Because the jacket is more of a focal point than the trouser are, people choose their trousers to pair with a jacket rather than a choose their jacket to pair with their trousers. But while trousers usually take a back seat to the jacket, it doesn’t mean that trousers are any less important. Picking the right odd trousers for an odd jacket is essential to completing an elegant, cohesive and balanced outfit. When James Bond picks the trousers he wears with his jackets, he considers the colour, the pattern, the weight and the texture.
When wearing blue jackets, Bond wears shades of grey from light to dark (but not charcoal), tan, khaki and white. Grey gives a dressier look while the other colours are sportier. When wearing non-blue jackets, Bond opts for darker or lighter shades of the jacket’s colour. This means wearing charcoal or black trousers with medium grey jackets, light or dark brown trousers with jackets in various shades of brown, and cream trousers with tan jackets. The tone-on-tone look here works when Bond does it because he only does it with neutrals in greys or browns. Tone-on-tone does not work so well with non-neutral colours like blues unless there is a high amount of contrast.
Bond uses different amounts of contrast between his jacket and trousers. The less contrast between the jacket and trousers the more formal the outfit looks because it approaches looking more like a suit. If there is not enough contrast, the outfit ends up looking like a mismatched suit, so there needs to be enough contrast to avoid that. Varying textures helps when wearing a jacket and trouser combination with little colour contrast.
Bond pairs fawn cavalry twill trousers with his slightly darker brown barleycorn tweed jacket in Goldfinger, and though there is little contrast in colour between the jacket and trousers, the different textures—a rough tweed against a smooth but pronounced rib—prevent it from looking like a mismatched suit. To have less contrast in colour there needs to be more contrast in texture. Bond wears the same colour combination with his brown Brunello Cucinelli jacket and trousers in Spectre, but because there is little difference in texture between the fine weaves of the jacket and the trousers, the combination reads as a mismatched suit from a distance. The contrast is less apparent from a distance because textures reflect light in a similar manner. Because we get dressed by standing directly in front of our outfits laid out on a bed or close-up in a mirror, it’s important to take a few steps back from our outfits to check if there is enough contrast between a jacket and trousers.
When Bond most wants to dress up his navy blazers, he wears them with dark grey trousers, like how Sean Connery’s Bond always does with his navy blazers. This is the lowest contrast possible in good taste with a blazer, and the city colour of grey for the trousers increases the formality of the look than other colours would. Low contrast is a more flattering look on shorter or heavier men because it does not split the body in half.
Bond increases the contrast for a sportier, less formal look. Tan or khaki trousers with a navy blazer not only contrasts in value (light to dark) but also is opposite navy on the colour wheel. Black or charcoal trousers with a medium grey jacket and dark brown trousers with a tan or khaki jacket maintain Bond’s favourite tone-on-tone look but in a sportier way. Though the high-contrast look is more casual, it can be unflattering on shorter or heavier men by emphasising those attributes.
With his jackets, Bond always opts for neutral-toned trousers in greys, browns, white or black. Neutral trousers are less likely to compete with a jacket, which typically has more interest than the trousers one wears. Trousers in non-neutral colours—like navy, maroon or forest green—may draw more attention than the jacket and can bring the eye down away from the face, making one look bottom-heavy. If one chooses to pair non-neutral trousers with a jacket, the trousers should either be a colour featured in the jacket, or the jacket should have a bold colour or pattern to make it visually stronger than the trousers.
Solids and Patterns
James Bond’s odd trousers are always solid; they are never striped, checked or even semi-solid. Solid trousers are always the easiest to combine with other clothes. Solids may sound boring, but there are reasons to wear solid trousers. Like coloured trousers, patterned trousers will draw attention away from the face and can make one look bottom-heavy. Patterned trousers will usually compete with jackets that have even a subtle pattern. Subtly patterned trousers will often compete with patterned jackets unless they are very carefully picked, but even if it works in one case the trousers will not be versatile, whereas solid trousers should be able to pair with many jackets.
Patterned trousers are best paired with solid jackets, such as blue blazers. A subtle grey glen check can pair excellently with a blue blazer for a sporty look. But no matter how well-executed the look is done, patterned trousers will look dandy, flashy and reminiscent of 1970s trends. Not even the dandy Roger Moore wears patterned trousers in his 1970s James Bond films.
