How James Bond Wears a Suit Without a Tie

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Grey Linen Suit

In the 1960s it would have been unthinkable for James Bond to wear any suit, or even a sports coat, without a tie. Even today, James Bond almost always puts on a tie when he puts on a suit. Naturally, there are exceptions to this, especially when Bond wears a suit in hot weather. But when wearing a business suit, Bond almost always wears a tie.

Though in many industries it is common to wear a suit without a tie—with a tie only donned for important meetings—James Bond always puts on a tie when he wears a suit for business. This includes most worsted and flannel suit, particularly when these suits are in city colours like grey and blue. For a traditionalist like Bond, these dressy city suits are incomplete without a tie. These suits can also look particularly boring without a tie. Though the tie may be a symbol of conformity, the tie actually provides people with a way to express themselves in their dress. Without the tie, men in suits look even more similar to each other. Additionally, the tie is a connective piece that when well-chosen can unify an outfit.

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

However, often when Bond wears a very informal warm-weather suit, he forgoes putting on a tie. This works for two reasons. First, if a suit is sportier or less formal than the typical business suit, the lack of tie is not incongruous with the suit. Second, wearing an open-neck shirt in hot weather is more comfortable than wearing a closed-neck shirt with a tie. The tie not only feels stuffy, it can look stuffy with a less formal suit in hot weather.

Bond shows how to successfully wear a suit without a tie

Moonraker features the first time that James Bond wears a suit without a tie. The suit is a cream silk or silk and linen blend for tropical and casual look. Because it is so far removed from a traditional city suit, the tie is not missed. When George Lazenby wore a similar suit in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service a decade earlier, he wore a tie with it. Moore could also have worn a tie with this suit, but in a desire to look more fashionable along with no social need for a tie, Bond makes a bold choice—but only a bold choice for Bond—to wear a suit sans tie. This outfit also features Moore’s only pocket square of all his Bond films, which may have been worn to make up for the lack of a tie. A pocket square can never make up for the lack of a tie, but it can add some of the interest that a tie would otherwise have brought to the outfit.

Moonraker Cream Suit

Bond does not again wear a suit without a tie until The Living Daylights, when he wears a tan gabardine suit in Tangier. The tan gabardine suit is a staple of Roger Moore’s Bond in the 1980s, but Moore always wears this suit with a tie. Because the tan gabardine suit is less formal than a typical city suit, both due to the colour and the weave, Dalton wears this suit successfully without a tie. In darker colours, however, gabardine suits are more difficult to wear sans tie.

Dalton-Beige-Gaberdine

In three out of Pierce Brosnan’s four Bond films, Brosnan wears linen suits in informal settings and always forgoes the tie. Because linen suits have more than a tendency to wrinkle, a linen suit isn’t worn for business or for very fancy occasions. Linen suits today are worn more for the fun of wearing a suit than the necessity of wearing a suit. They are amongst the least formal of suits, and a tie is not missed with these suits. Bond’s tan linen suit in Cuba in GoldenEye, his cream herringbone linen suit in The World Is Not Enough and his tan linen suit in Cuba in Die Another Day all do not miss their ties. These tan suits are worn in especially casual settings where a tie would have made Bond look out of place, but without a tie Bond looks cool and comfortable. The dark blue shirt in Die Another Day especially makes up for the lack of a tie, but it also makes this outfit the least formal of Brosnan’s three linen suit outfits.

Tan-Linen-Suit

Daniel Craig follows Brosnan’s linen suit-without-a-tie look in Casino Royale, with a navy blue linen suit in the black-and-white pre-title sequence and with a grey linen peaked lapel suit in the Bahamas. Bond has no reason for wearing suits in these scenes other than being James Bond, but by dressing down these already very informal suits by not wearing a tie, he does not look like he’s trying too hard with his clothes.

Casino-Royale-Navy-Linen-Suit

Bond occasionally discards his tie, such as in Quantum of Solace when his stressful circumstances have made him remove the ties he wears with his blue striped suit, his midnight blue suit and his midnight blue dinner suit. Bond usually does not get undressed until he gets to his hotel room, but if you find yourself in similar situations to when Bond removes his tie, you can feel free to do so yourself.

