Are you looking for occasions to dress more like James Bond and wear his black tie uniform? Bond usually wears black tie for one of a few purposes: casinos, dinner, nightclubs, fancy parties and musical performances. These occasions can all be appropriate for black tie, or at least many of them were in the 1960s.
When James Bond is introduced on screen in Dr. No, he is wearing a midnight blue shawl collar dinner suit and is properly dressed for his fancy London club casino. When James Bond visits a casino, it is usually a fancy casino in a place like the Bahamas, Corfu, India, Monte Carlo or Macau. There’s no one style of dinner jacket that Bond wears to a casino; it may be black, midnight blue or ivory with a shawl collar, peaked lapels or notched lapels.
The only time Bond looks out of place in a dinner jacket at a casino is in Las Vegas in Diamonds Are Forever. In his ivory dinner jacket, Bond is overdressed and out of place, and he look culturally unaware of how people dress in Vegas. Bond dressed for his usual type of Casino, and the Vegas casino is not Bond’s type. James Bond does not repeat this mistake at the casino at the One&Only Ocean Club casino in Casino Royale, where Bond is a bit under-dressed in his shirt sleeves compared to the other patrons. Bond also goes to a casino in a lounge suit in The Man with the Golden Gun, so not even black tie is mandatory for all of James Bond’s casino adventures.
Today, not even the Casino de Monte Carlo requires black tie. A jacket is recommended for the evening, and it is only enforced in the Salons Privés.
Bond gambles in black tie in:
On Her Majesty’s Secret Service
Diamonds Are Forever (ivory dinner jacket)
For Your Eyes Only
Octopussy (ivory dinner jacket)
Licence to Kill
The World Is Not Enough
The dinner jacket got its name because it was originally worn in the evening for dinner, at a time when other fancy evening occasions would have called for a black tailcoat. For Bond, dinner is often a special occasion and calls for fancy dress. Bond my put on a dinner jacket for dinner at restaurants, dinner at others’ homes or for a private romantic dinner.
Usually for dinner, Bond wears some of the less formal variations of the dinner jacket, such as dinner jackets with notched lapels, double-breasted dinner jackets, ivory dinner jackets and, on one occasion, a velvet dinner jacket. Today it is rare for men to wear black tie to a simple dinner.
Bond dresses for dinner in:
Goldfinger (black dinner suit)
Diamonds Are Forever (velvet dinner jacket)
The Man with the Golden Gun
For Your Eyes Only
Octopussy (black dinner suit)
A View to a Kill (midnight blue dinner suit)
The World Is Not Enough (at the end of the film)
Fancy parties are the most common occasions for black tie today, with the decline of white tie for balls and state affairs. “Black tie affairs” are how most modern men wear black tie, such as galas and American weddings. Bond wears black tie for receptions hosted by Bond villains, such as by Max Zorin in A View to a Kill, by Elliot Carver in Tomorrow Never Dies or by Gustav Graves in Die Another Day. The later two villains use these events to launch their secretly villainous endeavours.
Bond wears black tie when attending fancy dress balls in:
In The Living Daylights, Bond attends two concerts and one opera in three different black dinner suits. For Bond, attending a performance is always both a mission and a fancy dress ball. Opening night at the opera or symphony is still a common occasions to wear black tie. In Quantum of Solace, Bond arrives at the opera improperly dressed, so he breaks into a locker to steal a dinner suit. Bond always wears dark dinner suits to such performances in the evening.
Bond wears black tie to the symphony and the opera in:
James Bond visits the classier types of nightclubs, not the kind where people go “clubbing”. Where Bond spends his nights out, he drinks a vodka martini and watches local dancing accompanied by live music. Black tie is out of place at such clubs today, and not even Bond always wears black tie to nightclubs.
Bond wears black tie when visiting nightclubs in:
Bond wears black tie for a few other one-off occasions. In From Russia with Love, a man in a James Bond mask wears Bond’s signature midnight blue shawl collar dinner suit to be a human target for SPECTRE’s Red Grant. Before we know that it is not the real James Bond, we assume that Bond has just left a fancy dinner party and is walking around the gardens of a fancy estate. But for a man to be placed in both a James Bond mask and Bond’s suit for target practice by SPECTRE seems a bit far fetched.
In Diamonds Are Forever, Bond puts on a black dinner suit to scale the outside of a skyscraper hotel with the intent to rescue Willard Whyte imprisoned in the penthouse. Why does Bond wear a dinner suit for this endeavour? Perhaps he wants to be properly dressed when he meets the famous Willard Whyte. Whyte, being an American, likely would have understood if his rescuer was properly dressed for a rescue in tactical gear rather than for a fancy dress ball. Whyte certainly would have made a sarcastic comment at the site of someone rescuing him in black tie, and it would have been all too appropriate. James Bond had become a caricature of himself in this outfit.
Carnival in Rio de Janeiro in Moonraker is a grand occasion, and a grand occasion for James Bond means black tie. Most people are wearing some sort of costume or are dancing around shirtless, but Bond is not the type who would wear a silly costume (at least not until Octopussy), and 51-year-old Roger Moore wasn’t prepared to be seen without a shirt. Bond is essentially wearing a costume in this scene: a James Bond costume. Bond is not the only man at Carnival in black tie, but in his perfectly tailored black mohair dinner suit, he still looks out of place.
Since Moonraker, Bond has always looked more appropriately dressed in black tie, despite formalwear becoming less commonly worn. With each Bond film, it is a necessity that Bond has an occasion for black tie, and the audience can accept that Bond will always wear black tie even as the world becomes more casual.