James Bond briefly wears a navy silk dressing gown in Thunderball that he likely found in his large, luxurious room at the Shrublands health clinic. It has a shawl collar, turnback cuffs and a belt around the waist. The dressing gown is clearly sized for the average shorter man, since the sleeves end at the middle of Sean Connery’s forearm, and the length reaches the middle of his thighs. At 6’2″, Connery needs a longer dressing gown than what most men need. Though it’s too short, the gown’s shoulders are also much too large. Dressing gowns are often made as one size to fit all, but they don’t always have to fit poorly. Compare this dressing gown to the much better-fitting example in Goldfinger.
Rik Van Nutter’s Felix Leiter in Thunderball wears a blue and white striped suit made of a thin, puckered cotton cloth called seersucker. The blue and white seersucker suit is an American warm-weather staple and an fitting suit for a CIA agent in the tropics. The stripes on Leiter’s suit are narrower than usual for seersucker, but they aren’t nearly as narrow as the stripes on the related pincord suit are.
Whilst Cec Linder—Van Nutter’s predecessor as Felix Leiter in Goldfinger—dresses all out in the American Ivy League style in a suit with natural shoulders and an undarted front, Van Nutter wears his American classic in an updated cut. His button three suit jacket has straight shoulders, a draped chest and a darted, suppressed waist. The lapels are a classic width and reach halfway from the collar to the edge of the shoulder. The jacket also has flapped hip pockets, double vents and three buttons on the cuffs. The suit’s buttons are made of mother of pearl. The suit trousers have reverse pleats, tapered legs and plain bottoms. The suit is more of a 1950s style than a 1960s style, but Leiter still looks cool and confident in it.
Under the suit Leiter wears a white shirt with a spread collar—another break from the traditional American style—and button cuffs. His black silk knitted tie is tied in a four-in-hand knot. He wears black shoes and a narrow black belt. The black accessories may be unimaginative, but they provide a needed gravitas to his otherwise casual outfit. Leiter carries with him a fedora-style straw Panama hat that has a tall C-crown and a black ribbon. Leiter’s black sunglasses look like they’re by Ray-Ban, but if anyone knows better than I do feel free to comment below.
Emilio Largo, dare I say the best-dressed villain in the Bond series, looks just as smart in casual attire as he does in tailored clothing. Largo’s white camp shirt in Thunderball is likely a linen and cotton blend. It has a camp collar and long sleeves with rounded single-button cuffs. The body has a straight cut with a straight hem and side vents. There are six buttons down the front, including the collar, and the last two buttons are increasingly spaced farther apart going down than front. The collar, cuffs and front edge are stitched 1/4 inch from the edge. There is a crease down the middle of each side of the shirt, which means that Largo stores his shirts folded. Clearly his valet did not iron the shirt before he wore it. Some people like creases in their shirts, but they properly should be ironed out.
Compared to Connery’s camp shirts, Largo’s camp shirt is much longer, more like the length of a dress shirt to be tucked. Perhaps he had it made that way so it could transition from a casual daytime shirt to a dressier evening shirt that he can wear tucked under a blazer. Frank Foster makes his formal shirt hems exactly the same as this shirt’s hem, so there is no reason why this shirt couldn’t be worn both tucked and untucked. And seeing that Frank Foster constructs his shirt hems and vents exactly like this shirt’s hem and vent, this could possibly be one of his shirts.
Pierce Brosnan wears a very similar shirt almost 40 years later in Die Another Day, except his shirt has a pocket and he wears the sleeves rolled up. The lack of a pocket on Largo’s shirt—as well as wearing his sleeves down with the cuffs fastened—makes his look a bit dressier.
Largo’s trousers are charcoal blue linen and are ironed with a sharp crease down the leg. The have a plain hem and most likely a flat front. Though Largo is amongst the more tastefully-dressed Bond villains, his choice of shoes is rather flashy. They’re blue suede derbies with a tassels on the laces and crepe soles. I’m not saying that the shoes aren’t tasteful—they’re actually quite stylish—but they’re unlikely to be an item Bond would wear. Largo’s choice of black socks, on the other hand, is rather unstylish unless he was matching his socks to his eyepatch. Blue-grey socks to match the trousers, though difficult to find, would be the natural colour of socks to wear. Blue or grey socks of any shade would look better than black.
