Wearing the Orlebar Brown 007 Collection

17

Orlebar Brown have made it possible for James Bond enthusiasts to wear some of the iconic and unusual resort looks of the Bond series. Orlebar Brown were kind enough to gift me four pieces from this collection: The “Ryder” Dr. No polo, the “Pinder” Thunderball shirt, the “Setter” Thunderball swim shorts and the “Midnight” Thunderball polo. The collection has been selling very well, but what is left of their collections available on their website and through a number of retailers. When visiting their site be sure to select the country you are in because both prices and availability will differ. I have already provided preliminary thoughts on the entire collection, but here are my thoughts on my four pieces through wearing them.

Ryder Dr. No Polo

The Ryder polo replicates the polo that Sean Connery wears in Dr. No on the Crab Key beach where he meets Ursula Andress’ bikini-wearing character Honey Ryder. Instead of the original knitted cotton pique, Orlebar Brown made this polo in their quintessential knitted towelling. Being knitted, the towelling has a lot of natural stretch and can fit like a more typical polo. The towelling pile is mostly on the outside of the shirt, with a smoother knit on the inside, but a yoke that sits over the shoulders has towelling pile on the inside so some of it is felt when wearing the shirt. It mostly feels like a regular cotton polo, but what’s more important is that the towelling on the outside will make your own Honey Ryder want to be closer to you. Inside and out, this is a uniqely comfortable polo.

The colour of the cotton towelling is called “Riviera” and is a much different light blue than Connery’s polo as it appears in Dr. No. Riviera is a vivid azure while Connery’s shirt appears to be a paler periwinkle. In Orlebar Brown’s product photos the colour looks closer to that of Connery’s polo, which goes to show how unreliable the colour in photos can be, and this can also be applied to the colour of the polo as we see it in Dr. No.

What makes this polo stand apart from Orlebar Brown’s other towelling polos is the ribbed collar and short sleeve cuffs. The ribbing is quite exaggerated for a polo and lends a lot of character to this shirt. The two-button placket is one with the body of the polo rather than a separate piece like on the average polo, and the buttons are a very nice blue imitation mother-of-pearl with embossed branding. I think that real mother-of-pearl buttons would have been a nice touch considering the price of this polo, but Connery’s polo would most likely have had plastic buttons anyway.

I have a 38-inch chest and 32-inch waist and am wearing a size small. On me the polo has a close fit but not a tight one. The polo has a very long fit like Connery’s polo would have had, at least on my 5’9″ body. It is a very tuckable polo, more than any of the more current Bond polos. The back is 3/4-inch longer than the front with a very short vent at the sides. I typically wear my polos untucked like Daniel Craig wears his in the recent Bond films, but considering the length of this one I think I will mostly be wearing it tucked. I may bring it to my tailor to have it shortened to make it work better untucked. But as Sean Connery shows in Thunderball, longer polos can also be worn untucked and look good that way with shorts.

This polo has a very small label on the left side near the bottom with the Orlebar Brown logo in front and the 007 logo in back. The tag draws very little attention, and the 007 logo stays hidden so there’s no worry about walking around wearing the 007 brand, but it is there to give an official feel to these clothes. The label on the inside also says both “Orlebar Brown” and “007”, and a small tag underneath says “Made in Portugal”.

I am wearing this polo with Classic Fit chinos from Polo Ralph Lauren in stone and Persol 2244 sunglasses from Casino Royale, but with lenses in a different colour. Orlebar Brown’s Campbell chinos in Riviera may be a good pairing with the shirt for the Dr. No look, though the paler Waterfall colour may also pair well.

Pinder Thunderball Shirt and Setter Thunderball Swim Shorts

The Pinder shirt, named after Bond’s ally in Thunderball, replicates one of the many short-sleeve camp shirts that Sean Connery wears in the film. This shirt has a beautifully constructed camp collar, which Orlebar Brown calls a “Capri” collar. The top button on the shirt is slightly lower than I expected and thus shows off more chest hair than I ordinarily would like to, but it has the authentic look.

