Goldfinger‘s Wardrobe is a Grand Slam
James Bond: Sean Connery
Director: Guy Hamilton
Wardrobe supervisor: Elsa Fennell
Wardrobe master: John Hilling
Wardrobe mistress: Eileen Sullivan
Tailoring: Anthony Sinclair
Shirts: Frank Foster
Goldfinger not only solidified the formula for the Bond films overall but also for Bond’s look. While Goldfinger continued with the same tailored styles from Dr. No and From Russia with Love, it introduced new wardrobe items that are still part of Bond’s DNA in the Daniel Craig era.
Goldfinger has the most iconic wardrobe of all the James Bond films. It helps that the film has so many iconic moments, and these moments contribute to making Sean Connery’s clothes more memorable. Unlike in the first two Bond films, every outfit in Goldfinger makes a unique impression. Each look has a strong identity, so there’s no confusing one outfit for another.
Anthony Sinclair has again made the tailored clothes in the same overall style he made for Connery’s first two Bond films. Turnbull & Asser, however, did not make the shirts for Goldfinger, and it’s Connery’s only Bond film they didn’t make shirts for. Connery’s shirts here were made by Frank Foster, who were already involved with costumes for the first two Bond films and would later work on many more Bond films.
Every suit and jacket except the black dinner suit and the Fort Knox brown herringbone suit were originally made for Sean Connery’s film Woman of Straw. Even though Bond is wearing secondhand clothes from Connery’s character Anthony Richmond, they are almost all perfect for Bond’s wardrobe in Goldfinger.
Goldfinger has a brilliant way of turning outfit reveals into special moments. The film beings with a duck on screen, only to reveal it as part of Bond’s diving suit. But then Bond unzips his diving suit to reveal a perfectly pressed ivory peaked-lapel dinner jacket underneath. The dinner jacket with a red carnation in its lapel created a fresh and striking look for Bond, but the way its introduced to the audience ensured it would continue to be one of Bond’s most memorable looks.
The thing I like most about the ivory dinner jacket is its peaked lapels. The shawl collar had always been the quintessential style for the ivory dinner jacket, but perhaps it was passé in 1964. While peaked lapels were not new for the ivory dinner jacket in the 1960s, here they make Bond look more exciting and unexpected.
Bond later wears a black notched-lapel dinner suit. I’m personally not a fan of notched lapels on a dinner jacket because they look rather ordinary and less striking compared to peaked lapels and the shawl collar. However, since this style has been done since no later than the start of the 20th century, I don’t take significant issue with it. After two films of Bond (and a man in a Bond mask) wearing shawl-collar dinner suits, I appreciate that Bond is wearing a different style. I also like that the lapels are a different style than the ivory dinner jacket’s lapels for a more interesting wardrobe.
Frank Foster’s dress shirt, worn with both dinner jackets, is a fascinating update to Bond’s previous dress shirts. The fit in the opening scene is impressive, closely following Connery’s torso. The shirt is made of a fancy white-on-white striped cotton with a pleated front bib, spread collar and mitred double cuffs, bringing more dimension to the dress shirt than what is typically seen.
Lounge Suits and Jackets
Bond’s five suits in Goldfinger are all significantly different from one another. These include a brown houndstooth flannel suit worn with a contrasting beige waistcoat, a blue herringbone flannel suit, a black and white glen hopsack check three-piece suit, a dark brown herringbone suit and a dark grey flannel three-piece suit.
The brown houndstooth suit is the only one of the five that is out of place, since it’s a country suit in a country pattern with country hacking jacket details worn for a serious meeting at the office. More on the problems with it are later in this review.
The blue suit has the fascinating details of covered buttons, giving a nod to the contemporary mod styles without the suit going full mod. It’s disappointing the suit doesn’t get more screen time because it’s a beautiful and special suit, and it’s a shame the matching waistcoat from Woman of Straw wasn’t featured in Goldfinger.
The glen check suit is the most notable suit in the film, deservedly so. It’s often called the ‘Goldfinger suit’, even though it’s merely one of five suits in the film. It’s Bond’s first three-piece suit of the series. The script turns the suit into a more special look by showing Bond unpack this suit from his suitcase on screen. It’s also a memorable suit for its significant amount of screen time. The lapels on the waistcoat also set this suit apart from the typical three-piece suit.
