What Kind of Underwear Would Bond Wear?


Sea island cotton boxer shorts from Turnbull & Asser, likely what Ian Fleming had in mind for James Bond, and maybe what he wore himself

We see James Bond in swimming trunks, pyjamas and dressing gowns, but we never see James Bond in his underwear in the films. There’s a slight peak of it in Casino Royale, but we can’t tell what kind it is. Bond most likely has varied his underwear styles throughout the decades. Ian Fleming specified “nylon underclothes” in the novel Diamonds Are Forever, which have great drying properties. In The Man with the Golden Gun novel, Fleming wrote about a different, more luxurious type of underwear:

Bond then took off his clothes, put his gun and holster under a pillow, rang for the valet, and had his suit taken away to be pressed. By the time he had taken a hot shower followed by an ice-cold one and pulled on a fresh pair of sea island cotton underpants, the bourbon had arrived.”

The “sea island cotton underpants” are undoubtedly referring to the woven boxer short style, since old-fashioned men in Britain at the time wore little else. The cotton material would be similar or identical to Bond’s sea island cotton shirts that Fleming specified. Some shirtmakers make boxer shorts to match their customers’ shirts. Sean Connery and Roger Moore most likely also wear woven boxer shorts as Bond, considering that was traditionally what men wore in Britain. Roger Moore can be seen in cotton boxer shorts in the 1969 film Crossplot, which took its wardrobe from Moore’s television show The Saint. Connery’s and Moore’s trousers have enough fullness in the thighs to accommodate boxer shorts.

Sean Connery wearing cream boxer shorts and a white vest in Never Say Never Again

Sean Connery wearing cream boxer shorts and a white vest in Never Say Never Again

In the unofficial James Bond film Never Say Never Again, Sean Connery wears cream boxer shorts with a white vest (also known as an A-shirt). Bond had just discarded his dinner suit to escape on a bicycle, so he must have been wearing these clothes under his dinner suit. The British ordinarily aren’t fond of undershirts, and Bond almost never wears them. To blend in as an American in Fleming’s novel Live and Let Die, Bond wears “nylon vests and pants (called T-shirts and shorts)”. However, the “nylon underclothes” that Fleming writes about in Diamonds Are Forever may also include vests.

Sunspel Stretch Trunk

Stretch trunk underwear from Sunspel

Underwear is a very personal garment and there’s no way we can guess the different styles of underwear that Bond has worn throughout the series apart from following what the trends were at any given time. Trends in underwear sometimes followed trends in trousers. Boxer shorts were very popular in the 1980s and 1990s when full-cut trousers were popular. However, in a 1985 episodes of Remington Steele titled “Forged Steele”, Pierce Brosnan wears white knitted cotton briefs.


The James Bond Dossier announced last month that Sunpel, who made some of Daniel Craig’s polos and t-shirts for Casino Royale, has provided their stretch cotton brief and their stretch cotton low waist trunk (a short boxer brief) for Daniel Craig to wear in Spectre. This underwear is made of a 92% cotton and 8% elastane blend so it has more stretch than a pure cotton knit. Neither the brief nor the trunk has a front opening. Briefs and trunks are necessary for Daniel Craig since loose boxer shorts would bunch up under his tight trouser legs and prevent the trousers from hanging smoothly over the thighs.

What kind of underwear do you think Bond would wear?

Stretch brief underwear from Sunspel

Stretch brief underwear from Sunspel

1980s White Swimming Trunks


In Never Say Never Again, Sean Connery shows off a better body than he had when he had left the James Bond series in Diamonds Are Forever. For his final scene as James Bond, Connery wears a pair of white swimming trunks. They have red stripes down the sides that curve into the hem and form a vent. Between the red and white sections is a thin line of black piping. The swimming trunks sit about three inches below the waist and have a short inseam of approximately 3 inches.


These swimming trunks have a similar fit to what Sean Connery wears 18 years earlier in Thunderball, but the style has been updated. They are a little looser around the hips, and the material looks lighter. These swimming trunks resemble the athletic shorts that were popular in the 1980s. Instead of a belt, these trunks have an elasticised waist and maybe a drawstring.

In trying to find out who sold these swimming trunks, I’ve discovered that many brands at the time made very similar trunks. Some of these brands include Balboa, Jantzen (who made Sean Connery’s swimming trunks in Thunderball), Islander, Laguna and Styled in California. Most of these brands make their trunks with a flapped patch pocket on the right side, with Jantzen being the exception. Since these swimming trunks do not have a side pocket, Jantzen possibly the maker of these trunks. That would be a welcome throwback to Thunderball, the film that Never Say Never Again remade.


Never Say Never Again: The Ash Grey Tracksuit


After looking at Roger Moore’s velour tracksuit in A View to a Kill, let us compare it to Sean Connery’s tracksuit from two years earlier in Never Say Never Again. Connery’s tracksuit is made in the classic ash grey heavy cotton jersey as opposed to Moore’s fashionable midnight blue. Unlike Moore, Connery wears his tracksuit for its intended athletic use, and he wears it at a health clinic, no less. The tracksuit jacket has a red zip, red ribbed elastic at the hem and at the sleeve openings, and red piping down the side of the sleeves and on the side openings of the front patch pockets. The jacket also has a hood, which closes with a red drawstring.


