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.
Of course I am with you as to your criticising the current slim fit fashion but I am bit irritated by the rest.
I am sorry but IMO your reasoning about a possible context between Bond’s character and the cut of his suits seems a bit far-fetched to me. I don’t think that it hangs together in that way.
“The James Bond character that Daniel Craig plays is not the refined character than the five actors of the Bond series played before.”
-Sorry, but none of the Bond actors portrayed him as a refined character. Roger Moore tried to do so but the result was only a (silly) mixture of a snob and a clown. And it has no basis in fact because the literary Bond is not refined either. On the contrary – he IS rude, a machismo and a ruthless killer. He is NOT (by no means!) a gentleman even if some people wish he would be. Terence Young said about the character that he doesn’t see much of a difference between him and an SS henchman. This is a rather crass comparison but there is some truth in it.
The definition of refined: “elegant and cultured in appearance, manner, or taste.” Appearance and taste qualified Bond as refined in the past. If Bond was not refined in his appearance and taste, this blog would not exist. This was always the way the film Bond had been portrayed in the past. Bond need not act like a gentleman to be refined.
If Terence Young really compared Bond to an SS henchman, then he had no understanding of the character. But then again, Terence Young edited and co-directed a propaganda movie for Saddam Hussein (https://www.reddit.com/r/ObscureMedia/comments/2fwfbh/long_days_1980_propaganda_movie_about_saddam/) so perhaps his moral compass was a little lacking.
It’s good to see this tight fit fetish being put in the spotlight and criticised – about time! The tight dress shirts are starting to go out and good riddance IMO – hopefully, the tight trousers will follow over the next few years. It’s one thing avoiding baggy clothes, but it’s quite another wearing them skin tight! The Daniel Craig suits started all this tight fit fashion crap IMO – trim, structured and sculpted looks are one thing – especially if you’re thin. Those James Bond suits are quite another – most of them don’t even fit the man (broad build)!
“Fashion comes and goes but style lasts forever.”
I read that in a gq magazine when it was doing a spread on the legendary Jack Taylor of Beverly Hills.
Great article, Matt!
Happy Birthday to Daniel Craig too.
To add onto reason 1, the slim fit mess has been discussed and has been advised to men to avoid by muscle and fitness.com [http://www.muscleandfitness.com/features/gear/muscular-man-s-guide-style]. It is agreed that it is of poor taste and adds nothing to the bodybuilder’s physique. A quote from the article states that “[slim fit will] just end up making [a muscular man] look like a stuffed sausage”.
Being a fitness person myself who also has been bodybuilding (I have 42in chest size and 32-34in waist with developed arms and leg muscles on my 5’6″ body) I also agree that there is nothing aesthetic about the slim fit suits on Daniel Craig presented in Skyfall and Spectre at all.
Reason two seems like a bit of a stretch though… I really think it’s the problem with men’s fashion and expectations. I recently came across a QG video where one of the two commentators state that the cropped skirt of a jacket “makes a person seem taller and elongates the leg”.
Fashion and Craig physique are big reasons to do with the tight fit and as you mentioned Matt the size of Craig’s body when he was fitted for the suits. Roger Moore would have been considered to be athletic and well-built by 1960’s standards when he was in The Saint. Moore would have been considered athletic by 1970’s standards too. Quinlan’s Film Stars book describes Moore as athletic and well-built. It also describes Pierce Brosnan as ‘husky’, it depends what your standards of fit and muscular are. Moore worked out with weights, swam and jogged regularly even if he did have to lose weight in 1973 when he got Bond.
Roger Moore and Lee Marvin got into a fight during of “Shout at the Devil”, Moore won.
Marvin: “The guy is built like granite. Nobody will ever underestimate him again”.
I think we can forgive Lee Marvin for not anticipating internet culture ala 2017.
“Appearance and taste qualified Bond in the past.”
-Really? Is that also true for Timothy Dalton’s Bond who has been much critisised for his clothes lacking taste? Dalton was as much a fashion victim as Craig (and also Moore!) were. It’s unfair only to bash Craig for that. And the literary Bond is for sure not the most elegant man in the world (he is on the contrary a rather sloppy one).
The only one really to blame is Jany Temime (and not Craig).
