Sean Connery’s Suits in Woman of Straw vs Goldfinger

34

Woman of Straw is one of the most significant films in the history of James Bond clothing. Why would a film that isn’t a James Bond film be important to James Bond clothing? The wardrobe that Conduit Street tailor Anthony Sinclair made for Sean Connery to wear in Goldfinger was first made for Woman of Straw. Because six identical outfits from Woman of Straw appear in Goldfinger it is more likely that the same clothes were used in both films rather than copies.

Does this dinner jacket from Woman of Straw look familiar?

Both Goldfinger and Woman of Straw were released in 1964, but Woman of Straw was made first and released first. Woman of Straw was filmed from August to October 1963 at Pinewood Studios and in Essex and Majorca, and it was released in 28 April 1964 during the time that Sean Connery was filming Goldfinger. Connery filmed Goldfinger from March to July 1964, and it premiered 17 September 1964. Sean Connery’s other well-attired 1964 film Marnie was filmed between Woman of Straw and Goldfinger, and was released between the two as well in July 1964. Though Connery also resembles Bond in Marnie, the film has a unique wardrobe.

Woman of Straw is a low-key Alfred Hitchcock-inspired thriller that takes place in the British countryside and in Majorca. This is why so many of the suits that Connery wears in Goldfinger are heavy woollen country suits, when James Bond ordinarily prefers to wear lightweight worsted suits. It is odd that a Bond film, the film with a higher budget, would reuse clothes from another film. And perhaps a deal was struck that the cost of these expensive suits would be split from the budgets for both Goldfinger and Woman of Straw. Both films were made at Pinewood Studios, and they shared more than just the wardrobe, such as production designer Ken Adam.

Screenshots from Woman of Straw show up frequently on the internet, with people labelling them as images from Goldfinger. Connery looks so much like James Bond in Woman of Straw that costume designer Lindy Hemming chose to replicate his swim shorts from a still from Woman of Straw, thinking the still was from Thunderball.

Though I have written about all of Connery’s outfits from Woman of Straw on this blog, I felt it was important to show a comparison between the outfits in the two films. Though many of Anthony Sinclair’s suits, jackets and trousers show up in both Woman of Straw and Goldfinger, Frank Foster made different shirts for each film. The ties in the two films are also different, with Connery wearing woven ties in Woman of Straw and knitted ties in Goldfinger.

Goldfinger takes six tailored outfits from Woman of Straw, all compared below. The colours may look different in the two different films because of different lighting, studio versus outdoor or different colour processing. In the images below, with Woman of Straw is on the left and Goldfinger is on the right, we can see how the clothes we best know from Goldfinger looked in their original settings and which outfits are still suitable for their second-time around.

Ivory Dinner Jacket

If there is one garment that couldn’t be more perfect in both Woman of Straw and Goldfinger it is the ivory dinner jacket. For dinner at sea and a fancy party at a Mediterranean villa, this warm-weather black tie variant is a necessity in Woman of Straw. For a man who spends a lot of time in a warm locale and dresses up frequently, the ivory dinner jacket is indispensable. It sees use on multiple occasions in Woman of Straw.

When Sean Connery wore this outfit again, it forever changed the image of James Bond. This ivory dinner jacket along with the red carnation (instead of a poorly chosen white pocket square) became one of the most famous James Bond looks when Sean Connery wears it at the start of Goldfinger. It is the perfect garment for Bond’s visit to a nightclub in Latin America.

Brown Houndstooth Suit

When we see James Bond wearing a heavy brown houndstooth check suit to the office for a meeting with M in Goldfinger, he seems to be dressed out of character. James Bond does not often wear heavy suits or brown suits, and he certainly does not ever again wear something that reads as a true country suit to a briefing with M (though the Prince of Wales check suit in GoldenEye almost comes close). This is because this suit was made for Connery to wear in Woman of Straw at a country manor, where it is far more suitable.

Being a very dark brown allows this suit to transition to the city in Goldfinger, but being a heavy brown checked suit means that this is still a country suit at heart and not ideal for an important meeting. From what we can see in the film, the dim lighting in M’s office makes this suit look like more of a city suit, and it doesn’t raise questions without the closer look that we place on it.

The beige waistcoat in Goldfinger, worn elsewhere in Woman of Straw, is attempting to dress this country suit up for the city, but a beige woollen waistcoat still makes this look like a country suit. Odd waistcoats are difficult to wear with city suits and are easier to pair with morning dress and black lounge on the formal end of the menswear spectrum and country attire on the sportier end. There are two other suits from Woman of Straw that would have been better choices for the meeting with M in Goldfinger.

Blue Herringbone Flannel Suit

The sporty blue herringbone flannel suit with covered buttons in these two films is an excellent example of a “town and country” suit, which means it looks at home in both the city and the country. In Woman of Straw, this is a three-piece suit, and the waistcoat makes this suit cozy in a cold and draughty English country manor.

