You Don’t Need James Bond’s Body to Look Like Him in a Suit

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Despite what is often repeated, you do not need to have a certain body type to look good in a suit. All you need is a suit that fits you well.

Sean Connery in Diamonds Are Forever

People often say that the best thing you can do to look good in a suit is to get in shape. While being in good shape is always a good thing, anyone can look fantastic in a suit that is well-tailored. The suit is such a wonderful garment because it is designed to take attention away from one’s body. A suit is the kind of clothing furthest away from swimwear; it’s about the garment, not about the body.

The structure in a suit gives a person a new silhouette. Shoulder padding smooths out the shoulder line while canvassing gives a firm and defined shape to the front of the jacket. A structured suit, like a suit of armour, almost gives a person a new body. Construction of a higher quality with a full canvas and a good cut is going to look better on a body than a fused suit with a poor cut, but even a poor make can still look good on most people.

Shirts, t-shirts, polos and sweaters, whether tightly or loosely fitted, take on the shape of the body because they either cling to it or drape over it. A structured jacket has its own shape. No matter what shape your body is in, the shape of a structured jacket is more important.

A tight polo shows off the body. No matter how tight a suit is, it cannot effectively show off the body.

Because of the structure that goes into a suit jacket, it can never cling to the body to show it off like a piece of knitwear can. The trend of the last decade to wear a suit that is too tight in an effort to show off the body does not do that successfully. All it shows is a wrinkled mess, not muscles. A tight sleeve looks the same bursting from muscular biceps as it does from fat arms. Anyone can look like a wrinkled mess in a suit that is too tight.

Unstructured suits are popular now because they can be more comfortable and look more casual and less stuffy than the traditional suit. These suits do take on the shape of the person wearing them to a larger extent than a structured suit does, but the cut and fit can still be tailored to flatter most body types.

A good bespoke tailor can make any person look their best, and they take pride in their ability to fit any body type in a flattering manner. Apart from getting the fabric to drape neatly over the body, a tailor can place fullness and padding in key places to ensure that any body type looks smooth and balanced. Shoulder padding can balance a large midsection. Full-cut trouser legs can do the same. Good alterations tailors can also do wonders for many bodies with ready-to-wear suits.

The Minister of Defence is short and heavyset, yet he still wears a suit well thanks to its structure.

A well-fitting suit won’t make a larger person look like a slim person, but it has the power to make a large person look trimmer or a slight person look bulkier. But it has the power to balance any body, and balance is the key to looking good. A suit can make a man look a way that he is confident in appearing.

Today we think of James Bond as having a very fit, muscular body, but that’s not the only body type that James Bond has. James Bond’s body has varied across the series, from Daniel Craig’s muscular build in Casino Royale to Pierce Brosnan’s lean look in GoldenEye to Sean Connery’s and Pierce Brosnan’s heavier selves in Diamonds Are Forever and Die Another Day, respectively. Roger Moore was not exceptionally fit, yet he looked fantastic in a suit.

Octopussy Grey Rope Stripe

There are times that the Bond actors gained weight and their suits didn’t fit as well as they should have. This happened to Sean Connery in You Only Live Twice and Diamonds Are Forever and to Pierce Brosnan in Die Another Day. In these examples the actors gained weight after the suits were fitted for them. While they could have looked better in their particular suits in that film if they lost weight, they would have looked equally better had the suits been enlarged slightly to accommodate their weight gains.

Gaining a small amount of weight can make a suit that formerly fit well look not so good. In such an instance, losing the weight will make a person look better in a suit. However, letting out a suit—if the weight gain is small—or getting a new suit in a larger size will make the person look just as good in the suit. Losing weight in this case is less expensive and healthier, but it isn’t the only way to look good in your clothes.

Sean Connery gained too much weight for his suit in You Only Live Twice. Connery only looks bad because the suit doesn’t fit him well.

You can wear anything you want to wear. If you want to wear a certain garment, the desire is half of what you need to look good in it, whether it’s a structured suit or the La Perla swim trunks from Casino Royale. The other half is primarily up to the garment to fit well. If a person doesn’t look their best in their clothes, it’s usually the fault of the clothes. A person should never take the blame for not looking great in their clothes.

18 COMMENTS

  1. I think that’s one critique I would have for some of the Bond style “influencers”… they can namedrop all the different brands and specific items, but when it comes to a flattering fit for their body, that is often one department lacking.

    • Funny, however so right! I think there may be more than a few that come to mind and who push it just a little too far for their own good! To quote Robert Gillotte in the book ‘From Tailors with Love’ Trying to look like Connery in From Russia with Love is a silly thing.’ Simply dressing well and elegantly however and owning your particular look is much more attainable and realistic than attempting ‘total cosplay’ , then again ‘Live and let live ‘ I suppose.

    • I completely understand what you’re saying here. I’m slim, very slim. Talking a body that’s 6′ tall with a 36 inch chest and a 30 inch waist.
      Something like Tom Ford, Brioni, or Angelo Roma would work wonders for my very slight build and I love that Bond has brought them to my attention. But I’d be a fool if I thought that the Sinclair Conduit cut would make me look like Sean Connery.
      A properly fitted and tailored suit from Anthony Sinclair might still make me look good, but it fundamentally wouldn’t look as good on me as the other cuts I mentioned, perhaps more out of personal preference than I’d like to admit.

  2. I agree with this post Matt! The build of one’s body will not have any effect on the way they look in a suit as long as it fits them. I found it quite interesting how you compared the look of items such as a shirt to a suit. As you mentioned a suit is about the structure not the body type. With that being said it explains why the shrunken look just don’t work. As always keep up the good work and have a nice week!

