Since this blog usually looks at the many specifics of Bond’s clothes, let’s take a step back and look at the overall picture of what defines James Bond style. There’s no way to make generalisations about Bond style overall, but there are a number of different themes that Bond style has followed over the years. At its essence, Bond style is about looking good in a suit, or more specifically looking good in a dinner jacket. Bond has worn much casual clothing, but it’s the tailoring that sets Bond apart from other heroes. There have been multiple approaches to Bond’s style, from the quirky styles in Fleming’s novels to the classic styles in Connery’s films to the fashion in Moore’s and Craig’s films to the continental power look in Brosnan’s films. At the end of the article you can vote for which Bond you think best represents Bond style.
When most people think of James Bond’s clothes, it’s the black tie ensembles that first come to mind. Bond’s iconic black tie looks have kept the dinner jacket alive, and Bond’s consistently classic way of wearing black tie makes him the world’s number one black tie model. Wearing black tie well is a key element to Bond style, and something that has been kept consistent through all of the iterations of Bond. But there’s much more to Bond style than black tie.
Fleming Bond Style: Personal Peculiarities
The literary Bond’s style is defined by an unassuming manner of dress with many idiosyncrasies. Fleming typically dressed his Bond in a uniform of a blue suit with a white short-sleeve shirt, black knitted tie and moccasins. This isn’t ordinarily the description of a stylish man. The literary Bond’s clothes are still of high quality (notably his silk and Sea Island cotton shirts), and because of the consistency in his dress he obviously cares about what he wears. He doesn’t just put on anything. But he really dresses down his suits and never wears anything fussy or flashy. He doesn’t come off as a fussy man or a dandy, but he is snobbish about the clothes other people wear and judges them for it, whether it’s a windsor knot or an Anderson & Sheppard suit.
Connery Bond Style: Sober Sophistication
Sean Connery’s Bond has a similarly understated and uniform approach to style that the literary Bond has. Unlike the literary Bond, Connery’s Bond can be considered thoroughly well-dressed. His style is defined by understated, classic British style. He follows a uniform of a button two suit in a grey suit—solid, semi-solid, flannel or glen check—with the occasional blue, brown or striped suit. He usually wears his suits with a cocktail cuff shirt in light blue or cream, a dark grenadine tie and derby shoes or short boots with elastic. Apart from the boots, narrow lapels and straight-bottomed waistcoats, Connery’s Bond went for a classic style that didn’t follow many trends that showed he was a man of traditional tastes. His uniform has a thoroughly, though not overtly, British look. Connery Bond style is one of a well-tailored man who knows how to put together an outfit, but it’s a understated style where nothing stands our or is overly fashionable. Though his clothes are top quality, they don’t call attention to that fact. Connery’s Bond never stands out in crowd, just as a spy should not.
1970s Moore Bond Style and Craig Bond Style: Fashion Forward
Roger Moore’s Bond in the 1970 and Daniel Craig’s Bond in his last couple of films have a fashionable or flashy style that boldly infuses trends with classic style. For 1970s Roger Moore it means wide-lapelled jackets and flared trousers occasionally in flashier suitings like silk. But the suit jackets have a classic cut and the suits are often in staid solid worsteds, chalk stripes and tweeds. For Daniel Craig it means everything shrunken—tight jackets with narrow lapels and a short length, and skinny trousers with a low rise—but made in classic suitings with traditional British details. Though Moore’s and Craig’s Bonds dress very differently from each other in execution, in concept they have a similar approach to mixing blending what Connery established with the fashions of the time. Moore’s and Craig’s Bonds always stand out as fashionable but also as men with good taste. 1970s Moore Bond style and Craig Bond style are about considering the current fashions without forgetting about how to dress like an English gentleman.
Timothy Dalton’s suits in Licence to Kill follow the fashionable edge of Moore’s and Craig’s Bond’s suits but lack all elements of classic style apart from the colours.
1980s Moore Bond style and Lazenby Bond style: British Brilliance
Roger Moore’s Bond’s style in the 1980s and George Lazenby’s Bond’s style are about dressing in a British mode. Like Connery’s style, 1980s Moore and Lazenby follow classic British style with some fashionable touches, but their suits look more British than Connery’s due to sharper silhouettes, brighter ties and bolder suitings. They wear a lot of navy and grey, flannel and chalk stripe three piece suits in the city, and they wear earth tones outside of the city. They wear both single-breasted and double-breasted jackets. 1980s Moore Bond style and Lazenby Bond style is about being dressed classically, but with in modern edge in a way only the British can do.
Timothy Dalton’s Bond’s style in The Living Daylights fits into the British category, though there’s little brilliance in it.
Brosnan Bond style: Overt Opulence
Pierce Brosnan’s Bond’s style is one of a successful and worldly businessman, and it’s defined by continental power suits and luxurious overcoats. The long cashmere overcoats solidify Brosnan’s Bond’s image as a rich man. The confidence (or sometimes overconfidence) with which he wears these clothes only adds to the look. Brosnan Bond style works for Bond’s cover as a businessman who socialises with the wealthy, though apart from some subtle details, it forgets about the origins of the character. Though the strong cut of Brosnan’s Bond’s suits makes him look powerful, it translates more to money power rather than physical power. Though fashions now have moved away from the strong shoulders and full cut, a soft Italian suit could more subtly give the same effect of a well-travelled businessman today.