Grey Flannel Trousers

50

Flannel-Trousers

On the 51st anniversary of the release of Dr. No we look at Sean Connery’s favourite complement to his navy blazers: dark grey flannel trousers. The trousers in Dr. No are closer to charcoal and don’t provide enough contrast with the blazer, but in Thunderball he wears trousers a little lighter that look better with navy. Connery’s trousers are made from woolen flannel, which is a very soft but very warm-wearing cloth, making it an odd choice to wear in Jamaica. These flannel trousers are made in the same style as Connery’s suit trousers, with double forward pleats and turn-ups. The waistband has a square extension with a hook-and-eye closure and side-adjusters with the usual three mother-of-pearl buttons on each side.

Bond fastens his shoulder holster down to his side-adjuster
Bond fastens his shoulder holster down to his side-adjuster

50 COMMENTS

  1. Maybe it’s different in every country, but I never really understood the appeal of grey trousers and a navy blazer… Where I’m from at least, the only people you see wearing this kind of combination are security guards at the mall…

    • Security guards have indeed made good use of that look. But they aren’t wearing flannel trousers, and that can set your look apart, amongst other things. Sean Connery is not dressed at all like a security guard for one big reason: his clothes fit well.

    • Well, you have to keep in mind that styles change…back in the 80s the navy blazer/grey pants combo was on its last legs. Now to most people it looks hopelessly outdated – even more more so because of it being co-opted by the service industry such as security guards and bus drivers. However, one thing I’ve learned in my 44 years is no matter how ridiculous or out-of-style something looks to us now at some point it will be back “in”. I mean, just look at the browline glasses that the new Q wears. For a LONG time the only people you would see wearing them would be accountants in their 60s who also wore short sleeved dress shirts…

      • The navy blazer/grey trousers combo is still very popular in the US and has been since the 1950s, though I know it’s not popular in the UK. But blazers haven’t been “hip” in the US since the 1980s.

      • Matt is correct. I wear this look once every 1-2 weeks. It might not be “hip,” but it certainly isn’t out of style–at least not in the norteastern United States.

      • Completely agree. This is a very common look for American businessmen. I was at a convention last week at which a large number of the attendees, myself included, were dressed similarly to how Bond is here.
        I also see people wearing blazers in the Hamptons a lot, and they are a staple of the Ivy League look.
        I happen to think that this is a great traditional look, especially when the components fit as well as Bond’s do.

  2. I’m not sure… I actually like a lot of styles that are considered “old-mannish” and outdated, but I simply don’t like this look. A blue blazer with either white or beige cotton slacks, however, I find most appealing (But I think that’s more of an american look, isn’t it?). And as you pointed out Matt, the flannel trousers are a strange choice considering the weather in Jamaica…

  3. Hi, in Argentina, where I live, this look it’s still pretty popular in private school’s uniforms. In older gentleman in certain opportunities. I use this in campus, but you know college professors…

  4. Leaving aside the merits of this look, the fit of Connery’s jacket and pants in the first photo is just perfect.

  5. I agree with you Chalten, in the UK this look is very much a school boy look with both private and some state schools having the pupils wear blazers, which is more then likely why it’s not carried over into adult hood.

    I can remember their being a fashion (one i am shamed to say I adopted) in the mid 80′ in the UK for the ‘preppy look’ of a blazer with tan chinos.

    All that said I do like this look on Connery and he does wear it well.

  6. I agree with (most of) the observations above and I love the look of a classic navy blazer, even if, in this part of the world it’s definitely fallen out of favor in the last 10/15 years as casual wear has become king. It’s one of the most versatile items in any gentleman’s wardrobe – I always have both a single and double breasted version – and used to be the prefect item to straddle the formal/casual divide. Its continued popularity in the US, and unpopularity in the UK, is interesting given its British origins.
    The problem here is about context. The ensemble Connery wears here is simply not suited to an assignment in the tropics (Dr. No and Thunderball) while it was perfect when it reappeared in Amsterdam in Diamonds are Forever. As eneas says, the navy blazer is an item that looks great with beige or cream trousers as well as shades of grey and something in this line would have worked far, far better here than charcoal. I thought this long before I knew the trousers were actually, bizarrely, made of flannel. Why? Makes no sense at all.

