The Herringbone Linen Suit in The World Is Not Enough

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Original article published 4 June 2011

I am in the process of rewriting and republishing old articles about James Bond’s outfits that are in need of a refresh and expansion. All former comments are preserved below.

The ecru herringbone Irish linen suit for the final Turkey scenes in The World Is Not Enough is a clear standout amongst Pierce Brosnan’s many suits as James Bond. This is one of James Bond’s most relaxed suits of the series, particularly because it is one of Bond’s few 100& linen suits. Though linen would later become a staple of Bond’s casual wardrobe in the 21st century, Bond infrequently wore 100% linen garments on screen because they would usually look too wrinkled for the character. Neatness almost always took priority over the actor’s comfort, no matter how hot and humid the weather is.

Irish linen wrinkles less than other linens because it’s heavier, and in a herringbone weave it wrinkles even less than linen’s usual plain weave. This suit has plenty of wrinkles, but the wrinkles elegantly become part of the suit’s texture. The downside of linen in a herringbone or a twill weave is that it breathes less than an plain weave—twills are tighter while plain weaves are more open—and negates some of linen’s primary benefit: to wear cool. Even in a herringbone weave, linen still has good moisture-wicking properties. This scene was filmed in Istanbul in the spring, where this linen suit was likely made this suit a comfortable garment. Linen was also likely chosen for this suit for its relaxed and informal look.

The-World-Is-Not-Enough-Cream-Linen-Suit

Though this suit is a more casual suit, it retains Brioni’s strong Roman silhouette with straight, padded shoulders and roped sleeve heads so Bond retains an imposing look. The fit is full but clean and not baggy. There are three tan corozo buttons down the front with the lapels rolling to the top button. Bond wears the jacket closed at the middle button at first, but he unbuttons it after a bomb goes off and does not fasten the jacket again. The jacket has a welt breast pocket, two sporty open patch hip pockets, and four buttons on each cuff. Rare for Brosnan’s Bond, this jacket has a single vent. While a single vent works well on this sporty suit, the single vent may have been chosen for how it allows the jacket to drape over the torture chair. Single vents are at their most practical when sitting on both horses and antique torture chairs.

The suit trousers have double reverse pleats, which surely helped Bond’s comfort when he was strapped to the torture chair. The trousers have slanted side pockets and two rear pockets. The trim, tapered trouser legs are finished with turn-ups.

Few of Bond’s similarly coloured suits have as much screen time and see as much action as this suit does. This is Brosnan’s only Bond film to feature him wearing a suit for the film’s climax, and this is only possible because it’s also his least action-packed climax. Like with the ecru suit decades earlier in Diamonds Are Forever, Bond again removes his suit jacket so it doesn’t get wet. When Bond dives into the sea from the Maiden’s Tower, he removes his suit jacket for practical reasons. From a costuming perspective it cuts down on the extra suit jackets needed if they don’t need to get soaked.

Because Bond removes his suit jacket, this is a rare occasion when we see Brosnan’s Bond in shirt sleeves. The Turnbull & Asser shirt is a French Blue cotton royal oxford, which is woven in a breathable basketweave that complements the linen suit in texture. The dark shirt has an unusual contrast with the pale suit for Bond, but the colours work well in this casual context. The French blue colour looks richer when soaked and does not become translucent. Apart from how it pairs with the ecru suit, the shirt’s colour was also likely chosen for how it pops in the white submarine set, while it’s also a beautiful complement to the blue in the underwater scenes.

The shirt has Turnbull & Asser’s ‘Number 3’ point collar, which is worn open and drapes nicely inside the suit jacket. The shirt has a front placket, shoulder pleats and a button of the gauntlet. More appropriate than Brosnan’s usual double cuffs, this is Bond’s only shirt with Turnbull & Asser’s signature three-button cuffs, which has a gentle taper to follow the shape of the wrist through the long cuff.

The shirt’s full fit was the style in the 1990s, even for bespoke shirts, and the royal oxford drapes admirably. When the shirt is wet it does not appear to be as full as when dry, suggesting it could have been made in a trimmer fit for the submarine scenes.

While Bond usually wears ties with his suits, the casual nature of a linen suit means that it can look equally stylish with or without a tie. He starts out with the shirt’s collar and first placket button undone, with the collar inside the jacket. After Bond is captured, the shirt’s collar ends up sitting over the jacket’s collar and he doesn’t fix it, recalling a popular 1950s look (the collar and lapels aren’t large enough for it to look 1970s) while also signalling that Bond has been shaken up. In the submarine a second placket button is undone as the action intensifies.

