James Bond and the Solid Black Necktie

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It may not be exciting, but the black tie is a Bondian mark of taste. The black tie shows restraint and can pair well with almost anything. But it is not something easy to wear, since it can often look a bit too somber. As Bond kills for a living, a solid black tie is never too somber a choice for him. But he also makes it an elegant choice.

Sean Connery wearing a black silk knitted tie in Goldfinger

Bond wears many variations on the solid black tie, and he shows that the solid black tie need not be boring.

The literary Bond’s neckwear of choice is a black silk knitted tie, something he pairs with navy suits and a yellowing black and white dogtooth check suit. With the checked suit, the black tie is a natural choice since it picks up the black in the suit’s check.

A black tie is an unusual choice with a navy suit, since black can clash with a dark navy if there is not enough contrast in texture. But as long as the suit isn’t so dark that it looks almost black, a black tie can be a pleasantly neutral pairing with a blue suit. A black tie with a navy suit also shows a certain nonchalance compared to a more studied pairing of matching a navy tie with a navy suit.

Sean Connery wearing a black silk knitted tie in Goldfinger

Sean Connery’s Bond introduces the black tie in the form of the literary Bond’s black silk knitted tie to the Bond films in Goldfinger, pairing it with grey and brown suits but not blue. On screen these pairings look elegant and tasteful. A silk knitted tie has a lot of surface texture and is not an overly formal tie, and these these qualities relieve some of a black tie’s plainness and gloominess.

Bond first wears a the solid black grenadine tie with a grey flannel suit in Thunderball, wearing it to a funeral at the start of the film. Solid black ties are a classic choice for mourning, as they look somber and do not draw attention. For his funeral outfits throughout the series, Bond always wears a solid black tie, either with a grey suit or a black suit.

Sean Connery wearing a black silk grenadine tie in Thunderball

Like with the knitted tie, the lacey texture of a grenadine tie makes a black tie seem less sombre. The neutrality of black also helps draw attention to the tie’s beautiful and luxurious texture, which in turn can make a black tie more interesting.

Bond introduces a very plain solid black repp tie to Bond in You Only Live Twice as part of his Royal Navy Blue No. 1 dress uniform. Repp or reppe silk is woven in a plain weave with fine horizontal ribs. Because ties are cut on the bias, the ribs on the constructed tie are 45 degrees. Repp silk has a dull sheen without much texture.

Sean Connery wearing a black silk repp tie in You Only Live Twice

A plain black tie is a requirement of Bond’s dress uniform, and it pairs well with the white shirt and almost-black navy uniform. Ian Fleming’s Bond may have gotten the inspiration for his everyday uniform of navy suit, white shirt and black tie from this naval uniform.

Timothy Dalton wearing a black silk repp tie in The Living Daylights

Bond again wears black repp ties with his naval uniforms in The Spy Who Loved Me and Tomorrow Never Dies. He also wears it with Colonel Toro’s green army uniform at the start of Octopussy. It appears again as Timothy Dalton’s first tie as Bond when he wears a grey herringbone three-piece suit in The Living Daylights.

Sean Connery wearing a black fancy ribbed silk tie in Diamonds Are Forever

For mourning in Diamonds Are Forever, the black tie returns in the form of a fancy ribbed tie. Like the grenadine tie, this tie’s complex rib pattern adds interest to the plain tie while being the perfect choice for Bond in and out of mourning. Few outfits can look as somber as a black suit with a black tie, which is appropriate in Diamonds Are Forever because Bond dresses in disguise to mourn his “bother’s” death.

Roger Moore wearing a black silk satin tie in The Man with the Golden Gun

Roger Moore’s Bond embraces the black tie in The Man with the Golden Gun, something he shares with the film’s villain Scaramanga. He wears a black silk satin tie with a shiny charcoal suit for a fancy dinner with Goodnight. Satin ties are best for evening because of their shine, but a long black satin tie is not a classic replacement for a black bow tie with a dinner jacket. For fancy evening occasions that require less than a ‘black tie’ dress code, a black satin tie is a good option to wear with a suit.

Roger Moore wearing a black textured silk tie in The Man with the Golden Gun

With a loud checked jacket in The Man with the Golden Gun Bond wears a black textured tie that resembles a grenadine tie. Such a discreet tie is a good match for a boldly checked jacket, helping to tone down the outfit while picking up the black in the jacket’s check. Scaramanga’s James Bond mannequin in the film returns the character to the classic Bondian black silk knitted tie.

