Afghan Combat

Living-Daylights-Afghan

During the climax of The Living Daylights, James Bond dresses as one of the Mujahideen in Afghanistan whilst fighting as one of them and also to disguise himself. On top he wears a medium brown leather—probably sheepskin—waistcoat, and it has four buttons from the neck down to the waist, where it cuts away. He wears the waistcoat open. Underneath the waistcoat Bond wears a warm grey shirt that has a short point collar that is laid flat. The collar has a band but it doesn’t have a button. However, the top button on the shirt isn’t more than an inch below the collar. The shirt also has an open breast pocket on the left side, a narrow placket and square 1-button cuffs.

Living-Daylights-Harem-PantsBond’s harem-like trousers match the shirt’s warm grey. They aren’t harem trousers to the extreme that M.C. Hammer made popular at the time, but they are very baggy in the thigh, have a somewhat low crotch and are fitted at the ankle. The waistband gathers with a drawstring. Bond wears a black belt around his waist on top of the shirt but underneath the waistcoat to hold his combat gear. To complete the disguise Bond wears a black Afghan turban.

Living-Daylights-Commando-BootsBond’s black leather derby-style combat boots have rubber soles attached with a storm welt. The boots also have a whopping 14 eyelets, and by that I mean 14 on each side! They are all metal eyelets and there are no speed hooks. They are laced in a standard criss-cross method, but combat boots are often laced in other methods, like the “Army Lacing” method mentioned on Ian’s Shoelace Site. The criss-cross lacing that Bond’s boots are laced in isn’t the best choice for him in this situation because he needs to cut the laces open quickly. Straight lacing methods—there are a few different methods listed on Ian’s Shoelace Site—are best for cutting the laces open because the horizontal sections of the lacing can be cut very quickly with a knife. Different militaries may have different ways of lacing shoes, and Bond may be used to lacing his shoes a certain way. With straight lacing, Necros would have died even quicker, making for perhaps a less suspenseful scene. The boots are the only part of this outfit that isn’t costume. With the boots Bond wears tall black socks.

Open-Collar Shirts

TWINE-Open-Collar

For most people today, ties are limited to wearing only for special occasions. A formal shirt—dress shirt to the Americans—is meant to be worn with a tie, but it’s common now to wear them with the collar open. James Bond has worn his collar open as far back as You Only Live Twice and as recently as Skyfall. In You Only Live Twice, Sean Connery folds his collar flat to behave more like a camp collar. Otherwise, Bond lets his collar stand up more naturally.

The two-button collar

Since the formal shirt’s collar is meant to be worn with a tie, it doesn’t always look right when worn open. Wide cutaway collars are too formal to be worn open, but narrow collars open don’t work so well either. Some people will disagree, but I think a middle-of-the-road spread collar is best, which is the type of collar James Bond usually wears open. Small, flimsy collars worn without a tie make an equally flimsy impression. A taller, firmer collar is most effective when worn open. Roger Moore’s 2-button collar in Live and Let Die is a great example of this, as is Daniel Craig’s large Tom Ford collar in Quantum of Solace.

Button-Down-CollarIn A View to a Kill, Roger Moore’s open-collared shirts have a button-down collar, a rather casual style that’s best worn without a tie. The buttons keep the collar points anchored to the shirt, propping up the collar. Hidden button-down collars are a similarly effective option for those who don’t like the look of a button-down collar. Yet another option is magnetic collar stays. Some will say that only a button-down collar, and never a spread or point collar, can be worn without a tie.

Collar-Outside-JumperWhen wearing a jumper it’s often debated whether to wear the shirt collar inside or outside the jumper’s collar. Roger Moore wears his collars outside a V-neck jumper in The Spy Who Loved Me and outside a crew-neck jumper in For Your Eyes Only. Pierce Brosnan does the same with his crew-neck jumper in GoldenEye. Currently it’s more fashionable to wear the collar inside the jumper, like Timothy Dalton does in The Living Daylights. When wearing a jacket, the shirt collar should stay inside the jacket’s collar, not over it like in Moonraker.

