James Bond’s Many Brown Suits

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GFBrown3

Roger Moore is often criticised for succumbing to 1970s fashion and causing him to wear uncharacteristic brown suits in his James Bond films. However, Bond has worn brown suits spanning five decades, from Goldfinger in 1964 to Quantum of Solace in 2008. Brown suits have a very long history that is independent of 1970s fashion. Brown suits are traditionally worn in the country made of rustic cloths like tweed and flannel. Brown worsted suits also have a long history, though they were never a conservative choice in London.

Goldfinger-Houndstooth-Suit

The first brown suit in the series is Sean Connery’s brown and black houndstooth check country suit (pictured above) that he wears to the office in Goldfinger. No fashion trends influenced the colour of this suit, though it’s not the most appropriate choice for conducting business in the city. This is the perfect suit for country pursuits—and it was cut for that purpose for Connery to first use in the film Woman of Straw—and the dark colour and subtle pattern fit the James Bond character. Later in Goldfinger for the scene at Fort Knox, Bond wears a worsted brown striped suit (pictured top). This suit likely has black mixed with the brown, since the suit’s colour is very dark and muted. It’s certainly not a country suit, though it’s not a conservative choice to wear in town either. It works best for business and dressy occasions outside of the city, and it’s certainly appropriate to wear when foiling a villain’s plans at Fort Knox. A brown worsted suit is a great choice for when a proper city suit is too dressy but a traditional country suit is too relaxed. This kind of dark, muted brown also suits Connery’s complexion better than light, rich browns. Connery dresses it up with a white shirt, black tie and black shoes. Conservative accessories can make a brown worsted suit passable for business in the city, depending on the setting.

Connery Anthony Sinclair Brown Suit

In Thunderball Sean Connery again wears a muted brown suit, but this time it’s a three-piece brown suit at the office (pictured above). Like the striped suit, this suit is brown mixed with black, and Connery dresses it up conservatively with a simple cream shirt, a solid brown grenadine tie and black shoes. Being a three-piece makes the suit dressier, and that tries to make up for the less conservative colour. Keep in mind that James Bond was never one to follow all the rules.

TickSuit

In On Her Majesty’s Secret Service George Lazenby wears a bolder brown suit for the swiss mountains; it is brown tweed with a cream tick pattern and a rust windowpane (pictured above). This might seem a bit too bold for Bond, but it actually belongs to the man Bond is impersonating: Sir Hilary Bray. Bray himself wears this suit to work at the College of Arms in London. Like Connery’s brown suits, it’s a muted brown but much lighter. It’s a very traditional country suit with hardly any influence from the era’s fashions.

Roger Moore is the Bond known for wearing brown suits, but since he’s not the first—or the last—Bond to have worn brown, most criticisms toward him for wearing brown aren’t quite fair. There’s never anything inappropriate about the colour of his brown suits, especially since he never wears them in London and only where they fit the—usually warm—location. The first brown suit he wears in Live and Let Die is only a basted brown worsted suit for a fitting with his tailor. Though the brown is dark like Connery’s brown suits, it’s not as muted. This is the first of Bond’s brown suits that is a result the fashions of its time. However, the colour is very flattering to Roger Moore’s warm complexion. Moore has a much different complexion than the two Bonds the came before him, and to dress him the same would not have been the best look for him.

The brown worsted suit returns in The Man with the Golden Gun, though this time it takes the form of olive. It’s still a classic suit colour, though it should be worn in the same settings that brown is worn in. Like brown, olive is very flattering to Moore’s warm complexion, and it suits the Hong Kong setting very well.

Brown-Silk-Suit-2

The most notorious of Moore’s brown suits in the silk suit in The Spy Who Loved Me because it’s a light brown (pictured above). Though it’s the furthest from being a conservative business suit, it’s the perfect colour to wear in the Mediterranean. Sure, marine blue and light grey would also have been excellent choices, but there’s nothing wrong with light brown for an informal suit. It’s not just 1970s fashions that dictated Moore’s preference for this colour; it’s actually one of the best colours to flatter Moore’s warm complexion. Roger Moore wears a three-piece suit in a very similar brown—also in the Mediterranean—over ten years earlier in The Saint. And Moore wears this kind of light brown suit as Bond—again in the Mediterranean—in For Your Eyes Only. 1970s fashion was gone by this time, but light brown still looked fantastic on Moore.

Moonraker-Tweed-2

One of Moore’s brown suits is of the very traditional, country-type of brown suit: the brown donegal tweed suit in Moonraker (pictured above). Though the style of the suit is influenced by 70s fashions, the colour and cloth are certainly not. Though the wide lapels and flared trouser legs are poor fashion choices, brown tweed could not more perfectly fit the setting of a hunt in the country.

Though many of Pierce Brosnan’s suits have some brown in them, the only suit of his that is noticeably brown is his Prince of Wales check suit in GoldenEye. It recalls Sean Connery’s houndstooth check suit in Goldfinger, and like that suit, this one is not a good choice for the office in London either. Most recently, Daniel Craig wears a muted brown hopsack suit in Quantum of Solace (pictured below). Like Connery’s brown suits, this one is a very muted brown. Craig looks no less like James Bond in this suit than he does in his blue and grey suits. In fact, the warmer tones of this suit compared to his dark blues and greys is very flattering to Craig’s warm complexion. Though Bond is best known for his blue and grey suits, the brown suit is so not against the established Bond look as many believe.