I didn’t say this it always qualified Bond in the past, but Dalton and Moore were dressed tastefully in some of their films. And Moore, despite the fashions, was always intended to look refined as he was always well put-together. Craig is partially to blame for the fashionable fit of his clothes, as per Temime’s quote given in this article. Moore can also be blamed for the fashionable aspects of his 70s clothes since he brought the tailors to Bond.
Several points: (1) prior to Craig, movie-Bond was a refined, cultured killer. Red Grant even mocks him before their train fight by referring to him contemptuously as “an English gentleman”. Bond’s sense of right and wrong, and his attempts (not always successful) to protect the female leads would also qualify him as a gentleman. (2) I suspect the poor fit of Craig’s suits is due to a combination of “fashion”, Jenny Temime’s preconceived notions, a bulked-up physique, and, let’s be honest, Craig’s coarseness and bad taste. The man feels compelled to swear like a sailor in every interview he gives in a pathetic effort to sound “authentic”. It should come as no surprise that his sense of style is also questionable. (3) In Dr. No (the novel) there is a reference to Bond’s “first expensive tailor”. Book Bond dressed conservatively, and he shared some of his creator’s sartorial idiosyncrasies, but he certainly wasn’t “sloppy”.
Here is what I find interesting, and this has influenced me a great deal; We must remember that Bond is a civil servant and is always loyal to his duty to protect king and country however just because he is a civil servant does not mean he has to dress like a bible salesman or a runway model. Bonds clothes are understated and very well made. In my opinion moore , brosnan and Connery captured this essence very well, as well as lazenby. As for craig well its safe to say quite a few of us lost our way ( I know I did), as for dalton he could have used a tune up, but his wardrobe was obviously the least of his concerns.
A good article, and a valiant effort to justify the unjustifiable. :) I look forward to the end of this horrible tiny suit trend. Seems to be lasting forever.
-Considering the rather strict (British) dresscode at the time when Fleming wrote his novels some of Bond’s (and perhaps even Fleming’s) clothing customs could be called sloppy – wearing short-sleeved shirts with suits (and even sandals in tropic surroundings) is not exactly comme il faut. On Jamaica the dress code could have been a bit looser but the literary Bond dresses even in London in that fashion.
And as to your thoughts about Bond being a gentleman: Sorry, but to me everything of that is wrong. Exactly: Red Grant mocks him because it’s clear that Bond is no gentleman – he only pretends to be one. Such a character simply cannot be a gentleman in the strict sense of the word.
“Craig’s coarseness and bad taste”: That are only expressions of your personal ressentiments against Craig – I won’t comment on that. But Craig’s portrayal of Bond is neither coarse nor in bad taste. He comes as close to the character as an actor can and yes, in that sense he is authentic. And there’s no connection between that and his clothes.
@Renard; here is an example of Craig’s coarse language: http://www.avclub.com/article/daniel-craig-doesnt-give-fuck-226473 Here is coarse behavior: http://www.eonline.com/news/453357/daniel-craig-shaken-stirred-by-paparazzi-see-bond-flip-the-bird As for bad taste: http://www.gq.com/story/daniel-craig-winter-style
“…Daniel Craig also had a say in the fit of the suits: He wanted slim-fitting clothing that was easy to move (in), but I also got the feeling he wanted a slightly ’60s look.”
– That Craig wanted the 60’s look – and it’s very probable that he had Connery’s suits in mind – IMO speaks in his favour. And I think that quotation also proves that Temime must have gotten him wrong because it’s obviously not easy to move in those sausage tight suits (rather a pain). And at last we do not know if Craig was pleased with Temime’s work.
“Poorly fitted clothes may not follow the history of James Bond, but they work for the way Daniel Craig’s Bond is.”
-The same could be said of Dalton in LTK (being a “vendetta” Bond). And at the end of SPECTRE Craig looks quite well put-together and as a man of good taste driving away in his Aston Martin.
Temime has also said that Craig wanted a suit that fitted close to the body. He did not want a full-cut Connery style. Seeing that he wears shrunken suits in his personal life, I think that he got the fit he wanted for Bond. You are correct that he did not get clothes that were easy to move in or a 1960s style. But the narrow lapels indeed gave the suits the “slightly” ’60s look that Temime mentioned.
