Do Bond Actors Choose Their Screen Wardrobe?

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We will never know for sure how much say any of the James Bond actors have had over the clothes they wear in the character, but some have provided more input than others. The Bond films have costume designers to make the final call on what Bond wears on screen, and some directors like Terence Young had a large input as to what Bond wears, but the Bond actors have at times also had a say in what the character should wear.

Daniel Craig has likely provided the most input of any Bond actor in his on-screen wardrobe. Craig had little say over his wardrobe in his first two Bond films, but since Skyfall he has brought much of his personal taste to Bond. He has a strong personal interest in clothing, and it must be fun for him to choose the clothes he can wear on screen, especially since he doesn’t have to pay for the clothes.

Despite a new costume designer—Suttirat Anne Larlarb—for Bond 25, the suits that Daniel Craig will be wearing for the film are hardly any different than what he wore in Spectre. This is evidence that Daniel Craig is making some of the choices with his Bond wardrobe, since we have seen significant wardrobe changes over Daniel Craig’s first three Bond films, each with a different costume designer. Tom Ford is staying on because of the product placement deal they have with the production, but the suit is not a Tom Ford signature style and such a specific style would have no reason to appear again in Bond 25 if it weren’t Craig’s choice.

This suit style from Spectre is returning for Bond 25, with a slightly improved fit

Skyfall and Spectre‘s costume designer Jany Temime attributed the tight fit of Daniel Craig’s suits to his preference, saying in an official videoblog for Skyfall, “Daniel wanted suits which were very near his body.” This matches how he wears his suits in his personal life. The suits may not have been so tight if Daniel Craig did not request them to be so, and we may have seen a more typical Tom Ford fit like Craig wears in Quantum of Solace.

Daniel Craig himself has introduced a number of his favourite clothing brands to Bond. As Zane Olive of New York’s Billy Reid store told The Bond Experience, the Billy Reid peacoat in Skyfall was an item he owned before Skyfall, and he asked to include it in the film. Zane said that Billy Reid has also provided a jacket for Bond 25. For Spectre, Daniel Craig brought in Brunello Cucinelli, a favourite brand of his at the time. He wore a light brown jacket and khaki trousers from the brand, which likely replaced an unused khaki suit that Tom Ford made for the film. Craig was spotted wearing Vuarnet 06 sunglasses on the street in New York last year, and now they are going to be featured in Bond 25. Other brands from Temime’s films, like Crockett & Jones and N.Peal are returning for Bond 25. We don’t know if these are Craig’s choices or the new costume designer wanting to stick with a known quantity.

Roger Moore in The Persuaders!, for which he designed his own wardrobe

Roger Moore also provided significant input in what he wore as James Bond. For his role that immediately preceded Bond, Lord Brett Sinclair in The Persuaders!, he designed his own wardrobe. He was even the director of cloth merchant Pearson + Foster, which provided the cloths for both his and Tony Curtis’ clothes in The Persuaders!. When Moore became Bond, the look of his wardrobe was sobered from what he wore before. If he was given free rein for Bond, we likely would have seen something flashier like what he wore in The Persuaders!. But he still brought in his long-time tailor Cyril Castle from both The Saint and The Persuaders! to tailor his Bond films. He also used his shirtmaker Frank Foster, who already had a relationship with the Bond films and made shirts for Sean Connery, George Lazenby and many supporting actors.

Moore wore his Bond clothes in his personal life, partly because he liked the clothes and partly because he didn’t want to spend money on clothes when perfectly excellent clothing to his own taste was made for him to wear as Bond. Roger Moore said on the DVD commentary for The Man with the Golden Gun of the scene in Saida’s dressing room about not being able to take home a suit from the film:

“This actually is, this little set that we were shooting in, and this was the last sequence we shot in filming. And so this nice blue suit that I was looking forward to taking home from the wardrobe after shooting, Cubby [Broccoli, the producer] appeared near the edge of the top of the set with a bucket of paste and threw it all over me, ruining my suit.”

When Moore became a tax exile after The Man with the Golden Gun and could no longer visit Cyril Castle, he found a tailor in Italy called Angelo Roma. Later he used celebrity tailor Douglas Hayward. These tailors made his clothes for his Bond films and other films, and later Hayward made Moore’s clothes—many blue blazers—for his personal wardrobe. Moore did not just choose his tailors; he stopped wearing Gucci shoes for Bond after The Spy Who Loved Me and personally brought in Ferragamo for Moonraker.

