No cinematic character is known for wearing suits like James Bond is. Dressing up, particularly in a world when it’s not the standard thing to do, has become James Bond’s style speciality. Making a list of Bond’s best suits is not an easy task. I’m often asked what I think is the best suit of the Bond series, and I struggle enough to choose a top five. Most Bond films do not have an obvious choice for best suit, but I’ve compiled a list of what I think represents the best sartorial look in each film. While this list takes into account all of Bond’s tailored clothing—suits, dinner jackets, sports coats, overcoats—it’s mostly suits.
There’s no fair way to rank all of Bond’s suits without limitation, otherwise my list would place the English bespoke suits at the top and the rest would end up at the bottom. If I were to make a list of all of James Bond’s clothing and didn’t limit it to tailored clothing, with my taste it would turn out to be all tailored clothes. So another separate list of sportswear will need to follow. So for now, here is a list of Bond’s best tailored looks from each film. If you have any disagreements with my choices, let me know in the comments below.
Dr. No: Dinner Suit
The reason why we expect Bond to be well-tailored, the reason why we always picture James Bond in a dinner jacket, and the reason why Bond still attends black tie affairs today is because of his first outfit of the series: a midnight blue dinner suit tailored by Anthony Sinclair. Sean Connery’s wardrobe in Dr. No is perfection, but it’s his first and most influential outfit that makes the list. It set an unbelievable standard for evening wear that never has been achieved again. The look has a 1930s timelessness to it, with the daring update of no waistcoat or cummerbund. The dinner jacket has the creative detail of gauntlet (turnback) cuffs, while the bow tie is an unusual narrow diamond-point variant. It’s an interesting look that stands the test of time.
From Russia with Love: Dark Grey Glen Check Suit
Sean Connery wears a wider variety of grey suits in From Russia with Love than Bond has ever worn since. They’re all superb suits, but the grey and black plain-weave glen check suit from Anthony Sinclair has Connery looking his coolest. The cut of the suit is exemplary of the ‘Conduit Cut’, a middle-of-the-road Savile Row style suit with soft and roped shoulders, a full chest, a low button stance, and forward-pleat trousers with a trim leg. In the 1960s, the suits had narrow lapels and narrow pocket flaps, which still look fashionable today. The light blue shirt and navy grenadine tie from Turnbull & Asser along with the brown Lock & Co. trilby and the sunglasses provide Bond with one of his most classic 1960s looks.
Goldfinger: Grey Glen Check Three-Piece Suit
Goldfinger has a more colourful wardrobe than the first two Bond films have, with iconic pieces such as the ivory dinner jacket and the brown tweed hacking jacket. The grey glen check suit from Anthony Sinclair, however, is in my mind the Sean Connery’s best look in the film. Few of Bond’s outfits make such an impact. It’s Bond’s first three-piece suit of the series, and it’s overall mid-grey colour helps it stand out amongst traditionally dark three-piece business suits. Lapels on the waistcoat add a special touch. The scene where Sean Connery unpacks this suit from his suitcase in the lavatory of Auric Goldfinger’s private jet only adds more significance to this suit. A white shirt from Frank Foster, a dark navy silk knitted tie and black two-eyelet derby shoes accessorise this suit with classic Bondian simplicity, which also allows the suit to take centre stage.
Thunderball: Grey Flannel Three-Piece Suit
After Goldfinger dressed Bond in a two three-piece suits, Thunderball gave Bond two more. The first suit in Thunderball should be almost as iconic as the Goldfinger suit. Sinclair made Connery dark grey flannel suits for the first four Bond films, but the Thunderball version is the most special. It has the same cut as the suits Connery has been wearing up to this point, but the six-button waistcoat has a straight-bottom. This was a trendy style in the 1960s that had not been popular since the early 20th century. It puts a fun twist on this otherwise classic suit. The blue Turnbull & Asser shirt and black grenadine tie keep within the classic Connery Bond style, while black ankle boots with elastic over the instep provide Bond with some of his most stylish footwear.