  7. I understand that the flannel made sense in all the scenes filmed in Pinewood (I suppose both the hotel suite and prof. Dent’s office?), but clothes that also would be worn on location in Jamaica?! Why didn’t anyone suggest anything else?

    • The same goes for the grey flannel suit when Bond arrives in Jamaica, and there was a lot more location filming with that one. Perhaps they wanted Bond to dress like an Englishman the way he would dress in England. Or the costume designer had no idea what Jamaica’s weather is like.

      • The flannel does have the effect of giving Connery a much cleaner look than a lighter summer fabric might have done, just compare how crisp he looks in the first picture in contrast to how rumpled Dent looks. That doesn’t explain the use of gray trousers as opposed to beige or cream however.

  8. Interesting the way that the navy blazer/grey pants combo has different popularity in different areas. Here in Toronto, which is not far from the American northeast, I can’t remember the last time that I saw someone under 60 wear that look, unless they were a student at a private school, a security guard, or someone wearing a quite old or ill-fitting outfit (there’s a co-op student I see wearing a 90s blazer with baggy pleated pants that are 3 inches too long for him, and it’s not an intentionally retro look).

    However, I did see a fair number of people (at least in the financial district) wear a blue sport coat with white or off-white pants this summer. Quite rare to see anyone wearing khaki or tan pants, though.

  9. I remarked to my lady friend today how nice it was to see almost everyone on Mount Street, in Mayfair, wearing either a suit, a blazer or a sports jacket. And all classic cuts, nobody looked like they had been inspired by Skyfail. Young, old, fat, thin. All immaculate. I like the fact that in the (spiritual) home of Douglas Hayward people still dress to impress.

  10. Interesting to see those who laud ill fitting suits – which just happen to be currently fashionable – sneer at someone else wearing what their self-appointed fashion police deem to be a passé ill fitting suit!

    • “Interesting to see those who laud ill fitting suits – which just happen to be currently fashionable – sneer at someone else wearing what their self-appointed fashion police deem to be a passé ill fitting suit!”

      Can you please point out where someone “sneered”? I don’t see it up above. Or was this meant for a different thread?

      • Well, you deliberately singled out this individual with the blazer and baggy pants for mention and not in a complimentary light, i.e.”it’s not an intentionally retro look”. Maybe other contributors may view it differently but my reading of it (as a reasonably educated man) would be as a denigrating comment, i.e. sneering.

      • I read it as the man’s clothes were really baggy, like Timothy Dalton’s clothes in Licence to Kill and not elegantly full-cut like in the 1940s. A poor baggy fit is equally bad as a poor tight fit.

  11. Flannel pants maybe indeed the most versatile item in a man’s wardrobe. I really should buy some sometimes… In Paris blazer and grey trousers are quite rare -or often only worn by old gentlemen and unfortunately with a poor cut-, perhaps because it is connoted as conservative -I mean conservative in politics. Not to mention black “blazers”… Anyway it has been a long time since Paris has been the capital of the best-dressed men. Italian or English cities have taken its place.

    I don’t mind the fact that they are charcoal, although a lighter shade would perhaps look better. Actually I prefer them being charcoal than cream or beige, it sets Bond apart from local people as an English gentleman wearing his Eastern city clothes. About the flannel cloth, it may be warm. But I remember that white and off-white flannels were sometimes worn in tropical countries in the 1930s. Maybe there was a reason for it, except for the elegance of the cloth.
    I quite agree with this outfit being impeccably cut. And as a matter of fact I think that the cut seems more close to the body than others Sinclair’s suits -especially the blazer, I don’t think the trousers are different. Perhaps it was another way for Sinclair to further distinguish the blazer from the lounge suits.
    Am I the only one to have this point of view ?

    Matt, a question for you : how can you affirm that the buttons are mother of pearl ? I am just curious, I thought they were horn or plastic as it is often the norm. Mother of pearl buttons would certainly mesh well with a summer suit but here it looks a bit strange- mother of pearl buttons with a winter cloth !

    • Mother of pearl for DAKS tops are customary with many English tailors. They are the grey kind of mother of pearl, and you’ll see them on Connery’s suit trousers too. They don’t match the rest of the buttons on the suits.

