Tweed can seem rather old-fashioned, particularly when compared with a smooth worsted, a slick and shiny mohair blend or delicate cashmere. Proper tweed made from woollen yarns is rough, uneven and always looks worn, even when it’s new. Because its hard-wearing properties mean it can last generations, clothes made of it tend to have the look that they’re generations old. Tweed often looks like something that belonged to your grandfather … or your geography teacher. For these reason, younger men often shy away from tweed.
James Bond wears tweed jackets and tweed suits throughout the series and often makes it look young and hip, though on some occasions he looks quite the opposite. Here are seven of Bond’s tweed looks — four that look modern and three that look rather old-fashioned — that can provide insight into how tweed can be worn without looking stodgy.
Young: Goldfinger Hacking Jacket
Bond’s first tweed jacket in the series is a brown barleycorn tweed hacking jacket in Goldfinger. Sean Connery pairs this with an ecru shirt, brown silk knitted tie and fawn cavalry twill trousers. He wears the same outfit again in Thunderball, switching out the shirt for a similar one and the tie for a brown grenadine.
This outfit looks young thanks to a tone-on-tone look. The barleycorn tweed is simple with only two shades of brown and no overchecks, helping it to look modern. A low-colour-contrast jacket and trouser pairing that relies on different textures for contrast streamlines the look. Earth tones tend to look more old-fashioned than neutral or cool colours, but this jacket’s brown is a very muted and cool brown that looks more modern and is more flattering to Connery’s complexion than a richer brown.
Anthony Sinclair’s dynamic cut with a low button-two fastening, narrow lapels and steep hacking pockets contributes to a modern look. Most of all, the outfit looks hip thanks to the attitude of a young Sean Connery.
The texture of tweed also mirrors the metaphorical rough-around-the-edges quality that Sean Connery played in Bond. The toughness of the material matches Bond’s toughness. Rugged characters like Frank Bullitt and Dirty Harry are dressed in tweed for the same reason. It can be a great look for the modern hero who needs a jacket that can withstand the action in the field.
Sean Connery looks much more old-fashioned in the same tweed jacket and cavalry twill trousers in Woman of Straw thanks to an added waistcoat. Waistcoats can often make an outfit look more old-fashioned — they have not been a mandatory item for a well-dressed man since the 1940s — and a contrasting waistcoats tend to look especially stodgy, but they’re still stylish.
Old: Sir Hilary Bray’s Brown Tweed Suit in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service
A more complicated tweed than the last, George Lazenby’s brown tweed suit in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service is a tic pattern with a rust windowpane. The extra layer of pattern and colour gives this tweed a slightly more old-fashioned look. This suit being a three-piece suit means there’s a lot of tweed, and perhaps its too much tweed for the modern man. It’s easier to wear tweed in smaller amounts. Accessorising the suit with a tattersall shirt adds another layer of proper English country gentleman to the mix.
Bond wears this tweed suit in disguise as the College of Arms’ Sir Hilary Bray, and its the perfect outfit for a mature English gentleman. But it was far removed from the “make love, not war” hippie that George Lazenby wanted to be at the time.
Young: Herringbone Half-Norfolk Jacket in Diamonds Are Forever
This unusual jacket in Diamonds Are Forever with a number of traditional hunting jacket details like bellows pockets, a half belt and leather buttons looks surprisingly modern thanks to its dark mix of brown and black. When trying to look more modern it always helps to go dark. Sean Connery pairs it with a black long-sleeve polo, for a classic sneaky Bond look that updates the tweed with a youthful touch. Modern accessories can go a long way in updating classic styles.
Old: Plaid Half-Norfolk Jacket in Diamonds Are Forever
The same cannot be said for the loud plaid version of the half-Norfolk jacket that Connery wears later in Diamonds Are Forever. Paired with a burnt orange polo neck, this outfit must have looked current in 1971, but today it conjures the image of a sleazy used car salesman. Earth tones and warm colours are not particularly flattering colours on Connery, and here they wash out his complexion and emphasise his aged appearance in his final EON-series Bond film.
This outfit may not look old-fashioned in the same sense as Sir Hilary’s does, but today it conjures an image that is now half a century old that hasn’t stood the test of time.
Young: Donegal Tweed Suit in Moonraker
Roger Moore’s Donegal tweed suit in Moonraker is a success for the same reasons that Sean Connery’s hacking jacket is. It’s a simple semi-solid tweed in a muted brown paired with basic accessories. Donegal tweed is smoother and lighter than most traditional tweeds, which lends it a more modern look. Being a full suit, this outfit looks slightly more old-fashioned than Connery’s hacking jacket, but the type of tweed prevents this suit from looking like one of the Duke of Windsor’s old-fashioned shooting suits.
This suit has dated aspects of 1970s style, like wide lapels and flared trousers, but unlike the previous tweed jacket this outfit doesn’t scream 1970s. And unlike on Connery, the outfit’s classic country earth tones are very flattering to Roger Moore’s warm complexion. The slanted pockets give it a streamlined look.
Old: James St. John Smythe’s Hacking Jacket in A View to a Kill
The 1980s saw a return to tradition after the more adventurous 1970s fashions. Classic style was in vogue, tweed was embraced, and looking old-fashioned was young again. But today it looks old again.
Though Roger Moore’s riding jacket in A View to a Kill bears close resemblance to the Goldfinger hacking jacket, he lends the country ensemble an old-fashioned feel by accessorising it with traditional gear for horseback riding. The gear includes dark brown jodhpurs, tall black leather boots, wool and leather gloves and a brown velvet helmet, all of which emphasise that Roger Moore was playing the oldest James Bond at the age of 56.
These clothes, however, are the perfect choice for the scene and for the character. Here Bond is in character as heir James St John Smythe, an English gentleman who would be expected to dress in such an old-fashioned manner.
Young: Charcoal Cheviot Tweed Windowpane Suit in The World Is Not Enough
Pierce Brosnan’s tweed suit in The World Is Not Enough looks the most modern of any of Bond’s tweeds due to its charcoal colour. Dark, cool colours tend to look more modern and younger than other colours, particular more so than earth tones. This tweed is smoother and lighter than traditional tweeds, which contributes to its contemporary look. A thin grey windowpane adds a bit of sporty interest but is elegantly subtle.
Brosnan pairs this suit with a white shirt and black tie to give the outfit a more formal, city look that is appropriately somber for the Scottish funeral he attends. The minimalist look of this pairing is classically Bondian and gives the outfit a timelessly Bondian look.