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 rich tan 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.
The Timothy Dalton worsted tweed gun club check sports coat in TLD looks really modern for a country looking jacket. The low contrast with the dark brown trousers like Connery would wear helps this, I think because it’s a worst tweed it looks more modern also.
I love tweed, I’ve worn it for years despite it being unfashionable. I’ve got some subtle more modern jackets, like a fairly smooth dark grey herringbone, and some far more dated, like a heavy dark brown and rust jacket with wide lapels, a half belt, and flapped pockets.
I love them all and am always on the lookout for more tweedy goodness. Brosnan’s suit is my favourite of all his outfits and I’d love to get one made just like it.
This must be one of your best articles, Matt! Thank you!
I must confess I always get a little annoyed when menswear blogs start harping on how old fashioned and stodgy tweed seems to be, especially in bold, countrified patterns. Frankly, I find the obsession with “looking young and hip” a little silly for a grown man – if one follows that logic, why not wear baggy jeans (or is it skinny jeans now?) and a backwards baseball cap accessorized with a skateboard? I would be happy to wear any of the items shown above, except for the bronze turtleneck (my complexion is similar to Connery’s) and Lazenby’s College of Arms necktie. Actually I have always been partial to Lazenby” “Sir Hillary” tweed suit. I realize it is supposed to be a replica of the real Sir Hillary’s suit, but Dimi Major’s cut, coupled with Lazenby’s slim, athletic build, makes it look anything but stodgy. And what, praytell, is wrong with contrasting waistcoats? Bond wears one in the GF office scene and looks terrific, even though one might argue that his suit a bit too sporty for the office. Nowadays, of course, anything dressier than pleated khakis and a polo shirt is considered “over the top” for the office. That’s where the fetish for “looking young” and “keeping it real” has brought us! I, for one, will stick to wearing my tweeds to teach at the University as soon as the season permits.
While I don’t know what the average age of this blog’s visitor is, I’m sure there are some guys here in their 30’s and 20’s who are in need of some good advice on how to dress well and wear classic clothing in a way that won’t make them appear like they are wearing a costume from a different era. Quite often, the devil is indeed in the most minuscule details, and this article illustrates this brilliantly. Obviously, if you are a college professor, and you aren’t particularly young, perhaps it’s even expected of you to dress somewhat conservatively. But if you’re young and starting a career in the age of “smart casual”, yet are in love with classic menswear, it requires a trained eye and a good sense of style to wear tweed, corduroy, bow ties, seersucker, madras, etc. without looking ridiculous. There’s a reason why politicians never appear in such garments and accessories, and stick to the most basic corporate uniform of dark suits, white shirts, and simple (boring) ties. It’s because their manner of dress must be conformist inoffensive. However, when one wants to experiment and stand out, one ought to do it carefully, with a sense of restraint and really understand what he’s doing.
I am indeed a not-so-young college professor, but I assure you that most of my colleagues, young and old, have embraced smart (and often not-so-smart) casual. I dress the way I do because I want to and because I enjoy it. A perk of academia is that I can pretty much dress as I see fit, without worrying about dress codes, whether spoken or unspoken. Three more points: (1) Young men do indeed need to be taught how to dress, especially considering how many of them grew up without fathers in the home. (2) There is a chasm between wearing a Harris Tweed coat with a knit tie and wearing “costume.” Now, if you wear Harris Tweed with knickers, AND a flat cap, AND a Fair Isle sweater vest, then you are approaching costume. (3) As for politicians, look at the difference between Ronald Reagan’s interesting and diverse wardrobe (which was still perfectly appropriate for the office he held) and the boring, cookie-cutter outfits of present-day politicians. In the final analysis, I think young people’s fear of appearing overdressed, or “in costume” ultimately leads down one of two paths: (1) jeans-and-hoodie slovenliness, or (2) dark skinny suits with solid shirts and dark solid ties – what I call “the young undertaker” look. If enough of us sartorialists who know better said “damn the torpedoes, I will take my cues from Cary Grant, and Gary Cooper, and Roger Moore (except for his Brett Sinclair phase), rather than from contemporary “culture” (I use that word somewhat loosely) maybe we could start putting a dent in the general sartorial disaster we see all around us.
Agree that Reagan was quite stylish. I find Bush Sr. to be one of the best-dressed US presidents.
I am all for dressing up, but all too often I hear advice on various menswear blogs that will make any young man look like he’s trying too hard and really belongs on the “Boardwalk Empire” set. Certain styles have stood the test of time and remained relevant, and some have not. Some of Cary Grant’s outfits still look fresh today, while others don’t. Often it’s difficult to explain why. Of the famous actors of the past century, Marcello Mastroianni and Alain Delon stand out as true icons of style, whose sartorial sense looks amazingly fresh and cool many decades later. Look at any photo of Mastroianni or Delon from the 60’s and 70’s and they look timeless, in the sense that it’s diffiult to even tell which decade it is. Could be “anywhere in time” between the mid 1900’s and early 2000’s.
Even though I am of italian extraction, I must confess I much prefer Cary Grant’s mid-Atlantic (Anglo-American?) sartorial approach over Mastroianni and Delon’s “Mediterranean cool.” I guess I am just not that concerned with looking “fresh and relevant” – it may be my innate conservatism as much as my advanced age.
Reagan utilized Jack Taylor.
He liked the clean look no fancy ornaments.
“Nowadays, of course, anything dressier than pleated khakis and a polo shirt is considered “over the top” for the office.”
