Eight of James Bond’s Most Distinctive Black Tie Outfits

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Over the course of the 58-year film series, James Bond has worn quite a few variations on his iconic dinner jacket, also known as a Tuxedo. Many styles have repeated, but Bond has worn a number of distinctive variations on the dinner jacket. Here are eight unique variations on Bond’s black tie outfits, with either the first or best example of these variations highlighted.

The Shawl Collar Dinner Suit

Bond’s quintessential uniform, the dinner jacket, was his first garment in the first Bond film Dr. No. Sean Connery wears a midnight blue shawl collar dinner suit, and Daniel Craig is continuing the tradition with a very similar dinner suit in No Time to Die. The dinner jacket, made by Anthony Sinclair, has silk satin facings, one button on the front and silk gauntlet cuffs.

He accessorises it with a pleated cotton voile shirt from Lanvin that has mother-of-pearl buttons down the front and a diamond batwing bow tie. He breaks tradition and wears neither a waistcoat nor a cummerbund, a choice Bond would follow for most of the film series until recently.

The White Dinner Jacket

Goldfinger introduces the white—more accurately off-white, ivory or ecru—dinner jacket to Bond. This one, by Anthony Sinclair, with self-faced peaked lapels and mother-of-pearl buttons set a standard that most of Bond’s subsequent white dinner jackets would follow. Revealing this jacket from from inside a wetsuit attached a memorable moment to the Goldfinger dinner jacket, and the bright red carnation boutonniere in the lapel buttonhole gives the outfit an even more striking look.

Connery accessorises this dinner jacket with a white-on-white-striped shirt with a pleated front from Frank Foster and a slim batwing bow tie.

The Notched Lapel Dinner Suit

Goldfinger also introduces Bond to the notched-lapel dinner suit, something Bond would often wear for low-key black tie affairs. Many traditionalists don’t condone notched lapels on dinner jackets because they don’t look distinct from the typical lounge suit and are commonly used on dinner jackets to save the manufacturer money, but the style goes back to the Edwardian era. Bespoke tailor Anthony Sinclair did not use notched lapels to sacrifice money or style on Sean Connery’s midnight blue dinner jacket.

Connery accessorises this dinner jacket with a white-on-white-striped shirt with a pleated front from Frank Foster and a slim batwing bow tie.

The Peaked Lapel Dinner Jacket and Frilly Shirt

On Her Majesty’s Secret Service features Bond’s first single-breasted peaked-lapel dinner suit, which would become a mainstay of the Brosnan Bond’s wardrobe decades later. This suit by Dimi Major is made in a classic midnight blue wool with satin silk facings.

While the dinner suit is classically elegant, the shirts he wears with it draw more attention. Frank Foster made two frilly ruffled shirts characteristic of the late 1960s trends for George Lazenby to wear with this dinner suit. Even when Bond wears something trendy with his dinner jacket, he keeps the look mostly classic.

The Velvet Dinner Jacket

The velvet dinner jacket is popular item today that Bond wears only once in the series. In Diamonds Are Forever, Bond wears a navy velvet dinner jacket from Anthony Sinclair with a self-faced shawl collar. It’s an appropriate jacket to wear for a private dinner on a cruise ship.

Bond wears it with a blue silk shirt from Turnbull & Asser and a butterfly bow tie. It’s a fitting outfit for such a flashy film.

The Double-Breasted Dinner Suit

Roger Moore introduced the double-breasted dinner jacket to James Bond in promotional stills for his first Bond film Live and Let Die, but for his third Bond film The Spy Who Loved Me he wears an iconic double-breasted midnight blue wool and mohair dinner suit. Though not ideal for drawing his shoulder-holstered PPK, Moore looks elegant in this dinner suit made by Angelo Roma with silk satin peaked lapels and no vents in the rear. The jacket stands the test of time, though the trousers look dated with their wide flares.

Moore stays cool in a minimalist cotton voile shirt from Frank Foster with a single-layer front that’s only decorated with smoke mother-of-pearl buttons. The black satin silk bow tie is a moderately wide butterfly.

The Three-Piece Dinner Suit

Though Bond first wears a three-piece suit in GoldenEye, he pulls out all the stops with his 1930s-inspired dinner suit in Tomorrow Never Dies. This Brioni dinner suit is made of midnight blue wool barrathea with wide peaked lapels faced in silk grosgrain and features a unique five-button double-breasted waistcoat with the buttons in a V-formation. It follows tradition unlike any other of Bond’s black tie outfits.

The Turnbull & Asser shirt is a more formal and historical style that Bond hadn’t previously worn, with the collar, cuffs and front bib made of cotton marcella. The front of the shirt fastens with mother-of-pearl studs instead of buttons, and the cufflinks match the studs. The bow tie is a wide butterfly shape that harmonises with the wide lapels.

The Minimalist Dinner Suit

Minimalism has commonly been a theme throughout Bond’s black tie ensembles, with Bond frequently forgoing accessorises like studs and waist-coverings. Casino Royale features his most minimal black tie outfit, which is defined by a minimal dress shirt. The shirt is a white-on-white cotton waffle-weave with a covered placket and no bib. Bond previously wears other minimalist dress shirts in Thunderball and Octopussy, but those show the shirt’s buttons.

