Country Suit at the Office: Brown Houndstooth Check in Goldfinger

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Goldfinger-Houndstooth-Suit

Whilst Sean Connery always wears beautiful suits during his tenure as James Bond, he wasn’t always most appropriately dressed. For his visit to M’s office in Goldfinger, Bond makes a poor choice of clothing and dons a country suit, a mid brown and black houndstooth check. Brown isn’t a colour worn for conducting business in London, and Bond is indeed supposed to appear as a businessman working for Universal Exports. Not only is the fabric inappropriate, but the suit jacket’s hacking pockets (with flaps), ticket pocket (without a flap) and long single vent solidify this as a country suit. One thing that does bring up the formality is the odd waistcoat, in beige wool. But like the suit, the waistcoat is more of a country waistcoat than a city waistcoat.

The suit jacket has the same cut as Connery’s other Anthony Sinclair suits, with natural shoulders, roped sleeve heads, a full-cut chest and gently-nipped waist. The trousers most likely have the same double forward pleats that all of the other suit trousers have.

Goldfinger-Houndstooth-Suit-2

The shirt from Frank Foster is white with faint broken grey stripes and has a spread collar, front placket and double cuffs. The tie is a dark brown silk knit in a warmer tone than the cooler brown suit. The knitted tie is appropriate for the sporty country look of the suit, though a grenadine tie like Connery wears in his previous two Bond films would have been better to dress up the suit for an important office meeting. For the only time in the series, Connery folds his white linen pocket square into a point. Bond picks up his brown trilby off the rack as he leaves the office to top things off. Make what you will of this ensemble.

The actual reason why Bond wears a country suit to the office is because most of the suits in Goldfinger were originally from the film Woman of Straw, which takes place in the country. This waistcoat is also used in Woman of Straw, but Connery wears it with the famous hacking jacket.

17 COMMENTS

  1. I disagree.

    Bond's outfit does not look out of place on a visit to M's office.

    In the "Swinging 60's", there was a thawing of the so-called "rules".

    Bond's false identity is an "import/export" man (of government secrets?). He would not be bound the formal "rules" for City professionals, such as government officials, bankers, brokers, and lawyers. As a businessman he could dress with a little more flair and informality.

    Incidentally, if Bond were an import/export man today, he would be wearing an open shirt and jeans.

    Keep-up the good work!

  2. I'm actually quite fond of this suit as you know from our discussions elsewhere. I though it looked quit formal, especially with the waistcoat, but I take it for London the suit should be black? What colors are acceptable for business in London? Also, I'd be interested in your comments on pocket squares and the folding there of.

    Excellent site, quite enjoyable.

  3. The waistcoat and white shirt make it look more formal but the brown and houndstooth pattern are what makes it inappropriate for London. The most traditional suit colours for London are the darker shades of blue and grey.

  4. I rather like this look. On someone else. I wouldn't wear it personally. It's a bit Mr Toad from Wind in the Willows – too country gentleman and too old for a man in his thirties. I know the "no brown in town" maxim, but I assumed that that corresponded to shoes rather than suits. From the mid sixties onwards blue-grey-black colour palattes gave way to the grotesque browns and creams that would dominate the seventies and early eighties. So perhaps in that era it was hip and fashionable to wear a brown suit. There were nods in the Bond film to contemporary counter culture and pop culture, always somewhat tempered with formality or etiquette, and sometimes inference or avoidance. Take for example the reference to the Beatles (with earphones, of course-enjoy sensibly). Or the use (implied more than shown) of hats – after FRWL, Connery never wears a hat. He only carries it thereafter to throw onto the office hat stand for the famous gag. In Thunderball, he loses his hat after the meeting between all the 00's: "I'm sure I had a hat when I came in here." It is never seen again on Connery! Also, note that they dispense with the pocket square in Thunderball. I think that counterculture scruffiess (dry, unparted, long hair as opposed to slick partings; browns instead of blues etc; tweeds insead of silks; broad lapels and broader ties…) began to creep in in some measure – perhaps seen by the brown suit, which was probably considered hip. The formal touches of the shirt and waistcoat may be to temper this counter culture awryness. He's not a spiv, you know! More like Cool Britannia!