Though Bond wears three glen check suits prior to this one, this suit features a different version of the pattern, woven in a hopsack weave rather than a plain weave or twill weave. This version is the most subtle of all glen checks, making the suit look like a semi-solid instead of a check. I find this to be a very elegant version of the pattern, and its subtlety is ideal for Bond. Although this is a three-piece suit, its high-contrast pattern and overall light colour means that it’s not a very formal suit. It’s perfect for Bond relaxing on a Kentucky ranch and shows us that the character cares about what he wears and does not wear his suits with disdain.
The brown herringbone suit is a dark suit that makes Bond look serious for his captive circumstances in Fort Knox, while the brown colour subtly reflects the gold bullion surrounding him. It’s a superb choice for the scene.
In the film’s final scene, Bond dons the third example in the series of his trusty dark grey flannel suit. It’s a welcome and familar Bondian look but with a twist. This time its a three-piece suit, showing another progression in Bond’s wardrobe. It’s also a little darker than the others that Connery wears. The grey flannel suit could have been appropriate for any of the other suited scenes apart from the ones on Goldfinger’s ranch, but it’s nice to see him end the film in one of his signature looks.
The film also introduces Bond to the tweed jacket, styled as a hacking jacket with slanted pockets and a long single vent. It’s paired with cavalry twill trousers, appropriately detailed with frogmouth pockets. While he wears these clothes around a country estate in Woman of Straw, he takes this outfit to the Swiss coutnryside in Goldfinger. It translates well into a more casual look for Bond, and Connery pulls it off in a nonchalant manner. The combination of the similarly coloured light brown jacket and fawn trousers works so well because the texture have a high contrast, and the low-contrast look became another signature for Bond.
The fits in this film look full compared to today’s expectations, but they also look natural and relaxed on Sean Connery. The clothes move well with his body, and that’s what’s most important.
Bond has replaced his grenadine ties from the previous films with silk knitted ties. The straight-hemmed silk knitted ties are straight out of the Ian Fleming novels, particularly the black version that he wears with a few of the outfits.
Goldfinger is the first film that takes Bond’s casual looks seriously, though it doesn’t start off that way. While his tight blue swim trunks are a good look, the light blue terrycloth playsuit that he wears over them looks rather silly, even on Sean Connery.
We next see him in a luxurious navy nailhead silk dressing gown and light blue pyjama trousers. While Bond borrowed Mr Goldfinger’s girlfriend Jill Masterson, she borrowed Bond’s matching pyjama shirt. The pyjamas aren’t anything special, but the dressing gown establishes another luxurious standard for Bond. It’s one of the film’s least memorable outfits since a gold-painted Jill gets all the attention. The dressing gown is perfect for Bond, styled in the classic English way, made of luxurious silk and in Bond’s signature navy blue colour.
The knitwear is new territory for Bond in Goldfinger, first with a burgundy Slazenger-branded V-neck jumper for the golf game and then a black V-neck jumper worn over a black short-sleeve polo for Bond’s first ‘sneaky’ look of the series. He pairs both jumpers with black flannel frogmouth-pocket trousers. These knitwear basics defined James Bond’s cool-weather casual style until Daniel Craig reinvented it over four decades later. They knitwear is wonderful because it’s simple and accessible, but it looks fantastic on Connery.
Auric Goldfinger’s wardrobe is over the top, and it’s perfect for the character. The character wears either wears clothes that are coloured gold or in colours that suggest it like yellow, cream and brown. His style is flashy, as one would expect for a man who loves gold. The character and his look are reminiscent of a comic book villain, which adds to the fun and larger-than-life feel of the film.
Well Done, James
The ivory dinner jacket, grey glen check three-piece suit, barleycorn tweed jacket with cavalry twill trousers, and V-neck jumper are all tremendously iconic pieces that Goldfinger brought us. All of these styles were introduced to Bond in Goldfinger. While the glen check suit is a staple of both the Connery-Bond and Craig-Bond wardrobes, this is the only film where Bond’s glen check suit is a three-piece. This makes the Goldfinger suit even more special since Bond has never attempted to wear anything like it again.
Not Perfected Yet
The brown houndstooth suit that Bond wears to M’s office is the only look that is out of place. It’s clearly the result of finding use for a suit designed for Woman of Straw‘s mainly countryside setting, so this country suit ended up in the town office scene. Not only does the cloth give the suita countryside look, so do hacking pockets with a ticket pocket and a long single vent. It doesn’t mix country and city—which would have given it a pass. It is a pure country suit. However, the country colour and pattern are hardly visible in the scene’s dim lighting. The suit could easily pass for a charcoal suit with texture. The beige doeskin waistcoat, however, adds an extra unnecessary country touch to the outfit, which would have been better without it.