Quantum-of-Solace-Brown-Suit

I’ve left out the beige and tan suits from this article since those are in a different category: warm-weather suits.

12 COMMENTS

  1. Excellent post! I was looking forward to a post lik this. I like brown suits myself and it’s a shame it sometimes seems a ”lost”color nowadays. I own a brown suit myself and I wear it with pleasure.
    I especially like Daniel Craig’s suit, the only criticism is that the trousers could use a little higher rise, but thats more about the cut/style. Still one of my favourite suits!
    I can’t wait to the post about beige and tan suits (and the appropriate weather to wear them)!

  2. And I think while a brown suit (or jacket) may suit better a non-younger 😉 man — if I were at my 30’s I’d never consider keeping any at my closet — a man at his age should own something more rustic or rusty… 😉

  3. This is great, brown is a vastly underrated colour.

    I bought a book recommended in this blog (but for the life of me I can’t remember the title) about colour coordinating to your complexion. I delighted in showing the book to my sister but her only comment was that it needed to be updated, because “nobody in their right mind would ever wear brown anymore”.

    It upsets me that it’s seen as such an ugly, taboo colour when- if worn correctly -it can look good on almost anyone.

    • I, too, am puzzled by the prejudice against brown. I remember when people used to mock Ronald Reagan (one of our best dressed presidents) for wearing brown suits instead of the usual navy or dark grey “politician uniform”. As Matt correctly points out, most of the Bonds have worn brown (with varying degrees of success), but only Sir Roger gets criticized for it. I still think some of the criticism has more to do with WHO is wearing brown, as opposed to the color itself. As for the comment “nobody in their right mind would ever wear brown anymore”, well, it depends on how we define “right mind”. Brown is the best color for rustic tweeds and country suits, but in some (young) people’s minds, only old men wear such things. See this article on why “hipster black” is inappropriate for most occasions: http://www.permanentstyle.co.uk/2009/08/black-suits-are-for-glamour-not-business.html

  4. Can black and brown ever be worn together…SC wearing black shoes with a brown suit? Or having black and brown in the same fabric as you describe? I thought that is a no no but do not know what the rule book says

    • Brown and black certainly can be worn together, though it helps when there is black in the suit. Connery’s brown suits are woven with black and brown yarns, which makes black shoes a perfect match for those suits. James Bond wouldn’t wear anything other than black shoes to the office. Brown shoes do not go with black trousers, but black shoes can go with brown trousers. Lighter and richer browns like the suits that Moore wears would not go so well with black shoes, but black shoes wouldn’t clash either.

  5. Well done post, if a bit defensive on the subject of Roger Moore.

    My personal, unsupported opinion is that Roger’s brown suit from Spy is the main cause of the criticism because it is excessive and ugly. His other brown suits, especially from 1979 on, are just fine.

  6. I have a suit in brown/black melange pattern,very similar to the Goldfinger brown suit.
    Work well with dark brown grenatine tie and with black knitted tie.
    In Italy the rule “no brown in town”, not exist,and brown is a classic color for town suits.

  7. Once again, I have to agree, 100% with Dan’s observations, especially the comment, “some of the criticism has more to do with WHO is wearing brown, than the color itself”. Indeed. A lot of commentators seem to have difficulty in separating their prejudices (and there’s nothing at all wrong with prejudices on the topic of Bond as we all, of course, have our Bond’s we like and dislike) but I still have difficulty in understanding why the “Spy” suit was chosen on a blog of tailoring enthusiasts as the worst Bond suit ever in a 3 way race with two others which are, objectively, far less well tailored than this is. I can’t believe that the presumption that the two actors wearing the other suits, and the belief that their portrayals are more “authentic” wasn’t an influencing factor

    Anyway, for me, the light brown suit featured fleetingly in FYEO (and very similar in shade to the contentious “Spy” one) is the nicest brown suit of the series.

    • I share the opinion that not the colour itself has to be “condemned” and that it all depends on who is actually wearing it.
      But please consider that there are several types of brown – for a man like Connery with his dark complexion there’s not really an alternative to a very dark brown tone which strongly tends to black. Richer brown tones look awful on him (just think of the DAF norfolk jacket). In my opinion his TB brown suit isn’t as flattering as the GF pinstripe – and the black shoes are surely not the best choice.
      There’s another point: Muted brown does not look necessarily like brown – especially on the screen. For instance you could take Connery’s brown striped suit for a charcoal one because it is in fact very similar and he’s wearing a black tie (not a brown one) with it. It’s the same with Lazenby’s and Moore’s tweed jackets: Their colour is not a pure brown – it only contains traces of it. On the screen – in particular on those with low resolution – the grey colour is the dominant one.
      As to Moore’s “infamous” TSWLM suit: I stick to my point of view that this suit is (and probably will remain) one of the ugliest ever shown throughout the series. And there is a connection to its colour: It is a kind of “dirty” brown – neither a rich nor a muted tone but somewhere in between. The shirt’s pattern and the dreadful tie do the rest.
      But of course that’s only my opinion. Each to his own.

  8. Which brown suit in the series do you like the best? I like the brown monhair worn by Daniel Craig in Quantum of Solace.

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