Bond wears light walnut brown monk shoes from Church’s, which are the perfect complement to the ecru suit. Though it’s trendy to wear light brown shoes with dark suits, lighter shoes pair better with suits like this where the light shoes balance the light suit and don’t draw too much attention. The only mistake is wearing this suit with a dark brown belt and dark brown socks. The belt appears black in many shots, but it shows up as brown in the outdoor balcony shot. The belt has a brass single-prong buckle and has a small plaque to the side embossed with the branding. It’s difficult to make out the logo, but it’s most likely Dunhill like other belts Brosnan wears. The brand plaque is flashy and unnecessary, but it’s otherwise one of Pierce Brosnan’s more elegant belts.

Ideally, the belt should have been light brown to match the shoes. A dark brown belt unnecessarily breaks up the outfit and looks out of place without dark brown shoes to match it. Dark brown socks likewise create an undesirable gap between the suit and the shoes. Socks in the suit’s colour would be ideal, but socks that match the shoes or in a colour between the suit’s and shoes’ colours would more elegantly ease the transition between the suit and shoes.

The suit and shirt were put up for auction at Bonhams in Knightsbridge, London on 6 March 2007 but did not sell. They sold there at a later auction on 16 June 2009 for £2,400. The auction identifies the shirt material as Sea Island Cotton. The listing incorrectly says the suit was from GoldenEye, but in the pictures it looks identical to the linen suit from The World is Not Enough and does not resemble any suit from GoldenEye. The shirt also matches the shirt in The World Is Not Enough, and Turnbull & Asser shirts were not used in GoldenEye.

45 COMMENTS

  1. Hi Matt,
    thanks for the great blog! Enjoying each post.

    Taking a closer look at stills from the movie although, I think its a little bit of a stretch believing the belt is brown, especially when compared to the other colors.

    And as far as I remember that "rule" is again broken in Quantum of Solace (although with casual clothing). Maybe it isn't followed at all anymore? Also, in my opinion, I'd prefer Bond wearing the suit without a belt at all.

    Cheers, Ben

  2. Very elegant and a good example of "casual" working for Bond. In marked contrast to some other less successful attempts at "casual" by some other actors who shall remain nameless.

    I agree re: the belt, Matt, as the rest of the ensemble is faultless.

  3. Matching the belt to the shoes is one of the most basic rules of men's clothing. Perhaps we've seen otherwise since Bond has been dressed by women. Anon, I agree that it would be better for the suit to be worn without a belt. But Italian suit trousers are cut with a lower rise that works better with a belt. But both the belt and the lower rise disrupt the flow of the suit.

  4. By 2011 standards the rise is high. But by traditional standards I'd say they could use another inch to make it up where Connery's and Moore's suit trousers sat. The rise doesn't look so low because the jacket has a slightly low button stance.

  5. Cool look, and vastly superior to the Beige linen in Diamonds. Brosnan pulls this off with aplomb.

  6. Matt , is this suit a pure linen one or a blend ?
    Infact , are ANY of the suits in the James Bond series pure linen ?

  7. The linen suit looks greyer then cream to my eye and it would work better for Brosnan’s cool complexion then a true cream. It almost stone in colour.

  8. It looks like this shirt has darts on the back, if I’m not mistaken. We rarely see Pierce without his jacket but there’s a brief glimpse when he’s about to dive after the submarine. (Of at least, the one his stuntman wears has them…).

    Not true of the ones he wears in Thomas Crown Affair though…

  9. I recently decided to rewatch the scenes where Bond wears this rather elegant outfit (one of his best casually suited outfits in the entire series for sure) just to be sure if the belt really is black. Correct me if I’m wrong Matt, but is it possible that Brosnan’s belt could be a dark burgundy and not black?

    I came to this conclusion as I happen to own a dark burgundy belt that matches my dark burgundy slip-ons and indeed depending on the lighting it almost looks black but in better lighting it looks warmer. I think Bond’s belt looked warmer than black and more like a dark burgundy particularly in the scene when he and Christmas Jones were captured by Elektra’s men (after they were narrowly caught in the explosion) and in the scene when Bond removes his linen suit jacket before diving to the submarine. (This scene in particular: https://www.bondsuits.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/09/The-World-Is-Not-Enough-Cream-Linen-Suit-Blue-Shirt.jpg). In some scenes in the submarine even, Bond’s belt looks also closer to dark brown and in others with poor lighting it looks black.

    • I think that you might be right on the belt colour. It doesn’t look black to the naked eye. Looks can be deceiving.

  10. I do like this outfit. I would’ve worn the shirt with only one button unfastened. Also the belt was possibly dark brown although if that’s the case, it should be lighter, and should the belt if it’s brown be the same shade as the shoes?