Yes, the same could be said for Licence to Kill, though there are inconsistencies with the way the suits in that film fit with the story. Just as in Craig’s films, costume designers don’t always have the correct understanding of the character and make mistakes.
Craig’s suit still does not fit well at the end of Spectre, and I think a poorly fitted suit shows bad taste no matter what. It shows the same man who doesn’t care to pull his flat together. Bond may be in a better mood at the end of the film, but he’s still always a broken, unhappy man inside. The shrunken suits show that the same as the dark suits in Quantum of Solace do.
The contrast between Moore’s (admittedly over-the-top) apartment in LALD and Craig’s apartment in Spectre is worth a thousand words!
“… he’s still always a broken, unhappy man inside. The shrunken suits show that the same as the dark suits in Quantum of Solace do.”
-So you consider wearing shrunken suits as a consequence of personal mourning?! I could have subscribed to your second assumption (dark suits QS), but…
It could have resulted in his apathy to a good fit, along with his apathy to so many other things.
They just did the same exact stupid mistake twice. They tailored the suits before Craig got into shape. Its so obvious. Believe me, I lift weights myself. Im no bodybuilder, but after 3 months I had my problems with my suits because of more mass/bulk of my body. You can see this especially when you look the collar. The way it distracts from the body….the reason for this is the neck and upper back training.
Jany Temime is a woman,and the women don’t understand a damn about male’s classic fashion.
Not matter if she is a good costume designer; is a woman and as such conceives a man’s suit only in terms of contemporary “cool” fashion,not of style or proper fit.
Would you employ the skills of female tailor or female barber? As for me, I can’t do it, and in the words of daniel plainview ” I don’t like to explain myself.”
Very good, apt point
Yes, we all agree that she dropped the ball on Daniel Craig’s suits in these last two movies. But I hear no one saying nasty things about her in regards to the clothing of men besides James Bond in these movies (Mallory, for example) let alone other movies she’s designed costumes for, such as the Harry Potter series.
I get utterly tired of seeing this “she’s a woman thus can never understand menswear” rhetoric online. It’s sexist not to mention utter garbage.
I always get my hair cut by women. I feel as someone of the opposite sex, they’ll have more of an idea of what is an appealing look to other women, which is far more important to me than it should be :) The exact opposite occurs when men buy impractical, uncomfortable underwear for wives or girlfriends; garters, stockings, corsets etc. It looks great to the men’s eyes but isn’t always what a woman would choose for herself. I can only assume Ms Temime thinks Daniel Craig looks great in tight suits.
As someone who sold men’s suits for a living, it may surprise one to know , 80% of my customers were women purchasing clothes for the man in her life, whether husband, fiance, boyfriend, brother, etc. Most men couldn’t dress themselves well if their life depended on it.
If one is part of the 20% who can, consider yourself lucky.
Bravo, Jovan. You rightly point out that other men in these films are well dressed. The fact that a female designed the clothes has nothing to do with the poor fit. A bit embarrassing that some would latch into such a fallacy.
I’ve assisted male costume designers while working at a menswear store who have put other men in tight fitting suits, so it’s definitely just a sign of the times and not one’s gender.
And let’s not forget Lindy Hemming’s superb work with Pierce Brosnan, which Matt covered previously. So, it’s not really gender issue.
(I’m Jovan, just using a new name now.) This was from five years ago, but yes, Lindy Hemming did a great job. I don’t entirely agree with all her choices, but he was consistently well dressed for the time. Certainly his clothing looked far better than a lot of other menswear at the time. If only his shirt cuffs showed…
I should also point out that the majority of Bond’s costume designers have been women, going back to the Connery films. (Though one could argue his style was mostly influenced by Terence Young.)
I don’t think that the Craigh/Bond look is a “clean look” because shrunken is not clean.
Can be see as a simplified look but definitively not as “clean”.
Men all want somewhat slim fitting suits these days of various degrees. The most unfashionable fit would be full cut suits that billow like Timothy Dalton’s in License To kill, which was other time the costume designer wanted Bond to look somewhat of the moment, but still keeping with Bond’s classic grey and navy colours. The License To Kill suits like even more loose due to the make that they were most likely ready to wear and not made to measure or bespoke. Kurt Russell wore similar cut suits in Tequila Sunrise made the year. before in 1988, but his suits still fit much better then Tim Daltons. He even wore triple pleated trousers. So there was better fitting loose suits out there in the late 80’s.