You Only Live Twice: Blue Suit
You Only Live Twice has fewer tailored outfits than any other Bond film, but that only places a greater emphasis on the ones in the film. The blue suit from Anthony Sinclair is Connery’s only suit to feature a single-button fastening on the front. This is Connery’s most minimalist suit of the series, but it’s easily amongst his most stylish. I am a fan of single-button suits for doing away with the extra buttons that are never designed to be used anyway. A single-button suit can be difficult to design well, as the button needs to be perfectly placed or the whole outfit looks ill-proportioned. That was never a problem Sinclair had.
Casino Royale (1967): Grey Flannel Suit
Despite this film not being part of the Eon Productions Bond series, it has a host of beautiful clothes. It also has a host of James Bonds, of which I could only chose one for this list. Peter Sellers plays one of the James Bonds in this, and although he is not THE James Bond in this film (that role is played by David Niven), he’s dressed most like we’ve come to expect from the usual cinematic version of the character. Sellers wears suits from Major Hayward, a partnership between Dimi Major and Douglas Hayward, both of whom would individually go on to make suits for the Bond series. Sellers’ shirts are from Frank Foster, who was already a regular supplier for the Bond series and would be through A View to a Kill.
A grey flannel suit is a classic, particularly for Bond. The suit has a classically British style that’s updated for the 1960s, and the light blue shirt is perfectly fitted. While Peter Sellers is not known for playing suave leading men, he looks the part of one in this outfit.
On Her Majesty’s Secret Service: Prince of Wales Check Suit
Sean Connery was not the only Bond to wear checked suits well. George Lazenby wears many beautiful suits in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, but his black-and-white Prince of Wales check suit with a blue overcheck has tailor Dimi Major’s more dramatic cut and styling. Compared to Connery’s suits, the trimmer cut, steeply slanted hacking pockets and long double vents give this suit a rakishly British character that compares to few other suits in the Bond films. The (passing for) grey suit combined with the light blue shirt and navy knitted tie really helps Lazenby’s complexion shine.
Diamonds Are Forever: Ivory Dinner Jacket
For Diamonds Are Forever, Anthony Sinclair took Sean Connery’s 1960s suits and re-made the jackets with new exaggerated details for the 1970s, including wide lapels and wide pocket flaps as well as a trimmer cut. The trousers no long have pleats. The ivory dinner jacket is the garment that makes it through the new fashions looking its best, as its peaked lapels are wide without looking too wide. It unfortunately has pocket flaps, but Connery pulls off the look with aplomb.
Live and Let Die: Chesterfield Coat and Navy Suit
Roger Moore’s first tailored look as James Bond is one of his best. Bond had worn overcoats and topcoats before, but nothing had the screen time and screen presence of his navy chesterfield coat in Live and Let Die. The long coat added considerable drama to Bond’s look for his New York scenes in the film. Cyril Castle tailored the three-quarter-length double-breasted coat with a velvet collar and gauntlet cuffs, providing Bond with both a very special coat and one of his most sophisticated looks of the series. The navy suit he wears underneath is barely seen within the film, with it only fully visible in the opening gun barrel sequence. It’s a shame it doesn’t get more screen time. The Royal Navy regimental striped tie from Benson & Clegg gives Bond a new look that stays true to the character, while the light blue shirt from Frank Foster continues with Bond’s cocktail cuffs.
The Man with the Golden Gun: Marine Blue Suit
Roger Moore wore more statement pieces as Bond than his predecessors did, and there are plenty of them in The Man with the Golden Gun. The film features some of Bond’s most creative wardrobe items, yet Bond looks elegant throughout the film. Few suits of the series make an impression like Moore’s marine blue silk suit in this film. Cyril Castle made this button-two suit with slanted hip pockets, long double vents, flared cuffs and gently flared trousers. It looks like a 1970s suit, but it handles the fashions so tastefully. The blue voile shirt from Frank Foster has a larger semi-spread collar to match the suit’s wide lapels, yet it looks perfect on Moore.
