In a film as iconic as Goldfinger, the smallest characters make tremendous impressions. Mr Solo, played by Martin Benson, is the most notable of the gangsters who assist in Auric Goldfinger’s operation because he is one of the few with a name and he has a unique death, which is entertaining but does nothing to forward the plot. Ian Fleming even lent his name to a more famous Solo: Napoleon Solo of The Man from U.N.C.L.E. Mr Solo’s costuming is appropriate for a 1960s gangster, but it’s also not a world apart from how James Bond dresses. The difference is in the details.
Mr Solo wears a crisp and shiny navy mohair suit. While mohair is suitable for the warm weather at Goldfinger’s Kentucky range, its sheen is also appropriate for a flashy gangster. Despite this, such a suit would have been equally appropriate for Sean Connery’s James Bond, even though Connery wore a different cut.
While Mr Solo is an American character, the suit is from an English bespoke tailor because Goldfinger was primarily made in England and Benson was a British actor. The fit is too perfect to be anything other than bespoke. It has soft shoulders with natural sleeve heads, a swelled chest and two buttons on the front in a medium-high stance. Like on Sean Connery’s jackets, the front darts are cut to extend to the hem of the jacket. Many English tailors cut this way in the 1960s, but few do it today as most favour a sidebody cut instead.
The jacket’s cut is timeless without any exaggeration. The narrow lapels, however, are a mark of 1960s fashions. The small lapel notch differentiates these narrow lapels from average lapels. The seam between the collar and lapel is about the same length as with a medium-width lapel. To some the small notch looks unbalanced but to others it gives these lapels character. A small notch was not uncommon in the 1960s.
The jacket is detailed with straight jetted pockets, no rear vents and four buttons on the cuffs. The buttons are navy polyester.
The trousers have legs that taper to a narrow hem, characteristic of 1960s tailoring. The narrow hem makes Solo look a little top-heavy, and he would be flattered more by a slightly wider hem. However, the gradual taper is a more flattering look on Solo than a 2010s skinny leg would be. The top of the trousers isn’t visible, but either forward pleats or a darted front are possible.
Solo’s ecru cotton poplin shirt has a semi-spread collar with rounded points, a french front and double cuffs. The shirt may have been made by Frank Foster, who made shirts for Sean Connery and Gert Frobe. The latter’s shirt collars also have rounded points.
The skinny tie is navy with a blue jacquard-woven pattern. He ties it in a four-in-hand knot. Solo’s shoes are black derbies with three pairs of eyelets.
Outdoors, Mr Solo dons a grey straw hat, which has some similarities to the one James Bond wears for golf earlier in Goldfinger. While Bond’s hat has a pinch at the crown, Solo’s hat has an oval-shaped telescope crown. The brim is moderately narrow and turned up at the back. The hat has a wide black ribbon with a wide silver-grey stripe through the centre.
Solo also carries a tan cotton gabardine raincoat over his arm as he departs Goldfinger’s ranch. The coat is single-breasted with notched lapels and is fully lined in a plaid cloth of red and black on cream. The coat’s label follows the same colour scheme as the lining, with white text on red, which is on a larger black label. Though it is not raining, the raincoat shows that Mr Solo believes he came prepared for any situation, but he will soon be proved wrong.