Open-Collar-Grey-SuitThe placement of the first button under the collar makes a difference as to how well the collar stands up. A higher first button keeps the collar standing up better. Turnbull & Asser’s first button is 3 inches from the bottom of the collar. Frank Foster’s first button is a mere 1 3/4 inches from bottom of the collar, which considerably helps keep the collar stand up. Roger Moore fastens all buttons under the collar on his Frank Foster button-down shirt in A View to a Kill (see image above), and it shows how high that first button is. However, that top button is ordinarily too high for Moore to keep fastened. When he wears his collar open, he typically also leaves open the first button, if not both the first and second buttons. Timothy Dalton in The Living Daylights, Pierce Brosnan and Daniel Craig also leave the first button open on their shirts.

In Licence to Kill, Timothy Dalton keeps his top button fastened, showing that he’s not as relaxed as Bond usually is with an open collar (see image below). Though dark lounge suits aren’t worn well without a tie, more informal summer suits and sports coats can be worn without a tie more effectively. It’s common to see men dressing in a dark suit and open collar for business these days, and in a professional setting only the collar button should be open. Unbuttoning more isn’t appropriate for men in a professional setting, especially when there’s chest hair present.

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Pleated Trousers

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Sean Connery wearing trousers with double forward pleats

Though pleated trousers may not be currently fashionable, every James Bond except Roger Moore has worn them. There are essentially two different kinds of the pleats, forward pleats and reverse pleats. Forward pleats fold in and reverse pleats fold out. Reverse pleats are the type of pleats that were most popular from the 1980s to the early 2000s. Forward pleats are associated with English style whilst reverse pleats are associated with Italian style. In America the popularity of each style was more evenly split in the 1930s-1950s, and again in the 1980s when pleats became popular again. By the 2000s, most makers switched to reverse pleats with only a handful left making the traditional forward pleats.

Sean-Connery-Forward-Pleats

Sean Connery wearing trousers with double forward pleats

Forward pleats are sometimes called “inverse pleats” or “tuc pleats” (at Paul Stuart), and I recently heard someone call them “straight pleats.” They are even sometimes called “regular pleats” even though they haven’t been the regular pleat style for some time now. Because they are the opposite of what became the standard pleat style, some people incorrectly call them reverse pleats. On forward-pleated trousers, the pattern for the trousers is extended from the crotch and inside of the leg twice the depth of the pleat, usually down to the knee. The added fullness is neatly kept to the inside of the leg. When there is a second pleat, the extra cloth is taken from the outer edge on the hips. Sean Connery wears double-forward-pleated trousers with all of his suits in the 1960s, during a time when pleats were becoming increasingly less popular. But Connery isn’t the only Bond to have worn forward pleats. George Lazenby’s tweed suit trousers have forward pleats, and some of Timothy Dalton’s suits in The Living Daylights have forward pleats.

Daniel Craig wearing trousers double reverse pleats Pierce Brosnan wearing trousers double reverse pleats

Daniel Craig wearing trousers with double reverse pleats

Reverse pleats are the standard pleats today, or at least they were a few years ago before pleats completely went out of fashion. Reverse pleats first appear on Bond in The Living Daylights. Pierce Brosnan’s suit trousers in GoldenEye and Tomorrow Never Dies all have reverse pleats, and the herringbone linen suit trousers in The World is Not Enough have them too. Daniel Craig’s dinner suit trousers in Casino Royale have double reverse pleats, which are the last pleated trousers that Bond wears. The extra cloth for reverse pleats is all taken from the outside of the leg. This gives the trousers a baggier look, which goes well with full-cut jackets. Though Bond’s pleats typically come in pairs, Timothy Dalton wears trousers with triple reverse pleats in Licence to Kill, and Pierce Brosnan wears trousers with triple reverse pleats with his blazer in GoldenEye. Whilst the second pleat on double-pleated trousers helps to keep the main pleat closed, a third pleat on the side only adds extra fullness. That fullness was very popular from the late 1980s to the mid 1990s, but in Dalton’s case it serves no practical purpose. When full-cut trousers were popular during that time, not only were triple-pleated trousers popular but other pleat styles were too. Some trousers had box pleats and inverted box pleats, usually with an additional reverse pleat towards the side.

Dalton-Blue-Suit-Trousers

Timothy Dalton wearing trousers with double reverse pleats

The purpose of pleats is a practical one, both to allow the trousers to expand when seated and to better fit the curves of the hips. The second purpose doesn’t apply to the currently fashionable trousers that sit low on the hips. Forward pleats usually look trimmer than reverse pleats, though reverse pleats are easier to fit ready-to-wear. When forward pleats pull open, the crease no long hangs straight down. When reverse pleats pull open, the front crease is still straight down. Poorly-fitted trousers with reverse pleats thus look better than poorly-fitted trousers with forward pleats. But in my experience, well-fitting trousers with forward pleats are the most flattering. Forward pleats are more slimming because they draw the eye inward instead of outward.