The next complaint I have is that the cocktail-cuff shirts and grenadine ties that Bond always wore with his suits and blazers in the first two Bond films are absent from Goldfinger. The double-cuff shirts and knitted ties that Connery wears throughout Goldfinger are still wonderful items and suit Bond perfectly, but I personally prefer the uniqueness of cocktail cuffs and the elegance of the grenadine tie.
The terrycloth playsuit is the weakest part of the film’s wardrobe. It’s a rather silly look, even on Sean Connery. But it has since become such an iconic outfit that it’s difficult to hold it against the film’s wardrobe. It remains one of the most positively shocking looks that Bond has ever worn.
Many Bond films have tried to top Goldfinger‘s wardrobe, unsuccessfully. This is as perfect as a Bond wardrobe has ever been. The variety makes the wardrobe as exciting as the film itself. While the previous films’ wardrobes were beautifully designed, Goldfinger‘s wardrobe gave Bond a more striking look that is still associated with the character. Unlike Bond’s Bentley, his clothes from Goldfinger have not yet had their day. The wardrobe is as inspired and as brilliant as Auric Goldfinger’s plan.
Do you agree or disagree with my assessment? Leave your comments below.
This movie was often remarked as the peak of James Bond series, in terms of wardrobe. I tend to agree. I think the grading could use an extra point to it, but I’m just weird.
Ironically, this was the very movie that made me wanted to combine Anthony Sinclair cut, Navy/midnight blue, heavyweight woolens, and herringbone weave into a suit. That suit in the lab, that was really the *it* suit. I know the hopsack glen check was the epitome (and I’m still saving up for an entirely clone correct version), but frankly, outside of the absence of cuffs (turn-ups), the tailoring in this one is just Anthony Sinclair in his peak.
The second irony is, when I was a young lad, 20, fresh into the world as a prima donna, I questioned brown for suits and garments. I fancied the sportscoat and trousers Bond wore in Switzerland, but I couldn’t find myself in a suit. But now, at the age of 28, I find myself desiring brown suits more and more. I often come back to this movie and Thunderball because of the brown suits. “Brown in Town” might just be a workable setup if they are done reasonably, rather than “correctly” (there’s no correct way to do it, really).
As well, my last remark. In this time of extraordinary financial hardships, the conversation of gold and pricing between Bond and Goldfinger was something as remarkable as how Mark Hana and Jordan Belfort conversed about stock. Gentlemen, and ladies, too, make wise decisions. Go slow, but steady. Hard times had been afoot for a while now.
Matt, this series is endlessly joyful and useful. Keep at it. Please always know your works are always appreciated.
By departing from the FRWL/Dr No formula, the wardrobe feels less in character. There is a feel Hamilton or the production wanted to depart from Terence Young’s Bond by adding cufflinks, knitted ties and those fancier Frank Foster shirts. The looks are indeed iconic but feel less Bondian in a film like no other in the Connery years with no SPECTRE story-wise. The other directors and Hamilton himself will return to the Terence Young Bond look with grenadine and shirts with cocktail cuffs. This is exemplified in the Thunderball wardrobe where the Goldfinger outfit of fawn trousers and barleycron hacking jacket is given the more Terence Young Bond details of a grenadine tie and cocktail cuffs.
It’s good, but for me, the playsuit has got to lose it a point.
Leave the 10/10 for QoS.
QoS loses a point or two for the mismatched belts and sleeves that are too long, in this girl’s eyes. But otherwise Daniel Craig has never looked so good before or since. (At least as James Bond… he looks incredible as Benoit Blanc.)
QoS is the only saving grace of Ford, and the only reason why anyone should own a piece from Ford.
QOS was good, but not 10/10. There were definitely some modern touches that threw off the balance of the suits a bit, particularly the low rise trousers.
The rise of the trousers wouldn’t be too “suspicious” if done right, but for the amount of actions, you’re quite right. Still, I would wear the unused ecru silk suit, and wouldn’t feel out of place or character.
