How to Wear Black Tie Like James Bond

Thunderball-Dinner-Suit

James Bond inspires more men to wear black tie—a.k.a. a tuxedo—than any other person, real or fictional. Whether you call it a dinner suit, dinner jacket, evening suit, tuxedo or tux (but please don’t!), 007 sets the ultimate example for how to follow the black tie dress code. Bond usually follows traditional protocol for the black tie dress code, but there is a certain way to follow the protocol if you want to wear black tie like Bond. What follows is a summary of Bond’s usual black tie styles. It doesn’t cover all black tie outfits Bond has worn, but it’s a general guide to how Bond wears black tie. There are a few exceptions to what is written here, but those exceptions are not part of the essential James Bond black tie look.

Dr. No Dinner Suit

Sean Connery wears a midnight blue shawl-collar dinner suit in Dr. No

The Cloth

Bond’s favourite colour for his dinner suit is midnight blue, but he often wears black dinner suits as well. Until recently, midnight blue was rarely found off the rack and signified that one bought his dinner suit from a bespoke English tailor or a high-end Italian maker. The dinner suit (or tuxedo) is a suit, meaning that both the jacket and the trousers match, whether the suit is black or midnight blue. Bond ordinary follows tradition and wears his dinner suits in a pebble-like barathea-weave wool, but sometimes he wears them in a wool and mohair blend that has a slight sheen. The image at the top of this article is of a mohair-blend midnight blue dinner suit that Sean Connery wears in Thunderball.

The silk trimmings—the lapel facings, trouser stripes and button coverings—on Bond’s midnight blue dinner suits are sometimes matching midnight blue and sometimes contrasting in black. On his black dinner suits they, of course, match in black. They are usually in satin silk, but sometimes in grosgrain silk.

Daniel Craig wears a peaked lapel dinner jacket in Casino Royale

Daniel Craig wears a peaked lapel dinner jacket in Casino Royale

The Dinner Jacket

There are dinner jackets and dinner jackets; this is the latter. And I need you looking like a man who belongs at that table.

Vesper Lynd’s advice to James Bond in Casino Royale is sound for any man wearing black tie in any occasion. Bond’s dinner jackets are almost always single-breasted, and they follow tradition with only one button on the front. The jackets may have peaked lapels, notched lapels or a shawl collar. Since notched lapels are less dressy than peaked lapels or the shawl collar, Bond mostly wears notched lapels for private dinners, like for his dinner with M in Goldfinger or his dinner with Kamal Khan in Octopussy. Because black tie these days is more often worn for grander occasions, Bond prefers peaked lapels and shawl collars.

Roger Moore wears a midnight blue double-breasted dinner suit in The Spy Who Loved Me

Roger Moore wears a midnight blue double-breasted dinner suit in The Spy Who Loved Me

Bond wears double-breasted dinner jackets a number of times in the 1970s and 1980s. They usually have six buttons with two to fasten in the most traditional style for double-breasted suit jackets, but in A View to a Kill his double-breasted dinner jacket has four buttons with one to button. The simpler double-breasted style is thought by some to be more appropriate for a dinner jacket, but either style is acceptable.

Bond’s dinner jackets usually have double vents, but they sometime have no vent, which is the most traditional style for a dinner jacket. Double vents, especially when 8 to 10 inches long, are appropriate on a dinner jacket and keep the back draping neatly and elegantly. In Skyfall, Bond makes a mistake by having a sporty single vent on his dinner jacket, which is an error typically found only with American makers.

The hip pockets on Bond’s dinner jackets are straight and jetted without flaps for the cleanest look, and the jettings are done in the same cloth as the jacket’s body, not the silk trimming. The jacket cuffs have three or four buttons. On occasion they have gauntlet—or turnback—cuffs in the silk trimming, like in Dr. No, From Russia with Love and Quantum of Solace. The dinner jacket’s buttons are either covered in the same silk as the lapels or made of horn.

The Trousers

Bond’s dinner suit trousers follow black tie tradition and have a silk stripe down the side. The stripe matches the silk facings on the jacket’s lapels. The front style of Bond’s trousers has varied considerably, from double forward pleats and double reverse pleats to darted fronts and plain fronts. The trouser bottoms are always finished without turn-ups. The trousers are either held up with white silk braces or with side-adjusters on the trousers. The dinner suit trousers are never worn with a belt.

The Waist Covering

Though low-cut waistcoats and cummerbunds are traditional, Bond more often than not breaks black tie protocol and goes without any waist covering. Pierce Brosnan wears low-cut waistcoats in his first two Bond films, and on occasion, like in the most recent two Bond films, Bond wears cummerbunds. In For Your Eyes Only and Octopussy Bond wears trousers with a wide silk waistband that buttons at the side to give the illusion that he is wearing a cummerbund, even though he is not. Though the waistcoat is not a very Bondian part of black tie, the cummerbund is the best way to go if you want to dress like Bond and also wear proper black tie. Though going without any waist covering isn’t ideal, it’s not the biggest sin provided the trousers have a rise long enough so that the white shirt does not show beneath the jacket’s button.