The Brioni dinner suit is a plain black wool with facings in matte ribbed silk, which is traditional, simple and does not draw attention. This is the only black dinner suit on this list. As usual he foregoes a waist-covering, and the uncovered waist perfectly follows with this outfit’s minimalist theme.

25 COMMENTS

      • Run the numbers. According to Matt’s infographic from last year, less than a quarter (6/29) of the dinner jackets have been ivory, and less than a quarter (7/29) of them have had shawl lapels. That means fewer opportunities for the two to intersect. Add in that, outside of much of Roger Moore’s clothes, most costumers have maintained the Connery aesthetic to a greater or lesser extent, and Connery established the peak lapel white jacket as Bond’s style, and it makes sense that it hadn’t been done yet.

  1. The silhouette of Connery in the first picture is just perfect. It makes all the others look like they’re trying too hard. Thanks!

  2. Interesting and solid list. As with all such lists, really a conversation starter. It is a question as to how to evaluate such things – for example, I think the white dinner jacket in Octopussy is superior to the Goldfinger one, but the latter has such an iconic introduction, it is more “distinctive.” I would also argue that Moore’s notch lapel from Octopussy is superior to the Goldfinger one as well, but many tend to default to Connery as “first.” But, Connery was Bond a long time, many styles, and a few generations ago. As Bond for the last 14 years, Craig is as ingrained in the current culture as any of his predecessors, and his shawl-collared, (barely) midnight blue one from Skyfall is certainly distinctive and, I’d wager, more in the general public’s consciousness than Connery’s superior Dr. No one, thanks to Skyfall’s pervasive, if unimaginative, marketing campaign. So, I would probably add that one to the list.

  3. I’m glad Brosnan’s traditional dinner suit made the list, though indeed I had no reason to expect it wouldn’t. It certainly is one of his more distinctive examples of black tie. One day I hope to have one in a similar style.

    In reply to the above comment about the Skyfall suit, I am wont to agree that it could have a spot on this list, and I think it has a lot to do with the time of day it’s worn. Midnight blue (and unfortunately, mid blue) dinner suits have become trendy since 2012, as has been discussed here before. But it certainly wouldn’t have been featured in this saturated blue colour in marketing if some scenes hadn’t been shot during the day. Roger Moore’s midnight blue double breasted suit also really stands out, probably because you see the rich colour in the daylight.

    I’m not really sure I have a point here, just musing. I wonder how many other of Bond’s dinner suits would stand out in our- and the general audience’s- minds if more of them were featured in the day and we could get a good look at them. This seems limited to midnight blue suits, since nobody really talks about Moore’s black dinner suit from Moonraker, or Dalton’s from License to Kill. Both of which are worn casually during the day.

    • I would argue one of the advantages of midnight blue, besides looking darker and richer than black under artificial light, is that it doesn’t look drab if the sun is still out after six.

  4. I’ve never been convinced Lazenby’s dinner suit is midnight. I know the lining is blue, but when he’s standing on the beach under natural light it still looks black.

    • Dimi Major’s son Andrew told me it was midnight blue, and they kept records. Though the lighting on the beach may be natural, the colours we see on the beach are far from it.

      • The beach scene was shot day for night and heavily filtered (before being criminally enlightened for Blu-ray). Regards from France

      • I was going by stock photos that do not appear to be altered where the suit looks black as night. But I will accept Majors’ son’s word as authoritative on the matter. It’s perhaps my favorite dinner suit in the series, so I’m happy to have the matter settled!

  5. I realise that the Dr No version deserves its iconic place as our first ever introduction to Bond – James Bond … [notice how we first see his hands only, dealing the cards in the casino, the exact same way we first see Rick in ‘Casablanca’] … but I think an honorable mention goes to the midnight blue shawl lapel version from Thunderball which is superior IMO as it eschews the gauntlet cuffs and side vents. I patterned my own dinner suit off this one and paired with a slim batwing bow tie Connery never looked better.

      • Didn’t say there was anything at all ‘wrong’ with them, but they’re not my preference. I prefer the elegance of the less adorned cuffs as I think gauntlets are a bit of a flashy detail. I prefer dinner jackets to be ventless, again the simple elegance of the unbroken lines of the jacket’s rear is superior to a vented version IMO. Thunderball is my favourite film of the canon for a number of reasons including most of Bond’s outfits – business, formal and casual – being among the best in the entire series.

      • Rod, while I personally love the extra details of the Dr No suit, I understand your appreciation for the clean Thunderball one. I’ve mentioned before that my two favourites are the hyper traditional Tomorrow Never Dies and the Thunderball, which are opposites in terms of formality while both remaining (arguably) correct.
        As for th rest of Thunderball, Connery’s charcoal flannel suit from the pre-credits is likely my favourite lounge suit of the series. Everything about it, the way it moves and drapes, seems close to perfect.

    • I tend to agree with you about Connery’s wardrobe in Thunderball. For whatever reason, the fit of those suits appear a little cleaner than in his other films. They all look great. And the casual ensemble is as aspirational as it gets for beachwear.

  6. I loved he details. I own three dinner suits myself all different styles. I’m not even counting the velvet jackets. One must be prepared.

  7. Im having trouble with the lapels.
    I don’t know which lapels to wear when it comes to a certain occasion.

    Small dinner party 6 or less is it notch or shawl

    Informal gatherings of 6 or more is it peak?

    Etc…

    Im actually going to france this year and want to be ready

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