Sean Connery did not appreciate the work of the man who made his suits

Sean Connery did not care much about his clothes as Bond. He had purchased many bespoke clothes of his own, but likely because it was expected of someone of his fame and fortune in the UK. At the time he became Bond he was said to have been “rough around the edges” and wasn’t comfortable wearing a suit. Director Terence Young brought Connery to his favourite clothiers: Anthony Sinclair, Turnbull & Asser and Lanvin. Connery didn’t have the same appreciation as Young did for the fine bespoke suits and paid his accountant with his Bond suits instead of wearing them.

George Lazenby did not even want to wear suits for Bond because he wanted to dress like the younger generation to attract the young women he was interested in. Thankfully he had no say in his Bond wardrobe or we could have ended up with a hippie Bond instead of one dressed in many beautiful bespoke suits and jackets.

Timothy Dalton was at the mercy of his costume designers, and because of his last-minute casting for The Living Daylights he had to wear whatever ready-to-wear suits the costume designer found for him. For Licence to Kill he was able to provide important input. In a 1989 interview with Garth Pearce, Dalton said he didn’t want to wear the pastel colours that costume designer Jodie Tillen wanted to dress him in. Dalton told Pearce, “The clothes say so much about Bond. He’s got a naval background, so he needs a strong, simple colour like dark blue.” Thanks to Dalton’s advice, Jodie Tillen did not dress Bond in the same colours that she dressed the characters on Miami Vice, but she still incorporated the relaxed looks of the era.

For Pierce Brosnan in his four Bond films, costume designer Lindy Hemming had full control over his wardrobe. She has discussed her choices for Brosnan’s clothes at length. Some elements of his wardrobe in GoldenEye had similarities to what he wore previously in Remington Steele, such as a black peaked lapel dinner suit with a low-cut waistcoat and the use of pocket squares, but it is unknown if Brosnan had any input in that despite the similarities.

51 COMMENTS

  1. For all the flak Dalton gets for his clothes he’ll always have my respect for refusing the pastels. Definitely the lesser of two evils there.

  2. Is there any indication whose choice it was to put Bond in a three-piece suit for Goldfinger? He had never before worn a waistcoat, but in Goldfinger he wears one odd waistcoat and two three-piece suits. Was it the new director, Guy Hamilton, or someone else?

    The three-piece suit returns in Thunderball, so I’ve wondered if that was Terence Young’s decision after seeing how good it looked on Connery in Goldfinger or someone else’s.

  3. It’s interesting that Dalton’s only real contribution to his wardrobe was one of the few good aspects of it. I wonder if, given more control, we might have seen a better and less fashionably dressed Bond. I know Dalton didn’t have much interest in clothes, but his comments about wanting something ‘strong’ and ‘simple’ to reflect Bond’s naval background suggests he might have preferred to have dressed in tailoring by a British tailor of the classic Savile Row structured tradition. One of the plainer ones, like Richard Anderson or Dege & Skinner. That kind of stiff and sharp tailoring would also have matched nicely with Dalton’s portrayal of Bond much better than the relaxed, oversized suits he did wear.

    • Good points and I agree. I just think that Dalton doesn’t have any innate knowledge of the finer details. While he’s to be applauded for resisting the pastels there really was no excuse (bar the producers wanting to keep closely to 1989 fashions) for the LTK suits. You’re absolutely correct in saying that a more elegant version of the same overall vision could have been achieved if a British tailor had have been involved and ironically, probably for a better price than the Ricci garb.

      • I’m not saying I think Dalton knows much about tailoring, but if you had showed him a bunch of pictures of different bespoke navy suits from different tailors back in 1989 and told him to pick one for Bond, I suspect he’d have picked out a suit from one of Savile Row’s plainer structuralists. Those have a inherently stiff and clean look to them, and were probably the kind of suit Dalton (in his limited knowledge of tailoring) pictured Bond wearing when he read the novels.

      • David: To me, the fact that not a single suit was worn with a tie was unforgivable on the same level of the fit and style of them. It was so out of place for James Bond that I recall reading one review, from someone who I imagine isn’t that knowledgeable about menswear, mentioning this fact. Something like, “Did James Bond really not wear a single tie in this movie? What’s up with that?” Barring, of course, the ill-chosen rental for Felix’s wedding.

  4. I think it could even be argued that none of the Bond actors were particularly stylish in their personal life outside of the Bond role, and thus aren’t really qualified to have any extensive input on wardrobe choices… I mean, have you seen Hemming’s CV?