Bond shows how not to wear a suit without a tie

For a brief lapse in his sartorial judgement, only in Licence to Kill does James Bond wear dark, worsted city suits without a tie. The dark city suit, even when worn in the warm climates that Licence to Kill takes place in, demands a tie. When Bond arrives at the airport in Key West wearing a charcoal grey suit, likely dressed for his return to London, he should have been wearing a tie. He looks like he forgot a tie or was too lazy to wear a tie, and that is not Bond. Bond wouldn’t wait until he gets to London to put his tie on, he would wear it on the flight. A suit without a tie would be appropriate in Key West, but the dark worsted suit is not the appropriate suit to wear in Key West without a tie.

Licence-to-Kill-Charcoal-Suit
This kind of suit needs a tie, no matter how fashionable the cut.

During the climax of Licence to Kill at Sanchez’s base, Bond again looks like he forgot his tie when wearing a navy suit. He is the only man there who wears a proper business suit sans tie. Bond has no excuse for not wearing a tie in this scene. A more casual suit like what Sanchez wears would have been a better choice to wear without a tie, if Bond was intent on not wearing a tie. With all the money he acquired, it’s a surprise a less formal suit—like a blue linen suit—was not amongst his many purchases. His anger towards Sanchez is no excuse for dressing below his usual standards.

James Bond is typically the model of when to and when not to wear a tie, but Bond makes more than a few mistakes in Licence to Kill when it comes to his clothes.

Wearing a sports coat without a tie

Because sports coats and blazers are less formal than suits are, they are easier to wear without a tie. James Bond first wears a sports coat without a tie in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, but he still wears a collar that is fastened at the neck with a type of cravat: it’s a stock collar with a stock tie. This example is not particularly relevant today.

Diamonds-Are-Forever-Herringbone-Tweed-Half-Norfolk-Jacket

More relevant is in Diamonds Are Forever when Bond wears wears a polo jumper and a polo neck jumper with his tweed jackets. These tie-less methods avoid wearing an open-neck formal shirt that is meant to be worn with a tie.

For-Your-Eyes-Only-Blazer

In For Your Eyes Only, A View to a Kill and GoldenEye, Bond wears blue blazers—both single-breasted and double-breasted—with an open-collar formal shirt, just as he wears with his suits in the examples mentioned above. In A View to a Kill, Bond covers his neck with a day cravat, avoiding the bare-neck look that was long avoided by upper class men such as James St John Smyth, Bond’s cover. The open-neck shirt with a double-breasted blazer is more difficult to pull off than it is with a single-breasted blazer, but both can be done.

James Bond limits how he wears an open-neck shirt with tailored clothing. Despite changing attitudes towards neckties, Bond is just as much a fan of the tie in 2015 as he was in 1962. Bond understands that the tie is still a necessity to be well-dressed in most suits. Contrary to the way most people dress today, forgoing the tie is still the exception to the way Bond wears a suit.

27 COMMENTS

  1. I think the suit without the tie look can look horrible and when I see groups of business men without ties all wearing dark suits I think there still conforming anyway, there all dressed the same pretty even if there no wearing ties. Even worse they don’t look as professional. There wearing dark business suits, they don’t look casual anyway. The guidelines Matt has laid out is a must for well-dressed respectable men everywhere. We must not try to follow current fashions to much or follow the flock.

  2. A blazer, some sports coats and casual suits all look fine worn with an open neck shirt. With any other tailored item it looks lazy, boring and lousy. That’s the bottom line. Something else to consider is that the shirt itself must be correct for the look. This is another factor which brought Dalton’s version of this look down; the shirt lacked the quality look of, say, Brosnan’s.

    • Well said. The sports coat or blazer is particularly appropriate for this look. I tend to like a tie even with a less formal suit.

  3. I agree with both Ryan and David, especially regarding the boring conformity and lack of elegance of the dark suit/no tie look

  4. I agree with Ryan, David, and Dan a tie always needs to be worn with a suit when conducting business. Most of the businessmen (be it juniors or seniors) I see today are without a tie and too me that shows laziness and lack of initiative to present oneself in the best light infront of a client. Sometimes I do have the urge not too wear a tie as well; however, when I have these urges I end up donning a day cravat and looking like a million bucks!

  5. I’ve just noticed it looks like Roger is only buttoning the top button of his DB Hayward blazer for a more casual look to work with the casual way he’s wearing it. do you think that’s correct Matt ?