The trousers should approximately match the weight of the jacket so the outfit looks balanced and neither bottom-heavy nor top-heavy. Heavy trousers go with heavy jackets and lightweight trousers go with lightweight jackets. Heavy woollen flannel and cavalry twill do not pair well with a summery linen jacket nor do tropical wool and chinos pair well with a heavy tweed jacket.
The texture of the trousers—which comes from the weave, the fibre and the finishing of the cloth—should complement the texture of the jacket so the jacket and trousers match in formality and pair harmoniously. Jackets with a pronounced texture are less formal and pair better with trousers that have texture. A nap reads as texture, though it may look smooth overall. A jacket with a finer weave is more formal and works better with smoother trousers. Finer textures can work well with similar finer textures since there is less noticeable variation between fine textures, whereas pronounced textures in a jacket like tweed and corduroy work best if the trousers are in a contrasting texture. Pronounced textures can read like a pattern, and like similar patterns in two different colours, similar pronounced textures will often clash against one another.
For example. tweed jackets are good with other trousers that have a pronounced texture like woollen flannel, cavalry twill, whipcord, corduroy or moleskin trousers, but not with other tweeds. Fine worsted trousers like gabardine are too smooth and lightweight for tweed while cotton chinos are too lightweight and rumpled. Serge blazers pair well with flannel or other twills like wool gabardine or cavalry twill. A doeskin blazer pairs well with cavalry twill trousers or flannel trousers, since flannel trousers ordinarily have a fuzzier texture than the more finely napped doeskin flannel.
Fibres that wrinkle more or cannot be pressed, such as cotton or linen, are best worn with less dressy jackets. Wool, on the other hand, always has a more formal look.
The following is a list of different trouser fabrics and examples of what they pair well with:
Bedford cord: A heavy, durable worsted or cotton with a lengthwise woven rib that resembles corduroy but has little else in common. It pairs well with heavy, sporty jackets like tweed or moleskin and is also good for casual cool-weather wear.
Brushed cotton: A medium to heavy weight cotton with a soft, brushed surface for casual wear in cool weather. It pairs well with heavy, textured jackets with less structure, but it is better for casual sportswear than pairing with jackets.
Canvas: A rough and durable plain-weave cotton or linen in a medium or heavy weight, best for casual wear without a jacket.
Cavalry Twill: A heavy worsted with a steep, pronounced double rib in a smooth finish similar to whipcord for cool weather. It pairs well with heavier jackets in tweed, doeskin, cashmere and heavier serge and hopsack. Works well with structured or unstructured jackets. A Bond favourite.
Chino: Chino describes both the type of cotton that trousers are made from as well as a style of casual cotton trousers made from chino cotton. It sometimes may be incorrectly used to describe trousers made of any cotton. Chino cotton is a durable light to medium weight cotton twill with a fine, steep rib in a soft finish for warm weather that is less dressy than cotton gabardine. It is usually unpressed or pressed without a crease, but it can be pressed with a crease to make it look dressier. It pairs well with unstructured cotton and linen jackets, but it is best for casual sportswear rather than pairing with jackets.
Corduroy: A heavy cotton with tufted lengthwise wales for casual wear in cool weather. It pairs well with heavy, textured jackets with less structure, like an unstructured tweed, cashmere, moleskin or waxed cotton jacket.
Cotton gabardine: A light to medium weight cotton twill with a fine, steep rib in a smooth finish for warm weather that is dressier than chino cotton but less so than wool gabardine. Unlike chino cotton, cotton gabardine is usually pressed with a crease. It pairs well with lightweight cotton, linen and silk jackets and is good for dressing down lightweight hopsack blazers. Because it is informal it is best with unstructured jackets. A Bond favourite.
Denim: A stiff and durable medium to heavy weight cotton twill for all weather. It is best for casual wear but can pair well with heavy textured jackets such corduroy, moleskin and tweed.
Drill: A durable medium to heavy weight cotton twill with a pronounced diagonal rib in a hard finish for casual wear in moderate to cool weather. It pairs well with unstructured corduroy jackets, but it is best for casual sportswear rather than pairing with jackets.
Duck: A rough and durable plain-weave cotton canvas in a medium or heavy weight, best for casual wear without a jacket.
Flannel: A woollen with an even, fuzzy nap for cool weather that can be worn dressed up or down. It occasionally is woven with a small amount of cashmere for extra softness, though too much cashmere or cashmere on its own typically looks shapeless and won’t hold a crease. It is best paired with jackets of tweed, doeskin, cashmere and heavier serge, and it works well with structured or unstructured jackets. Flannel cloth may be made of worsted yarns rather than the traditional woollen, but that type is typically used for suits rather than odd trousers. A Bond favourite.