    • Roger Moore was very stylish, and had a passion for menswear. I think it’s a little unfair to judge his tastes by what he wore as Brett Sinclair. He was playing a rich playboy with flamboyant tastes and designed a wardrobe that suited his character. He had the opportunity to experiment with different styles and details. He might have looked a lot better in a simple navy suit, but I doubt he would have had as much fun designing that as he did some of his more absurd garments.

      • Absolutely, Roger was, imo, the most stylish man to have played the role followed by Pierce and this is only because one can see how they dressed outside of and after they had relinquished, the role. In TV interviews etc. Roger’s trademark navy Hayward blazer and slacks combination which he wore when being interviewed post-Bond was beautifully understated and a style extremely fitting and flattering to a man from his background and generation.

      • The moment I hit reply I did realize damn, I forgot about Roger. I agree, he was very stylish. Brosnan also had a good stretch in the 90s (at the height of his Bond fame) when he looked pretty sharp when photographed by paparazzi at various outings, though in general I still feel Bond’s wardrobe is a task largely best left to the costume designer. It reminds me a bit of during the WGA strike when Craig took a crack at the QOS script and realized he was a bit out of his depth and it’s harder than it looks.

  5. That oft-repeated story about the bucket of paste could almost make me cry, since it’s one of my favorite suits of the entire series!
    Another thing Craig is said to have brought to the wardrobe himself is the Omega Aqua Terra, which he wears throughout most of Skyfall and during the first and third acts of SPECTRE, a costume decision I wholeheartedly applaud.
    As with all things, it’s about finding the right balance between actor input and the dictates of the character. James Bond is not and would not dress like a hippie, so it was wise for the costume designer and director to reign in Lazenby’s desires and outfit him in wardrobe that is more befitting the character. I wonder if the ruffle-front shirts were a concession to his wishes.
    At the same time I think it’s important to have the right costume designer. Someone like Lindy Hemming or Louise Frogley who have a clear vision and understand both what looks visually appealing and suits the character.

  6. It’s probably worth noting that if the suits of the last 2 Bond films had the same cut and fit as the suits in QoS, we would most likely be almost universally hailing Daniel Craig as the best-dressed Bond. He’s made a lot of great contributions to Bond style, but the issue of fit (and also silly things like single vented dinner jackets) has greatly tarnished the sartorial image of his Bond for me.

    • Exactly, had he been reasonable and continued to wear suits on the QOS style he would be acknowledged for taste but as he hasn’t he deserves all the deserved criticism that befits a man over 50 wearing ill-fitting suits, actually suited to nobody of good taste, but if suitable at all then for a man 30 years younger. The mantra that “everyone else is wearing them” is irrelevant and the same applied to Dalton’s badly fitting 1989 suits too.

  7. The hippie Bond part killed me LOL. I guess that was part of why I never even bothered myself with Lazenby.

    On the other hand, after his first movie, Connery was just enamored with Sinclair’s tailoring. He did commented so on GQ 1966 issue. I would imagine it makes a difference with soft tailoring. The softer garment just feels infinitely easier to wear.

    • There’s no hippie Bond in Lazenby’s portrayal. He wears some of the nicest suits of the Bond series in his film, so there is good reason to be bothered with his style.

      Sinclair’s tailoring was light, but it was not all that soft. The suits had to be quite stiff for Sinclair to have been able to roll them up in a ball and have them hold their shape again.

      • I wish there is a way for me to post pictures here, but I’ve rolled up my Anthony Sinclair suit before, and while they can get some wrinkling, they did not lose shape at all. One of your articles did mentioned that even linen canvasses from the 60s were stiffer, so I can only imagine they were, but to how much is a different question, I’d wager.

        Most of Lazenby’s suits were classic, indeed, but he did showed moments where he lost his composures in them. Regrettably.

    • Travers, I’m sad you feel that way. Those Dimi Major suits are quite beautiful. They hold up very well 50 years later and would not look out of place today.

      • Jovan, the suits were classics indeed, but Lazenby showed hesitations and there were times he even lost his composures in them. Again, as my response to Matt went, regrettably is the only way to put it.

  8. I’d say that Brosnan had some input in his clothes for Bond as he is very interest in designer clothes and suits. He wears a lot of designer clothes in his private life and some made to measure and bespoke suits.

      • I’d venture to guess that he had no say. He dresses better now than he did when he was Bond. I’ve seen many examples of Homs wearing the then-trendy monochromatic shirt and tie look. And in The Thomas Crown Affair, he might have had some say since his production company made the film, although he doesn’t go full monochrome, he comes close a couple of times.

      • “He dresses better now than he did when he was Bond.”

