James Bond’s Preference for Midnight Blue Dinner Suits (Tuxedos)

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Skyfall-Dinner-Suit-Midnight-Blue

Since Skyfall was released in 2012, midnight blue dinner suits (tuxedos) have become very popular. James Bond has had a long history of wearing midnight blue dinner suits, starting with Bond’s introduction in Dr. No, so Skyfall is by no means a first for James Bond in a midnight blue dinner suit. In fact, half of James Bond’s dinner suits (excluding ivory dinner jackets and the midnight blue velvet dinner jacket in Diamonds Are Forever) have been midnight blue. The midnight blue dinner suit is by no means a fashion of the day.

Dr. No Dinner Suit
Sean Connery wearing a midnight blue dinner suit in Dr. No

Midnight blue is a very dark shade of blue named after the colour of the midnight sky that can easily be mistaken for black. It’s more of a type of black than it is a type of blue, and a midnight blue dinner suit is worn the same way as and for the same occasions that a black dinner suit is worn. The point of making dinner suits in midnight blue instead of black is so they look darker than black, and not look noticeably blue. In artificial lighting midnight blue ends up looking like a richer black, and Daniel Craig’s dinner suit in Skyfall pictured at the top is a good example of this. The blue body of the dinner jacket looks darker than its actually black lapels! If a midnight blue dinner suit is obviously blue it is too light and not actually midnight blue. Dinner suits in lighter shades of blue, such as navy, marine blue and royal blue, are a current fad and not actually midnight blue, which many people are calling them. The elegant contrast of classic evening wear is lost with these lighter dinner suits.

Skyfall-Dinner-Suit-Midnight-Blue-Daytime-2
Daniel Craig’s midnight blue dinner jacket in Skyfall looks blue in bright daylight, but it is still a very dark blue. The contrast between the midnight blue cloth and black lapels is only noticeable in daylight, which isn’t a problem since dinner jackets should only be worn at night.

Navy, marine blue and royal blue suits came into fashion after people saw Daniel Craig wearing a royal blue dinner suit on the Skyfall posters. Skyfall had a very large advertising budget, and posters of this royal blue dinner suit were everywhere. Daniel Craig was actually wearing a midnight blue dinner suit—the same as what he wears in the film—but the poster’s designer enhanced the colours of the photo to make the dinner jacket lighter and bolder. Whoever is responsible for choosing to enhance the dinner suit’s blue on the poster may be responsible for this fashion trend.

A poster for Skyfall with Daniel Craig in a colour-enhanced dinner suit
A poster for Skyfall with Daniel Craig in a colour-enhanced dinner suit. The actual dinner suit is much darker, as seen in the image above.

A midnight blue dinner jacket can have either black or midnight blue silk facings and trimmings. Sean Connery’s, George Lazenby’s and Pierce Brosnan’s (in Tomorrow Never Dies) midnight blue dinner suits are faced in midnight blue, whilst Roger Moore’s, Pierce Brosnan’s (in The World Is Not Enough and Die Another Day) and Daniel Craig’s midnight blue dinner suits are faced in black. It is easier to find a bow tie and cummerbund to match black facings than it is to find a blue bow tie and cummerbund to match blue facings. A midnight blue dinner jacket should be treated exactly the same as a black dinner jacket—because midnight blue is a shade of black—and worn with matching trousers.

Pierce Brosnan wearing a midnight blue dinner jacket in The World Is Not Enough
Pierce Brosnan wearing a midnight blue dinner jacket in The World Is Not Enough

14 COMMENTS

  1. Great article. I was never a fan of black suits. I think midnight blue looks more elegant, especially with subtle contrast details such as black lapels.

  2. Whilst it is true that Craig’s dinner suit is actually much darker than it appeared in the posters for Skyfall, I’m not convinced that it is true midnight blue (as opposed to very dark navy). I have a suit in a very similar very very dark blue cloth – it is undoubtedly navy, however, rather than midnight black/blue. Compare and contrast the pictures of Connery (wearing true midnight) and Craig under decent lighting above and you can see that Craig’s is a lot more obviously blue (whereas you might not notice the blue tint to Connery’s if you weren’t looking for it).

