Licence to Kill is a break from tradition for Bond, in both the story and the fashion. With the help of costume designer Jodie Tillen, Timothy Dalton’s James Bond wears much different clothes than we had ever seen from Bond before while keeping the suits and the classic colour palate. The first of Bond’s suits in the film is a charcoal suit in lightweight tropical wool characteristic of the trendy ‘power suit’ look of the late 1980s and early 1990s.
The suit jacket has heavily padded shoulders, a full cut, an extra-low gorge, a low-fastening button-two front and vent-less back. This combination makes the suit fashionable for its time, but it is the opposite of what people look for today in their tailored clothing. Three-button cuffs and flapped pockets detail the suit, regardless of fashions.
The suit trousers are typical of the era, with triple reverse pleats and worn with a belt.
Bond’s blue pinpoint shirt has a point collar with edge stitching, rounded single-button cuff and a chest pocket, giving it the look of a typical American ready-to-wear shirt. The belt, socks and low-vamp slip-ons are all black. The low-vamp slips-ons were also a popular American item in the 80s.
Licence to Kill marks the first time Bond wears a business suit without a tie. Bond has put on this charcoal business suit for a flight to Istanbul for a mission, not for Key West. Bond is supposed to be dressing for Istanbul, not for Key West. In Istanbul, this dark grey suit would make sense, but such a suit and such an occasion demands a tie. Any other time in the same situation, Bond has worn a tie. If Bond had abandoned his tie when he abandoned his mission, it would make sense. But at this point in the film, Bond has no reason to be tie-less because he put this suit on for business rather than pleasure.
He may be planning to put on a tie when he arrives at his destination, so he can stay comfortable in Key West’s heat without a tie. This outfit look gives Bond the look of being overdressed for Key West but not fully dressed for his mission in Istanbul. Because of this, the outfit realistically works for Bond’s situation though without the glamour we usually see from Bond.