        -That’s right – I can’t see any evidence of Brosnan being a particularly stylish man off-screen. I remember some quite unstylish appearences of him – f.i. black shirt with black tie at the oscars and several other faux-pas.

    • I agree with some of the others above – I don’t think there’s really any indication Brosnan had much say in the Bond clothes. I think Hemming did say that she had met with him at the outset to discuss how he sees the character and maybe some other things (e.g., what he finds comfortable, etc), but I doubt Brosnan was involved in things like choosing fabrics, collar types at T&A, or the cut of the suits.

  9. I love that quote form Dalton. Even if he didn’t know much about tailoring, he absolutely understood the character. In fact, I’d argue that his off-the-rack suits and practical casual-wear are a pretty faithful interpretation of the literary Bond’s wardrobe, albeit translated for eighties sensibilities.

    • IMO that is a sign of much more “innate” understanding for the character and for the intricacies of Bond style than others have shown – those who put their own predilections above the demands of the role they had to play.

  10. Craig’s first 2 Bond movies shows him best dressed. Since his personal style has influenced wardrobe choices, especially his shrunken suits, he shows himself as a man well into middle age pretending he is still 30 something.

  11. Great post, and great discussion. On Dalton, he is an actor’s actor, who took the role seriously and literally, based on Fleming’s literary Bond. His quote is very telling as to him, the clothes are about the character rather than a fashion show. What do the clothes say about the man; how do they illustrate the character or assist the story? For each of the other Bond actors (and this is not meant as a slight), I get the feeling the clothes were what they, their directors, or their costume director preferred as a matter of personal taste (Terence Young’s own style, Roger’s personal tailors and changing styles of the times, Craig’s preference for the fashion-of-the-day.). The other exception to this is (the great, Oscar-winning) Lindy Hemming, who apparently tried to illustrate Bond’s character development in Casino Royale through the clothes.

    • “On Dalton, he is an actor’s actor, who took the role seriously and literally, based on Fleming’s literary Bond.”
      -I agree with you. That approach is what I always liked about Dalton’s way of portraying Bond. But I think that methodically Craig does quite the same – he also takes the character seriously and goes “back to the roots”. No silly clowneries, no cheap jokes, no inapt “making faces” – a sober way of acting paired with a dry and sometimes sardonic humour.

  12. “This is evidence that Daniel Craig is making some of the choices with his Bond wardrobe,..”

    -Really? IMO that’s not plausible because it could also mean that costume designers are simply following trends.

    “…since we have seen significant wardrobe changes over Daniel Craig’s first three Bond films, each with a different costume designer.”

    -Exactly, each with a different wardrobe responsible who designed a wardrobe according to his (or rather “her”) and not primarily to Craig’s preferences. Lindy Hemming continued to follow her line from the Brosnan Bond movies (i.e. cooperation with Brioni). Frogley created something of her own, but within the limits of the Tom Ford template. Temime did the same, but with more concessions to current fashion trends. And with the new costume designer for Bond 25, there is a perceptible change with regard to the fit. In comparision there is a tendency towards more moderation (in every regard). Indeed it is not too far away from the SF and SPECTRE suits, but what can you expect? It’s always the same Tom Ford template which is altered here and there, but that doesn’t offer much creative leeway.

    I would have appreciated the introduction of a completely new template – from a bespoke tailor such as Thom Sweeney f.i. (or any other). It has been Tom Ford for already quite some time; by now they should bring in someone new. IMO there is a need for a breath of fresh air.

      • But what you are most probably thinking of is no breath of fresh air – IMO it’s something we have had quite enough of in the past.

        Nevertheless – each to his own…

    • I do like Tom Ford, but agree with you here. It will have been 12 years of using Tom Ford when Bond 25 releases and 33 years (!!!) since we last saw James actually wearing British suits. Thom Sweeney is a great choice. Though it will be harder to say what works best if Lashana Lynch becomes the next 007 and starts headlining the series!

  13. Pierce Brosnan seems to have a strong interest in clothes and how he presents himself. He’s always well-turned out and seems to favor suits that look like they came from Tom Ford. Also, I seem to recall reading an interview with a Turnbull & Asser employee who mentioned that Pierce had shirts with cocktail cuffs made up for his personal use.

  14. Dalton is definitely one of the strongest Bonds. I would have liked to have seen the interview on why he declined goldeneye. According to the forums Mr.Broccoli wanted him to do three more but he declined. From my research it appears to be Mr.Brocolli wanted Dalton to be Bond from ohmss and onwards. I can see why.
    TLD is my favorite film of the entire series.