      • So for a Sinclair suit, the jacket has regular horn buttons but the trousers have mother of pearl ones ?
        I presume there is no “pratical” reason for that ?

    • Originally I was going to say that his jacket is probably cut closer because he didn’t need to conceal a shoulder holster — yet there it is. Interesting.

      Personally, I would have had Bond in a hopsack blazer with pearl-grey trousers to blend in a bit more and be appropriate for the Jamaican heat. Today, they’d probably dress him in an open neck shirt sans tie at the very least.

  12. Where did all this hate for navy blazers with grey flannels come from all the sudden? And what in Sam Hill is wrong with wearing khakis with a navy blazer? It is originally meant as a summer garment, after all.

    • Jovan,

      I agree with you! Navy blazers with grey flannels have been a staple of the masculine wardrobe, just like herringbone hacking jackets and tweed suits, all wonderful items now deemed “old mannish” by the hipster crowd in their skinny black undertaker suits. At this point I consider “old mannish” to be a compliment! As for the Dr. No blazer, it does seem a little slimmer than the rest of the suits in the movie – it flatters Connery’s V-shaped torso without constricting – another Sinclair masterpiece!

      • I agree the trousers should have been a lighter grey and a lighter material. Beige or white would have been a bit too “continental” for 007 back in the 60’s. You simply cannot go wrong with the overall look of blue blazer and light grey pants. You can keep it conservative by wearing a simple tie or can be bolder with a choice of virtually any tie or you can wear without a tie. Old mannish? I don’t think so. If so, long life to old men!

      • I hope this doesn’t seem self absorbed, but it’s funny how a lot of people I know say how “fashionable” I am. A lot of my clothes are vintage from the ’60s — technically old man stuff. I guess it helps to wear tapered trousers given the modern fit trends. However, the general lesson here is that classic styles, even done with the tailoring trends of a certain period, can still look stylish decades later. There’s even men I’d consider well dressed in ’70s films. Good fit and an eye for colour and pattern are timeless things. Being totally slavish to a period’s trends will date you, however.

    • I cannot for the life of me see why, if you are prepared to wear a blazer, anyone should take against the classic look of navy blazer and grey trousers. It is a classic look, sober but stylish, and one I tend to prefer to tan chinos (though I have no strong objections there either).

      Shiny buttoned navy blazers do have a bit of an image problem. They are, I think, seen as just a little too flash. That’s why blue odd jackets are often worn in similar situations instead.

      • Funny how in the northeast US, a navy blazer with metal buttons is the opposite of flash. It’s one of the most conservative things someone can wear and with the standard grey trousers it is treated as an alternative to a suit, in both business and social functons. I have smoked mother of pearl buttons on my single-breasted blazer, which is shiny like metal without being metal, and the connotations metal brings with it.

      • What exactly is the problem with brass blazer buttons? The naval/military association? The preppy connotation? I just don’t understand – a navy blazer with dark buttons looks like a mismatched suit jacket!

      • There is no problem with them at all. For some it’s the preppy, uniform (security guard rather than naval officer more these days), older connotation. A navy blazer should definitely not have dark buttons if it’s made of a worsted. Worsteds like hopsack and serge need metal or mother of pearl buttons to set the blazer apart from a suit jacket. If there’s more texture, then dark horn buttons can work. I don’t mind horn buttons on a navy doeskin jacket because it isn’t going to look like a suit jacket anyway.

      • The issue is simply that they are pretty eye catching, I think. Brass buttons are always noticeable. Then the blazer has some unfortunate associations sometimes – either Leslie Phillips or a 1980s conservatory salesman at the golf club. Finally, the brass buttons of the blazer should always really have had the insignia of the club or association that the blazer belonged to on it. How many do? The truely conservative dresser has tended to regard it as slightly infra dig to wear them without these or even outside events connected to the club.

        That said, I own a double breasted navy blazer with brass buttons and like it. You just have to take care when you wear it and what with to avoid the unfortunate associations they sometimes bring. I hope and suspect that – although rather unfashionable at the moment in the UK – they may well make a come back in the next few years.

