The Grey Sharkskin Suit in Thunderball

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Thunderball-Grey-Suit

In Thunderball, James Bond wears a lightweight, medium grey suit in Nassau. The sheen suggests mohair, though Bond wears mohair because it breathes well in warm weather and not because it was popular with 1960s mods. Summer suits are sometimes woven with a worsted wool warp and a mohair weft. The cloth is a semi-solid, which means it appears solid from a distance but is woven with more than one colour yarn. In this suit the colours are black and white. Semi-solid suitings include pick-and-pick, pinhead, tic pattern, nailhead and birdseye, respectively increasing in scale. Subtle glen checks, such as the light grey Goldfinger suit‘s fine hopsack-weave glen check, may also count as a semi-solid. This suit from Thunderball has the most subtle pattern of all semi-solid suits, pick-and-pick, which is also known as sharkskin.

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Pick-and-pick is typically woven in an even twill weave but it can also be woven in a hopsack weave or a plain weave. This suit is most likely not the twill-weave type of pick-and-pick since twill weaves wear warmer than plain weaves do. For that reason, mohair is rarely woven in a twill weave and this suit is most likely a hopsack weave pick-and-pick. It is essentially the same as an end-on-end shirt, where the warp is a single colour—grey in Bond’s suit—and the weft alternates yarns between that same colour and white. This creates the look of little dots in a grid across the cloth, so plain-weave pick-and-pick could also be called pinhead. The plain-weave pick-and-pick has the most pronounced cross-hatch effect of all semi-solid cloths.

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The suit is cut by Anthony Sinclair in his usual style. The button two suit jacket has natural shoulders, roped sleeve heads, a low button stance and narrow lapels. It is cut with a full chest and a suppressed waist. The jacket has jetted hip pockets, four-button cuffs and no vents in the rear. The trousers have double forward pleats, button-tab waist adjusters, a sqaured extended waistband, on-seam side pockets and tapered legs with turn-ups.

The mid blue cotton poplin shirt has a spread collar, front placket and two-button cocktail cuffs. Bond’s tie is a midnight blue grenadine in a narrow width that complements the narrow lapels. Bond knots the tie in a four-in-hand knot.

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Bond’s shoes with this suit are inconsistent in these scenes. In some shots he wears black short Chelsea boots (left below). On other shots, such as when he sticks his foot in a sink, he is wearing black low-vamp slip-ons with a plain toe on a chiselled last (right below), but afterwards he is seen again in the ankle boots. His socks are usually light grey to match the suit, but in some shots he’s matching the shoes in black socks.

Thunderball-Grey-Suit-Ankle-Boots-Slip-Ons

20 COMMENTS

  1. This is a good example of what I always found a little unimaginative, indeed slightly boring about the way Connery’s Bond dressed. While overall this suit is indeed elegant enough its, again, grey. I know Connery himself is not an innately stylish dresser in the way Moore or Brosnan are, and he was, essentially, groomed by the very dapper Terence Young, but surely the producers could’ve exercised some imagination?

    Look back at all your previous posts re; Thunderball, for example. He has one or maybe two grenadine ties in very dark navy or black with all the suits. Never any other conservative colours, for example, wine, blue, stripes etc. Except for two brief deviations (the brown and hideous pink in Diamonds) not until Live and let Die did we see this.

    Connery’s suits are all some shade of grey, charcoal or maybe navy in his movies right until the beige one in Diamonds are Forever which you featured last week. In all 5 movies he made from Dr No until You Only Live Twice, not once did he wear a beige, tan, brown, blue or cream suit, even on missions in the tropics. I used to think that this was because it was the 1960’s and this wasn’t the done thing but one only needs to look at his contemporaries to see that this is not the case. Even Lazenby’s Bond’s departed into lighter shades in the previous OHMSS. The Diamonds Are Forever suit, if he wore it with better accoutrements, was quite nice yet it seems somehow odd on Connery’s Bond (all the rest of the suits featured in Diamonds’ are the usual grey, navy etc) and the tan colour one he wears in the Nassau scenes in his unofficial comeback Never Say Never Again is one of his very best. What took them so long with Connery?

    Furthermore, overall I can say that I preferred the cut of Cyril Castle and Douglas Hayward’s suits to Anthony Sinclair’s.

  2. David, Connery wore a couple brown suits in the 60s. I already mentioned one: https://www.bondsuits.com/country-suit-at-the-office/

    He also wore a few blue suits that I would consider lighter than navy. At the time, Bond had an established look and beige suits weren't a part of that. In Dr. No, the light grey suit distinguished Bond from Leiter's beige suit.

  3. I see the point you’re making Matt, but overall I think my observation is valid. Lighter shades of blue than navy. Sure. Various shades of grey. The suit you refer to from Goldfinger is a black and (dark, I assume) brown subtle hounds-tooth pattern which overall appears almost a shade of black/charcoal. In any case it’s not a light shade of suit and worn in London rather than in a warm setting.

    If Bond had this “established look” then, why the change with Lazenby and then (largely) back to the same with Connery and then again a change again with Moore?

    Don’t get me wrong. I think Connery’s suits looked, generally, very well. It’s just a little colour variation would’ve been more interesting. I’d be interested in hearing my fellow contributor’s observations on this.

