More so than the James Bond of Ian Fleming’s pages, Sean Connery’s James Bond set the template for how subsequent screen Bonds would dress. Terence Young, the director of the first James Bond film Dr. No as well as From Russia with Love and Thunderball, made many of the choices that would define the look of the screen Bond. He took Connery to his tailor, Anthony Sinclair, and to his shirtmaker, Turnbull & Asser. He told Connery to sleep in his suits to become comfortable in them. The product of Young’s work was Sean Connery’s James Bond, and the standard was set for how James Bond is to dress.
Many aspects define Connery’s Bond wardrobe, and these have not only influenced how Bonds dressed after him but also by how we typically define an outfit or item of clothing as Bond-like. Specific wardrobe items and the ideas of subdued English style and avoiding trends characterised the way Connery’s Bond dressed, and because he was the first James Bond on the silver screen we see these elements as the defining example of James Bond’s style.
The following are ways that Sean Connery’s Bond established the look of James Bond. This is also basic advice to follow if you are trying to dress like James Bond yourself.
In Dr. No, from the moment when Bond first appears on screen to when Bond announces that his suits came from Savile Row, the relationship between James Bond and English tailoring is solidified. Though Sean Connery’s tailor Anthony Sinclair was just off Savile Row on Conduit St, his tailoring was done in a purely English Savile Row style. The way his jackets were tailored with a full chest, a gently nipped waist and roped sleeve heads and paired with trim forward-pleat trousers with side-adjusters, the look was undeniably English.
George Lazenby continued to use an English tailor for Bond, Fulham’s Dimi Major. Roger Moore used an English tailor when he took on the role in Live and Let Die, and that tailor was Anthony Sinclair’s neighbour Cyril Castle. Later in his tenure, Moore used Douglas Hayward, who was on the opposite end of Mayfair from Savile Row. Hayward’s style has a more continental influence in its softness, but it still has an English flair.
Though James Bond left English bespoke tailoring after Roger Moore’s tenure, Pierce Brosnan’s distinctly Italian-cut Brioni suits are made of English cloths and have a hint of English style with details like double vents, slanted pockets and ticket pockets. Daniel Craig’s suits from Tom Ford are inspired by English tailoring in their cuts and have English details like side-adjusters on the trousers.
Suits in Limited Colours and a Variety of Materials
Sean Connery’s suits were mostly grey, grey and grey. In Dr. No he wears three suits, and all are different greys. In From Russia with Love he wears seven suits, five of which are different forms of grey. Connery wore all shades of grey, from light to charcoal. Along with the many grey suits was the occasional dark blue suit or dark brown suit. These suit colours have always been the foundation of Bond’s wardrobe and are still the suit colours we most associate with James Bond. This may be one reason why the lighter brown suits that Roger Moore often wore in the role are often criticised, despite them still being a colour fashionable during Connery’s tenure as Bond and very flattering on Moore.
Connery’s Bond wears far more than basic solid worsted wool suits. Textures differentiate the suits that Connery wears as Bond, with shiny lightweight wool and mohair blends, fuzzy woollen flannel and slubby dupioni silk. When he does wear suits of worsted wool in medium to light weights, they are in textural patterns like pick-and-pick, herringbone and various forms of the glen check. All of the Bonds after Connery have followed by wearing the same types of suitings.
Three-Piece Suits at the Office
Starting in Goldfinger, Sean Connery started a trend to wear a waistcoat at the office when meeting with M. Though he wears an odd waistcoat in Goldfinger, in Thunderball the tradition of wearing a three-piece suit—meaning that the jacket, trousers and waistcoat all match—at the office started. George Lazenby wears two different three-piece suits when he visits M’s office, and Roger Moore wears a three-piece suit for the office in four of his films starting with Moonraker. Timothy Dalton continues this with two three-piece suits at the office in The Living Daylights. Brosnan continues this for his first three Bond films, though he only wears a three-piece in GoldenEye for Q’s lab. Daniel Craig brought back the three-piece suit for the office when he visits Q’s lab at the end of Spectre.
Solid Shirts with an Unusual Cuff
Sean Connery mostly wears solid shirts with his suits and sports coats—with Goldfinger being the exception. Connery’s shirts mostly follow English tradition in conservative plain white, light and medium blues and cream. Roger Moore is the only Bond who breaks from this tradition by wearing both conservative and flashy striped formal shirts in his Bond films.
Where Connery’s shirts stray from the ordinary is in the cuff. Again with the exception of Goldfinger, Connery wears shirts with cocktail cuff, a cuff that turns back over itself but fastens with buttons instead of cuff links. Because Connery wears this cuff in five out of his six Bond films, it became a signature style for James Bond. Roger Moore adopted the cocktail cuff as part of his standard look in 1968, five years before he first appeared as James Bond, and he continued to wear it throughout his first two Bond films. He gave it one last chance in Moonraker before it disappeared until Daniel Craig revived it in Spectre.