I think the “the suits were cut before Craig bulked up” reasoning doesn’t hold much water. Given the amount of planning that goes into these films, the idea that the primary design house and costume designer and lead actor wouldn’t consider the impact of Craig working out on the final fit of the suits is a little implausible. I think the suits of Skyfall were purely a fashion choice. I guess one could be a little generous and assign some of the reasoning to “character development” in that film: Bond has just returned from enjoying death. He may have put on some weight due to his drinking and (assumed) lack of exercise. We can also assume that since his flat was sold, most of his belongings went with it. And finally, he doesn’t have the time to get a “bespoke” (or even MTM) suit before he has to get back to work. So, from a character perspective, the Skyfall look is what happens when Bond has to shop off the rack.
I can’t give the suits in SPECTRE the same benefit of the doubt. Assuming SPECTRE takes place a few months after Skyfall, Bond still has plenty of time to get suits that fit properly.
It is mentioned by M that his belongings went into storage after he surposed ‘death’, so it is safe to assume he is wearing his tailored suits. But your theory that he may have put in weight slightly could hold water. He was hitting the bottle for a few months and taking to many pain killers. I don’t think he was doing many push-ups or chin ups while enjoying death or going to his local fitness center paying as he went. I keep myself in fairly good shape with some weight work and some running, but even I put on a couple of Kgs when I indulge on holiday.
“I think the suits of Skyfall were purely a fashion choice.”
-I second that. The first reason is plausible, the second isn’t IMO.
Hey Fellas (we’re all fellas here, aren’t we?), I enjoyed the back-and-fort that resulted from this article — and I read it with interest. Thanks, Matt. Forgive me for not resisting the bait, but I can’t help myself. The shrunken suit trend is sh_t, plain and simple. From time to time, I see not-young men, say men in their late 30s and 40s wearing this stuff and they are a disgrace. Craig is older than that, and he is helped by his excellent, physical condition. But he is helped more by the magic of the movies. In the real world, he would look like sh_t, too.
Will always believe — while, yes, some inconsistent variations along the way and concessions to trends — that the point is that, like his suits, Craig’s Bond is not entirely a good, comfortable fit for the world he finds himself in. He’s got the right trappings, but it’s still not quite right.
I respectfully suggest, Matt, that this particular topic has well run its course by now. For me anyway, it’s a bit of a yawn as nothing fresh can really be added to the “debate”.
Leaving Bond aside, the issue boils down to the fact that anyone wearing clothing which is ill proportioned and doesn’t fit them properly can’t be regarded as displaying good taste or at least as good taste as the man who’s immaculately tailored (how rare is he!). This principle applies whether it’s a loose fitting, wide shouldered suit from the late 80’s/early 90’s or something from the current era.
The debate can continue ad infinitum but it’s also perfectly reasonable to assert that the entire way in which men’s suits have been constructed, as you say, in the last years, mitigated against anything flattering to the wearer. Some people are so blinded by the whole fashion thing (a tribal rationale of belonging which more “together” folk don’t deem all that important) that they can’t appreciate this until the fashion has passed.
Moore’s physique – at least in his first Bond movies – would be the envy of most mid 40’s males. Even in his 50’s, while his physique wasn’t ideal, it would’ve been better than many mid-1980’s males of his age.
And – just to be fair – it has to said that this principle applies equally if it’s a 70’s suit with overwide lapels and flared leg-trousers.
Give it up. Maturity comes from accepting that not everyone agrees with your opinion. All the best. This is why I made my initial comments, Matt. It’s like Groundhog Day at times in these parts!
Your article is perceptive. One aspect that you didn’t mention was that of social class. Craig’s Bond inner tensions are not just from the deaths of those close to him but his place in the social hierarchy of British intelligence. This requires a subtle understanding of the British class system. Craig’s Bond I would posit is demonstrably not an aristocrat, the social group who quietly run British intelligence, but an all at sea member of a small group somewhere between upper middle class and the very lowest rungs of the upper class. The dereliction of his family home – by no means an old house for rural Scotland – suggests 19th century trade gone to seed and this is reflected in his ill fitting clothes. A true aristo may wear faded or even grubby clothes – but they would fit. I would suggest his anger is in part also because he knows he is not going any further up the M16 greasy pole and will be no more than a middle ranking desk jockey when his athleticism soon deserts him.