    Regarding the triangular pocket square, I like how it works symmetrically with the waistcoat. Cary Grant carries off a triangular pocket square with aplomb in Hitchcock's Notorious (1946). As opposed to Connery's sharp, pointy style here (which works with the waistcoat) Grant's is soft, subtle (only peeping out) and slightly puffed. I usually wear an ironed white cotton hankerchief with my suits, with maybe less than 1cm showing, but for more casual, dressed-down occasions I opt for the Grant-esque soft triangle, which can be shaped by balancing the middle of pocket square on top of your 3 longest fingers, held upright (it should drape, forming a natural triangle shape) and then (with your other hand wrapped around in a C shape) pulling down and pinching it at the bottom to preserve the shape. Then put it in the pocket bottom first and, if need be, pull it back up by the top. It should look like the lining of your breast pocket if you do it right. Sorry for going on… you did ask!

  5. Regarding the incongruous country-gent suit ensemble Bond wears for his drubbing in M's office, surely Bond's tie is a dark-olive knit rather than a black-knit? I think we should be told? I adore your blog by the way, really sterling stuff.

  6. Anon, after looking at the tie again I think it is probably dark brown. On the Ultimate Edition DVD it does have an olive tint, but a lot of colours have been changed on that edition. I looked back to older prints of the film (on multiple screens) and saw that it's dark brown.

  7. I just checked the blu-ray and to me it is clear that the tie is olive green. T&A stil sell the tie in this color also I believe.

    S

  8. S, on the blu-ray it does look olive, but on the other prints I have it looks brown. I'm more apt to go with the colours from the older versions. Colours were altered in the blu-ray versions.

  9. Hey Matt,
    After seeing GOLDFINGER tonight in a digital Blu-Ray version in a cinema, I can assure you that the knitted tie Bond wears in the M office scene in is really dark green and not brown.
    C.

    • It looks green on the Blu-ray DVD too. That doesn’t necessarily mean it’s correct. Many colours have changed a lot with the Blu-ray releases, but that doesn’t always mean colour correction. The tie is a yellow-brown, which looks green in comparison to the blue-brown suit.

  10. I’ve always thought this look was terrific – perhaps my favourite from the series. Ironically, before I really started to understand about these things, I’d always assumed this to be a version of city morning dress, thanks to the lighter waistcoat – I don’t have a sense of whether the contemporary audience would have seen it as echoing that look or an anti-establishment rejection of it.
    The green tie came as an unwelcome surprise when I got the Blu Ray, so I’m glad you think it might be a trick of the transfer.
    Your website is excellent – I’ve read all of it, and have learnt tons from it, so thanks very much, and keep up the good work.

  11. I can’t say whether by the standards of the day Bond’s ‘ensemble’ in this scene is less than appropriate for the London businessman. In my opinion though, this combination has to be one of the most beautiful and timeless suit combinations I have ever seen. The understated greys and taupes look so right. The cut of the jacket and the waistcoat flatters the excellent physique of Connery to great effect (and I think the modern short length and narrow shouldered jackets have lost the plot). Of course the look is maximally beautiful on a such a good looking chap as the young Sean Connery.

  12. In response to David C’s comment; Sean Connery advises Jill Masterson (‘Dear Girl’) that one should never listen to the Beatles without earmuffs, which has a somewhat different connotation than never listening without earphones. In other words he is dissing the Beatles as so much noise. Either Connery was not impressed with the Beatles as being quality music or the opinion stated was not his own but rather he was just faithfully reading lines in the script written for the character of Bond. I tend to think that Connery came up with that himself.

  13. Matt’s right. It may or may not be an attractive look, but it is absolutely not appropriate. Although, there was one time of year, I think the Summer, when brown in town was acceptable – I think the idea being you weren’t supposed to be at the office, so could nip in from the country in your tweeds. My father (who’s in his 80’s now) used to say something about brown being acceptable between Goodwood and some other social season event, can’t remember which.

    The swinging sixties did not affect business attire (unless you were in show-business or fashion) – and anyway, Bond here is wearing a classic, traditional outfit (imho) – it’s just that it’s one for the country.

  14. IMHO this suit is nothing that Bond should be ashamed of. The light vest under a dark suit was right on-trend for the era, often seen on propertied gents and professional men. As for “no brown in town”. It was thought vulgar to flaunt the fact that one had a country estate, or an open invitation to stay at one. Surely the rule could be stretched if a chap had to rush into town to deal with a crisis. Here Bond is reporting on a woman murdered by his target, so a stumble like this is excusable. It’s true that brown shoes don’t take a shine well, especially under artificial light, but Bond is wearing (very ugly) black shoes. In Australia, the rule is “no brown shoes after dark”. In the final analysis, if posing as the country squire helps Bond in the deceptions required of a field agent, we can call it a training exercise.

  15. Appropriate for his UnivEx cover or not, it’s one of Connery’s very best ensembles, certainly in the top ten, if not top five. Any man who wore this gem today would be the best dressed man in any room.

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