Yeah I would agree with Tredstone here as I often do. QoS has a great casual wardrobe but the tailoring isn’t perfect (too long suit sleeves, low rise trousers)as Connery’s or Brosnan’s. I would give QOS a 7.5/10. Personally I think Connery’s first three movies have a wardrobe that deserve a 9.5/10. Dr No is the ultimate sobriety wardrobe, FRWL is a beautiful variation on the grey suit, and Goldfinger on brown and country outfits. Perfection doesn’t exist to me. And it’s a good thing.
I personally would rank Dr. No and FRWL higher, but I realize I’m probably filing a minority report here.
Agreed on the assessment! Rating: 10/10. A great review! Very well phrased. Can’t wait for the Thunderball review coming up!
In general, I’m not a superfan of black notched-lapel dinner suits. But in Goldfinger, it really is the perfect choice for a serious black tie business dinner appointment. I also agree that it is a welcome variation from the shawl-collar dinner suits (which I love) worn in the previous two films.
I would say, though, I would have much preferred if they went for the same lapel style as the ecru dinner jacket, possibly with a more horizontal angle for the peak. In fact, the lapel width, angle, and gorge of the ecru dinner jacket is perfect for the category and/or request of humility/understatement of a formal garment.
If I ever get a dinner suit made for me, this is possibly the idea I would channel through. Of course, the shade will always be midnight blue, but the idea remains – there are one too many ways to be discreet, humble, and respectful, without completely ruin style.
Yes, the notched-lapel dinner suit is in interesting choice. In the scene, Colonel Smithers and M are both wearing shawl-collar dinner suits, while the valet Bussell is wearing a more traditional peak-lapel dinner suit with a waistcoat and starched dress shirt, which makes him look more old-fashioned. The notched-lapeled dinner jacket definitely sets Bond apart from his superiors in the scene. Maybe it was intended for him to look more youngish and fashion-forward? Or a reflection of his station and social class in the situation? After all, as M said, Colonel Smithers is giving the lecture. But that didn’t stop Bond from being a cheeky bastard, making comments on the quality of the brandy…
I look up to Sir Connery’s Bond most of the time. The only thing that I don’t fancy, and probably is just that I am not expert, are the tie knots, Looks like the ties are very narrow and then the knot is very very small making appear as if the shirt collar was oversized or something.
Great article as usual. I am watching “The Woman of Straw”.
Simple four-in-hand is very small and compact. That’s why a lot of people nowadays want Extra THICC’ ties. Then again, smaller tie knots also emphasize your face more, making you, the person, the center of attention, when it comes to. It has also been the point of view of how Connery’s Bond is dressed.
I’ve always fancied a smaller tie knot myself. It’s not just for LARPing around; I actually compelled people to look at me when I speak. You simply have to want to own the stage and not just, forgive me, “look pretty”.
The tie width matched the narrow lapels at the time. But even though Connery often tied a Windsor knot, the knots of the narrow ties don’t come off that well. I think that the lapels should reach halfway to the shoulder, and that the ties should be 8-8,5 cm wide. Tied in a four-in-hand they will, depending on how the tie is made, elongate the face. The color of the shirt and tie are more important than the knot anyhow. And to think that the tie knot actually determines whether people will look at you when you speak sounds like a stretch to me.
Keith, if you think tie knot size aren’t impactful in the entire composition of the outfit, you haven’t been out there too much, and you haven’t read Matt’s article on the simplicity of Connery’s ensembles.
Of course it’s important for the composition of the outfit. I only use four-in-hand or double four-in-hand myself. But to argue that people might not look you in the face because of your tie knot, well I simply don’t agree with that.
And yes, I “have been out there”.
It’s not that “…people might not look (at) you in the face…”, but rather more of people don’t take you, as a person or individual, as yourself. You’re either a talking, walking suit, or just an interesting tie knot. If you are someone who wears a four-in-hand and are being taken seriously, be aware of the effect and privilege. Dressing is an art of several multitudes, not just putting cloth on a man.
Well, you did say that you “compelled people to look at you when you speak”. And I am being taken seriously, but few people I know could tell the difference between a four-in-hand or a Windsor knot.
Too many menswear enthusiasts look like they’re wearing a costume rather than a suit. It’s not all about confidence and simplicity, it’s also a matter of contexts and surroundings.
I gave some serious thoughts about your response, despite being on some serious responsibilities. I have to admit, you take some privileges for serious grants.
Keith, there is dressing, LARPing, and then there are peacocks. Both of the latter variants deserves nothing. Yet, they exist, and they are the absolute insult to every of us who strive to do things right, before we look nice.