The colour of the Orlebar Brown shirt is called “Cardinal” and is slightly warmer than the rosier colour of Connery’s shirt in the film. It is made of a light and airy Italian linen in a two-tone red and white. The shirt wrinkles, as one would expect from proper linen, but the texture and two-tone weave help mask the wrinkling and keeps the shirt looking elegant throughout the day. The shirt has a fantastic and luxurious feel. The buttons are pale pink imitation mother-of-pearl to subtly match the shirt. I think it is a nice touch over white buttons.

The chest patch pocket is perfectly sized, and is both visually proportionate to the rest of the shirt and is big enough to be useful.

Like the polo, this shirt has a straight hem that is slightly longer in back with very short vents at the sides. I would have liked to see this shirt copy the curved hem of the original shirt and, at the very least, have longer side vents. Proper vents at the sides would help this shirt move better.

I am wearing a size small in this shirt, and it has a close but comfortable fit. It is cut straight through the waist like the original. I would have preferred a slightly shorter length, but on a taller man the length would work very well.

This shirt has the Orlebar Brown/007 label in the same place as the Dr. No polo. It is also made in Portugal.

The Setter Thunderball Swim Shorts that pair with the Pinder shirt are in Orlebar Brown’s Setter fit, which has a 4 1/2-inch inseam. While their Spinger model with a 3-inch inseam would have been a closer match to the length of the original, I am glad they made it in a longer length. It helps make the style more accessible for those like me who prefer a more modest fit. I would prefer a higher rise like Connery’s swim short had, but I can understand why Orlebar Brown kept the rise shorter like their regular model since they have had tremendous success with it for a number of years. It’s one of their signature models.

These shorts are made in “Riviera” and look very close to the colour of the original in Thunderball. Though they are labelled the same as the colour of the Dr. No polo, the colours are slightly off and do not pair well together. A number of other pieces from the collection could pair well with these shorts, like the Diamonds Are Forever towelling shirt or even the On Her Majesty’s Secret Service linen dress shirt.

The shorts have open side pockets and a zip-pocket on the rear right for more secure usage in the water. Like the shirts above, they are made in Portugal.

What makes the Thunderball swim shorts special and make these one of Bond’s most iconic swim trunks are the button-down belt loops. Orlebar Brown executed this detail beautifully, and I am very excited to have swim shorts in this style. There are five belt loops around the waistband. Unfortunately, Orlebar Brown did not include a belt. The waistband contrasts the rest of the shorts in navy to mimic the look of Connery’s belted swim trunks without the effect of the belt. I am wearing a size 32, which measures 33 inches around the waist. While a size 31 would have fit me better at the waist, it would have been too small in the seat for me. I need a slightly smaller waist but these shorts come with no way to tighten the waist.

Because I was not able to size down, I had to find a belt to wear with these to keep them up. I found a very inexpensive stretch belt on Amazon in a navy that almost perfectly matches the colour of the waistband. It is the Tights Up Adjustable Stretch Belt. It is designed for women’s clothing but works well for purposes of these swim shorts. The belt is 1 inch wide, though a belt up to 1 1/8 inches will fit through these loops.

With this outfit I am wearing Tom Ford Snowdon sunglasses from Spectre, gifted from an event with The Bond Experience, and navy espadrilles from Sperry (a brand James Bond will be wearing in Bond 25). Orlebar Brown now sell the perfect 007 espadrilles to go with this outfit and many other Bond looks.

Midnight Thunderball Polo

My favourite piece in the collection is the Midnight Thunderball polo in a fine merino wool. Polos are my go-to item for casualwear and I appreciate this polo for its versatility, wearability and beautiful execution. Unlike most of the other items in this collection, there are alternatives for a navy merino wool polo, but that doesn’t stop this polo from being a standout piece.

I should start by saying that Orlebar Brown sent me a size medium in this polo when I really need a size small. I was not able to exchange this polo because the small sold out. I have left the tag on this polo and have not worn it beyond the five minutes I spent in my courtyard taking these photos, so if more become available I will see if it is possible to exchange this polo for a size small. [It has since become available and Orlebar Brown helpfully exchanged my size medium for a much better-fitting size small.] Because of this I cannot comment much on how it feels to wear this piece over any length of time.