Even if this would be true it would not restrict itself to Craig’s Bond but concern all Bonds – from Connery to Brosnan. No Bond film contains any notion of Bond being promoted. He seems to remain a commander of the British Navy for the rest of his life doing the same job forever.
But I think that all reasoning of that kind is complete rubbish – the shrunken suits are in no way connected with Bond as a character. It is simply a fashion issue and a consequence of Temime’s questionable taste.
The literary Bond seems fine with his … literal … dead end job. He thoroughly enjoys himself and plans to be dead with an empty bank account before hitting the manditory 00 retirement to a desk job that hits in your mid ’40s. He is also paid fairly well. Early in the books/1950s he makes 1500 pounds a year plus 500 a year of his own money (plus an expense account when on the road). My Father (English) remarked that when he graduated in the mid ’60s if he had gone into teaching he would have made in the 600s a year. It’s not CEO money but keeps him in short sleeved shirts (hah) and a Scottish housekeeper.
And he loves being a Commander. He has custom stripes on his cigarettes to match his rank.
As an aside, Gardner did promte Bond in one of his books, but is was part of a cover and Gardner’s Bond was a bit of a soft serve.
Matt. Great posting as always. This one generated considerable debate. Regardless of fit, I just hope they continue to keep Bond in tailored clothing. My fear is that today’s overly casual style of dress will finally find its way into the world of Bond. Long live the business suit!
I Googled “Steve McQueen in a suit” to see what Craig should really look like.
Steve mcqueen wore brioni, his wife at the time said he did in the documentary “The man and Lemans.”
I don’t understand the desire to make Craig/Bond look like Steve McQueen. McQueen was the quintessential rebellious 60’s American, while Bond, in spite of his womanizing, is and has always been a conservative Englishman who likes sober suits and dislikes the Beatles.
I think you’re analysis is spot-on, Matt. Craig’s Bond is very much a conflicted character, and his tailoring reflects this.
Although the pro-Craig camp laud this approach as somehow being more “realistic,” realism is the last thing I want from a Bond movie. I want a couple hours of pure escapism, which is what the series used to offer. Not surprisingly, my favorite Bond by far is Roger Moore. His Bond was not at all conflicted. Rather, he was a sophisticated man of the world comfortable in his own skin, as reflected by his magnificent tailoring.
@John: You hit the nail on the head! The Moore movies provided the purest escapism movies could provide – I remember watching them with my daughter and having the time of our lives. And, as you pointed out, Moore’s magnificent (if somewhat showy) tailoring was part of the spectacle. Craig’s Bond is a “darkandgritty” Jason Bourne/Jack Bauer wannabe.
Oh dear fellows – with so much need for escapism, how hard and unpleasent your lives must be!
@Renard. I’ll let Roger Moore have the final word on the folly of trying to inject “realism” into the bond movies:
To me, the Bond situations are so ridiculous, so outrageous. I mean, this man is supposed to be a spy and yet, everybody knows he’s a spy. Every bartender in the world offers him martinis that are shaken, not stirred. What kind of serious spy is recognized everywhere he goes? It’s outrageous. So you have to treat the humor outrageously as well. My personality is entirely different than previous Bonds. I’m not that cold-blooded killer type. Which is why I play it mostly for laughs.
After so much criticism about the fit of Daniel Craig’s suits in Skyfall and Spectre, I am glad to see the subject actually headlined. The fact that the other characters in both films are all well-fitted demonstrates that Craig’s tight fit is purposeful and character driven. For instance, the traditionally dressed M is perfectly fitted; and Q, who wears trendy clothes, is also well-fitted. Simply put, the tight fit of Craig’s clothes makes him look like a caged animal, and that is completely in keeping with the current Bond. In scenes with the coolly calm villains—Bardem and Waltz, who are both well-fitted, Craig looks edgy and ready to come out of his skin. For those of us who pay close attention to men’s clothing, the look may be distracting, but this distraction does not apply for most viewers and works in the context of movie story telling.
