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.