I like my wool knits to fit close but not too tight, and I like them to be a bit shorter. If it is not exchangeable in the future my alterations tailor will be able to fit it to me. On the other hand, this polo fits in a similar manner to Connery’s in Thunderball. Connery looks better with a fuller fit because he is Sean Connery.

This polo is set apart by its luxuriously smooth, very fine gauge wool knit and its chevron racked rib detail. The fine wool makes this piece wearable in a wider range of temperatures than a typical slightly heavier wool polo. I am wearing a v-neck undershirt underneath the polo, which I usually like to do with wool polos to help limit the amount I need to wash them, but this polo is smooth enough to be comfortable without an undershirt. The ribbing at the hem is wide and elegantly anchors the polo over the hips. The collar matches the finer knit of the polo’s body, and the placket is seamlessly made of the same piece as the front piece of the polo for a clean look.

The original polo in Thunderball was black while this polo is navy. I applaud this update because navy is a much more versatile colour and looks much better on me than black does, which washes me out (and the same goes for many light-skinned people). The imitation mother-of-pearl buttons match the colour of the polo, but when the light shines on them they become reflective and look similar to the buttons on Connery’s original polo.

This polo has the Orlebar Brown/007 label in the same place as the Dr. No polo and Thunderball camp shirt. This item is made in Italy.

With this polo I am wearing tan cavalry twill trousers from Niven Tailors to give this outfit the look from Bond sneaking around at night at Shrublands in Thunderball. I am also wearing Tom Ford Snowdon sunglasses from Spectre, gifted from an event with The Bond Experience.

I recommend checking out the excellent video reviews of the Orlebar Brown 007 line from The Bond Experience and Shawn Michael Bongiorno. They have more pieces than I have and provide other insights on how to wear and care for these pieces. Thank you again to Orlebar Brown for these wonderful clothes and for renewing an interest for many in these classic styles. These are so much fun to wear!

Photos by Janna Levin

17 COMMENTS

  1. Looks quite good on you, but the navy polo is a bit too dark.

    I don’t know about prices, but to my eye the whole collection isn’t that special that it would justify to be priced above the usual brands.

  2. The navy polo looks good. From the pictures, it doesn’t look like a tent or a ship’s sail, you could get away with it. Minimal alteration will see it perfect.

    The cardinal shirt and shorts also look quite nice. The looks are authentic.

    The towelling polo I think I’d give a miss.

  3. The clothes look fantastic, but I don’t see how anyone can justify $300 for a pair of swim trunks, regardless of how cool they look.

    • One can expect such high-priced items to have some more quality features, f. i. real mother-of-pearl buttons, not imitations.

      Prices are quite unreasonable – for $400 you can get a fine bespoke shirt (and for a little more money even two).

      • Completely. But I guess when you receive all for them as gifts, you can be quite happy. And then give a rather enthusiastic review

        I have a long sleeve, 3 button collar navy blue fine merino wool polo from Uniqlo that I am very happy with ! And it costed me a decent €60 or €80.
        I wish the shirt were more affordable. Of all the pieces it is the one I like the most and that will be the most difficult to find a cheaper alternative for. A short sleeves camp collar shirt, alright, but in this special color ? Tough.
        But with the price of the shirt I am confident you can have one custom made for your physique. With mop buttons !
        It’s quite a shame they didn’t include the belt for the swimming shorts. It’s an important part of the look, and without them they look unfinished. I am sure some customers won’t be as thoughtful as Matt and will wear them like they are provided. For a Bond branded iconic item, at that level of price, it’s quite disappointing let’s say.

  4. Matt, did you get to choose which ones you wanted from the collection? Or were they randomly selected by OB as a surprise at your doorstep?
    And just out of interest, are there any pieces you dislike in the collection?

    • I got to choose these. There are no pieces I dislike, though I dislike the way the pleated from on the OHMSS shirt was done. There are pieces I can’t see a place for in my wardrobe, but I wouldn’t say I dislike them.

  5. I have to agree with the general consensus though, to be fair, if someone is gifted a set of clothes then they will be less vociferous about any potential side-issues than an observer will be.

