement on this mission, so he wasn’t thinking his clothes would get damaged. I would only hope that someone from Station T returned his four suits from his hotel to London.
Yes, I too hope that Station T made sure to safely return Bond’s four suits to Universal Exports in London! And they probably did. But why not bring a few extra nice suits if the opportunity arise? His instructions from M was to make sure to charm and give a favorable impression on Tatiana Romanova, to live up to her expectations. After all, he got someone to conveniently carry the suitcase for him at the airport. The Lector was probably so important for Her Majesty’s Secret Service that the mission got a higher priority and a larger budget than usual. To make sure to get their hands on the decipher machine at all costs, surely it justified sacrificing a nice overcoat and a few nice suits as casualties along the way?
I make it an effort to watch From Russia With Love at least once a year, if not more. The wardrobe? Probably a 9.75/10, and the plot, 10/10. But honestly, if you want a man to dress well, teach him to be more intelligent, and make him watches FRWL. It’ll change things much more rapidly than arguing.
Also, this one is the reason why I want a silk suit. For real, I still want a silk suit, just not grey.
Outside of the lack of decimal system in point assignment, Matt, well covered. I pray winter did not put a hit on you and your beloved.
I really like the FRWL wardrobe. The Hagia Sophia/Bosphorus suit is pure Bond and one I regularly emulate with a grenadine tie and a blue poplin cocktail cuff shirt. The suiting for mine is rather a prince-of-wales with a blue windowpane and further anglicized with slanted pockets and a ticket pocket which I love on checked suits. A mix of Connery and Laz in plaid suits.
Great article Matt. FRWL was a very formative film for me as a teenager taking my first steps into menswear, and it’s still a big influence on my sense of style. The grey suit, blue shirt, and navy tie might be repetitive, but it’s an unbeatable combination.
FRWL has always been one of my favourite Bond films, and–aside from the fact that I am not a fan of brimmed headwear for men–generally approve of the wardrobe and accessories choices for Connery. There is however what I consider to be a glaring wardrobe related directorial oversight: the scene of the ferry, the camera behind Connery and Daniela Bianchi rolling, when a gust of wind blows up the rear bottom of the side-vented coat of Connery’s suit–revealing his, er, rear bottom. To me the effect is nearly comical in a “blooper” kind of way, and it amazes me that Young did not order another take.
Side vents have a tendency of doing that. The shorted side vents seen on that scene (haha, rhymed) was, really, a blooper, but otherwise I have longer side vents on mine, and for some reason, when the seaside wind blows, it flowed a lot more graciously. I caught sight of it when I accidentally saw myself in the mirror of my local ferry. I think Young intended for a similar effect to mine, but the epic fail was the shorter side vents.