Pierce wearing trousers double reverse pleats

Pierce Brosnan wearing trousers with double reverse pleats

Though trousers pleats are currently out of fashion, there’s no denying the advantages. The common aversion to pleats today is that people associate them with baggy trousers. But when well-fitted, trousers can be trim whilst at the same time having the practical advantage of pleats.

The Briefly-Seen Double-Breasted Dinner Suit

Living-Daylights-Double-Breasted

In the final scene of The Living Daylights we catch a glimpse of a peak lapel dinner suit on Timothy Dalton. Thanks to a Christie’s auction on 17 September 1998, we get to see that the dinner suit is actually double-breasted. Double-breasted suits were quite trendy at the time, especially the four- and six-button models that only fasten at the bottom button. That’s what Pierce Brosnan was wearing on Remington Steele. But Dalton’s dinner jacket has six buttons with the traditional two to button. The dinner jacket has double vents, four buttons on the cuffs and flapped pockets. The pocket flaps are the only inappropriate detail on the dinner jacket (and double vents, if you count those too), but typically the pocket slits are double-jetted and the flaps can be tucked in. The lapels and trouser stripe are trimmed in satin silk. The jacket has a claret-coloured lining.

Living-Daylights-Double-Breasted-2

The trousers are labeled “EIGENTUM, LAMBERT HOFER, WIEN, 1150 WIEN, HACKENGASSE 10″. Lambert Hofer is a clothier and tailor in Vienna that specialises in costume and evening wear. The dinner suit sold at Christie’s for £1,725.

Low-Vamp Slip-Ons

Low-Vamp-Moccasins-2

Ian Fleming specified in Moonraker that Bond wears “well-polished black moccasin shoes.” Timothy Dalton’s black slip-on shoes in Licence to Kill probably started out well-polished but quickly get dirty. Dalton’s shoes have a casual, handsewn moccasin toe, which makes them not the best choice of slip-ons for a suit, but slip-ons traditionally aren’t worn with suits anyway. By the 1980s, slip-ons were an acceptable choice of shoes with a suit, and Dalton’s slip-ons have the characteristic 1980s low vamp. The low vamp shoe allows the dandy to show off his socks, though Dalton chooses to wear unstylish black with his. Blue socks to match his suit would have been a better choice. Though the shoes look a little dated now, they appropriately fit Dalton’s idea of bringing Bond closer to the literary source. With a higher vamp these shoes would be stylish in any era.

Low-Vamp-Moccasins

Which of Bond’s most fashionable suits do you find least attractive?

As suggested by The Suits of James Bond reader “Le Chiffre,” I am giving you the opportunity to vote on which of Bond’s attempts to be sartorially fashionable you find to be least successful. Choose the one you think is most inappropriate for Bond, the one you think is most dated, or the one you just don’t like. Here are your three options:

1977-Brown-Silk-Suit1. The Spy Who Loved Me (1977): A silk suit in a light brown colour commonly associated with the 1970s, with wide lapels, swelled edges and flared trousers. Read more.

1989-Dalton-Suit2. Licence to Kill (1989): An oversized suit with wide shoulders, low notch lapels, a low button stance and triple-reverse-pleat trousers. Read more.

2012-Glen-Urquhart-Suit3. Skyfall (2012): An overly-tight suit that unnecessarily pulls and creases, with narrow lapels, a short jacket length and low-rise skinny trousers. Read more.

Which of Bond's most fashionable suits is the worst?

  • The Spy Who Loved Me (37%, 1,067 Votes)
  • Licence to Kill (35%, 1,015 Votes)
  • Skyfall (28%, 840 Votes)

Total Voters: 2,922

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If there’s another Bond film that you think has worse clothing, please feel free to mention it in the comments below.

The Last 80′s Suit

Dalton-Blue-Suit

For the climax of Licence to Kill, Timothy Dalton dresses in a dark blue suit very contemporary to 1989. The jacket has two buttons with a low button stance and low-gorge, notched lapels, with flapped pockets, three-button cuffs and no vent. In the scene before we see Dalton in the full suit, we see him in just the trousers, which have triple reverse pleats and plain hems. The suit has a very full fit with padded, extended shoulders, and though it’s fashionable for the era it still has a poor fit. Though it’s possible to have a well-fitting, full-cut jacket, the sloppy back on Dalton’s suit is unacceptable.