To be honest, Craig looks more menacing with the better fitted suits in QoS. Close, not tight, fits are more suitable for the character. Wearing a suit about two sizes smaller only makes it look like the character is going to explode, in the mean that he would be swiftly defeated by his enemies.
Sometimes ago, the previous costume designer who worked with Brioni for Pierce Brosnan said something about Craig being a “mean Bond” and thus the tailoring was enclosed to give off the impression. However, honestly, it gives the feeling of suffocation, which induce too much unnecessary tensions.
I can understand some of the tightness in Skyfall, where Bond is getting back on his game after a long layoff (e.g., the physical fitness test scene), but there isn’t any excuse for it in Spectre. I love the wardrobe from QoS, and thought that it was brilliantly done. It was a perfect balance of classic, classy, and practicality.
He wore a suit that was too tight even before “enjoying death”, however. I agree with you about QoS. If only they’d shortened the jacket sleeves a bit…
Really good article! I had the pleasure of making the acquaintance of a man, now a client, who worked at Pinewood Studios on the 007 stage. Being a bit of a suit connoisseur I asked him why Daniel looked the way he did in a suit. He gave me a brilliant answer similar to what’s been mentioned here; as we know Daniel has some producing rights to the movies and he wanted to express the ‘chip on the shoulder’ mentioned first in Casino Royale. One way of expressing that is Bond’s suits. You can imagine him saying to his old school colleagues at Eton that he wears luxury suits from a brand that costs in excess of £7000 but we know Bond resents his tortured upbringing and to wear a ‘suit with such disdain’ as Vesper puts it would be a perfect expression of that.
The other factor mentioned was that Tom Ford (the company) insisted on a 6 month turnaround for the suits to be produced so it was actually left to Daniel and his trainer Simon Waterson to work to a kind of size guide that had been given to Tom Ford as a template.
I too am not a fan of the “fashion suit”, but there is nothing inherently bad about Craig’s suits. I am an athletic build and I often look similar to him in a suit. This is not to be immodest. Rather, if I get a suit that feels lovely on the shoulders, it flares everywhere and it is difficult to tailor it to acceptable proportions. I look like something from the late 80s. So I go for suits that are bearable around shoulders, and have my tailer widen the back a bit. This proved to be the best. As for the drape creases when you close the jacket, unless excessive I actually like them. The best thing about a good fully canvassed suit is how nicely it wraps under your ribs. The softer the better. A suit is not an armor, it is a cloth and should nicely copy your body. Lastly, Craig is a smaller and stouter built. You give him something Connery wore, and he will look ridiculous. I think the filmmakers and designers around the franchise knew exactly what they were doing.
The creases that Craig gets when he closes his jackets are not “drape creases”. “Drape” means excess fullness. Craig’s suits have pulling because the chest is too small. I agree that a suit should nicely copy your body if you have a nice body, but Craig’s suits by no means copy his body. The creases are proof of that. It’s one thing to have an athletic body and have to deal with altering ready-to-wear clothes. But Craig’s suits were made for him and could have done better to follow the shape of his body. Craig’s suits are very stiff like a suit of armour with a lot of structure beneath the cloth, which should additionally help to give them a cleaner look. This only shows how far off the fit is. If the intention was to show off Craig’s body, these suits are a failure. If the intention is to show that he is too muscular for his suits, they also failed because you cannot tell the difference between fat and muscle through such a stiff suit. All we can see is that his suits do not fit him well because the suits are too small for him.
I totally agree with this argument.
Excellent article, Matt, and an idea that was in need of explanation. Recently I made some comments about this idea of wearing clothing too tightly fitted on The Bond Experience youtube page. The Bond Experience owner, wears his shirts quite tightly fitting just like his hero Daniel Craig, and I had to take issue with it for another reason altogether. Like Bond, I carry a handgun and I do it daily. I own a security consulting company and it just goes with the territory. If you, as we concealed carry people call it, “wear a gun,” you need to have your shirts, sports coats and jackets all fit you a bit looser than the average adult man. To do otherwise allows your gun to “print,” that is to say, be seen by members of the public. It makes no sense at all to let anyone know you’re wearing a gun. You either terrify the general public and call attention to yourself or you allow potential criminals the possibility of trying to steal your gun. Either way, it’s a potential disaster.