Linen: A light to medium weight, usually a plain weave for breathability in warm weather. It is dressier than cotton chinos but looks very informal due to its inclination to wrinkle. It pairs well with linen, silk and cotton jackets, particularly when unstructured.
Moleskin: A heavy napped cotton for casual wear in cool weather, and it is like corduroy without the wales. It pairs well with heavy, textured jackets with less structure, like an unstructured tweed, cashmere, corduroy or waxed cotton jacket.
Mohair and wool: A dressy lightweight fabric with sheen, usually a plain weave. It is a stiff and breathable fabric for moderate to warm weather. Mohair is typically blended with wool or wool and silk because alone it will be too scratchy. It pairs best with hopsack or serge wool or silk jackets.
Needlecord: A medium-heavy cotton with fine tufted lengthwise wales for casual wear in moderate to cool weather. It is finer and lighter version of corduroy. It pairs well with heavy, textured jackets with less structure, like an unstructured tweed, cashmere, moleskin or waxed cotton jacket.
Poplin: A lightweight plain-weave cotton that is less dressy than cotton gabardine but dressier than chino cotton, for warm weather. It pairs well with lightweight cotton, linen and silk jackets and is good for dressing down lightweight hopsack wool blazers. Due to its propensity to wrinkle, it is informal and best with unstructured jackets or casual wear.
Prunelle: A light to medium worsted wool with subtle 45° ribs for moderate to warm weather. It has a more formal look and pairs best with structured wool jackets in similar weights.
Seersucker: A lightweight plain-weave cotton with a puckered and rumpled look for warm weather. It is almost always striped. It pairs well with linen, silk and non-seersucker cotton jackets, and it can also be worn casually.
Serge: A light to heavy worsted wool or combination of worsted and woollen yarns in an even twill weave that has 45° ribs, and it may be suitable for a variety of seasons. It has a more formal look and pairs best with structured wool jackets in similar weights.
Silk: Usually medium to light in weight in a plain weave for moderate to warm weather. With its sheen it has a dressier look and pairs well with warm-weather jackets like hopsack wool or linen.
Silk and cotton blend: More casual than pure silk, a silk and cotton blend is usually lightweight and is softer than pure silk. It pairs well with unstructured linen or silk jackets for warm weather.
Silk and linen blend: This usually lightweight blend has the breathable properties of linen with some of the sheen and wrinkle-resistance of silk, and the formality of it is between the two. It pairs well with linen, silk, hopsack wool and cotton jackets, particularly when unstructured.
Tropical wool: A dressy lightweight worsted in a breathable open plain weave for warm weather. A standard for odd trousers in warm weather, it pairs well with lightweight worsted wool (such as serge or hopsack), linen and silk jackets. Works well with structured or unstructured jackets.
Tweed: A rough, heavy weight woollen for cool weather that pairs well with heavy informal jackets like cashmere, doeskin, corduroy or moleskin but also works well for casual wear.
Venetian: A medium weight worsted in a satin weave with a lustrous, smooth finish. Good with sporty tweed or corduroy jackets in moderate to cool weather.
Whipcord: A heavy worsted with steep, pronounced ribs in a smooth finish similar to cavalry twill for cool weather. It pairs well with heavier jackets in tweed, doeskin, cashmere and heavier serge. Works well with structured or unstructured jackets.
Wool gabardine: A light to medium weight worsted twill with a fine, steep rib in a smooth finish for moderate to warm weather that is dressier than cotton gabardine. A standard for odd trousers in moderate to warm weather, it pairs well with light or medium weight worsted wool (such as serge or hopsack), linen and silk jackets. Works well with structured or unstructured jackets. A Bond favourite.
An excellent insightful article, thank you!
In spectre, what’s with the short necktie?
The tie’s length is right, but the trousers sit too low.
“James Bond’s odd trousers are always solid; they are never striped, checked or even semi-solid.” Except for the checked trousers in CR…
That is true, but because this article is focused on matching trousers to a jacket, his odd trousers as described in the manner here are still always solid.
One addition: IMO as a matter of principle one shouldn’t pair an odd jacket with black trousers. There’s too much danger to end up with that (well-known) salesman-look.