The Spy Who Loved Me: Double-Breasted Dinner Suit
Moore’s most iconic dinner suit is the double-breasted suit from Angelo Roma in The Spy Who Loved Me. While the single-breasted jackets from this era look terribly dated with their wide lapels, the wide lapels on the double-breasted dinner jacket have a more timeless look. As only the flared legs look dated, from the knee up Moore would fit in well in almost any era of the past century. The trousers are quite wide below the knee, but up top the bow tie is tastefully proportioned and the plain white voile shirt from Frank Foster keeps Moore cool.
Moonraker: Grey Silk Suit
Roger Moore loved his silk suits, and the grey suit from Angelo Roma in Moonraker recalls the mid-grey suits that had featured in almost every Bond film up to this point. Before this they were usually in glen checks, plain tropical wool or two-tone mohair-blends, but this one ups the luxury in solid dupioni silk. It’s such a Bondian colour, and Moore has the classic Bond look in this suit. The colour shows off the perfect fit, which is impressive despite the fashionable details.
For Your Eyes Only: Charcoal Three-Piece Suit
For Your Eyes Only started out with a callback to a 1960s Bond film, and the tailored style also brought back a more traditional look that recalls what Bond wore in the 1960s. The charcoal flannel three-piece suit, made by Douglas Hayward, is one of Bond’s greatest suits of the 1980s. The button-three front, something Bond had only worn occasionally before this, has a classic look. The blue-striped white-collared shirt from Frank Foster is a bit flashy for Bond but makes this look even more memorable.
Octopussy: Ivory Dinner Jacket
While Bond’s first ivory dinner jacket in Goldfinger stands out thanks to a red carnation in the lapel and Connery’s suave demeanour, Hayward tailored a similar but superior dinner jacket for Octopussy. The narrow peaked lapels recall the Goldfinger jacket, but its trimmer silhouette makes this one look more impressive. The white voile shirt from Frank Foster, with it’s perfectly proportioned semi-spread collar, has a tasteful simplicity for black tie in such hot weather. The only thing it’s missing is a pop of red in the lapel.
Never Say Never Again: Cream Suit
Never Say Never Again, another film from outside the Eon Productions Bond series, features familiar suits from Douglas Hayward and familiar shirts from Turnbull & Asser. Hayward’s cut, while elegant and flattering, does not draw attention. That was Hayward’s intent for all the suits he tailored. Most of Connery’s suits in the film look like nothing more than well-tailored London business suits. However, the cream colour of this suit looks like something special on Connery, and when paired with a mid-blue shirt (with fascinating button-down cocktail cuffs) it gives Connery his most exciting and youthful look of the film.
A View to a Kill: Grey Morning Suit
A View to a Kill has many of Bond’s most interesting pieces of tailoring, but none stand out like his dark-grey herringbone three-piece morning suit from Douglas Hayward. It’s a shame that more of the suit isn’t seen in the film, but Moore continued to wear this morning suit in his personal life after the film, so it did not go to waste. It’s how we would expect Bond to wear morning dress, with the suit in his suit favourite colour, a basic white shirt with a cutaway collar and a simply patterned grey tie. It follows the modern customs for morning dress without being dandy.
The Living Daylights: Shawl Collar Dinner Suit
While Timothy Dalton’s first dinner jacket as James Bond, made by costumiers Bermans & Nathans, may not be any particularly special feat of tailoring, it revived the classic Connery shawl collar and gave it a twist: Bond turns up the collar and fastens it with a velcro strip to turn it into a piece of tactical gear. It is undoubtedly the coolest way Bond has ever worn his dinner jacket.
Licence to Kill: Navy Suit
While Licence to Kill unfortunately has no stand-out pieces of tailoring, Timothy Dalton still looks cool for the film’s finale in a navy suit and open-neck white shirt. I wish the outfit had started out with a tie that would be removed for the action that follows, but at least he’s wearing a navy suit.
GoldenEye: Three-Piece Dinner Suit
Bond never dresses as traditionally in black tie as he does during Pierce Brosnan’s tenure. GoldenEye is the first of only two occasions where Bond wears a waistcoat as part of his dinner suit. Brioni, via costume designer Lindy Hemming, made the suit with the historically correct low-cut four-button waistcoat to give him an unusually sophisticated look. The fly front shirt from Sulka is an inspired choice that’s both traditional and follows Bond’s frequently minimalist approach.