If you want to talk about “…contexts and surroundings”, then understand this – on a daily basis, ask yourself, “Who are you in this God’s green earth?” Really, who are we? We can say we’re humans, the most successful species on this planet, and some people will even say they’re the best of the best, but really, are they?
How is this related to tie knots and suit styles? Well, I’ve seen dudes with tie knots the size of a golf ball and peak lapels that reach their shoulder seams, and outside of the wealth and work their previous generations built up, they have nothing to live up to it. When they speak, people are “obligated” to listen to them, but not “compelled”, or “intrigued”.
I went to school with many people of this caliber. They hated me. I don’t like them either. They’re the extra THICC’ Windsor knots, and I was the four-in-hand/double four-in-hand. Guess who’s got a gift from a famous retired professor. Surprisingly not the Windsor knots. I also dressed not to impress, but to appear professionally, but ended up being the domineering force of the classroom.
Take it however you will, but a simple tie knot alone can speak up a lot.
Wow. You really take clothing to a diffeent dimension, forgetting that our forefathers wore animal hides and pelts for protection.
Thinking you were an intimidating person and domineering force in the classroom for wearing a suit? You seem to live in a different dimension.
You know nothing about my privileges, or the lack of them.
I have read your earlier comments on this blog, and you are not a person I will have any further discussions with.
Sean made a ‘mixture’ of non bond films
During 1964 he was very busy in some way of making 3/4 films. One released in 1964 was called ‘Woman of Straw’ it was filmed August to October 1963
It was an mgm film united artists Sean was starred alongside Ralph Richardson and Gina Lollobrigida
In the wedding reception scene Sean is wearing the White Tuxedo Jacket
He finished filming and packed it away in his suitcase ready to start filming GOLDFINGER
The saying recycling clothes comes to mind
I know from an interview he gave in 1967 he kep all the clothes he made at that time
I can only imagine that he kept clothes in a lot of films he made after 1968
Connery was keeping clothes from the very start of his time as Bond. On the set of From Russia with Love when not filming, Connery was pictured wearing a suit from Dr. No. Maybe the production brought it along so he’d have something to wear, but he’s wearing it as if its his own. Connery wore the Thunderball dinner jacket to the You Only Live Twice premiere. Connery used many of his suits from the Bond films to pay his accountant.
9/10 for me. Agree with others that a mark has to come off for that playsuit which was too much even for Connery to pull off. It amuses me that the Orlebar Brown version is being worn in public by some but each to their own. Personally I’d put it in room 101 with the DAF kipper tie, Roger’s bell bottoms, Dalton’s baggy suits from LTK and Craig’s sausage skins. Everything else in Goldfinger is top notch even if the brown suit was not the best choice for the M’s office scene.
10/10 for me. I don’t mind the brown suit at the office and although perhaps not the best choice certainly not a bad one, considering: i) it is a very dark brown colour that looks rather formal, ii) it blends in nicely and matches Bond’s complexion, iii) it contributes in expanding the Bond wardrobe, iv) M (played by Bernard Lee) sometimes wore a brown suit to the office, v) Q’s (played by Desmond Llewelyn) quintessential style was country wear (tweed jackets, tattersall shirts, etc.).
Does anyone here have a clue how a playsuit was considered in the 60’s? I highly doubt a man would put this on today at the poolside or at the beach, but would an average man in the 60’s get weird looks by wearing this item?
Overall though, 10/10.
With T-shirts and tailored swim shorts, it would be hard to consider the play suit this day and age. Even if you want to standout, the modern alternatives are just more appealing. Rare moments, but they exist.
For me the playsuit and brown suit in the office lose a point, otherwise I agree with you that it’s one of the best Bond film wardrobes. Shame they didn’t swap the navy suit and the brown office suit round, as the navy suit would be perfect for a meeting with M and the brown houndstooth suit would work for a meeting with Q. And much as I like the doeskin waistcoat, it doesn’t feel suited to Bond.
I feel that Goldfinger deserves extra credit for having the outfit that comes the closest to the literary Bond’s with the navy suit and knitted silk tie.
What I feel Goldfinger does better than its two predecessors is to make each outfit unique and suit the occasion (the brown suit at the office aside). Dr No features too much winter clothing in a tropical location and FRWL features too many similar suits but in Goldfinger each outfit serves a purpose and fits its occasion.