Pierce Brosnan wearing a black cashmere knitted tie in The World Is Not Enough

Pierce Brosnan’s Bond’s black necktie comes in the form of a black cashmere knitted tie with his grey Cheviot tweed suit in The World Is Not Enough. As well as being a stylish tie to wear with a tweed suit in the Scottish countryside, being black makes it an appropriate tie for Robert King’s funeral set in the country. This is a sportier variation on the already sporty silk knitted tie that Fleming’s Bond preferred.

Daniel Craig wearing a black-on-black checked silk tie in Spectre

Spectre saw Daniel Craig’s Bond wearing two solid black ties. The first is a black-on-black checked tie with a black suit and black coat for a funeral. 50 years after Bond’s first funeral in Thunderball, Bond still reaches for a black tie for such an occasion.

Daniel Craig wearing a black silk twill tie in Spectre

At the end of Spectre, Bond wears an anthracite grey damier check suit with a solid black twill tie. A twill tie looks similar to a repp tie but with the ribs at an angle other than 45 degrees across the tie. This tie has horizontal ribs because the actual silk’s ribs are woven at 45 degrees.

23 COMMENTS

  1. If I recall, Timothy Dalton wore a black satin tie with his tan suit in his passport in the Living Daylights so I guess that’s another time Bond wore a black tie with another ensemble.

  2. I’m surprised to find many of my favourite outfits here; Connery’s grey flannel in Thunderball, Moore’s checked jacket in The Man with the Golden Gun, and Brosnan’s tweed suit in The World is not Enough. I of course knew the ties were all black, but never made the connection. Maybe there’s more to the black tie than I would ordinarily have given credit, seeing as I don’t own one myself.

  3. My only black tie, other than my bow ties, is an Ottoman weave. Even though it’s got a good amount of shine to it, I find it too plain to wear with a gray or dark navy suit for anything other than a funeral. With sportier or more casual outfits, like a cream silk-linen suit I have, or my medium blue semisolid, unstructured blazer, it works fine.

    I have a mohair basketweave suit in a dark but rich blue (marine blue I guess) with a tan windowpane check that it could probably work with, but I haven’t tried it yet.

  4. I love the pick and pick suit that Bond wears to the Junkanoo in ‘Thunderball’. I thought that was worn with a black knit tie too but I just checked your entry and you state it’s midnight blue. I have trouble distinguishing very dark blues from blacks. Black grenadines are celebrated in a lot of menswear circles. I have one and have worn it exactly once to a funeral. It seems to me that there’s always a better option, even if I was going for a more monochrome Bondian style, I’d prefer dark blue or navy solid than black.

  5. I have only one single black necktie, and it was a knitted tie I had from J. Crew four years ago. Grenadine, so the texture is so intense, it looked perfect in daylight with my navy suits. Pretty much the only black necktie I own.

  6. I agree with you Rod. Perhaps if I had a really dark Charcoal suit I would go with a black tie but I don’t. Every other situation I’d just opt for a darker navy tie.

  7. The shantung silk charcoal tie worn by Roger at the beginning of FYEO was a very subtle shift from black but fitted in very well with what was at least a semi funeral outfit.

  8. I find it annoying that people always seem to associate them with funerals and nowadays even at funerals people don’t want you to wear them because they are associated with funerals.

    Personally I have a lot of love for them and get plenty of use out of my one black tie, normally with louder colours to prove they needn’t always be for somber occasions.

      • I can back this one up. I’m sure it stems from the “deformalising” of our culture. I’ve been to a lot of funerals these past few years and most people wear a wide variety of colours, if they bother to wear one at all.

        I’ll admit that even I don’t own a black one, and my go-to funeral tie is more a dark charcoal grey, not unlike the tie Daniel Craig wears in London in QoS minus the purple.

      • Well in a partial defence of the scarcity of black ties at funerals, many families these days explicitly state that they want a loved one’s funeral to be an upbeat celebration without a lot of black clothes and long faces, and I have absolutely no problem with that even if it does fly in the face of tradition.

    • I think it can have that effect, but if your shirt has a pop of colour or a pattern you can pair a black tie with a charcoal suit. It can also work better for evening than it does for daytime.

  9. Great article Matt. One comment. Ties in the early Connery Bond movies were shorter in overall length. The narrow tie blades were as much a function of the cut but also the lengths. Meaning if they were 57 in they would be closer to the 3-1/2 inch as opposed to what appears to be 2-1/2 or 2-3/4 inch width. Follow?

    • Sorry Gary, I don’t think I follow what you’re saying. Connery’s grenadine ties appear to be around 7.5 cm wide (about 2 3/4 to 3 inches) and the knitted ties about 6 cm wide. I’m not sure what length has to do with it, but even a standard 57-inch tie will look shorter on Connery than the average man because he was a tall man with a large neck.

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