Tomorrow Never Dies: Fawn Overcoat and Blue Birdseye Suit
The only overcoat that compares to Moore’s in Live and Let Die is Brosnan’s double-breasted cashmere coat from Brioni in Tomorrow Never Dies. The fawn colour looks superb on Brosnan and is perfectly matched to Brosnan’s tie, which also coordinates with his blue birdseye three-piece suit underneath. The outfit has a classic elegance that could be straight out of the 1930s, while it also fits in perfectly with 1990s fashions. The cream royal oxford shirt from Turnbull & Asser brings a soft sophistication to the outfit.
The World Is Not Enough: Grey Sharkskin Suit
Pierce Brosnan’s grey sharkskin suit from Brioni in The World Is Not Enough proves that Sean Connery’s influence on James Bond style had not been forgotten. Though it has three buttons instead of Connery’s two, with a white shirt and navy tie it further recalls outfits that Connery wore. The classic fit on this suit and the others throughout the film looks good during any era, and the spread collar on the Turnbull & Asser shirt is dramatic yet perfect for Brosnan. This is another Bond film where so many suits stand out that it’s extremely difficult to pick one.
Die Another Day: Navy Guards Coat and Grey Striped suit
Pierce Brosnan wears at least one luxurious coat in every Bond film. His Brioni navy cashmere guards coat—a double-breasted coat with peaked lapels and a belted back—in Die Another Day gives him his most dramatic and elegant look in the film. The suit underneath is a classic grey stripe with a button-two front, one of only a few during his time as Bond. It helps to show off his fun Turnbull & Asser tie: dark grey with a blue circle motif. The wide spread collar on his Brioni shirt adds a little more drama to the outfit.
Casino Royale (2006): Three-Piece Navy Stripe Suit
While the dinner jacket in Bond’s origin story is a special piece, particularly thanks to Turnbull & Asser’s fly-front dress shirt, the Brioni three-piece suit that completes Bond’s origin story in Casino Royale makes a more interesting statement. It’s difficult to not love a three-piece suit on Bond, and it’s beautifully used to demonstrate how Bond has matured. It sets up Bond to be a sophisticated version of Bond he never quite turned out to be in any of Daniel Craig’s future Bond films; it gives us a rare look at Daniel Craig playing the classic cinematic James Bond.
Quantum of Solace: Dinner Suit
Daniel Craig’s black mohair-and-cashmere dinner suit from Tom Ford in Quantum of Solace is one of his most interesting pieces. It’s simultaneously a callback to the Dr. No dinner suit while also being representative of its designer signature black tie style. Bond finding this perfect dinner suit in a locker at the opera house with all the accessories that also recall the Dr. No dinner suit helps make it all the more a special outfit.
Skyfall: Grey Sharkskin Suit
Skyfall‘s grey sharkskin suit from Tom Ford shows how Bond can still wear a suit through an action sequence into the 21st century. Like Brosnan’s sharkskin suit, this one also channels the greatness of Connery’s suits. The low-contrast of the mid-grey suit and tie with a white shirt looks good on Daniel Craig’s low-contrast complexion.
Spectre: Black Herringbone Three-Piece Suit
Bond may be in disguise in this black Tom Ford three-piece suit, but the dramatic outfit combines the greatness of Tom Ford’s signature ‘Windsor’ suit with the return of the cocktail cuff shirt. Tom Ford’s ‘Windsor’ model is inspired by the great Savile Row suit designer Tommy Nutter, so it brings Bond back to English tailoring in a roundabout way. The collar pin and peaked lapels add a flashy but fun 1930s vibe to the outfit that separate it from how Bond would be expected to dress for a funeral as himself. It’s a successful example of Bond straying from his usual path.
No Time to Die: Grey Glen Check Suit
A throwback to Sean Connery’s style is always appreciated. A grey glen check suit is such a classically Bondian suit that they are always an easy choice. Daniel Craig looks good in No Time to Die wearing this Tom Ford suit, particularly with a solid navy tie and Crockett & Jones ‘Highbury’ derby shoes.