  11. I thank you for rewriting and republishing this article!
    The photos you added help to understand what you explained. The weave, the belt, and the shoes. I want shirts that have front placket drapes like his one.

    What kind of pocket square will you add to this outfit? Brosnan’s Bond (or Remington Steele) looked great with pocket squares I guess.

  12. Nice update to the article. As always Lindy Hemming nailed most of the fundamentals with the suits, and really flexes her skills with the specific detail choices and color selection to match the scene and character. I hadn’t really thought about why she chose the single vent and the pleats, but it totally makes sense given the predicament Bond will find himself in.

  13. This outfit is such a winner. Any young man (or older man, for that matter) should seriously consider a light coloured linen suit. You’ll stand out among the sea of faded tee-shirts and shorts in the best possible way.

    • Couldn’t agree more Timothy. This was one of my favourite outfits of the canon, certainly of the Brozz era. Some people disdain saturated coloured shirts (literally saturated in this case!) but I generally like them (also worn to good effect as Thomas Crowne) and I particularly like them when worn with pale coloured suits in the right setting. Here in Florida I can get into this sort of rig for a semi formal occasion and not feel too overdressed as I might in a worsted wool suit and tie. My personal preference would have been ventless or double vented jacket, flat front strides and a much trimmer cut to the shirt but Matt has explained the context and trends of the time. Brozz wears a cream / tan linen suit in Goldeneye prior to the Cuba finale and in DAD – also in Cuba for the scenes at the hospital – but this version is far superior to the other two.

      • I’ve also taken to saturated shirts to wear casually under jackets. Most of my odd jackets and casual suits are pretty neutral in colour, so I findba bright pop of blue or pink brings the ensemble to life. It is interesting that of Brosnan’s three warm weather suits this one stands supreme. The Goldeneye Cuba suit never stood out as being particularly special and while I think the Die Another Day Cuba suit is more successful, this one is just on another level for a reason I can’t quite explain.

      • The saturated (some would say jewel tone?) color shirts seemed to last peak in popularity in the 1990s… and prior to that in the ’70s and ’30/40s? I wonder if they will make a comeback.

  14. Have to say, really well written. My take is that:
    1. If it is humid ie in Istanbul, it made sense to forgo the tie especially in the humidity.
    2. Having a single vent whilst on horseback or on the chair enables it to split evenly.
    3. I’d have worn that shirt with only the collar button unfastened.
    4. Taking the jacket off when diving for the sub was a good move as it would be cumbersome whilst swimming and likewise once soaked.

    Also why does Bond undo a button in the sub battle?

  15. Lovely suit. I don’t generally care for linen because it is so wrinkle-prone, but Pierce wears it well. An obvious parallel is Roger’s cream suit in Moonraker, also worn sans tie. Roger’s suit has a level of style Pierce can’t quite match, but he still looks good. I love the blue T and A shirt.

    • If you stick with linen fabric as well as cotton twill fabric that is a minimum of 300 grams, it will be as crisp and wrinkle resistant as worsted wool of comparable weight.

      Heavyweight cotton twill and linen fabrics will wear as cool as lightweight varieties. In all weight, these fabrics are non super, as far as I know. That makes these fabrics nice and crisp at 300 grams and up.

      • I’m afraid this is not the case, Tim. This linen is at least 300 grams and still wrinkles. Wool of the same weight should not wrinkle at all, especially high-twist wool. Heavy cotton will wrinkle less, but it will still wrinkle a little and not drape as well as linen does. The only wrinkle-free cottons are corduroy, velvet and moleskin, which are not for warm weather. Heavy woven cottons, especially twills, are not comfortable in warm weather.

        ‘Super’ is a term that refers only to wool.

  16. I am puzzled at how low the suit was finally sold. A bargain for the buyer ! A Brioni RTW suit was about the same price at the time.

  17. The American-esque double reverse pleats are a shame. The blue Omega Seamaster looks great against the French blue of the Turnbull & Asser‘s cuffs though.

  18. I’ve personally given up on linen. I hate it’s frumpy nature, it never looks good on me and it does nothing to keep me cool in warm weather. The most overrated fabric in the world for me by far. Give me wool and cotton every day.

    • That’s interesting, I’ve actually come around on it. A decade ago I swore that I absolutely abhorred linen, that I hated how it wrinkled and that I much preferred something which always looked crisp. I suppose part of the reason I changed my mind is that I know linen is natural, and so it has a real natural, relaxed look which can never be mistaken for stiff and shiny polyester.

  19. What’s the consensus – do we think Zukovsky intended to try and help Bond with his final act of congeniality or was he trying to kill Bond and was just a lousy shot?

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