Dalton-Blue-Suit-2

Dalton wears a white shirt with a small point collar, single-button mitre cuffs, a placket and a breast pocket. It’s a ready-to-wear shirt with a typical baggy fit. Again, the shirt is very typical for American and some Italian makers at the time. He wears a black belt and black low-vamp moccasins. The shoes are straight out of the Ian Fleming novels, and the rest of the outfit would be something the literary Bond would wear in concept—along with a black knitted tie—but not in execution.

Dalton-Blue-Suit-Trousers

The Advantages of Braces

Braces

Navy and green stripe braces with black leather ends, blue barathea braces with white goatskin ends, and printed silk braces with tan leather ends.

Not many people wear braces anymore. Sometimes called suspenders in America, braces are the most secure way to hold up one’s trousers. When wearing braces, your trousers stay at the same height all day long. They never sag, which can happen all too often with a belt or side adjusters. With a three-piece suit they also prevent a bit of shirt from showing underneath the waistcoat, like we see with Sean Connery in his fight scenes. If you’re worried about braces showing, nobody will ever know when you’re wearing a three-piece suit. They will also always be hidden when wearing a double-breasted suit. Another great advantage is that trousers can be worn a bit looser than with a belt, which is especially helpful to people who have health problems caused by too tight trousers. Braces require a higher-than-currently-fashionable trouser rise to work properly. Braces allow trousers to hang elegantly from the waist and can be a bit awkward on low-rise trousers.

Barathea braces are great for year-round wear and wool boxcloth braces are great for winter. Striped grosgrain braces can be worn whenever a regimental striped tie is appropriate, and fancy printed silks are great for almost any occasion. Since braces aren’t meant to be seen, you can really wear any braces you want to. You can pick your braces as you pick your lining, to match or to contrast. But the leather ends, like a belt, should match the shoes. That is unless the ends are white goatskin, which goes with everything. Proper braces button on, not clip on, and are preferably not elastic in the front. Braces do, however, always have elastic in the back. If that elastic wears out—and if the braces are properly cared for the elastic will wear out before the front parts do—it can be replaced.

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Ralph Fiennes in Skyfall wearing navy fleur de lys braces and attached to tabs in the back of his trousers.

Braces and a belt should never be worn together since they are achieving the same goal, so it’s okay to wear your trousers with empty belt loops if you’re wearing braces. It’s better to not have belt loops if you’re wearing braces, but side adjusters are best if you want the option to not wear the trousers with braces. For trousers only worn with braces they can be cut with a “braces back” that is higher than in the front. For a similar effect, cloth tabs can be sewn into the back so the braces attach higher in the back than in the front, but they can be tucked away for when not wearing braces. Ralph Fiennes wears such a style in Skyfall. Buttons for braces are typically found inside the waistband on trousers with belt loops or side adjusters. On trousers just meant for braces the front buttons are often put on the outside for additional comfort.

Daniel-Craig-Braces

Daniel Craig in Casino Royale wearing white silk moiré braces with black tie.

James Bond has worn braces with black tie in four films: The Living Daylights, Licence to Kill, Casino Royale and Skyfall. In Daniel Craig’s Bond films he wears white moiré braces with braided ends, traditional for eveningwear. Timothy Dalton wears white braces as well, but in The Living Daylights we clearly see that they clip on. Clip-on braces don’t attach to the trousers in as many places as button-on braces, meaning the trousers won’t drape as well and won’t be as secure. Clip-on braces can also potentially damage the cloth of the trousers. If Dalton were wearing a cummerbund it would hide the unsightly clips from view when the jacket is open. Some people believe there is a rule that a cummerbund and braces should not be worn together, thinking that it’s the same as wearing a belt and braces. But there is no such rule. Whilst a belt holds up one’s trousers, a cummerbund does not. It’s there to cover the waist, just as an evening waistcoat does. Whilst Bond has only worn white braces with black tie, black is equally acceptable.

Do you ever wear braces?

Dress-Braces

Left to right: White silk moiré braces and ivory silk fleur de lys braces, both for evening wear.