The waistcoat is removed for Bond’s visit to Q’s lab and obtaining the Aston Martin DB5 in Goldfinger so the look of the outfit is different. Waistcoats are used or removed on four different occasions to differentiate the outfits from Woman of Straw to Goldfinger.

This suit would have been a better M’s office suit than the brown houndstooth. Though it is still a good suit to wear for a visit to Q’s lab, the suits from M’s office and Q’s lab could have been switched so the more traditional city colour would have been worn in the more important meeting.

Barleycorn Hacking Jacket and Cavalry Twill Trousers

The popular barleycorn tweed jacket from Goldfinger is equally suitable in both films. It was made for scenes in the English countryside, where the style of the jacket and trousers originated. In Goldfinger, James Bond wears these clothes at a country club in the English countryside and then in the Swiss alps. The jacket and trousers return in Thunderball, where Bond again wears them in the English countryside.

Connery wears this with an beige odd waistcoat in Woman of Straw for additional warmth outdoors, and this waistcoat appears with the brown houndstooth suit at the office in Goldfinger. Though the waistcoat does not add any additional formality to the outfit in Woman of Straw, Connery looks much more relaxed without the waistcoat.

Grey Glen Check Suit

James Bond’s most famous suit in Goldfinger—and maybe the entire series—appears in a more ordinary form in Woman of Straw as a two-piece suit. What makes this suit so iconic in Goldfinger is that it is a light-coloured three-piece suit, and it looks far more ordinary in Woman of Straw because Connery does not wear it with the waistcoat. The comparison shows the power of a three-piece suit and the grandeur the waistcoat adds.

It is another suit made for the countryside for Woman of Straw, and being a checked makes it a sporty suit. Though it is more lightweight than the other suits in the film, it still looks good in the country scenes in Woman of Straw. Because it is worsted wool in light grey rather than an earth tone, it is a good warm-weather town-and-country suit.

Charcoal Flannel Suit

The charcoal flannel suit is another excellent town-and-country suit. The fuzzy flannel texture adds a relaxed feel to the suit, but the suit is still formal enough for the city, especially in charcoal. This is one suit that works perfectly in both Woman of Straw and in Goldfinger, and it is the only suit that appears as a three-piece suit in both films. In Woman of Straw he wears this in a cold country setting. In Goldfinger, he puts this on when he is planning to fly to Washington, D.C. to meet the president of the United States. Charcoal makes this flannel suit dressy enough for such an important occasion.

This would have been an excellent suit for Bond to wear in M’s office in Goldfinger, but it is easy to see why it was chosen for the finale of the film.

Some of the clothes from Woman of Straw did not feature in Goldfinger, such as a marine blue suit with peaked lapels and a couple overcoats. Likewise, the brown suit in the Fort Knox scenes in Goldfinger does not appear in Woman of Straw. Connery also wears black notched-lapel dinner suits in both films, but the suits are different. The dinner suit in Goldfinger has wider lapels.

34 COMMENTS

      • I never liked the odd garment when it came to wearing a suit. It reminds me of the man who wore a a lounge suit to the prom rather than an evening suit; you couldnt help but feel a little bit sorry for him.

  1. Thanks Matt!

    IMO in terms of sophistication, the WoS hacking jacket outfit is a bit superior to the GF one (the blue shirt and the waistcoat!), as well as both the charcoal and the herringbone flannel suit. On the other side, in GF the glencheck and the brown houndstooth suit look better than in WoS which again has a lot to do with the waistcoats through which a lot of panache is added. It’s astounding how much an outfit can fain from simply adding an odd waistcoat to it. Thus it becomes a good deal more extravagant and, at least in our times, goes more in the direction of being “dandy”. That is perhaps what separates Connery’s Anthony Richmond from his Bond: The former having indeed many treats of a dandy, whereas Bond all in all being the British naval commander in his (sober) civilian uniform.

    Best,
    Renard

  2. Great article as usual !
    It sounds like you were right about the pocket square worn with the brown houndstooth suit in Goldfinger. This different way of folding it wasn’t done on purpose but probably just because the pocket square was fold this way with the suit in Woman of Straw.
    I too find the poorly choosen pocket square a bit too harsh for a criticism !
    A puffed one could have worked better. As long as there is enough white to show. In a black and white movie it would have probably looked better on screen (Obviously Casablanca comes to my mind).
    I personally find the dinner jacket outfit of Woman of Straw definitely not perfect. The shirt isn’t a proper evening shirt at all (maybe a self stripe like in Thunderball could have been a better alternative if the costume designer wanted to keep it simple), and the bowtie has too long ends compared to the shirt collar and Connery’s face. It looks so straight and symmetrical that I suspect a pretied one, but I didn’t saw the movie.

    On another note I thought Connery’s outfit in WOS with the houndstooth suit looked more city-appropriate although it was worn at the country. Probably because of the light blue shirt and the woven tie.

