In the 1990 film The Russia House, Sean Connery plays Bartholomew “Barley” Scott Blair, the head of a British publishing film turned spy. Though the character is a spy, he’s nothing like James Bond. Connery dresses how an older man in Britain would traditionally dress, and he wears layers to withstand Moscow’s cold weather. Connery’s wardrobe in the film consists of V-neck jumpers, knitted ties, informal outercoats, a navy suit, a checked jacket and a navy blazer.
Connery’s button two navy blazer has natural shoulders that go against the trendy large shoulder of 1990, but slightly wide lapels and the moderately low gorge and button stance reflect the fashions of the time. Though blazers ordinarily have vents in the rear due to their sporty nature, this one reflects the fashions of 1990 and has no vent. Like Connery’s navy blazer in Dr. No, this blazer also has an open patch breast pocket and open patch hip pockets, swelled edges and two buttons on the cuffs. This blazer’s buttons are brass. Bonhams in Knightsbridge auctioned the blazer on 16 June 2009 for £120. The blazer was made for Sean Connery by the costumiers Angels.
Under the blazer, Connery wears a medium grey sleeveless, V-neck jumper, which both keeps Connery warm and makes the outfit more casual. Connery’s dark green corduroy trousers have double forward pleats and are worn with a brown alligator-texture belt. The ecru shirt has a point collar, rounded single-button cuffs, a front placket and rear shoulder pleats. Connery wears a knitted tie with red and navy horizontal stripes, and it’s most likely tied in a half windsor knot. Connery’s shoes are dark brown.
Over the blazer, Connery wears a camel-coloured, heavy woollen duffle coat. The duffle coat is a casual coat characterised by its toggle closure. Connery’s coat has four wooden toggles that fasten with rope, and they go down the front from the collar to the waist. The coat is knee-length without a vent in the rear, but no vent is needed when the coat is free to spread apart in front below the waist. The coat has shoulder patches, two open patch pockets, buttoned straps on the sleeves and a hood. There are straps to button around the neck that connect with elastic around the back of the neck. Connery also keeps warm with an olive wool or cashmere scarf and a brown felt fedora with a centre dent, front pinch and brown ribbon.
Questionable taste is often the sign of a villain. Emile Leopold Locque, played by Michael Gothard in For Your Eyes Only, wears a suit that’s just as suspicious as his octagonal-framed glasses. Locque’s light grey flannel double-breasted suit looks too warm to be comfortable where people alongside him are pleasantly swimming and sunbathing. The suit jacket has four buttons on the front with two to button, and the button stance is low, following the 1980s trend. The shoulders are straight and narrow, and the chest is clean and closely-fitted with a little give over the shoulder blades in back. The most questionable part of the suit is the fishmouth “cran Necker” notch lapels, a style that’s rarely made by tailors outside of France. There is nothing wrong with the lapels themselves, but notch lapels of any kind don’t belong on a double-breasted jacket. Notch lapels on a double-breasted jacket are neither an attractive nor a balanced look, and, combined with the jacket’s narrow shoulders, they give this suit an emasculating look. Double-breasted jackets with notch lapels were trendy in the late 1970s through the mid 1980s. Roger Moore wears a double-breasted blazer with notched lapels two years earlier in Moonraker, and the notch lapels place that blazer amongst the worst of James Bond’s clothing.
Locque’s suit jacket also has the unusual, sporty feature of three patch pockets—two hip and one breast—with safari-jacket-style, buttoned pocket flaps. This is another element that puts this suit into questionable taste. The jacket also has deep double vents and three buttons on the cuffs. Though the style of the jacket is odd and not in the best taste, the jacket fits quite well. The back and sleeves drape cleanly, though the low button stance causes some fit issues in the front. The trousers have slightly flared legs with a lapped seam running down the outside of each leg.
The clothes that Locque wears with the suit, by contrast, are very tasteful. The pale blue shirt has a moderate spread collar, square two-button cuffs and a front placket. The black knitted silk tie, tied in a four-in-hand knot, is the literary James Bond classic and is a good complement to this somewhat sporty suit. Locque’s socks are grey to match the suit, and his shoes are black.
1991’s The Rocketeer is one of the few films to feature Timothy Dalton in well-tailored 20th century clothing. Since the film takes place in 1938, what Dalton wears is more costume rather than clothing. However, not all of the clothing is accurate to the late 1930s. Dalton plays movie star and Nazi villain Neville Sinclair, who wears a muted dark purple dinner jacket that is fitting for his character. Purple is quite an unusual colour for a dinner jacket, but it’s not unusual for a smoking jacket, an ancestor of the dinner jacket. I don’t know if purple dinner jackets were popular in the late 1930s, but purple had seen a rise in popularity a few years before The Rocketeer was made. Jack Nicholson famously wore a purple suit as the joker in Batman two years earlier, and Miami Vice popularised purple and lavender clothes for men. A purple dinner jacket is less formal than the traditional black or midnight blue jacket, which makes it an acceptable—but nevertheless flashy—choice for a night out as Sinclair wears his.
