Many people have been surprised that what they learn on this website does not match up with their expectations of what James Bond wears. Here are the realities of some of the common myths of James Bond’s style.
Myth: The black suit is the quintessential Bond look.
Reality: When many people see dark suits, they immediately think the suit must be black. However, you can count the number of Bond’s black suits on one hand. He wears them on occasion for mourning, like for his mourning disguises in Diamonds Are Forever and Spectre. Most of Bond’s dark suits are dark grey or navy. He even wears more brown suits than he wears black suits. And no, the black dinner suit does not count as a suit.
Myth: The cummerbund is a key part of Bond’s black tie style.
Reality: Menswear experts often cite the black tie rule that either a waistcoat or a cummerbund is necessary with a single-breasted dinner jacket. However, James Bond rarely follows this rule. He wears two evening waistcoats in the whole series. A big deal was made when Daniel Craig wore a dinner suit sans cummerbund in Casino Royale to show off his abs, but it wasn’t a change for Bond. Only twice before did Bond wear a cummerbund with his dinner jacket. Following Casino Royale, Daniel Craig wore three cummerbunds as Bond, bringing the total cummerbunds up to measly five. Despite Craig being famous for not wearing a cummerbund in Casino Royale, he ultimately became the Bond actor who wore them the most.
Myth: Sean Connery’s grenadine ties are pointed knitted ties.
Reality: Grenadine ties and knitted ties look similar at first glance because of the similar textures. However, they are entirely different. Knitted ties are knitted as a tube of silk, not unlike a sock, and they typically have a straight hem and lack an interlining. Some knitted ties have pointed hems, like the brown Tom Ford knitted tie in Spectre, but it’s not the norm. Grenadine ties are made of a unique woven silk gauze and are constructed like a typical tie: folded around an interlining with a pointed bottom. The knitted tie is very informal while the grenadine tie is much dressier and more refined.
Connery also wears knitted ties, throughout Goldfinger plus one in You Only Live Twice. The quintessential Connery Bond tie, however, is the navy grenadine tie, not black, though he occasionally wears them in black and dark brown too.
Myth: Sean Connery wore slim-fit suits in the 1960s.
Reality: The slim fit trend of the 2010s led people to believe that Sean Connery’s suits as James Bond were also slim fit. His suits in his five 1960s Bond films have slim lapels, but the cut is not slim. In his first three Bond films the fit is quite full with extra room in the chest and waist of the jackets. The jackets have a touch of ‘drape’, which presents itself as folds of fabric at the sides of chest. The trousers have double forward pleats, so they’re full in the hips and thighs, but they taper to a moderately narrow hem. Starting in Thunderball there’s a little less fullness in the jackets, but the pleated trousers remain on all of Connery’s suits in his 1960s Bond films. Connery’s trimmest fits are in 1971’s Diamonds Are Forever, despite the wide lapels. Lapel width and fit are not correlated.
Myth: Bond wears a towelling polo in Dr. No.
Reality: Orlebar Brown can be blamed for this misconception due to the success on their “Dr. No” towelling polo. Though towelling clothes were trendy in the 1960, infamously seen on Bond’s playsuit in Goldfinger, Bond’s polo in Dr. No is a typical cotton pique polo.
Myth: The iconic three-piece suit in Goldfinger is a grey sharkskin.
Reality: Fine patterns can be difficult to distinguish on screen. Semi-solids like sharkskin, birdseye, nailhead all look similar. But Connery’s famous suit in Goldfinger is a black-and-white glen check in a fine hopsack weave, not sharkskin. Holland & Sherry call it a ‘split matt’ check, and it’s a much finer pattern than a classic Glen Urquhart check. One quarter of the Goldfinger suit’s check, however, is the sharkskin pattern it is often mistaken for. The check makes this suit slightly sportier than an overall sharkskin pattern would.
Myth: Bond wears his dinner jackets without a tie during the day as a fashion statement.
Reality: Bond frequently finds himself out all night without a change of clothes for the next day. He has no choice but to wear his dinner jacket the following day, and usually that means wearing it with the collar undone and without a bow tie. Bond doesn’t choose to wear his dinner jackets this way to make a statement, he just has no other choice. His evening clothes worn without a bow tie are sometimes mistaken for suits or more casual styles.