  3. Love the side-by-side pics.

    Matt, you wrote, “It is odd that a Bond film, the film with a higher budget, would reuse clothes from another film.”

    Not really; every dollar saved in a production can go towards putting more value on the screen, and Broccoli & Saltzman were good at that — at least back then. For another example of thriftiness, the model jet used for wide shots of Goldfinger’s Lockheed JetStar was painted differently on the right side to be used as the presidential plane that crashes at the film’s end. Of course they could have afforded to build two models, but why waste money?

    • The case of painting a model differently on two different sides still allows them to get the desired look for the film. Using suits that were designed for another film is a cost-cutting measure that sacrifices costume design. In most cases, the clothes luckily worked well in both films.

  4. Matt, don’t you think Connery should have left those two waistcoats’ bottom buttons undone? They appear to pull when done up. He leaves it undone in the light grey version and it works well.

    • Yes, he should not have buttoned those buttons, and I mentioned that in the articles on those specific outfits from Woman of Straw. These waistcoats are not designed for the bottom button to fasten.

    • It is a woven woollen, likely doeskin. Doeskin is a very common material for odd waistcoats. It is sporty but more formal than a sleeveless cardigan (knit) and sits better under a jacket or suit.

  5. Very interesting comparison, Matt. The side-by-sides are useful. I actually prefer the way the most of the suits look in Woman of Straw. I understand Goldfinger is considered a great “suit movie”, but I much prefer From Russia With Love for Bond’s suits. Also, Connery’s makeup is better in Woman of Straw (making his eyebrows a lighter brown to match the light brown toupee?). Great post.

    • I agree with all of this. The dinner jacket is the only exception. The carnation is an inspired choice and really brings the whole outfit to life. It’s a shame that the urine-tinted color filter of Spectre spoiled the homage.

  6. Is charcoal flannel appropriate to wear when meeting the president? I thought weather dictates when flannel should be worn.

  7. Matt,
    in old time many actors acted in the movies in modern roles with the their own wardrobe.
    For example William Powell,Cary Grant,Douglas Fairbanks Jr,Fred Astaire,and many others (included many British stars ,as Jack Buchanan) dressed with their own suits (and you can see the same suit in several movie).

    Is possible that the suits shared between “The Woman of Straw” and “Goldfinger” were from the own wardrobe of Sean Connery?

    • I don’t think that would have been the case. Sean Connery would not have purchased that many clothes on his own! He was happy to get clothes free from the films he made.

      • Sounds about right. This is from a 1965 Playboy interview…

        PLAYBOY: Do you have an extensive wardrobe?

        CONNERY: I think I’ve got seven or eight suits now I took them all from the films —plus a couple I bought awhile ago in a moment of weakness. Something came over me and I went out one day and spent 300 pounds [$810] on two suits.

  8. I’m not keen on the white pocket square with the ivory dinner jacket, but then the red carnation often reminded me of that Marty Robbins song. Perhaps a slight puff of claret silk would have been better?

    • Connery looks better because he did not wear a full hairpiece in Woman of Straw. That started in his next film, Marnie and continued through Goldfinger and the rest of his Bond films. I’m guessing that he only wore a partial hairpiece here and some scalp paint, similar to what was done in his first two Bond films.

      • Viewing the progression from From Russia With Love to Woman of Straw to Marnie to Goldfinger, it’s obvious that Connery used scalp paint and hair thickeners, and possibly a partial hairpiece in some sequences until Marnie. There, he had a full toupee which looks quite good on screen, maybe Connery’s best until The Hunt For Red October. The Goldfinger light-brown one is a decided step down in comparison, and inferior to the Bond ones that followed.

  9. How many suits have the James Bond of Sean Connery (the character) in his closet,and how many suits order per year at his tailor?

  10. Matt, smart, detailed and engaging article – well done.

    It’s fun, if a bit deflating, to see “the suit” from Goldfinger – the grey glen check – without its waistcoat, but to be fair, it’s still a quite good looking suit when worn as a two piece. The cut, drape, color and overall effect are all still quite impressive.

    And I’m with you on your comment above, it’s not really a cost save if the impact of the clothes – the impact on Bond’s image – is diminished. When I see the brown houndstooth on Bond in M’s office meeting, I get the impression Bond is trying to subtly snub M – which is not really like Bond. He might do that to a villain, but not his boss; he’ll challenge his boss openly and directly, but wearing an inappropriate suit doesn’t fit Bond’s character.

    Again – great piece.

  11. Well done Matt! A very interesting post. In my opinion Connery’s suits as James Bond are the best tailored ones. Maybe you know if there are some paper patterns still existing in order to recreate the originals?

    • None of Sean Connery’s patterns from Anthony Sinclair are still in existence. They wouldn’t be very helpful anyway, since nobody is the same size as Connery was at that time, not even 88-year-old Sean Connery.

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.