Happy 49th Birthday to Daniel Craig!
I have written much on this blog about the poor, shrunken fit of Daniel Craig’s suits in Skyfall and Spectre, but there’s a point of view about them that has not been discussed. Since this blog comes from the perspective that fit comes first when dressing well, a suit with a poor fit is difficult to recommend as clothing to aspire to wear. When examining the wardrobe beyond examples of fine clothing, there are reasons why Daniel Craig was dressed in poorly fitted suits.
One theory: It could be possible that the too-small fit of Daniel Craig’s suits in Skyfall was an accident. The suits may have been fitted prior to Daniel Craig starting his workout for Skyfall, and then after he bulked up the suits were then too small. But then the poor fit was repeated for Spectre. How would Hugo Drax via Oscar Wilde have put it?
To miscut one suit may be regarded as a misfortune. To miscut two seems like carelessness.
However, the repeat of this too-small fit in Spectre more likely means that this fit was intentional for both Skyfall and Spectre, and the theory does not hold up. The theory could partially be true.
But just because the suits most likely fit they way Skyfall‘s and Spectre‘s costume designer Jany Temime intended them to fit doesn’t mean the clothes fit well. A poor fit is exactly the point. Even those people who embrace the shrunken fit must accept that it is a poor fit. I’m not aware of any point in history when tailored clothes that pulled against the body—rather than followed the shape of the body or draped cleanly off the body—were in fashion or were the model of a proper fit.
Since the repeat of the poorly fitted suits in Spectre suggests that the suits in both Skyfall and Spectre fit as they were intended to fit, we should ask why such a thing would be desired. There are two main reasons as to why Daniel Craig wears suits that are too small for him in Skyfall and Spectre.
The shrunken suit look was at the height of fashion in 2012 and still has not fallen out of favour. This fashionable look is about jackets and trousers that are not closely fitted to the body but rather jackets and trousers that are too tight and fight with the body. The look also includes too-short jacket and trouser leg lengths and low-rise trousers with a flat front. Fashion is the main reason costume designer Jany Temime has given for her choice to fit the suits too small for Daniel Craig. She told Samatha Critchell of the Associated Press that she wanted a look that was “iconic for 2012”.
This contrasts with the ideas of former James Bond costume design Lindy Hemming, who dressed Pierce Brosnan for all of his Bond films and Daniel Craig for first Bond film Casino Royale. Hemming said in an interview with mi6-hq.com in 2006, “We want him [Daniel Craig as James Bond] to look contemporary but classic, too. These films last a long, long time and people look back at them and so you are trying to create a look that won’t date very quickly.” She continued, “So whilst we want Daniel in clothes that look sharp and contemporary, we also want him to have that classic Bond style and that is timeless.”
Both dressing Bond fashionable and traditionally have history in the series. Roger Moore was dressed very fashionably in the 1970s with flared trousers and wide lapels, while Sean Connery was dressed in more timeless style in the 1960s with more classic English suits that only hinted at current fashions. No Bond has ever dressed without giving fashions of their time at least some consideration.
Jany Temime also told the Associated Press that Daniel Craig also had a say in the fit of the suits: “In my first meeting with Daniel, he told me what he wanted: He wanted slim-fitting clothing that was easy to move (in), but I also got the feeling he wanted a slightly ’60s look.”
Tom Ford, whose brand provided the clothes for Skyfall and Spectre, likely did not have a say in the fashionable shrunken fit that James Bond wears. Ford himself prefers a suit with more classic proportions, closer to what Daniel Craig wears in Quantum of Solace, for which Tom Ford also provided the clothes through costume designer Louise Frogley. Though Ford is also fond of a very close fit, he prefers his suits to follow the shape of the body rather than fight against it like Craig’s suits do.
For almost a decade, the fashion industry has been pushing this shrunken suit trend that Craig’s Bond has now adopted, and there are reasons for the industry pushing this trend beyond convincing the public to replace their old ‘outdated’ clothes. Current trends in suits save money in many ways compared to the way suits are traditionally tailored. The shrunken trend saves manufacturers money, who can sell a 6-foot tall man a suit that is traditionally long enough for a man no taller than 5’8″. These trends save money for suit shops, who might no longer feel the need to employ a tailor on premises because they can sell a man a ‘slim fit’ suit that already has waist suppression instead of using a tailor to fit a suit perfectly to the customer’s body. These trends save customers money for not having to worry about paying to alter the ‘slim fit’ suit that they purchased.
