In Thunderball, James Bond wears a brown and black mix worsted-mohair blend suit by Anthony Sinclair to the office. Brown hasn’t always been accepted for citywear, though Bernard Lee’s M has also worn brown to the office and the secret service doesn’t have the same dress code that banking would. Bond’s suit is a three-piece in the same style as the grey flannel suit he wears earlier in Thunderball. Brown typically isn’t a colour that would flatter Sean Connery’s cool complexion, but this suit is a cool brown that has more blue in it than typical browns. It actually looks somewhat purple.
The suit jacket is Sinclair’s typical cut with two buttons on the front, natural shoulders, roped sleeve heads and a draped chest. The lapel rolls gently to the top button, similar to the lapel on a button three jacket. The jacket is minimally detailed with jetted pockets and no vent at the back. The cuffs have the standard four buttons. The waistcoat buttons 6 and is cut straight across the bottom, as was the current fashion. The suit trousers have double forward pleats, turn-ups and button-tab side adjusters.
The most basic complement to the brown suit is the cream shirt. Bond’s cream shirt from Turnbull & Asser has a spread collar and cocktail cuffs. His tie is a brown grenadine, tied in a four-in-hand knot. Bond’s shoes are black slip-on demi-boots with elastic on the instep, following the city standard to black footwear even though brown would be a better match with the brown suit. Boots are the best complement to a narrow trouser leg like Connery wears. Narrow trouser legs don’t break well over the shoe and need to be hemmed shorter to look neater. Because they are hemmed shorter the boot makes it less likely for the socks to show when walking. Bond’s brown socks that match the trousers continue the leg line in case sock is exposed when walking.
“I think I had a hat when I came in,” recalls Bond as he walks out of the office looking at an empty hat tree. Not only is the trilby hat missing, but so is the rest of the outfit he walked in with: the navy blazer, grey trousers, blue shirt and navy tie.
This suit was featured inside a GQ feature on Anthony Sinclair in 1966, but with a striped knitted tie in place of the grenadine. This suit, sans waistcoat, was also sold at auction at Christie’s in South Kensington on 11 December 1997 for £5,175.
Once again, one could debate further the black shoes-brown suit combination, but here, unless my PC is giving me a bad resolution, the black shoes Connery wears are simply awful to me. They even resemble some ugly orthopaedic footwear. With a rubber sole to that.
As for the shirt, I seem to disagree with the one he wears. Cream would indeed seem to be the ideal companion for all things brown, but (again, benefit of doubt and/or blame go to my screen resolution) in this case, it makes it look beige. The type of beige that would sadly accommodate uniforms favoured by …Afrika Korps. Not even a safari suit beige.
The suit is very well cut, but I dont really like the black shoes with it. And I think that a brown tie with a brown suit is a bit boring, though it remains elegant and discreet.
McQueen wears that kind of waistcoat in “the thomas crown affair” :
As is generally the case with Connery/Sinclair, this looks excellent and quite befitting of the gentleman spy.
However, this has always posed a glaring continuity error and I’m glad you noticed it as well– he came in wearing completely different clothes, the aforementioned blue blazer outfit. Perhaps this scene is meant to take place the next day, but the line about the hat makes me think that this scene takes place after only a few hours or so have elapsed. Also, considering the “brown in town” tradition, wouldn’t it have made more sense for Bond to be wearing this at Shrublands and then switch to a London palate, not the other way around? I think this suit is formal enough to wear to the office, especially in 2012, but in 1965 this seems like one of those conventions one would follow more closely. Then again, as you mention, M has worn brown to the office as has Bond in Goldfinger (and President Reagan did it often) and I think they are dressed appropriately enough. Either way, great clothes, maybe they just needed an excuse to show off another of Sinclair’s creations!
Daniel Craig also wears black shoes with a brown suit in Quantum of Solace, that’s really the one thing I’m not crazy about here.
With only 7 days to defeat SPECTRE, I don’t think they would have wasted any time in briefing Bond. So it had to have been the same day. M changes clothes as well, but Moneypenny is still wearing the same outfit.
Did you notice that M’s outfit changes too? This leads me to think that this is supposed to take place later, even though that does not make much sense.
This is true. I’ve always found this wardrobe change puzzling, particularly since the line about Bond’s hat would indicate that he hasn’t left headquarters.
There are a handful of these types of inconsistencies in Thunderball– such as Bond’s watch alternating between his Rolex, the Geiger counter Brietling, and an unidentified third he wears in Leiter’s helicopter. Later in the final underwater battle scene, bond loses his blue dive mask, replacing it with a black one from a dead SPECTRE diver, but in the next shot he has his original blue one back on and it seems to alternate back and forth. I’ve probably picked up on these things over the years because Thuderball is one of my all-time favorites, but the two completely different outfits at the office is very noticeable.
Hm, do you think it’s appropriate to leave the bottom button undone on a waistcoat with a straight bottom?
Some good points, in particular Kyle’s observation that, particularly in 1965, a faux pas such as “brown in town” would be frowned upon, at least more so than anything goes 2012. Connery would probably not have been aware of this convention (or cared too much) but one hears so much about elegant Terence Young (the film’s director) having such an influence on the wardrobe that you wonder that he didn’t step in to prevent the mistake. The other actors who wore brown suits never wore them in the London office scenes.
Furthermore and finally, this ensemble (beautifully tailored if inappropriate and naturally, for Connery, virtually monochrome) does highlight your “dressing for your complexion” argument in that this colour scheme does not suit Connery’s complexion at all.
Yes, inexplicable that Terence Young (ex Guards officer for goodness’ sake) appears not to have picked up on the brown-in-town faux-pas. So, here’s what I think happened (probably rubbish, but there you are): The second director was shooting the scene in ‘brown’, Terence walked in, said What the hell are you doing?! and ordered a re-shoot in appropriate attire. Then, when they were putting the film together at the end, they realised there were elements unique to the original ‘brown’ scene which were necessary to include, so they decided they had to include both – creating glaring continuity errors. Mystery solved (?)
Clean,neat,smart,pleasent to see.
I love this silhouette!!
Which number of 1966 GQ was?
I want buy on ebay.
I agree with others that black shoes don’t look good with brown jacket/trousers, but it was the convention – the way to give tweeds more formality.
I quoted my 80 year-old father the other day (commenting on an older post regarding brown in town) and he still wears this combination sometimes. The last time I remember was when we went to a smart restaurant in London at the weekend. He wore his gorgeous Savile Row tweed suit (made for him in the 60’s), but teamed it with black shoes because it was the evening.
This is very different from the only other cinematic brown three-piece suit that comes to mind: Clint Eastwood’s in “Dirty Harry”.
I think this is an excellent look but I don’t understand why it has no vent; aren’t ventless jackets a Tuxedo thing?
Ventless jackets are a more old-fashioned style for suits too, and they’ve come and gone from fashion many times. From the 1980s through the early 2000s it was common to find no vents on Italian suits.
I see what you mean about the purple. It’s sort of a prune shade in that photo.
Would one of his usual pale blue shirts worked with this suit?
It would work, but not as well. I think the mid-blue shirts he wears in Thunderball would work better than pale blue.