As a general rule this is good advice. I stand to be corrected but I think literary Bond wore black trousers to Blades in Moonraker with a ‘heavy silk shirt’ but I don’t recall the jacket (was it part of his dinner suit?). I have a pair of black odd trousers which don’t get dusted off very often at all. Maybe with my green and black striped boating blazer! My school uniform was navy blazer and black trousers with gray v-neck jumper and blue or white shirt, so that’s a combination I steadfastly avoid in adulthood.
When Bond goes to Blades in Moonraker, he wears a navy serge suit. The full description from Fleming is here: https://www.bondsuits.com/ian-fleming-moonraker-1955/
The literary Bond wears black trousers as part of his Japanese outfit in You Only Live Twice. https://www.bondsuits.com/ian-fleming-you-only-live-twice-1964/
Black trousers are generally difficult to wear well, as Renard states. Charcoal is generally a better choice.
Great article, funny that I get to see an ad for Dalton-esque Stefano Ricci underneath it, talk about targeted advertising…great placement!
Stuff doesn‘t look too garish, still far from my favorite high-end designer.
How’s this Matt for a (00)7 Essential James Bond Odd Trousers to Own list:
Charcoal woollen flannel
Grey woollen flannel
Dark-brown woollen flannel
Light-grey tropical wool
Fawn wool cavalry twill
Tan wool gabardine
Khaki cotton gabardine
That’s very close to the list I’ve come up with. I would replace the dark brown woollen flannel with corduroy, which is something Bond has worn with casual wear. In today’s casual culture I think it would be useful to add, but I like my dark brown woollen flannel trousers too. I’d probably also replace light grey tropical wool with a dark grey, for a more Bondian choice, but either would be good.
Hi Matt – great article, as always. I was wondering what the ‘rules’ are about colours here. Would there be anything wrong with grey corduroy instead of brown, for example, or light grey cotton gabardine instead of tan/khaki? (And should a man take his complexion into account, as with https://www.bondsuits.com/suitings-for-the-setting/ ?)
Grey cotton never looks quite right to me. It’s usually best in earth tones or more vivid colours. Grey cotton tends to look lifeless, whereas grey wool looks more interesting. But there’s no rule that says you can’t wear grey cotton if you want to.
The colour of your trousers does not depend on your complexion because trousers are far from your face.
That is actually a very good list, but what about navy? I think in wool trousers or cotton chinos; navy would be a very bondian choice, as a it was a staple of the literary Bond.
The literary Bond did not wear navy trousers with odd jackets. His navy trousers were always part of his suits. See the paragraph about non-neutral trousers for why navy trousers are not a versatile choice.
Yes I was tossing up between the dark-brown flannel or corduroy too. As always thanks for the tips…
Nice going Matt! Not quite the (00)7 essential odd trousers others wanted but still very informative and helpful.
Quick question. Whenever I try and wear a jacket-trouser combo with minimal contrast, my family always comments that it doesn’t look good at all.
Perhaps it’s because of the color, but I would like your input on this.
P.S. The combo in question is a camel colored sport coat with cream/stone trousers.
It sounds like there is enough colour contrast in that combination. Does the fabric of the trousers complement the fabric of the jacket in weight and texture? Or could your family just be biased against the camel-coloured jacket? Some people don’t care for that colour in a jacket, hence the criticism Roger Moore often gets.
Thank you for being so prompt Matt.
The trousers match in weight, but not in texture. They are smooth while the jacket is fuzzy.
Whenever I asked them why they look bad, the answer is the same. “Too much tan.” (Even though they have nothing against all blue…) I guess they are somewhat biased against the color. I personally like it. Whether or not it looks good against my complexion is another matter
Matt Spaiser, thank you for your blog post.Really thank you! Awesome.
Mr. Spaiser, I very much enjoy reading your sartorial insights regarding 007 and his supporting characters! Do you feel like sharing any comments regarding the wearing of a waistcoat with odd trousers and odd jackets, such as Mr. Connery’s outfit which includes a waistcoat, cavalry twill trousers, and the famous barleycorn hacking jacket in Woman of Straw? Thank you for your valuable time and attention!
Thanks for reading! A waistcoat can work very well with an odd jacket, particularly in a material like doeskin wool or tweed. Because it’s on the upper half of the body, it can be either neutral or in a bold colour, but in a bold colour it needs to carefully be paired with the rest of the clothes so that everything else looks balanced. A colour for the waistcoat can be paired with the jacket the same way a tie would be. Many people like to wear a sleeveless cardigan under a jacket, and you can look for inspiration there when choosing a waistcoat.
