The Seven C’s of James Bond’s Suits

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The Bond Experience published a video a few years ago called ‘The Four F’s of Dressing Like Bond’, concerning fit, fashion, fabric and function. It helped me think about getting dressed in a more organised way. Inspired by the four F’s that David Zaritsky speaks of, I would like to propose the Seven C’s of James Bond’s Suits:

  1. Circumstance
  2. Climate
  3. Cloth
  4. Colour
  5. Cut
  6. Construction
  7. Comfort

All of the C’s are intertwined and depend on each other. Bond can only be his best-dressed if he sails all seven C’s of choosing and wearing his suits. Though he applies the same considerations to everything he wears, this article has been tailored to the specifics of Bond’s suits.

A few years ago I wrote a similar article called ‘(00)7 Rules to Wearing a Suit with a James Bond Mentality’, but it can be helpful to look at dressing like James Bond and dressing well from other perspectives. Here are the seven C’s explained:

1. Circumstance

The circumstances of Bond’s day dictate where he starts to think about his clothing. If he’s in a city and will be visiting his office or conducting any sort of official business, he wears a dark worsted or woollen suit, and often one in three pieces. If he’s going to a formal evening event or dinner, he’s putting on his dinner suit or sometimes a dark blue suit in a luxurious material like silk or mohair. If he’s in a resort town or a hot place he chooses something in a light colour, like light grey, tan or cream and might forgo the tie. If his circumstances do not dictate a suit, he would look silly wearing one. A suit isn’t always, or usually, the answer in today’s world.

2. Climate

The climate of the locales Bond visits determine his choices for clothes that are appropriate for the weather. London has a cool and wet climate, so for Bond it means dressing in heavier, dark-coloured suits and sometimes bringing a topcoat or raincoat with him. Tropical climates are places for lightweight suits in mohair blends or linen, and they often mean that Bond exchanges his black and midnight blue dinner suits for ivory dinner jackets. In cold climates, Bond wears flannels and tweeds to keep warm.

3. Cloth

The cloth of a suit is one of its defining characteristics and determine more about the suit than its cut or construction. Circumstance and climate dictate the suit’s cloth. Bond often has his suits made of worsted wool, the typical material for a suit, but it’s a business suit cloth. When Bond is wearing a suit for a dressier social occasion, he might wear something in mohair and wool. If Bond is wearing a suit for himself, he sometimes chooses luxurious silk. He chooses linen or cotton to stay cool in hot places.

For business suits, he’ll often go with a chalk stripe or pinstripe, and in less formal business environments he frequently wears glen checks. While he rarely wears bold patterns, he likes to wear suits with texture. This can be a physical texture like a rough tweed, a herringbone weave, a slubby silk or a fuzzy flannel, but it can also be a visual texture like sharkskin/pick-and-pick, birdseye, a two-tone herringbone, a two-tone mohair or a very subtle glen check.

4. Colour

Bond chooses the colours of his clothes both to fit in with his surroundings and to help him look his best. He often uses colour to help him look like he belongs and sometimes blend in with his surroundings, whether it’s grey and blue suits in the city, tan suits in sandy places or brown suits and sports coats in the countryside.

He also considers what colours look best on him. Some of the actors like Sean Connery, George Lazenby, Timothy Dalton and Pierce Brosnan have dark hair and a cool complexion, so they usually wear cool colours like greys and blues to balance their complexions. Roger Moore and Daniel Craig have light hair, warm complexions and blue eyes, so they wear lighter and warmer colours for a flattering look. They look natural in tans and browns, while shades of blue bring out the colour of their eyes.

5. Cut

Bond pays close attention to the cut of his suits to ensure the best fits as well as to follow fashion trends. The cut of a suit is more than the fit; it affects the silhouette, the mobility the suit provides and how the suit interacts with the body. Bond’s bespoke and high-end suits have a superior cut that helps them fit the body more flatteringly and make them more comfortable. He also aims to wear cuts that follow fashions, from the trim cuts of the late 1960s and early 1970s, the wide trouser legs of the late 1970s, the full cuts of the late 1980s and 1990s, and the very tight cuts of the 2010s.

The cut of Bond’s English bespoke suits has a specific silhouette that identifies him as a respectable Englishman, while the cuts of his Brioni suits and Tom Ford suits are immediately identifiable to anyone familiar with the brands. The cuts of Bond’s suits gives them a certain character that set him apart from the average man and ensure that he looks his best and feels his best in his clothes.

6. Construction

Bond almost always wears suits with the best construction. In a suit jacket, it primarily means that there is a full canvas. A full canvas is when the inner structure of the whole jacket’s front is sewn in and not fused to the cloth. It allows for a flexible suit with a well-defined shape that is able to better conform to the shape of the wearer. A gentle and elegant lapel roll is also possible thanks to the canvassing. The fusing in a fused suit can sometimes separate and bubble the front of the jacket, which cannot happen in a fully canvassed suit.

Bond also usually prefers suits with natural-looking and natural-feeling shoulders that have minimal or light padding. Bond’s suits also have superior construction in the sewing, with many hand-sewn parts to help better shape the garment for a better look and more comfort. The fine construction that Bond prefers (usually) helps the suits withstand the wear and tear that goes on in the field.

7. Comfort

James Bond is always comfortable in his clothes, both physically and emotionally. His extensive experience in wearing everything from tailored to tactical to sportswear allows him to wear anything with ease. Wearing clothes with the right cut and made of good cloth help tremendously with comfort. His comfort and confidence—an important bonus ‘C’ word—in his clothes as well as his comfort in choosing the best clothes for his body as well as for his lifestyle help him be at his very best.

4 COMMENTS

  1. I’d like to add another extra C – coverage.

    This may sound like it came from someone with severe inferiority complex, and it kind of is, but I think it’s noteworthy. A suit, again, is like an armor, not by feel or technological advances, but rather, by ways of how well it covers a person. The better covered a person is, the better said person does.

    I always enjoy a certain confidence over my opponents because I am very well covered in my three piece suits. I can feel my heart sink at times, or that I lose the heat, if you will, but I get back on track very quickly, and the suit is more than often a large contributing factor, especially because I’m so well covered.

    My ¢2, but I hope it makes sense somehow. It’s hard to live with inferiority complex, especially in this day and age.

  2. Well said Matt, all these traits fit perfectly with Bond’s suits. These quality traits should be considered when anyone wears a suit. I believe the extra C of Confidence can play a tremendous role when wearing a suit. When I was going through college, I would often wear suits when I was going to campus, and I received comments about my attire. I would often hear my peers mentioned that they would love to wear a suit, but they felt like “they couldn’t pull the look off.” I feel that people dress for their comfort level because they feel comfortable with that style. “Well, I guess we know what C stands for.”

    • I wear my suits (2 winter, 2 tropical) to classes as well, be it as a student, or when I’m TA’ing for my aunt. I would often encourage people to put them on and just rock them as well. It’s not so much as physical comfort as it is a social and personal one, but it might just be my perspective, coming from the rain sack of the Pacific Northwest.

      Then again, to my opponents, their major loss. To my friends and I, huge gain.

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