In the film world you of course can just have the property master hand you the gun for your scenes, in real life that does not happen. You put your gun in its holster in the morning and it stays there all day long until you take it off at night and job done. So the idea that James Bond is wearing a Walther PPK/S all day long in those tight fitting suits Craig wears is impossible and a ridiculous notion.
I doubt anyone other than a firearms expert would even consider this idea, but I am a firearms expert and I noticed this problem as soon as Craig began wearing the “cringe worthy fitting suits” in the films. There’s no chance in hell that Bond can wear a gun all day and sometimes all night long in those tight suits without the entire world noticing his handgun. It defeats the whole notion of wearing a concealed weapon and what intelligence operative would go around advertising that he’s wearing a gun? Not a single one in real life. It sort of ruins the illusion that the films are trying to create, n’est-ce pas, Matt?
To be fair, they dispensed with the realism of needing looser fitting jackets for a concealed pistol in From Russia With Love onward. But I agree, it does feel egregious in Skyfall and Spectre.
Does a small of back holster make a difference in lessening imprinting? I ask because he wears both that and a shoulder holster in the last two movies. I fitted a few people, civilians and police alike, who needed tailored clothing that wouldn’t let the pistol imprint. They all wore shoulder holsters. My job would have been much easier if they had just ordered made-to-measure!
Let me apologize for writing such a long reply.
I wear a fairly common inside the waist band suede, Vega holster. When I became aware that the Bond character was using the same holster, for a different firearm, but the same brand as I use and the same style too, I was a bit surprised since Bond had always used a shoulder holster previously. I prefer a suede holster as opposed to the stiff plastic types a lot of people use these days. I wear my preferred gun for summer, a Smith & Wesson M&P Bodyguard 380, at about 4 o’clock on my right side. Wearing a gun in the small of my back is very uncomfortable while driving and is hard to access, for me anyway. At the 4 o’clock position my hand has to travel back a few inches from its natural resting spot at about 3 o’clock, but not very much at all. As long as I am wearing a shirt that’s loose fitting, a bit, and a dash longer than average, then I have no problems with handgun printing. In cooler weather, a jacket, sports coat, suit coat or winter coat generally covers the firearm well. In winter I can sometimes get away with wearing a full size 9mm like my Ruger P-85, which holds 15 rounds in a double stack magazine. For a smaller single stack 9 mm, I have a Smith & Wesson M&P Shield 9 mm that works fine. If I choose to stay with a .380 but want a slightly larger gun with a bit more capacity and somewhat better accuracy, then I wear the Walther PPK styled, Argentinean Bersa Thunder Combat.
For Bond fans, I know it seems sacrilegious not to carry the Walther, but to be perfectly honest, I had a Walther PPK/S and the Bersa is simply an updated and better weapon for significantly less money. I spend that money on ammunition, practicing at my shooting range at home and on my family, clothes, watches and nice cars. With the Bersa, I have a slightly larger ammo capacity, I suffer from no slide bite, and the gun eats every type of ammunition I feed it. I have never had a failure to feed, failure to eject or a failure to fire due to a light strike, all of which I have experienced with my old Walther PPK/S. When a company takes a product like the PPK and its variants, updates it and puts out a product that functions with superiority to the original package, at a lesser price point, I call that a winner. Granted, the tolerances are a bit looser than the beautiful machine work on the original Walther, but then so are the tolerances on an AK-47 and that firearm is vastly superior to most of the firearms in the same category that followed its production. In fact, as long as a competent armorer can accurize an AK-47, as I have used in the past in combat situations, I’ll carry the AK-47 with no more remorse than when I carry the Bersa.
I have carried guns in shoulder holsters in the past, but they were full sized handguns and I had no other choice as I do today. In those days I carried a Colt Combat Commander or a Colt Gold Cup, both in .45 ACP. I always had to wear a sports coat or some other type of jacket to hide the gun.