The purple dinner jacket is cut with straight shoulders, roped sleeveheads and a clean chest. The jacket is full-cut, but it still fits well and isn’t a size too large like the jackets in Licence to Kill are. The jacket drapes elegantly without any extra folds of cloth. The wide, dark purple silk peaked lapels elegantly roll down to the jacket’s single button. The buttons are covered in the same dark purple silk that the lapels are faced in. The jacket has no vent, jetted pockets and three buttons on the cuffs. The black trousers have double reverse pleats and the traditional black silk stripe down each leg.
The black brocade waistcoat is one of the least historically-correct parts of this outfit. The waistcoat has five buttons with the bottom left open, peaked lapels and a full collar. A proper evening waistcoat, which is low-cut with three or four buttons, would have been worn at the time rather than a high-buttoning daytime-style waistcoat in a fancy evening cloth. Sinclair’s white-on-white stripe dress shirt has a point collar, double cuffs and a placket with two black onyx studs. His bow tie is black barathea silk in a batwing shape. His shoes are patent leather.
Sinclair also wears a red boutonnière pinned to his lapel. Besides looking unsightly, pinning a boutonnière to a silk lapel can easily damage the facing. Ideally, the boutonnière’s stem should be stuck through the lapel’s buttonhole and held in place by a loop sewn on the back of the lapel. One should only resort to pinning a boutonnière when the lapel has no buttonhole. But there is a buttonhole hiding behind Sinclair’s boutonnière, so he has no excuse for pinning it to his lapel.
The Living Daylights opens with James Bond and two other 00 agents parachuting to a training exercise on Gibraltar. They’re all wearing black skydiving jumpsuits, commando boots and parachute packs on their backs. Bond’s jumpsuit is probably made out of polyester. It has a zip front, a ribbed tall collar and ribbed cuffs. There is a flapped patch pocket on the upper part of each sleeve and a flapped patch pocket on the front of the upper thigh of each leg. The pocket flaps most likely stay closed with velcro. Bond wears the legs of his jumpsuit tucked into his boots.
Under the jumpsuit, Bond wears a black crew-neck T-shirt. The black leather commando boots have a plain toe, closed lacing and metal reinforced eyelets. Bond and the other 00 agents skydive with a black helmet and goggles.
Sean Connery wears a pale blue Turnbull & Asser shirt in From Russia with Love that is probably made of Sea Island cotton.
James Bond has a long history of wearing Sea Island cotton. Ian Fleming wrote in his novels that Bond wears a “dark blue Sea Island cotton shirt” in Moonraker, “dark blue Sea Island cotton shirts with collars attached and short sleeves” in Diamonds Are Forever, a “white sea-island cotton shirt” in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service and “sea island cotton underpants” in The Man with the Golden Gun. Sean Connery’s Turnbull & Asser shirts were likely made of Sea Island cotton poplin, and some of Pierce Brosnan’s Turnbull & Asser shirts auctioned with his suits at Bonhams were made of “Sea Island Cotton Quality” royal oxford.
Sea Island cotton is an extra-long staple cotton, and due to the fibre’s fine diameter and long length it has a silky look and feel. Sea Island cotton is also a very strong fibre, which is what allows it to be made into finer shirtings. It is typically spun in a 140 yarn count. Originally it was grown on the Sea Islands of South Carolina and Georgia in the United States, but now it is grown in the British West Indies. Turnbull & Asser has not sold genuine Sea Island cotton shirts for some time and now sells “Sea Island Quality”, which is extra-long staple cotton grown in Egypt. Turnbull & Asser’s”Sea Island Quality” shirts are at the top of their ready-to-wear range.
Though Sea Island cotton is both durable and has the silkiest feel of all cottons, there are downsides. It doesn’t have much body, and in a poplin weave it can be somewhat translucent in white. Because Sea Island cotton is so fine, it is very difficult to iron and wrinkles easily. Underpants, like what Bond wears in The Man with the Golden Gun novel, may be the best usage for Sea Island cotton since they touch one of the most sensitive parts of the body, and it doesn’t matter if they wrinkle.
Though Ian Fleming never included the pea coat as part of James Bond’s wardrobe in his novels, Fleming himself wore a pea coat as a Royal Navy officer during the Second World War. This pea coat was sold at Bonham’s on New Bond Street in London on 22 November 2011 for £13,750. The dark navy double-breasted coat has eight buttons with four to button. It has single-button cuffs, and the shawl collar and vertical outside front pocket welts are trimmed in a ribbed knit stretch fabric. The buttons are made of black horn, and the lining is scarlet.
According to the auction listing, Commander Fleming wore this pea coat during the Dieppe Raid of 1942 whilst he was serving in the Naval Intelligence Division. The coat was later given to Ivar Bryce, a friend of Fleming’s since his school days at Eton. Bryce’s middle name was Felix, and Fleming gave his name to Bond’s ally and best friend CIA agent Felix Leiter. The pea coat was shown at For Your Eyes Only: Ian Fleming and James Bond Exhibition, which celebrated the centenary of Ian Fleming’s birth, at Imperial War Museum London from April 2008 to March 2009. You can see more about the pea coat at the auction listing on Bonham’s website.