The first time this happens is at the start of On Her Majesty’s Secret Service when Bond follows Tracy to the beach and rescues her. He’s dressed in black tie for the casino from the night before. When he arrives at the beach he removes his dinner jacket and bow tie to reveal his closely fitted white shirt. Though his shirt is often mistaken for a beach shirt or a tropical shirt—I can see how one may mistake it for a guayabera—it is a pleated-front cotton voile dress shirt with lace between the pleats and it has double cuffs. Bond dressed for a fancy evening out, not a day at the beach. Orlebar Brown’s casual linen beach interpretation of this shirt has added to this confusion.
Myth: Cocktail cuffs signify a Turnbull & Asser shirt.
Reality: Sean Connery wears shirts with cocktail cuffs in all of his Bond films except Goldfinger, and Turnbull & Asser made all of those cocktail cuff shirts. However, Roger Moore also wears cocktail cuffs in Live and Let Die, The Man with the Golden Gun and Moonraker, and his shirts were all made by Frank Foster. Foster himself claimed to have invented the cocktail cuff, at least the modern version of it. Tom Ford revived the cocktail cuff for Daniel Craig in Spectre and No Time to Die. Nobody can own a cuff design.
Myth: Roger Moore wears frilly Tuxedo shirts in his Bond films.
Reality: Despite the ruffle-front dress shirt that appears in a few stills for Live and Let Die, Moore never wears such a shirt when playing James Bond in the films. His dress shirts either have classic 1/2-inch pleats or a plain front. He previously wore ruffled shirts in The Saint and The Persuaders!. George Lazenby is the only actor who wears frilly shirts in character as Bond.
Myth: Bond wears double denim in Live and Let Die.
Reality: Roger Moore wears a light blue leisure suit of matching trucker jacket and trousers in Live and Let Die, and because it’s light blue workwear the look can be confused for denim. However, the cloth is a solid light blue rather than a blue-and-white mix like denim is, and it’s softer than denim. It would be much longer until Bond would first wear denim on screen.
Myth: Bond wears a heavy tweed jacket to Scaramanga’s tropical island in The Man with the Golden Gun.
Reality: When Roger Moore dons a boldly checked sports coat with hacking pockets, tweed comes to mind. Tweed would certainly would be an inappropriate choice for the hot and humid island, but Bond’s jacket is made of a lightweight open-weave wool or wool-and-silk blend. While any jacket and tie would likely be uncomfortable in this climate, Bond’s jacket is made of one of the best materials for tropical weather.
Myth: Roger Moore wears wide lapels and flared trousers in all of his Bond films.
Reality: Moore will always be remembered as the 1970s Bond who wears 1970s fashions, but he also played Bond three times in the 1980s. He didn’t always dress for the 1970s. His suits didn’t even have wide lapels in his 1973 film Live and Let Die. The wide lapels started in The Man with the Golden Gun and were at their most extreme in The Spy Who Loved Me and Moonraker. They narrowed a bit in For Your Eyes Only, and for Octopussy and A View to a Kill they’re a somewhat narrow, classic width.
The flared trousers feature in all four of Moore’s 1970s Bond films, but for the 1980s Moore transitioned to a straight leg. Because the gun barrel sequence filmed for 1977’s The Spy Who Loved Me features in all of Moore’s subsequent Bond films, Moore technically wears flares in all his Bond films.
Myth: Connery, Moore and Brosnan wear khakis with their sports coats and blazers.
Reality: The term ‘khakis’ suggests trousers that are not just khaki-coloured but also cotton and have a casual cut. When Connery wears his brown tweed hacking jacket in Goldfinger and Thunderball, and when Moore and Brosnan wear their blue blazers in The Spy Who Loved Me, Moonraker, For Your Eyes Only, A View to a Kill and GoldenEye, they wear them with trousers that are either khaki-coloured or in other similar light colours. But their trousers are not khakis. They have a formal trouser cut and construction, and they are made of wool. Some of the trousers are a heavy cavalry twill while others are a lighter gabardine or tropical wool. The different between khakis and proper trousers makes a tremendous difference.
Myth: Doug Hayward tailored Roger Moore for all his Bond films.