        Mother of pearl buttons sound like a very good way of toning down the brass buttons but keeping them as something special as, I agree, dark buttons with a blazer jacket wouldn’t work.

  13. Hal, “Unfortunate associations” only bother those without the chutzpah to carry off a particular style and in any case they’re a somewhat subjective notion.

    • David,

      You are so right! I fail to see what is so “unfortunate” about the Royal Navy or prep school. Reverse snobbery is very unattractive and always has a faint whiff of envy about it.

  14. Classic look, indeed, and one of my favorites for social occasions and for the office (once or twice a month), and no one has ever told me; “hey you look like a security guard”, i like to make it more interesting by switching the boring (yet safe) black shoes for burgundy suede horsebit moccasins, so my look would be, white shirt (no tie), navy blazer, light gray trousers and burgundy slip-ons.

    • Fernando,

      Just out of curiosity, why “no tie”? I realize this is a generational thing to some extent, but the blazer-and-open collar look always appears somehow “unfinished”, no matter how nicely starched the shirt collar might be. Besides, as Thom Wolfe points out, past a certain age a man’s neck is no longer terribly attractive…

      • I’ve been doing open collars so much that I’m actually fighting myself to wear a tie where I wouldn’t before.

        A slim knit tie is a great way to keep it casual and youthful.

  15. The choice of flannel trousers for Jamaica is not so odd as it might seem. Flannel comes in many weave weights, and has a long tradition of being a summer activity cloth – think of cricketing or boating flannels and you get the idea. A ten or 12oz flannel is a very comfortable cloth to wear in warm climates (if not too humid) and is often regarded as ‘cool wool’.

    From a personal perspective, having been born and brought up in the West Indies and spent several years in Jamaica in the 60s and 70s, and know well the locations used for both Dr. No and Live and Let Die. The climate of the larger islands – Jamaica and Cuba particularly – can become comparatively cool at certain times of the year, and wearing blazer and flannels would not be at all uncomfortable.

    Myself, I wore light wools flannels on a regular basis during my time in Jamaica (in non-air-conditioned situations at that), and remember colleagues in suits, collar and tie on a regular basis, too. The ‘Doctor Breeze’ in the evenings can be quite chilling to the point of being uncomfortable, but cottons and linens would be normal, as we see worn by the other characters.

  16. I dress conservatively in mainly greys and navy with generally solid ties but all my clothes are tailored because I feel fit and fabric are the most important elements.
    However I have outfits which look similar but are in different weights.
    I imagine I could be comfortable in Jamaica or Nassau in my unlined lightweight navy blazer and tropical worsted mid grey trousers with a pale blue shirt and navy knit tie.
    In winter it would be solid navy cashmere blazer and heavy wool flannels with a navy cashmere tie.
    I am not the slightest bit interested in fashion or whether something is in or out – in Rome every second man is dressed identically to Connery here.
    This look will be a classic forever.

  17. I’ve just bought a pair of charcoal grey flannel trousers complete with cuffs but without pleats to go with a Harris Tweed jacket.Im very pleased with the look but here in the U.K.its not one you see a lot of these days.Too many mature gents( I’m rather mature myself ) seem to wear nothing but jeans & a sweater,it isn’t a smart look at all.For me it jacket,smart trousers,shirt & tie topped off by a trilby,bring back the Frank Sinatra look I say.

  18. You mentioned something about how the trousers must be similar to the blazer. My tailor and I took a few moments to find a pair of dark grey flannel trousers, but what type of trousers would you wear with camel hair blazer? I ask because I always liked the look of brosnan at the end of the film the Thomas crown affair.

    Also are there any rules when wearing a v neck sweater? Should the trousers be of similiar fabric as well?

    P.s. sported the thunderball blazer look and you are right. I did not look like a security gaurd because the garments fit well. Oddly enough I was a security guard many years ago and although I did not look like a security guard people thought I was the pilot ….compliment ???? Or resentment ?

  19. Matt is it possible Bond used the dark grey trousers from his flannel suit to pair with the navy blazer in Dr. No. if so, it does add some realism to his dressing as he would have had limited space in his luggage especially considering he brought two other suits with him on the trip, plus the one he wore on the plane.

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