It wasn’t until the film Casino Royale that the film Bond wears a pea coat. Later, the film Bond wears another pea coat in Skyfall. Though the pea coat doesn’t have any earlier history with Bond in the films or the books, it’s quite an appropriate casual coat for a former naval officer, and Fleming himself wore one.
James Bond’s wardrobe in Octopussy is full of disguises, from the Colonel Toro uniform to the “Octopussy’s Circus” jacket to the gorilla suit to the clown suit. The disguise he spends the most time wearing in Octopussy is the outfit he takes from knife-throwing assassin Mischka (played by David Meyer) after he kills him. Like the clown suit, the outfit Bond takes from Mischka is also a circus costume. It would be quite a silly-looking outfit if it weren’t for the circus, but it’s tame compared to the clown suit.
The main piece of the outfit is a crimson red polyester or nylon tunic that is long enough to almost cover the bum. It has a high collar that closes at the left side, and there is a roughly 9-inch placket that extends down the front of the shirt from the collar fastening to allow a head to fit through the collar. The sleeves are full cut, and the square single-button cuff is attached to the sleeve with shirring. A wide black belt with two rows of flat brass studs and a large two-prong brass buckle worn over the tunic around it gives shape to the outfit.
Over the tunic, Bond wears an open black leather waistcoat that Mischka used to keep his knives. The open design provides easy access to the knives. Below the tunic, Bond wears his own navy straight-leg suit trousers from earlier rather than Mischka’s tighter black trousers worn inside tall black boots. Bond wears his own black slip-on shoes, though the stuntman who plays Bond on top of the train wears black side-zip boots.
The 1960s was an adventurous time for men’s tailoring. Though Sean Connery’s James Bond wears some of the most conservative suits of the decade, Roger Moore’s suits in The Saint and Patrick Macnee’s suits in The Avengers show more creative tailoring. Most American tailors weren’t quite as audacious as some of the English tailors, but Don Adam’s tailor for Get Smart showed a lot of inventiveness. Adams played Maxwell Smart, an incompetent secret agent whose clothes were far more sophisticated than his manner. In the first episode of Get Smart’s second season “Anatomy of a Lover”, Adams wears a unique navy three-piece suit with a narrow-spaced pinstripe. Not uncommon for 1966, the jacket has only one button on the front. It is tailored with straight shoulders, roped sleeveheads, a draped chest and no vent. The jacket has a short length, which both follows the 1960s trends and makes the 5’9″ Adams look taller by extending the perceived length of his legs. The jacket is detailed with jetted pockets and single-button cuffs to match the single button on the front of the jacket. The jacket has a royal blue lining.
The lapels and collar is where this jacket strays from convention. Though the jacket has the narrow lapels that were typical of the era, the lapels are peaked rather than notched. Today it’s not uncommon to find narrow peaked lapels on single-breasted jackets, but it wasn’t a popular trend of the 1960s. But there’s more that makes this jacket truly unique. The pinstripes on the lapels and collar interestingly follow the direction of the stripes on the front of the jacket. Ordinarily the stripes on the lapels follow the angle of the lapels and the stripes on collar follow the direction of the stripes on the back of the jacket. The stripes on the collar and lapel are superbly matched, which is made easier by the stripes’ narrow spacing.
The suit’s waistcoat has five buttons, two pockets and a straight bottom. The back of the waistcoat is made in a royal blue lining, but the inside of the waistcoat is lined in white. The suit’s trousers have a darted front and frogmouth pockets. The wide waistband extends across the front and is split in the rear to better contour to the back. The trousers are supported by navy boxcloth braces with black leather ends. Boxcloth is a heavy felt-like woollen that makes for very warm braces. Unlike on other braces, the excess length hangs down in front rather than being taken up underneath out of sight.
Adam’s pink pinpoint oxford shirt has a pinned collar and double cuffs. The pinned collar is made with eyelets for a pin to pass through, and the pin has a knob that unscrews on one end to pass through the holes in the collar. Though the collar is small, it is in proportion with both the jacket’s narrow lapels and the size of Adams’ head. The black tie has pink dots that match the shirt, and it is tied in a four-in-hand knot. Adams tucks his tie into his trousers so it doesn’t extend below the bottom of the waistcoat. A puffed red silk handkerchief in his breast pocket loosely coordinates with the lighter pink shirt. Adams’ shoes are black slip-ons and his socks are navy to match his trousers.
Though Ron Postal is credited as the costume designer in many episodes throughout the series, his names is not mentioned in this episode’s credits. It is still possible that he was involved in creating this outfit since nobody else is credited for the clothes. Between the peaked lapels, unique stripe direction on the lapels and collar, pink shirt with a pinned collar and boxcloth braces, Maxwell Smart sports quite the dandified look, and he is certainly not a secret agent who blends in to the crowd.