    I note that Peter Marshall at The Black Tie Guide seems to take the same view, so its not just my eyes…

    • But it looks black under artificial light, which is dark enough for me to consider it midnight blue. The colours from different films can’t be compared since the lighting and filters are much different. If Connery wore his in bright light the blue would likely come out as much. Moore’s dinner jackets in The Spy Who Loved Me and A View to a Kill look similar to Craig’s in Skyfall since they can be seen in brighter light. If Craig’s suit had blue facings, the suit would look darker overall. It’s the contrast in daylight that makes Craig’s suit look more blue.

    • Father Ted: That’s right, Dougal. You see, ordinary shops sell what look like black socks, but if you look closely, you’ll see that they’re very, very, very, very, very, very, very dark blue.
      Father Dougal: That’s true. I thought my Uncle Tommy was wearing black socks, but when I looked at them closely, they were just very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very dark blue.
      Father Ted: Never buy black socks from a normal shop.
      [Whispers to Dougal]
      Father Ted: They shaft you every time!
      [Dougal looks worried]

  3. I’ve just noticed the Skyfall poster designers has overzealously coloured the facings of the jacket blue as well. What a strange thought process.

  4. I enjoyed Skyfall, but it will not age well. Nearly everything about the film, from the plot to the costumes, was very”of the moment.” They wanted the film to be iconic, yet it will eventually be viewed as one of the most dated films in the entire series. The blue dinner suit on the poster is just another example of that.

    As for the actual topic of this post, I much prefer midnight blue and I favor the black facings, both for the elegant contrast and the ease of matching a tie. For the dinner suit that I recently had made, I went with this approach by requesting a midnight blue jacket with grosgrain facings in black.

  5. I agree completely with FS’s comments. From the images you have here of the “Skyfall” clothing it will look, eventually, very dated. (Ditto, “Spectre”, if the images of suits you’ve posted so far are anything to go by!) And yes, I know, the suits from say “Moonraker” and “The Spy who Loved Me”, for example, are also dated looking. They’re just, objectively, better, far better, tailored and fitted.

    Speaking of the latter movie, and the dinner suit, Matt, you mentioned in the original post or a reply to same that you thought the suit was a lightweight barathea. Given the obvious sheen to the material as seen in the photos, would you think that some element of mohair could be there?

    Finally, according to another contributor recently, “Spectre” may see the return of the white dinner jacket (one assumes for the scenes scheduled to be shot in Morocco). What a shame that, given the aforementioned sneak previews you have already given of the suits from the movie, that it’ll likely be the same shrunken, ill fitting stuff as the rest and certainly not a patch on the examples from 1964 or 1983 which look pretty timeless!

  6. What about lapels facing and trousers stripes?
    With blue midnight dinner jackets many make them in black.
    Im my opinion lapels facing (in grosgrain) and laces in the same blue midnight are more elegant.

    • Did you read the last paragraph? I wrote about that. I can’t make up my mind whether I prefer black or matching blue facings, since both are equally valid options.

    • I think good suits are all about very subtle detailing. Details that you may not notice individually right away, but as a whole suit, collectively they all add up to give the impression that the suit is a good one. The details work to keep the eye interested and keep you noticing new things about it.

      I think Bond’s midnight blue Skyfall suit is an excellent example of this. First it’s not black but it looks black in certain lighting, blue in others. The lapels are black and will contrast more in certain lights. Same with the pocket details.

      So I like the contrasting black facings as it keeps the eye interested. Although with this suit, the fit and length are another matter . . .

  7. I go back and forth between a personal preference for black or midnight blue. Either looks terrific. As for Skyfall, I too am not convinced it is as dark as some of the other midnight blue featured in the series. Close, and not as light as what is being sold as “midnight blue” in stores right now (the poster is perhaps the worst, and most unimaginative of the series). But, Matt, I understand your point that is is dark enough.

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