Reality: Hayward is the most famous of Bond’s bespoke tailors, but he was only one of Roger Moore’s three tailors who dress him as James Bond. The first was Cyril Castle, Moore’s tailor since the early 1960s who tailored Moore for Live and Let Die and The Man with the Golden Gun. Angelo Roma replaced Castle to make the most ‘70s of Moore’s suits for The Spy Who Loved Me and Moonraker. Hayward only first entered the Bond series to make the clothes for Moore’s fifth Bond film For Your Eyes Only. He continued to tailor Moore for Octopussy and A View to a Kill. Hayward also tailored Sean Connery for his non-EON Productions Bond film Never Say Never Again.
Myth: Bond wears safari suits in the 1970s because he was a slave to the fashions of the decade.
Reality: Though safari suits were trendy in the 1970s, Roger Moore’s Bond also wears them because they’re traditional British colonial garb. Some examples lean into the trendy styles of the 1970s while others are more classic and utilitarian. Or rather they would be more utilitarian if Bond wore them with shoes tougher than loafers. He always wears safari clothing appropriately in tropical locations, never to the office in London. Moore’s Bond also wears safari suits beyond the 1970s, such as in a safari scene in 1983’s Octopussy where the look is appropriate albeit tongue-in-cheek. Moore wore a very traditional safari suit in the 1960s in The Saint when the situation called for one, so Moore was familiar with the style before it became a fashionable look in the 1970s.
Myth: Bond wears a few wing-collar shirts with his dinner jackets.
Reality: The stiff, detachable collar in various stand-up styles was the original black tie shirt collar, but since the 1930s the turndown collar has been the standard. James Bond always wears a soft turndown collar for black tie, in spread, semi-spread and point collar variations. The only time Bond wears a wing collar is with the hired non-traditional morning dress for Felix Leiter’s wedding in Licence to Kill. The wing collar is not Bond’s style.
Myth: Daniel Craig wears Tom Ford suits in all his Bond films.
Reality: Craig’s Bond is so closely associated with Tom Ford suits that people forget he wears Brioni suits, shirts, trousers and coats in Casino Royale in 2006. Costume designer Lindy Hemming and Brioni are so closely associated with the Brosnan era that people forget the same team dressed Craig for his first outing as Bond. The Tom Ford brand was launched in 2005, but they didn’t start making suits until after Casino Royale started production in early 2006. Craig started wearing Tom Ford two years later in Quantum of Solace.
Myth: Skyfall is the only time Bond wears a midnight blue dinner suit.
Reality: The Skyfall posters enhanced the blue of Daniel Craig’s dinner suit to look light a much lighter and brighter blue than it was. People thought the blue dinner suit was something new for Bond in Skyfall because it was the first time they noticed it. However, the real Skyfall dinner suit was a true midnight blue: an extremely dark shade of blue that is indistinguishable from black under artificial light. Many of Bond’s dinner suits were the same colour, starting with Bond’s first outfit on screen in Dr. No. Approximately half of Bond’s dinner suits before Skyfall were black, but the other half were midnight blue. The Skyfall dinner suit made such an impression that blue dinner suits entered mainstream fashion for the first time since midnight blue was first popular for evening wear in the 1930s.
Myth: Bond wears many black blazers, pea coats and overcoats.
Reality: Many of Bond’s navy clothes are mistaken for frequently black. Bond wears a couple black overcoats coats, but more often than not Bond’s coats are navy. Bond also wears many blazers that can be mistaken for black on screen, but the blazers are always the classic dark navy blue.
Though Bond wears numerous black neckties in the films, more often than not his very dark ties are navy rather than black. Navy is the ultimate Bond colour.
Myth: Bond always sets the perfect example of how to dress.
Reality: Sometimes Bond makes mistakes when getting dressed. Sean Connery ruins the lines of a few suits by fastening the bottom button. In Dr. No he fastens the bottom button of his flannel suit, which is a poor choice for Jamaica. Timothy Dalton wears his suits too loose. Daniel Craig wears his suits too tight and short, and occasionally with a poor fit at his jacket’s collars. A few Bond actors inappropriately wear NATO-strapped sports watches with their suits, or worse, with their dinner jackets. (The NATO-strap dive watch with his dinner jacket in Goldfinger is fine because he also wears a diving suit over his dinner jacket.) Sometimes Bond is overdressed or impractically dressed, and in such situations being well-tailored doesn’t make a man well dressed.