    • Yes, Dalton was an outstanding Bond. By far the most adherent to Fleming’s characterization. TLD is also one of my favorites. It’s a shame he wasn’t more stylish, as I think he would’ve been better received by the general public. But most people I know who really “get” Bond appreciate his two films.

      • I think those of us who like the literary Bond were impressed with the fact that once given the role, Dalton immediately sat down to read (re-read?) every single Fleming book to get to grips with the character – you know, like actors do? I preferred the much-maligned LTK over TLD (couldn’t get away with Maryam D’Abo at all) but whatever you think of Dalton’s tenure he brought back a desperately needed hardness and seriousness to the role after a series of ‘Carry On Bond’ films. He got a lot of stick at the time for being ‘too serious’, to which I would always say ‘read the books’. It’s not supposed to be a comedy show despite the direction it had been heading. Remember Connery shooting professor Dent, (“that’s a Smith and Wesson – and you’ve had your six!”) then giving him a few more just to be sure after which he unscrews the silencer and breathes on it to cool it down? This is the Bond of the books – a cold-hearted assassin bastard, not some fop flouncing around the jungle doing Tarzan yells or adapting a snowboard in Cortina while the Beach Boys plays on the soundtrack!

      • @Sam Tucker
        “This is the Bond of the books – a cold-hearted assassin bastard, not some fop flouncing around the jungle doing Tarzan yells or adapting a snowboard in Cortina while the Beach Boys plays on the soundtrack!”

        -I completely agree with your statement – it would be a shame if producers would fall back into the bad style of the Moore resp. Brosnan era. “Ad fontes” should be continued.

  15. I don’t give a “Tom tit” about the bloody books. I just want to be entertained with 2.5 hours of escapist entertainment. The gentleman before Dalton pulled this off impeccably

    • So you keep saying. If you see Bond as a cocktail swilling superannuated dandy in a safari suit with flared trousers, doing slow-mo martial arts in lame films with nonsense story lines and juvenile humour – rock on. I demand a bit more for my ‘escapist entertainment’ and I’m just happy the series moved away from that direction before it died an inevitable ignominious death, and I give Dalton a lot of the credit for the change.

      • I think it’s possible to enjoy both Moore and Dalton, and everything in between. It doesn’t have to be a zero-sum game. The variety of interpretations of Bond is precisely why it still exists. If it was just one interpretation – any of them – over and over again, it would’ve died out long ago. Bond must ebb and flow with the times, and for the most part it’s done a remarkable job. I think those who advocate for just one version of Bond to the exclusion of all the others are really missing the plot.

      • It’s worth pointing out the humour you so malign was started by Connery in Dr. No, and encouraged by Terence Young. Lines like ‘I think they were on their way to a funeral.’ when the hearse goes off the cliff. It was Connery that changed the Bond of the books into the smirking playboy of the movies, and the man has a confident smirk on his face while he gets the trap ready for Professor Dent. The greatness of the Connery Bond films was his ability to mix a bit a humor in with his often brutal character.

        Moore wasn’t so good at the more brutal aspects of Bond as Connery was, so the script writers focused on what he was good at; the humour. In my opinion, the best of the Roger Moore movies are the first two (maybe not a popular opinion since tMwtGG is so maligned, but it’s one of my favorites). Guy Hamilton did an excellent job at getting Moore to play a more cold blooded character than he (judging from his commentaries on the DVD) wanted to.

        The effort on the part of the team behind the films to get Bond to go back to the books actually started with FYEO. You’re right that Roger Moore’s humour was ill-suited to his 1980s films. Octopussy was the best of the three in my opinion, because it at least had beautiful filming locations in India and some good scenes.

        Personally, I very much liked tLD but not LtK, which I thought too graphically violent. At least they changed the name from “Licence Revoked,” which sounds like the name of a satirical film in which Bond has his driver’s licence revoked after one to many car chases.

  16. Besides the shrunken fit, I really don’t understand why so many people resort to sneakers as a way to “dress down” a suit or “be fun”. There are so many fantastic styles of dress footwear to be chosen from, some of it unconventional with suits (like jodhpur boots) yet will still harmonize so much better. I also note the cell phone bulge in the trouser pocket, which could be avoided if he kept it in the inner breast pocket as God intended. Keanu Reeves similarly has had a predilection for work boots with suits, namely the exact same pair, for quite a while now and I can’t understand it either.

    However, Craig and Reeves seems to be living their best lives as 50+ year old men regardless of what we think of their fashion choices. That’s admirable even if their clothing isn’t always.

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