  3. Couldn’t agree more. This is what I tell my MTM customers when they lament recent weight gain. I’m here to make a suit that fits them, not the other way around. Also I let them know that they’re hardly unique in this concern.

  4. On the other hand, I have to say that wearing a suit to the office every day helps me keep my weight pretty consistent. If my suits start feeling too tight, that tells me it’s time to cut back on the calories and hit the gym more regularly.

  5. This is good to hear. As someone who’s struggled with their weight all their life, this is definitely a relief when I eventually get a nice suit. The biggest problem is my torso and stomach, which is a little longer in proportion to my legs. Probably the best I’ve ever been fit is most similar to Sean Connery in Diamonds are Forever (I have a slightly athletic build with broad shoulders like he did), and he was still rather pudgy in that movie compared to his excellent and fit build in the earliest Bonds.

  6. However, height is a slightly different matter. A suit can flatter someone who is short or tall, but standing next to others will still bring out the contrast no matter what tailor one has.

    What I’m trying to say here is despite my best efforts, I’ll never look like Sean Connery in a suit because I’m five-foot-six. I can still look good in a suit, just not like Sean.

  7. I lost a lot of muscle weight during covid lockdowns, to the point that I felt self-conscious wearing most of my clothes because they didn’t fit as snugly as when I bought them. The exception was my suits, which I felt fit just as well as before hiding my slimmer shoulders and arms, and making my back still look broad.

  8. I admire this conversation. I like how you compared how the suit is like the gentleman’s armour. The structure of a quailty suit can improve a person structure. The modern era tries the sex appeal to have the shrunken suit look to try to show the muscles. Instead, this trend makes the person look unfavorable. I believe Mr. Hinx is a great example of a muscular man to wear a suit. Hinx suit looks great instead of the wrinkly shrunken look. Great topic Matt and I am ready to hear your full outfit run down on the NTTD outfits.

  9. It’s an outfit appropriate for the outdated British class society, the more money you spend the better it looks. Because the suit reveals the economic power behind the person. The British love that kind of thing, and Bond is the perfect symbolic character.
    But in a way, Daniel Craig is the antithesis of the belly-baring middle-aged bastard he despise through his body, his action and his tight suits.
    Daniel Craig stopped wearing Brioni suits and John Lobb shoes when he after lost Vesper. It seems to be a manifestation of his firm conviction, which is also vengeful.

    • Bond has never been part of the British upper class by his suits. Now he might turn his nose up at them more than before, but I don’t think he’s changed all that much. You’re reading too much into the changes in suit and shoe brands in the Daniel Craig films.

      The changes from Brioni to Tom Ford and from John Lobb to Church’s to Crockett & Jones don’t have much meaning in this regard. The changes in brands are due to changes in costume designers and Daniel Craig’s personal love for Tom Ford, so it says nothing about the character. Tom Ford may be a new brand, unlike the much older Brioni, but neither are what the British upper class traditionally wore. The John Lobb that Craig wore is not from the English John Lobb but a different brand based in Paris and owned by Hermès. His ready-to-wear John Lobb Paris shoes are just as new-money as his Tom Ford suits.

      • He has an anti-elitist streak. He is an officer in the Navy, the most prestigious branch of the British military. An officer is an honorary position for a lifetime, and if you go to the top ranks you have access to the society of the upper classes. The British military academy used to be dominated by aristocrats. Traditionally, there is a certain aristocratic taste. This was reflected in my early work.
        And being an Oxford graduate, Whether he came from an upper class background or not, he was still educated in such an environment, and in a similar position.
        Sean Connery wore shirts made for the upper classes and John Lobb London shoes. He frequented upper class clubs and drank heavily. He was a man who had two sides to him.
        It’s just that what I wrote in sarcasm you took as literal. The point is that Daniel Craig’s film fans are not that thoughtful, so he wears a drastic tight suit from Tom Ford to emphasize the fact that even a child can easily understand.

        In the first place, it was ridiculous when the English gentleman, a traditionalist and staid man, started wearing Italian suits. This is obvious to anyone who knows a bit about suits. The English gentleman who wore a high-class Italian suit, It’s very funny in writing.
        If you look at the origins of Robb in Paris, it was a branch of Robb London that was set up in Paris. The only thing is that Hermes bought it. In the first place, the stiff upper class does not wear ready-made shoes, Crockett Jones and Church’s. The Parisian capital of British luxury men’s shoe shops that make ready-made shoes is also very funny in writing.
        The current costume designers suck, and the suits Daniel Craig wears suck as well. But I don’t blame Tom Ford, and I don’t blame Daniel.
        It’s just that the production team is so blatant that it’s a turn-off.

      • You refer to Bond as an English gentleman; maybe it’s being Welsh, but it’s a it irritating to see the character so described, when he’s meant to be half-Scottish, half-Swiss.

        As for being Oxford educated, apart from Vesper (who follows it with “or somewhere like that”, if I remember well), in YOLT he mentions going to Cambridge.

  10. He is a foolish rebel who is stuck in high society. He has become accustomed to living in that world, but somewhere deep down he thinks it sucks and wants to get out. (Or maybe he feels uncomfortable because of his non-upper-class upbringing.)

    Sean Connery is wearing a Turnbull & Asser shirt and Jermyn Street bespoke shoes, a tailored suit that is not Savile Row.
    Pierce wore an Italian threesome suit and a pair of Churches.
    Daniel switched from an awkward Brioni to a too-tight Tom Ford suit, and from John Lobb to Crockett.
    His rebellion against (Maybe it’s a sign of his reserve) the upper class seems to be embodied by the changing times and the combination of costume designers and sponsors.
    That’s all I have to say.

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