Like all of Timothy Dalton’s clothes in Licence to Kill, his royal blue t-shirt is a size too large by today’s standards. Within the context of the story, this is mostly likely a shirt that Bond found rather than bought. The shirt looks even larger when it’s wet, and the large size makes it especially cumbersome for swimming. The shirt has a large crew neck, an open patch breast pocket and sleeves down to his elbows. Dalton wears full-cut dark blue cotton trousers. He wears a black belt but no shoes.
In this scene Bond is likely attempting to dress like what the henchmen aboard the Wavekrest wear without having their actual clothes to wear. Bond’s shirt is a little darker and it doesn’t have the Wavekrest emblem on the left side of the chest that the henchmen’s shirts have. Bond’s trousers are a little darker than the security guard’s and have a fuller cut compared to the henchmen’s bell-bottom trousers.
Ah, memories. I remember when tee shirts of this cut where in style. This is a good example of how oftentimes something looks better simply because it’s different.
I remember watching an episode of the new Mission: Impossible series in 1988 or 1989 with a bunch of friends and all the girls loved it when the “good-looking” guy wore a shirt in this style (although his was green). Something about how they found it sexy that he was in great shape but the tee shirt kept him covered up (the sleeves went all the way down to the elbows) and you could see a hint of his muscles depending on how he moved. Their reactions made an impression on me.
I was working as a sales clerk in a high-end department store at the time and we had similar tee shirts by Hugo Boss but they were $50, a ridiculously high price at the time. So I bought two similar shirts for $9 each at a different store, one in dark mauve and one in navy. I still remember the reaction from people – they thought the shirts were amazingly cool, much better than the “out of style” tee shirts from a couple of years before.
Some time later, leaving work to see Licence to Kill with friends, I switched out of my suit into my navy blue shirt, and imagine my surprise when I saw that I was “dressed like James Bond”! I remember feeling so fashionable that night..!
I remember this trend actually lasted up to the early 2000’s. I would see my father and a lot of the other student parents at my junior high wearing oversized shirts and T-shirts. Sometimes, they would even tuck the T-shirt into their jeans so it would blouse around their waists. It’s funny how different trends could change over the years.
Matt, given that you and I and some other contributors to the blog regard the wardrobe from this movie as almost uniformly without any merit, I’m curious, which of Dalton’s outfits in this movie would you find the least offensive or which you feel has some redeeming qualities or would you view the entire ensemble as inadequate?
His cummerbund and braces with the dinner suit are nice, but overall I don’t care for any of the outfits in the film.
What I find funny is how this outfit, as discussed above, was a trend able to be identified with a specific time period in the late 1980s, and yet across America perhaps in some places around the world, this is one of the most common ways to dress for males of all ages. I have noticed that types of clothing for special events and occupations, once expected as a formality, have been replaced by the casualness of t-shirts and blue jeans, even for the wealthy.
When I saw the screenshots of this a few years ago, I thought, “What the hell? Bond looking like an average, small-town teenager?” but then I learned the context as a disguise, and it makes more sense. The film was not trying to present this as “high fashion” or anything, so it was fine.
I am surprised Daniel Craig was not wearing more t-shirts in the recent Bond films. With the attempts for greater realism, one would think Bond would run into more situations where everyone else is wearing t-shirts and he needs to blend in.
Unless there is some sort of extreme revival of formality awaiting, I have nightmarish visions of future Bond films having him attend the signature fancy parties and venues in a t-shirt and flip-flop sandals. I am probably reading too much into this though.
“I am probably reading too much into this though.”
There has always been a segment of the population that dresses far too casually for other people’s tastes, and a certain percentage of the population that dresses far too tastelessly for other people’s tastes. There’s a great blog that showcases “vintage” photos of Toronto and the most amazing thing (other than the fact that hardly anyone is overweight!) is how little has changed amongst the general public. Random shots capture some people looking as elegant as movie stars, and others looking as dressed down as anyone today – just dressed down in a different style.
I can say that among my niece and nephew’s generation there’s far more interest in “dressing up” than previously. Wearing a suit is seen as far more cool than it was ten years ago. Not that they wear them all the time, but when they do it’s seen as a good thing, not something that they are forced to suffer through.
BTW, when this film came out Dalton didn’t look like a small-town teenager. This look was relatively new, and was seen as fashionable. Looks always take a while to transfer to the “suburban dad who shops at Sears” crowd, or small town teens.
Although I can’t really complain (I mean who finds LTK clothing attractive these days) but there was a brownish cream outfit that you didn’t cover from the film (presumably because it got so little screen time).
It’s after he asks Q to bring the Rolls to the front of the hotel and worn when he makes a small withdrawal in Banco de Isthmus.
Me reading this article in 2014: “Ha ha, look how stupid that baggy t shirt looks”
Me reading this in 2022: “Bond is really nailing the oversized look here”
I feel like 2014 was around the peak of the shrunken look (and not far from Skyfall), so anything relaxed was derided as baggy and too loose. Now that the pendulum is swinging the other way a bit, it doesn’t seem as dramatic.
Those trousers are more likely chinos.