Where are you working where anyone is still wearing polo shirts? Or khakis? Or pleats? :P
Ahahah ! Good one :D
“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.” Matt, I have enjoyed your blog since its inception and have learned much from it, but please refrain from these hoary and offensive cliches. I am a college professor who proudly wears his (now deceased) father’s Harris Tweed jackets. Doing so makes me feel connected to him, and frankly, I think they are timelessly elegant. It grieves me to think that they will end up in some thrift store after I die because neither my boys nor my students will be interested in wearing them out of fear of looking stodgy.
I’m not saying that’s it’s a bad thing to dress in a way that recalls an older era. It’s something I do all the time. I’m a big fan of all the tweed outfits here and would wear all of them expect the second Diamonds Are Forever outfit. I wrote this article with the intention to promote tweed, not disparage it, and to dispel myths that tweed has to look like something that belonged to your grandfather. I’m sorry if it didn’t entirely come off that way.
Then I apologize for misunderstanding you – tweed needs all the good word of mouth it can get!
Great post. I must admit, it may be old fashioned, but Sir Hillary Bray’s brown tweed suit with the tattersall shirt is one of my favorites from the series. Of course Lazenby also has my favorite suit of all, the three piece navy herringbone. I also like the charcoal cheviot tweed Brosnan wears, although it wouldn’t be perfect for my complexion. Tweed isn’t very useful for me where I live, although I may invest in a tweed sport jacket at some point. I like the tweed and tattersall look.
I really like that outfit as well. Even though the purpose was to disguise Bond and make him look more Sir Bray’s age (Lazenby was 29, Baker was 38) it still looks pretty good. One could make it more modern by wearing a solid colour twill shirt and knitted tie or something.
I agree, although I wouldn’t want to get rid of the tattersall shirt. Perhaps changing to the ever versatile grenadine tie might make it a bit more modern, not sure how that would look. Ultimately I like it the way it is, although I couldn’t find much use for it myself.
Unfortunately it happens often where I see ensembles that I really like but either don’t fit me because of who I am or that I wouldn’t get much wear out of.
Matt, how would you characterize the tweed hacking jacket Bond wears to Draco’s birthday party in OHMSS?
That’s definitely a very traditional jacket, and the way he wears it with the stock makes it look more old-fashioned. I think it’s rather much for the setting at the bull fight but it’s perfect for the hacking shots in the montage. I would say that Draco’s jacket is much easier to wear in a modern setting.
I think the gun club check sports coat of Dalton is one of the best, and it looks pretty young too. Any reason why you didn’t include it, Matt ?
I wasn’t quite sure which category to put that one in. The way Dalton wears it looks more modern like Connery, but I find gun club checks to look more old-fashioned. I do like the outfit, apart from the jacket’s huge shoulders.
Where would Roger Moore’s Grey Tweed Jacket ensemble in AVTAK fall under? I always thought it was a classic ensemble befitting to many.
That one is at the modern end of the spectrum. A solid grey tweed jacket is quite easy to wear, and its patch pockets are very trendy right now.
I stupidly made the mistake of not changing before an office Christmas party and kept my Brooks Bros. tweed jacket on. Before long my tipsy colleagues were referring to me as the “office mad scientist.” It’s the video game biz so generally very causal, but the guys who were dressed up tended to sport Dan Ippolito’s young undertaker suits. The funny thing is that both are very youthful looks, but the vast majority of the men at work also have beards, which makes you look older.
As for politicians playing it safe with their clothes, nowadays they have to. Reagan did indeed look great in his various brown suits. But when Obama tried wearing one he was raked over the coals on social media. I think the last US president to really try to have interesting suits was Clinton. It got too partisan after that. Best to play it safe I guess.
Great article Matt!
I agree that tweed is underrated, particularly by people who complain about being cold outside yet refuse to wear an overcoat!
It’s a shame Craig didn’t wear tweed in Scotland in Skyfall. That said, his Barbour jacket ensemble is pretty great. Great article, Matt!
Good article and some good follow up comments. It may seem hard for tweed to escape the image of the country squire etc but I often remind people that Connery was only in his mid thirties when Goldfinger and Thunderball were made and in which he displayed a couple of admirable tweed jackets which even from over fifty years on in today’s hoody and flip flops world, hardly make him look like an old man.
Some colours and patterns seem to correlate with more advancing age – such as tan gun club – while others such as grey Donegal may lean towards a more youthful image.
Am I the only reader of this blog to whom the following two questions have occurred? (1) What’s so wrong with country squires? (2) What’s wrong with advancing age? It will happen to all of us – we have no choice in the matter. The only choice we have is whether to age gracefully or not, and even that choice is somewhat constrained by the vagaries of health.
There’s nothing at all wrong with either, merely they are looks that some people may be ready to enthusiastically embrace while others may desire to keep at bay!
It’s odd. I would have said tweed made a fairly major comeback in the last ten or fifteen years or so. Suits with a more country/less formal edge, overcoats, smart casual trousers, caps, jackets – there are far more now than at the beginning of the millennium (when I didn’t know anyone else who regular wore it). It has benefitted from the heritage clothing trend and, more recently, Peaky Blinders inspired clothing – is that just in the UK?
I’ll have to upgrade my Diamonds Are Forever to BluRay. I never realised that Bond’s wears a checked suit suit at the end of the pre-credits scenes – for all these years it’s looked black to me! It’s actually my favourite of Connery’s suits in that film, looking extremely well-cut and stylish. I do wonder if this was an early scene in the shooting schedule, made before the actor had such a good time at the Vegas location that his suits didn’t fit properly (as mentioned in previous Bondsuits blog entries).
Actually, you’re not saying it’s checked, just Tweed – sorry!