The tracksuit bottoms have red piping down the side seams and at the pockets, and they have red ribbed elastic at the leg openings. The elastic waist has a red drawstring that Connery keeps tucked in. Under the tracksuit, Connery wears a white poloneck in cotton jersey, and the outline of his vest (A-shirt) can be seen through it. Wearing just an A-shirt under a tracksuit is more typical, but Bond shows a little modesty here. He also wears the perfect complement to the classic ash grey tracksuit: white athletic socks and white trainers.


Connery also wears the tracksuit bottoms with an ash grey jersey over a black mock polo neck for working out.

Never Say Never Again: The Chambray Shirt


In Never Say Never Again, Sean Connery wears a warm weather shirt staple: the chambray shirt. Chambray is a plain woven cotton cloth with a coloured warp and white filling yarns. It looks a little like denim and a little like pinpoint oxford, but it’s a light, sporty cloth for spring and summer shirts.



Like the standard chambray shirt, Connery’s is blue, and its two breast pockets would make this a sports shirt if it weren’t already part of a uniform. It’s a United States Navy issued shirt with a patch on the upper left sleeve to denote rank, though without the patch it would be no different than a civilian’s chambray shirt. The shirt has button-through breast pockets, a soft point collar, a front placket and long sleeves with single-button, rounded barrel cuffs. The stitching is white, which matches the white threads in the cloth but contrasts with the shirt overall for a more casual look. He wears a tan military web belt to hold up his dark trousers, which are either black or navy.


Never Say Never Again: Business Casual?


In Never Say Never Again, Sean Connery wears an odd choice of clothing aboard the Flying Saucer. A sky blue shirt with black trousers is more like the standard uniform today for a casual office than it is a stylish yachting outfit. The sky blue shirt from Turnbull & Asser has a spread collar, button-down cocktail cuffs, shoulder pleats and a front placket. The black trousers—probably made of tropical wool—have a flat front, slanted side pockets and plain hems. Connery wears a black shoes and a black belt with a brass buckle. With the exception of button-down cocktail cuffs, this boring outfit would fit in without notice at almost any business casual job. For a yacht, cream gabardine trousers and brown shoes would have been a more fitting choice, like we saw from the cream suit from earlier in the film.


Does anyone recognise where the belt comes from?

Never Say Never Again: Classic Connery Returns


In a brief scene from Never Say Never Again, Sean Connery wears a similar outfit to what he wore back in the Bond films. The light warm grey semi-solid suit is similar to the light grey suits he wore in Dr. No, Thunderball and Diamonds Are Forever. His suit is the same cut as the other suits in the film: a button two jacket with natural shoulders and a clean chest. It has 3-button cuffs, flapped pockets and double vents. The trousers have a flat front. It’s a timeless suit and very flattering on Sean Connery.


The shirt is a very light grey with a spread collar, front placket and button-down cocktail cuffs. The tie is a twist on a Connery Bond classic. It’s a grenadine, but it’s the first time Connery wears one in medium grey. However, just two years earlier, Roger Moore wore a medium grey grenadine tie in For Your Eyes Only. Connery ties his in a Windsor knot. His tie looks a little short, but it also looks like his trousers have sagged down a little. He wears his trousers with a dark grey belt that has a brass buckle.

Never Say Never Again: V-Neck and Polo


In Never Say Never Again, Sean Connery briefly wears a mid-grey merino wool V-neck jumper over a polo shirt. The polo is a yellow and light blue horizontal stripe, with a ribbed light blue collar. Connery wears it with two buttons open and the collar outside the jumper’s. We don’t see the trousers worn with this outfit, but the khaki jeans he wears in the following scene may have also been worn here. The summer colours on the polo are fitting for the Mediterranean, though not as Bond-like as the blue polo in the original film, Thunderball. When on a boat, dressing in layers is always helpful since the jumper can be removed if the weather gets too warm.


Turnbull & Asser Shirt Patterns

Turnbull & Asser Jermyn Street

Turnbull & Asser’s main shop at 71-72 Jermyn Street

Whilst visiting Turnbull & Asser in July, employee Steven Quin brought some James Bond shirt patterns out of the archive to show me. Though they didn’t have Daniel Craig’s pattern on hand, they had two other Bond actors’ patterns.

Pierce Brosnan Shirt Pattern

Pierce Brosnan’s Pattern

Above is Pierce Brosnan’s pattern, showing the body and various collars. Though not shown in the picture, also included in Brosnan’s pattern envelope was a cocktail cuff pattern, in the same style as Connery’s cocktail cuff. They said Brosnan had a cocktail cuff shirt made for his personal wardrobe, though he didn’t wear one in any of his Bond films. Most of his shirts in the Bond films had Turnbull & Asser’s standard double cuffs

Sean Connery Shirt Pattern

Sean Connery’s Pattern

Though Turnbull & Asser no longer has Sean Connery’s pattern from the 1960s, they were able to show me his pattern from 1982, which would have been made for Never Say Never Again. Above you can see the button-down cocktail cuff pattern on the bottom right. Above the cuff are a collar band and two different collar patterns, the lower one being very similar to the Classic Turnbull & Asser collar. The upper collar was the one used mostly in the film, though the lower one may have been used as well.

And pictured below, in a corner at the bespoke shop, is a James Bond wall featuring three of the Bond ties that can still be purchased. Beneath the ties are two signed photos.

Turnbull & Asser Bond Ties