  4. David,

    I think the "established look" was Connery as Bond; with Lazenby, the producers were going for a Connery-look-alike who was a little younger, trimmer, and slightly more "fashionable", hence the cream-colored suit, the cravat with the equestrian outfit, etc. It's ironic, though, to think that one of the reasons Lazenby gave for not renewing his contract as Bond was that Bond dressed too conservatively for the "swinging sixties"!
    In the case of Moore in LALD, there was an intentional effort to break with the Connery image in every way possible (no Aston Martin, no Martinis, no Q, etc.). It seems logical that the style and appearance of Bond would also be drastically altered.
    For what it's worth, I always thought Connery's neckties were minimalist to the point of being invisible, and yet, somehow, they worked well with his "look".

  5. Good points Dan. I agree.

    Bond, when played by all three actors you mention, was essentially a very well dressed man of the world. With Lazenby they wanted to alter the image a little as he was a decade younger than Connery in 1968 and I would say that, compared with a lot of late 1960's fashions, Lazenby's Bond was reasonably conservative but a bit more "hip" than Connery.

    With Moore, Connery and Lazenby's hard edge was blunted and Bond became softer and more debonair in his approach. A kind of international playboy spy. As well as jettisoning the Martini's (until The Spy Who Loved Me anyway) and the Aston Martin, Moore's Bond smoked Montecristo cigars instead of Connery's cigarettes and his wardrobe although, in its own way, as classic in style as his predecessors but, a little more adventurous and definitely with a more varied palate of colours. In came beige and brown shades of suiting as well as double breasted suits. Striped shirts and brighter ties. Safari jackets etc. Nods to 1970's fashions but still rooted firmly in classic British tailoring.

    Would Connery too have adopted these colours/styles had he continued with Bond throughout the 1970's? Hard to say. No doubt his style would have changed from the 1960's as we witnessed in Diamonds are Forever and we did see some brighter hues in his unofficial "comeback" Never Say Never Again so no doubt a change of some sort would've happened. Perhaps not as with a different actor but definitely a change of some sort.

    Re: Connery’s neckties, I agree with your point. They do work with his look, which is a kind of pared down and minimalist style. This is why that pink tie from Diamonds was so bizarre. It would’ve looked jarring and tacky on Lazenby or Moore but given Connery’s conservative track record on neckwear hitherto, just very, very bizarre.

  6. I have to agree with Dan’s comments. It is my understanding, that Connery’s look was influenced by the literary Bond and his pared down (and based on some of the book excepts on this blog, questionable) wardrobe. Lazenby’s non-London dress was meant to bring a more hip element to the character, which had, by the late 1960s, lost his trend-setting status.

    To answer David’s question, I prefer Connery’s suits and their simplicity to the others. They may be a bit unimaginative, but this makes them timeless. This is not meant to disparage the other actors, all of whom were generally well-dressed and looked great (Dalton excepted after the first half of The Living Daylights). But I find Connery’s look very classic and timeless; indeed, with today’s styles, Connery could step off the screen and look quite modern and the Somerset Suit, or the Q Branch Herringbone are probably my favorites covered so far. But I tend to like the more simple, conservative looks: Lazenby’s London Suits, Moore’s Navy in New York (love the Royal Navy regimental tie), the Marine Suit and Classic Charcoal Suit, and others like the Sotheby’s one from Octopussy or the Cemetery suit from Eyes Only. I did often find Brosnan a little too flashy. One thing I liked about Craig in Casino Royale was his generally more subdued suits (i.e., Train Traveling, the Charcoal Blue). But this is all a matter of personal opinion

    David – I concur about Cyril Castle’s tailoring; the grey suit from Moonraker fits better than anything I have seen. I do like Anthony Sinclair as well though, especially in the first four movies with a fit Connery.

  7. I agree – simple but very good-looking as always.

    Why can't more people nowadays dress like this minimalism-style instead of the I'm-going-to-buy-the-flashiest-suit-as-possible.

    Just one thing: where is the handkerchief?

  8. I dunno — that grey suit with sky blue shirt, blue grenadine tie is about as timeless and cool as it gets. Ultimately, it’s tough to look foolish in this get up, which cannot be said for some of the nightmarish costumes Moore had to endure in the 70s. I don’t believe there’s anything unimaginative about the timeless wardobe in the Connery movies — it was all plenty inventive in 1965; no one knew for sure the clothing would be timeless. Ultimately, a man with money, knowledge, and good taste wears nice clothing that flatters him — something I believe Bond would have done and, therefore, does via Terence Young, Anthony Sinclair, etc …

    • What is the effect of wearing a sky blue shirt instead of a pale blue? Does anyone else think that pale blue would have looked better for this ensemble? Maybe reserving the sky blue for navy suits or blazers

      • I think the darker blue makes the outfit look more colourful, which is appropriate for the tropical setting. That may have been the reason for the choice of shirt.

  9. I think this outfit looks great and is more colourfull. He also wears the sky blue shirt with the flannel suit earlier in the film at the funeral.

  10. Looks like Connery is wearing a sleeveless undershirt under his shirt, like he did some other times too. Strange since it is supposed to be a hot place they were shooting in.

      • I see your point, but since most men mainly sweat from the armpits, I never understood how a sleeveless undershirt is going to help, since it leaves the armpits free. Why not going for a t-shirt then ??

  11. Matt, you mention a full chest, but is it draped or clean ?
    Does Connery’s Bond started to move from draped chest jackets to clean chest jackets in Thunderball or is it later on ?

  12. Did anyone get the meaning behind this scene where Fiona Volpe undoes Connery’s dimple in this scene? As much as I like the movie it always puzzles me.

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