The kind of rumpled fit that Daniel Craig wears is far easier to tailor than clothes that hug the body. It takes less effort to not smooth out the rumples. And if people can be convinced to aspire to this, they can be happy with a poorly fitting suit and demand less of the shops where they purchase their suits.
Fashions in the physique of male movie stars have also changed from the way they were in Sean Connery’s and Roger Moore’s days, and this changed the way fashion treats the way stars are dressed. Connery was in fantastic physical shape, but he was not as muscular in his Bond films as Daniel Craig is in his Bond films. Roger Moore had no physique worth mentioning. Suits prior to Daniel Craig’s tenure as Bond could always be relied upon to enhance the physique of the star wearing them. Roger Moore, Timothy Dalton and Pierce Brosnan used suits rather than weight benches to make them look muscular. With Daniel Craig’s actual muscle tone, suits are given a tighter fit in an attempt to show off that muscle. Fashion beyond Bond has taken this approach of attempting to show off a good physique in a tight suit. Unlike a knitted t-shirt or polo, a suit will not stretch to conform to the shape of a muscular body. But that hasn’t stopped anyone from believing that suits can conform to the body too.
Many people today see a suit as a thing of the past. Putting Bond in a suit at the forefront of fashion is a way to keep Bond in a suit but not make him look too old-fashioned. Daniel Craig is not wearing Sean Connery’s traditional suits with a full-cut jacket and pleated trousers from the 1960s but instead is wearing a tight-fitting suit that belongs only to the 2010s.
There are no character reasons that would demand Bond wear ill-fitting suits in Skyfall and Spectre, but there are reasons that can justify Temime’s and Craig’s fashionable choice for what resulted in ill-fitting or undersized suits for Craig’s Bond.
The James Bond character that Daniel Craig plays is not the refined character than the five actors of the Bond series played before. Craig’s Bond is far from being the world’s most elegant man. He is not so put-together. He may still have the same expensive tastes, but he doesn’t have the same appreciation of them. On one hand like the other Bonds, Craig’s Bond enjoys wearing suits. Though in the beginning of Casino Royale he wears a suit with ‘disdain’, he has the full appreciation of the garment by the end of the film when he stands proud in his three-piece suit. He continues to wear suits proudly, especially in Spectre. Even so, he’s usually angry at the world and could not care less about the way his suits fit. He’s preoccupied with the deaths of people close to him, and he doesn’t care to organise his flat or shave daily. He’s rather a mess of a person emotionally. Even when he appears to be in a better emotional state, his poor-fitting suits show that he is still hurting inside and not someone without faults. Poorly fitted clothes may not follow the history of James Bond, but they work for the way Daniel Craig’s Bond is.
The too-tight fit of Craig’s suits also follows the same reasoning as his cropped hair style: it makes him look more menacing. Bond’s suit looks like it is bursting at the seams, which is a reflection of Craig’s Bond’s suppressed anger that makes him a dangerous person. Unlike the Bonds from before, Craig’s Bond is not a rough man inside the facade of a gentleman. He’s rough on both the inside and the outside, and aesthetics don’t mean very much to him.
The poorly fitted suits also show that rules don’t apply to Craig’s Bond. He doesn’t play by the rules, and that includes the rules of how a suit should fit.
Some of the character reasoning for the shrunken suits in Skyfall and Spectre does not fit with the fact that Craig wears better-fitting suits in his first two Bond films, but that’s what happens when a new costume designer with her own ideas takes over. There’s not a whole lot of consistency in character development across Craig’s four Bond films, and the costume designer is hardly the only person to blame.
Are the reasons valid?
There are a number of reasons for Craig’s Bond to wear suits that fit the way they do in Skyfall and Spectre. Those reasons do not mean that his suits have a good fit, move well with his body or make him look his best, but there are reasons that can validate the clothes as costume for the character that Craig’s Bond is, even if the clothes are not the best choice or the correct choice for James Bond overall.
Although this blog’s mission is to demonstrate how to dress well using James Bond as an example for how a man should dress, James Bond does not exist solely to be that perfect example. In the cases of Skyfall and Spectre, the costume designer believed that the purpose of James Bond’s clothing is to present the world in 2012 and 2015, respectively, and to portray the character the way she saw him, which is a slightly different character from the Bonds that were previously established in Ian Fleming’s novels or presented in the film series (including Bond in Craig’s first two films). Jany Temime dressed James Bond in the way she thought was most appropriate, considering current fashions (and Daniel Craig’s preference for them) and considering the character she pictured in the script. She did not consider much about what Bond would wear based on the character’s history but rather in just a bubble of the films made at the time.