Thank you very much, Mr. Spaiser!
Matt do you like Tim Dalton’s brown check jacket pairing with dark brown trousers? I prefer the high contrast Roger Moore look personally.
I like both ways of pairing!
Fantastic source of information again. I like how this blog is able to provide a wealth of useful advice on menswear while still retaining the underlying theme of Bond.
I am attending a Village wedding (Church ceremony followed by marquee reception) this coming May and have been thinking of putting together a tweed jacket/odd trousers get-up for it using the guidelines set out by this article. Do you think this would be appropriate for a wedding where the dress code is given as ‘Smart but comfortable’ (vague I know)? Any suggestions?
You should talk with the bride (or groom if that fails) to find out what exactly that dress code means.
I had just done that actually. Groom’s reply was simply “Smart like a normal wedding, however the event will be fairly informal.”
Sounds like he is either not necessitating too much specificity, or doesn’t know what he wants.
Seems like i will have a fair amount of freedom here.
Thank you for you quick reply.
You could probably get away with an odd jacket and trousers with a low-contrast combination, but I think a sportier suit like a glen check or tweed would be better if you have that.
Thanks for the suggestions; the glen check is a good idea. Currently own neither, so have a blank slate in that regard.
Hey Matt! Nice post.
Can you tell me apart from a jacket, Waistcoat should also be pair with trousers?
A waistcoat and trousers without a jacket is an incomplete look.
Hi Matt, just a question , if I added a waistcoat to the Sean Connery navy blazer look, what color of waistcoat would compliment the navy blazer and dark grey trousers?
A sleeveless cardigan in burgundy or forest green would pair nicely, but it wouldn’t be a Bondian look. If Connery’s blazer were serge instead of doeskin, a doeskin waistcoat in burgundy or forest green would pair well.
I have a little doubt Matt, I have a tan/beige odd jacket that I would like to pair with trousers that are a shade lighter but I am having difficulty if it will look mismatched. The jacket is 64% cotton and 36% polyester and is rather smooth, while the trousers are also 56% cotton and 44% polyester but feels much thicker than the jacket but equally lightweight. Will this combo work?
Also the weaving of the trousers seem to be cotton gabardine
This may not work well because there won’t be enough difference in texture to pair the two that are close in colour.
Thanks for the input. I guess I will stick my light grey trousers then. Though could lightweight wool trousers pair with cotton jackets
Yes, that can work
What type and colour of sports coat can go well with black odd trousers?
A black and white or black and grey patterned jacket goes well with black trousers.
Can a white or light blue shirt with a navy or black tie work with that ensemble?
Either shirt is fine, but I would wear a black tie rather than navy blue if you’re wearing black trousers.
Thank you Matt
Do medium grey trousers go well with a cream sports coat with a light blue shirt and navy tie?
Sure, that can work.
Matt , l have been considering buying a pair of these trousers lately. How durable is this silk cotton blend ? And can it be good to wear with braces ?
I can’t speak for that fabric, but it’s probably not a very hard-wearing fabric. Those don’t look so good for braces.
Hello again, Matt. What are your thoughts on non-neutral trousers when worn casually? I’m thinking colours like navy, wine, olive. Thanks!
I think they are excellent. They are much easier to wear casually than with a jacket.
Thanks, as always! :-)
Matt , l bought a French Blue Ralph Lauren Silk-linen blend Shirt recently and a part of Black Tommy Bahama Double reverse pleated silk-cotton blend dress trousers. What kind of jacket / blazer / sports coat would go with a French Blue shirt and black trousers ?
A grey sports coat in linen or a linen blend would work.
Where do you think Bond would purchase his trousers in the UK today? Flannels and good cords can be tricky to find . . .
Bond would be getting his trousers made for him, and any good tailor can make what you’re looking for.
Are there any other colors of corduroy/moleskin besides dark brown you think can work well with other pieces of clothing?
Tan and beige corduroy and moleskin are easy to wear as well. I’m wearing tan corduroy as I write this.
And lastly, are there any other good colors for wool cavalry twill trousers besides fawn/brown? Gray cavalry twill sounds like it would be useful.
Cavalry twill can be very nice in grey, though I prefer whipcord for grey. I’ve seen a lot of American brands sell grey ‘cavalry twill’ trousers that look more like whipcord, and they’re very nice.