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Every suit and jacket except the black dinner suit and the Fort Knox brown herringbone suit were originally made for Sean Connery’s film Woman of Straw.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.