As the weather gets warmer it’s time to look at summer clothes again. In Thunderball, Sean Connery briefly wears a camp shirt in blue and white gingham, a check that is great for summer in any type of shirt. The shirt has a camp collar, an open breast pocket, a straight hem with side vents and shoulder pleats at the back. Other than the colour, the shirt is the same as the pink and white gingham shirt Connery also wears in Thunderball.
The light blue swimming trunks from Jantzen are the same as what Connery wears with the rose-coloured camp shirt earlier in the film. They sit just below the waist and have a short inseam. The trunks have button-down belt loops that hold a built-in black belt.
The always well-tailored Emilio Largo, played by Adolfo Celi, is introduced in Thunderball wearing a charcoal three-piece suit. The suit is probably made of worsted flannel since it has a fuzzy nap but doesn’t look as heavy as the typical flannel. The button three jacket is tailored with very strong, straight shoulders and a clean chest. The narrow lapels gently roll over the top button. The jacket also has jetted pockets, three-button cuffs and no vent. The overall cut as well as the stylistic details are all very characteristic of a continental suit. Since the jacket has little fullness in the chest or flare at the shirt, it doesn’t look like an English suit. And neither the Italian character Largo nor the Italian actor Adolfo Celi would have likely used an English tailor. An Italian tailor would most likely have made this suit.
Little is seen of the waistcoat and trousers. Since the top button of the waistcoat isn’t particularly high, I would guess that the waistcoat has five buttons. The trousers have a tapered leg with turn-ups. They are probably pleated, and I would guess they have reverse pleats since the suit is likely of Italian origin. The Italian tailors almost always make their trousers with reverse pleats.
Largo’s cream shirt has a spread collar and double cuffs. He uses a four-in-hand knot to tie his black tie with white polka dots. His socks and shoes are black.
Over the suit Largo wears a three-quarter-length camelhair coat. The button three coat has notched lapels, swelled edges, turnback cuffs and a single vent. He wears the coat draped over his shoulders as if it were a cape, and I wouldn’t recommend wearing a coat in such a manner since that seems like something only a flamboyant villain would do. He also wears his charcoal trilby like a dandy: tilted and with the brim turned up all the way around. The hat’s crown has a centre dent and a front pinch, and the roughly 2 1/4″ brim has a sewn overwelt. His cream leather gloves take his outerwear yet another step further into flamboyance.
The brown suede shoes that Sean Connery wears with his hacking jacket and cavalry twill trousers in Goldfinger and Thunderball are something people often ask me about. Thy are 2-eyelet derby shoes in what essentially looks like a short chukka. The soles are dark brown rubber. The suede uppers, rubber soles and thicker laces make these more casual—but also more versatile—shoes. They work well with informal country wear like in Bond’s case, but they could just as easily be at home with a pair of jeans. They have a slight edge of formality over chukka boots, which allows them to be dressed up a little more whilst at the same time they can still be relatively casual shoes.
Daniel Craig wears very similar shoes with his grey linen suit in Casino Royale.
In Thunderball, villain Emilio Largo played by Adolfo Celi wears a double-breasted navy blazer that has eight buttons with three to button. It’s a very rare style that recalls naval uniforms more than the standard double-breasted blazer does, and as a blazer it’s most famously associated with Prince Charles. Largo treats this blazer like a dressing gown and dons it without a shirt underneath when he gets out of the water after a dive. The only other things he wears with it are his black diving trousers and a burgundy silk day cravat. It’s not an ordinary way to wear a blazer, but aboard his own ship Largo can wear whatever he pleases. There is one scene, however, that shows him more dressed in his blazer, with a white button-cuff shirt and stone-coloured trousers, along with the day cravat.
The blazer is most likely English-tailored and has an appropriate structured, military cut with its padded shoulders, roped sleeveheads and clean chest. It has double vents, jetted hip pockets and three-button cuffs. The shanked buttons are made of polished brass, without any ornamentation.
One of Sean Connery’s best and most popular warm-weather casual outfits is the one he wears on his visit to Palmyra. The camp shirt is a butcher stripe in blue-grey on white. It has a camp collar, cuffed short sleeves, breast pocket, split yoke and side vents. The hem is slightly curved so the front is a little longer than the back. The shirt has a straight fit through the body, which still looks very good without showing off Connery’s V-shaped torso.
The cream linen trousers have a flat front, narrow leg and plain hems. The hem is shorter than usual with no break, which in this case is so the trousers don’t rub against the foot. Bond’s footwear is brown leather sandals. Though not in brown, sandals were a favourite of the literary Bond. Along with most of the other casual outfits in Thunderball, this one holds up very well today.