As far as realism is concerned, clearly we all have to suspend our disbelief in order to enjoy the movies. An SIS officer who is as well known as James Bond, cannot be a “spy.” Perhaps an assassin, but an intelligence operative, not a chance. Think of Valerie Plame being outed by the White House’s Scooter Libby and thereafter never being able to work in the field again. Also, I think the last estimate I heard about the salary of an SIS Officer was around £40,000, after 5 to 10 years of service. Obviously “fantasy” is the watchword for the films, but then where would we be if we were all forced to exist by John Le Carre (David John Moore Cornwell, former SIS officer) novels only? They might be more reality based and truthful, however I get quite enough truth and reality in my own life, and I would wager that everyone who engages in these fan-sites does too. If you really want to know what is happening in the world of intelligence, read the UK’s Eye Spy magazine. It covers mostly open source intelligence, but does it very well. Another good source for news involving the intelligence community globally is: https://intelnews.org/ The two staffers there do a heck of a job keeping and eye on that world for us. Then, I am a member of IACSP, the International Association for Counterterrorism and Security Professionals. I read their website and periodicals religiously. Of course, I have a very good reason for doing these things since I run a security consulting firm and deal with industrial cyber espionage and the physical security of my client’s businesses, schools and offices. I teach business executives and others how to maintain their safety and the security of their intellectual property at home and particularly while traveling. Few people in the world pay enough attention to their own physical circumstances to stay safe and be ready for any situation. People have no idea that hotel rooms are robbed while the guests are in the rooms nearly 90% of the time. For $3.00 and about 10 minutes I can make a device that fits into a Sharpie pen case and will open almost every electronic hotel door across the country. It takes less than 5 seconds to defeat the little, slotted, metal bar that slides over the knob across the door in those hotel rooms too.
If I could pass along a single safety tip for anyone reading this, it would be: Never stay in a hotel room on the first floor and never stay in a hotel room above the third floor. The first floor rooms are too easy to break in to with every person in the area having access. The reason for the third floor being the highest is that few communities have fire truck ladders that reach above the third floor of buildings. I don’t know about you Jovan, but I have no intention of perishing in a fire on the 28th floor of a hotel in Manhattan. I suspect burning to death is a fairly dreadful manner of dying.
Again, apologies for writing such a long post.
To be fair, Bond films are not Michael Mann films. While some are more realistic than others, all, much like even the books on which they are (occasionally) based, are meant as escapism. Realism isn’t really their stock-in-trade.
This is very simple to determine if Daniel looks good in his suits – ask any lady their opinion and then that of you in yours. I suspect that you may not be happy with the answer but that doesn’t mean to say its incorrect, on the contrary.
A man’s view of another and how he wears his clothes is suspect at best.
Anything more than slim fitting for the slim person is drab.
I tried this out. I showed young women photos of him in Skyfall, and they said he looked fantastic in his suits. Then I showed them photos of him in Quantum of Solace, and they changed their minds about the Skyfall suit.
But what it really comes down to has nothing to do with the suit. Women did not care about the suit, they cared about Daniel Craig. Some women have told me they think he looks awful even in a well-fitting suit.
Judging by the photos you are sharing. I don’t think the suit is excessively tight. It’s oddly fitted, yes; but the problem in the fitting is misalignment with shoulders and posture, not about sizing necessarily. And that’s a mix of ready to wear suits with lack of proper alterations.
This is partially true. The jackets have the look of a ready-to-wear suit that was taken in at the back but the front is too large. The suits were made in a bespoke manner, so they should not have this problem. The chest is also too tight. It bows open in many of the screenshots here.
Re the comments Bond of the books is basically just a thug:
From the second novel on, Bond had a sense of humor and was a protector. In Moonraker, he had to play the part of the ‘cold agent’ because he had fallen for Gala Brand, who had a fiance.
In Live and Let Die he was hilarious with Felix Letter. Fleming was writing a sequence and giggling with Noel Coward, his neighbour in Jamaica.
Coward: You’re not really going to include this?!
Fleming, with tears of mirth: Yes!
(The scene is when Bond and Solitaire are tied naked together aboard Mr Big’s yacht and she says, I didn’t want it to be like this.)
So Fleming wrote much of Bond with tongue in etc.
In the final novels Bond is even funnier. He is not a snob. His bachelor party consists of a drunken bar crawl with a Marseilles cab driver.
On the sausage suits of Craig’s fake Fond, he already looked dated and uncomfortable at the time. His ‘style’ is even more incoherent. To borrow one of Coward’s phrases: his suits look like armpits.
Cheers from 2022.