Did you just get out of the shower and want to put something on, but a dressing gown or bathrobe covers too much? Do you simply not want to get dressed but need to cover up a few body parts? If these things are true, James Bond’s towel skirt in Thunderball is perfect for you.
One year after he wore a towelling onesie in Goldfinger and four years before he wore a kilt in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, Bond wore what can only be called a wrap or a skirt made of towelling. Like the playsuit in Goldfinger, this skirt shows another creative use of towelling from the 1960s. Bond wears it at the Shrublands health clinic in Thunderball under a light blue terrycloth dressing gown. He wears this in the traction table scene.
It is not unusual to wrap a towel wrapped around one’s waist, particularly after using the towel to dry off after a shower, bath or a swim. But a towel worn in this manner frequently falls down. Bond’s towel skirt provides a similar look with more security.
This skirt is made of two pieces of ecru terrycloth towelling: a piece for the front that overlaps a piece for the back. The bottom corners of the pieces are rounded. There is an overlap of about six inches at the sides. The two pieces are only attached at the top, and the top is sewn into an elasticised self waistband that fastens on the right side, likely with Velcro strips for small adjustments.
The skirt sits at Connery’s natural waist, the narrowest part of his torso, which helps keep it from slipping down. The front and back pieces hang freely, so when sitting the skirt can expand at the side vents.
There are patch pockets at the bottom left and bottom right of the front piece, which gives this garment an additional advantage over wearing an ordinary towel.
There is a brown stain over the right buttock, which is clearly visible as Bond is getting onto the spinal traction table. We don’t know how that stain got there, but it is the least Bondian detail about this outfit. Even when Bond doesn’t dress well, we can expect his clothes to be clean when not going through extraordinary circumstances.
Bond has an additional fawn-coloured rolled-up towel draped around his neck, completing a full and creative outfit of towelling. Sean Connery’s Bond just loved the feel of terrycloth, but who could blame him?