    • Yes, that is entirely correct. Moore usually fastens his double-breasted jackets this way. Some claim it is against the rules to fasten both buttons, but that is equally correct. And if the construction is soft enough, fastening only the bottom button is correct as well.

  6. I’ve always been told it lends a less formal look to how ones wears his DB jacket. Fastening the bottom button on a DB is not something I’ve ever done myself. I have worn it with only the top button fastened, but I only have one DB at the moment a light grey flannel sports jacket. Ralph Fiennes sometimes has worn DB suits unbuttoned completely in Bond, even though a more relaxed look, not a great look in my opinion.

  7. Of course, you prefer screen shots ?. there are many interviews of recent times on TV etc. will have to have a look for you.

  8. On this subject; since the late 1980’s and right through to the noughties, Moore wore a single breasted navy blazer with low button stance, tailored by Hayward on virtually all his TV appearances. Many of these appearances, of good quality, can be found on YouTube etc. I think, given that the blazers were tailored by Hayward and that a navy SB blazer from Hayward was never actually worn by Moore as Bond (his AVTAK blazer came closest but wasn’t navy) but is almost his signature item of clothing, plus a classic staple for the discerning gentleman (in whatever lingering locations he may still be encountered!) then this definitely deserves a post!

    • I think that’s a good idea David and somethings lot of people would want to see. I wouldn’t mind seeing something on Roger’s current DB navy blazer’s there a great cut and make the now elderly Moore a lot slimmer than he is.

  9. Of course, there’s also the other caveat: Wearing a tie in cold weather keeps you warm. It’s a wonderful, commonly available knot of silk that stays in place and keeps all of the heat from escaping your core. And it makes you look great.

  10. Matt do you think if Timothy Dalton had worn a light grey suit with an open neck shirt, instead of the charcoal suit in Key West that would have worked a lot better?. Even though Bond has never worn a light grey wool or mohair suit without a tie. In saying that he could have worn a lighter blue suit at the end of the film instead of the navy.

  11. Dalton could have worn a light grey silk suit without a tie maybe. With a French Blue or royal blue shirt. I think that would have worked.

  12. Or Dalton could have worn a taupe tropical wool suit maybe. Michael Douglas wore a taupe coloured suit in a few films through the 1990’s.

  13. I believe patch pockets is a must for warm-weather suits or sport coats because of their casual-look and “summery character”, if you will. Nearly all of the tieless-suits of Bond has had flapped pockets. What I have learnt from this blog is that the flapped pockets should only be reserved for the business suits, along with ticket pockets. Jetted pockets are for the evening garments, since the flaps disrupt the elegant lines of the dinner jacket.

    A good example for this can be the seersucker suits: Majority of the off-the-rack seersuckers have flapped pockets and they look absolutely horrible on such a casual garment, in my opinion. The suit looks even better if the breast pocket and back pockets on the pants are patched. The patch pockets reflect the summery, airy and nonchalant character of the garment.

    I think most of the costume designers insist on the flapped pockets because they believe that a tieless suit or sportcoat is already too casual for Bond. Of course I wouldn’t want to see Bond in a seersucker suit, but lack of the patch pockets in Bond’s summer suits makes them “incomplete” for me.

  14. I don’t think the color of the suit really matters as much as the color of the shirt when deciding whether to wear a tie or not. If you are wearing a business formal shirt(white, light blue) then a tie is almost always a necessity. If you are wearing a more casual shirt(black, dark red) then don’t wear a tie no matter whether you are wearing it with a black suit or a tan one. I live in California, where it is completely acceptable to wear a dark suit without a tie. I also think that wearing a 3 piece suit without a tie looks very cool as well.

  15. How about the rule when it comes for buttons on shirts being left unbuttoned? I heard the rule was one for day two for night,three your tom ford and four your david hasselhoff

  16. I noticed that Bond wears his navy blazers without a tie with mostly earth toned trousers. If a navy blazer is paired with grey trousers, does it demand a tie or is it ok to be worn without a tie as well?

    • Grey trousers don’t demand a tie, but they are more formal than earth-toned trousers and it’s easier to wear a blazer without a tie when the outfit has more contrast and the trousers are less formal.

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