Roger Moore wears shirts with other unusual cuffs, such as the Lapidus cuff that fastens with a tab extension and large button. Moore also wears rounded cuffs in Octopussy that fasten with an extra-large button.
All of Sean Connery’s ties as James Bond are solid, and most are dark. Navy blue grenadine silk is his workhorse tie. If the tie isn’t grenadine silk it is usually knitted silk, as Ian Fleming specified for his character to wear. George Lazenby continued by wearing solid knitted ties in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service. Solid ties appear with regularity throughout Roger Moore’s tenure as Bond, with him wearing at least one in each of his seven Bond films. Timothy Dalton wears a couple in The Living Daylights. Pierce Brosnan wears the solid tie with less frequency, and Daniel Craig did not adopt them until Spectre. But if any one characteristic can be used to describe the ultimate Bond neck tie, it is “solid”.
Folded Pocket Squares
Sean Connery wears a folded white linen handkerchief in his breast pocket throughout his first three Bond films. The folded pocket square, particularly with a straight fold, is a style associated with the 1960s. After Goldfinger, James Bond did not wear a folded white pocket square again until Quantum of Solace, and Daniel Craig’s Bond has been wearing folded cotton pocket squares that match his shirts ever since. With a second Bond now wearing the style that Connery started, it is now a timeless Bond detail.
Traditional Dinner Jackets in Midnight Blue, Black and Ivory
For black tie, Sean Connery mostly follows the traditional customs. He wears midnight blue mohair dinner suits with a shawl collar for the casino, black wool dinner suits with notched lapels for more intimate occasions, and ivory wool dinner jackets with self-faced peaked lapels and mother-of-pearl buttons for warm locations. All of his dinner jackets are single-breasted with one button on the front. He wears soft-fronted shirts with mother-of-pearl buttons, usually with pleats and double cuffs or cocktail cuffs. Except for on one occasion, he wears neither a waistcoat nor a cummerbund. The cummerbund would not become a regular part of James Bond’s wardrobe until Quantum of Solace.
Connery set the stage for how Bond would be expected to wear black tie, and for the most part Bonds after Connery have followed in this mould.
For casualwear, Connery likes to wear a polo shirt in short sleeves for warm weather and long-sleeves for cooler weather. The polo made a brief appearance in long-sleeve form on Timothy Dalton in The Living Daylights, but it wasn’t again a regular Bond style until Daniel Craig wore a navy polo from Sunspel in Casino Royale. Craig continued to wear polo shirts from Tom Ford in subsequent Bond films.
The camp shirt, a casual button-front shirt with a one-piece collar, straight hem and a breast pocket or two, is another staple of Connery’s Bond wardrobe for warm weather. He wears them throughout Thunderball, and they return in You Only Live Twice and Diamonds Are Forever. Some of Roger Moore’s safari shirts may be considered an extension of the camp shirt, but Pierce Brosnan is the only other Bond to wear camp shirts somewhat in the Connery mould when he wears some lightweight shirts in Die Another Day.
Connery’s Bond avoided wearing overly trendy clothes, and people may have a difficult time accepting Bond in trendier styles, especially if those trends are currently out of fashion. People question few of Connery’s wardrobe items today (the terrycloth playsuit in Goldfinger being the major exception) because he rarely went for overly trendy styles, but when George Lazenby or Roger Moore wears something as Bond much different from what Connery wore—such as a ruffled shirt, Highland dress, flared trousers or a safari suit—people are quick to judge it negatively. This is not just because some of these items were very trendy but often because these are not items we associate with Connery’s Bond.
Does Sean Connery’s Bond Define the Ultimate Bond Style?
Just about everything that Sean Connery wore as James Bond is used to represent ultimate Bond style. But he’s not the only Bond to have taken this role. Bond style has changed throughout the years, and what we think of as Bond style depends on the time we live in. During Roger Moore’s tenure as Bond, safari suits were thoroughly Bondian. During Pierce Brosnan’s tenure as Bond, a Brioni suit was the quintessential Bond suit. Currently, Bond style may be defined by any of the memorable sporty looks that Daniel Craig has presented.
What may be best defined as true Bond style is a combination of what the current Bond is wearing and what styles have endured from the time Sean Connery has been James Bond. If a style did not last beyond the tenure of one James Bond actor, it perhaps may not be a true Bond style. The ruffled shirt is more of a Lazenby Bond style than an overall Bond style. The safari suit will always be considered a Roger Moore style rather than a Bond style unless another Bond wears them. Because most of Connery’s Bond clothes have been emulated by the Bonds after him, his role in exemplifying Bond style is set in stone.