    To be honest, this whole range seems to me to be rather a clever and rather gimmicky marketing machine. Some items aren’t that badly done but, as others have pointed out, pay the same price and get the genuine article from elsewhere. The polo shirt is fine but top end brands like Smedley and Sunspel have made such items for years if one wants to replicate Connnery! The top which copies the top of Moore’s AVTAK track suit is a ridiculous edition and who will wear the Goldfinger outfit? The “copy” of the shirt from OHMSS? Is this to be taken seriously as a dress shirt for evening wear or some kind of “fun” costume item to be worn in a different context? Good luck to this company (who incidentally nobody heard of until they produced a pair of swim trunks for crinkly Craig a few years back) for having dreamt up this little money spinner but as they used to say elsewhere, ho hum……

  6. Le Chiffre, the merino wool Uniqlo polos are awesome and affordable! These especially complements an athletic torso, and the navy and dark grey work best in my opinion and for some reason seem to have lasted longer than the ones in other colors that I got at the same time last year. The way Matt wears them like Connery in Thunderball is a great example of how elegantly they can be worn. Incidentally, nothing else I wear gets as many complements from women–not that complements should be the aim of dressing well (I think people like Michael Cain and Cary Grant were correct in their philosophies that the clothes themselves should not be what draws attention).
    I also got turtle necks in navy and white from uniqlo recently. I’m surprised these have also received complements when I had always thought of them as being very low key. It also surprised me how many people refer to them as ‘tactical necks’, which also goes to show the popularity of archer.
    Incidentally, I’ve noticed the white turtle neck seems to work very well with a navy blazer, such as commonly worn by Richard Burton throughout his life. Burton might be worth covering in this blog given his relationship with Anthony Sinclair and overlap in movies (e.g. Wild Geese). Roger Moore also said he shared a white tie outfit with Burton because they had the same torso measurements (although differing in leg length).

    • Burton was in the frame to be 007 at one time IIRC. And on the subject of navy merino long sleeve polos I just ordered one from Tyrwhitt – about $42 in the sale. I’ll be happy if it looks and fits anywhere near the one Matt is modelling but I could never justify the OB price for such a casual layering piece. I also have a black one from Uniqlo that was even cheaper. I doubt the quality of the Uniqlo comes close to that of the OBs but there is a law of diminishing returns at play here when it comes to price!

      • Rod, the John Smedley ones sold by Mason & Sons are said to be quite good. I haven’t had terribly good experiences with inexpensive knitwear myself. Even a J. Crew cardigan which I didn’t wear that frequently wore a hole in the elbow after just a few years. (They’re kind of hit or miss for knitwear — so far the shawl button collar sweater I have from them is holding up okay though.)

      • A Marks and Spencer shopping trip will set you up just as well for a 007 casual look, at a fraction of the price…..certainly would not want anything with a 007 logo on it.

        I think the laconic look Connery had, along with his physique worked well in Thunderball.

        Cary Grant in to “Catch a Thief” really did set the standard for iconic casual Summer attire.

  7. I should jump in here since I too was invited to the launch of the Orlebar Brown collection a few weeks ago and as usual had a wonderful time amongst fellow Bond aficionados.

    Orlebar Brown very generously gifted me the View to a Kill track jacket, but in addition to this I happily paid full retail for the Diamonds Are Forever shirt and The Man with the Golden Gun safari shirt/jacket.

    Why?

    The simplest answer is because I’m a bit of a fanatic James Bond nerd, which, anyone reading this blog surely understands. Bond merchandise always sparks me. Some things I like, some things I love, some I can do without, but they interest me nonetheless. Are pieces from this collection the most practical clothing I’ve ever bought? Probably not, but they’re so much fun! I’ll always get a thrill out of having personal James Bond moments in my daily life.

    Orlebar Brown have done something truly special for us devout Bond fans, and we should celebrate a brand embracing the Bond community as much as they have. I wish more companies would do so. There’s something special about being able to have my own little chunks of the franchise that has meant a lot to me. I am not James Bond nor am I pretending to be, but having a tangible connection to a character whom I admire is a great feeling. It’s just so much fun. There’s also no questioning the quality of the garments. As with most items carrying the James Bond endorsement, quality is of the utmost.
    It’s also perfectly alright that others may not get as much enjoyment from this collection as I do, I completely respect that. I understand these clothes aren’t for everyone, and that’s fine. Neither is Tosca.

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