Goldfinger-Dress-Shirt

Sean Connery wears a pleated and striped dress shirt in Goldfinger

The Dress Shirt

The most important part of the shirt is the collar, and Bond always wears a turn-down collar—usually a spread collar—with black tie and never a wing collar. Bond wears three different styles of shirt with black tie: the pleated shirt, the marcella shirt and the textured shirt. The pleated shirt has a bib on the front of half-inch pleats, and it has either mother-of-pearl buttons down the front placket or sometimes a fly placket that covers the buttons. The pleated shirt doesn’t take studs since it’s a soft and relaxed alternative to the dressier marcella shirt. The pleated shirt may have double (French) cuffs or cocktail cuffs.

Pierce Brosnan wears a marcella dress shirt with studs in Tomorrow Never Dies

Pierce Brosnan wears a marcella dress shirt with mother-of-pearl studs in Tomorrow Never Dies

The marcella shirt has a marcella—or piqué—bib on the front, and the front has no raised placket and is fastened with studs due to the stiffer front. Bond’s studs are white mother-of-pearl, not black onyx. The marcella shirt also has not only a marcella bib but also the collar and cuffs—always double cuff—in marcella cotton. Marcella is too stiff for the body and sleeves. The marcella shirt is the dressiest of all black tie shirts.

The textured shirt is made with the same weave all over with no bib in front. The texture may be a white-on-white waffle weave, like in Casino Royale, a white-on-white self stripe, like in Thunderball or an open voile weave for hot weather, like in The Spy Who Loved Me and Octopussy. The shirt may either have a fly placket that covers the buttons or regular mother-of-pearl buttons down the front. Like the pleated shirt, the textured shirt isn’t dressy enough to take studs. It may have double (French) cuffs or cocktail cuffs.

Sometimes Bond combines the textured shirt with the pleated style, like in the pleated self-stripe shirts in Goldfinger and For Your Eyes Only. Bond’s dress shirts are almost always white, and they alway should be white. Roger Moore occasionally wears cream dress shirts, like in The Man with the Golden Gun and Octopussy, but these should be avoided since the elegance of black tie comes from the contrast between the black and white elements.

Daniel Craig wears a diamond bow tie in Quantum of Solace

Daniel Craig wears a diamond-point bow tie in Quantum of Solace

The Bow Tie

Bond’s bow tie is always black and matches the texture of lapel facings, whether the facings are satin or grosgrain. Bond has occasionally made the mistake of not wearing a matching bow tie, and this is not recommended. Sometimes the bow tie is a thistle shape and other times it’s a batwing shape. It usually has straight ends, but sometimes Bond wears a diamond-point bow tie. All of these shapes are valid for the Bond look. The only thing that is a must is a self-tie bow tie. If you can tie your shoes correctly (not a granny knot) you can tie a bow tie. They use the same bow! Bond never wears a pre-tied bow tie or long four-in-hand tie with his dinner suits.

Plain Toe Shoes

Black plain toe shoes are the only choice. Bond’s shoes are usually patent leather, but recently they haven’t been. Bond mostly wears plain toe oxfords—per the British definition with closed lacings, also known as balmorals to the Americans—but Roger Moore wears slip-ons. Though oxfords are preferred, if the slip-ons have a plain toe they are almost like a variation on the traditional opera pump. In Casino Royale, Bond wears black calf plain-toe derby shoes with his dinner suit, which are as appropriate as oxfords but not the worst choice either.

White Dinner Jacket

Sean Connery wears an ivory wool dinner jacket in Goldfinger whilst in Latin America

Warm Weather Black Tie

Though Bond hasn’t worn a white dinner jacket since Roger Moore played the role in A View to a Kill, it’s still a classic style for warm-year-round locales. It’s what you’ll want to wear for black tie occasions in places like The Bahamas, Latin America, Southeast Asia and India. Bond’s white dinner jackets aren’t always white, but they are ivory when made of wool. Bond, however, does wear pure white dinner jackets made of silk or linen. Bond’s white and ivory dinner jackets follow the same styles as the black and midnight blue dinner jackets, except they have self lapels rather than silk-faced lapels. The buttons are also different; they are always white mother-of-pearl except for the beige horn buttons in A View to a Kill. Bond’s white and ivory dinner jackets are worn with black dinner suit trousers as described above, as well as the same shirts and bow ties.

If you’re interested in learning more about how to follow the black tie dress code, read Peter Marshall’s Black Tie Guide, which is the ultimate source for formalwear. You can also leave any questions about wearing black tie like James Bond in the comments below. For more specific examples of James Bond’s and related characters’ black tie outfits, see this blog’s black tie tag.


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Captain Nash’s Grey C-Crown Trilby

From-Russia-with-Love-Grey-C-Crown-Trilby-Hat

James Bond wears a different type of trilby than he ordinarily does during the climax of From Russia with Love with his dark grey pick-and-pick suit. It’s actually not even Bond’s own trilby, but it originally belonged to the British agent from Station Y, Captain Nash (William Hill). When Bond arrives in Zagreb to meet Captain Nash, Red Grant (Robert Shaw) finds him first, kills him, takes his trilby and briefcase and poses as him while wearing a grey and brown striped suit. After Bond kills Grant it becomes his turn to wear the trilby. “Nash” has an escape route, which is in reality just Grant’s escape route, and Bond follows it. Though wearing the hat is not part of the escape route, Bond wears it to loosely disguise himself as Nash. However, the hat is left behind under a rock during the escape after Bond shoots down the helicopter that chases him.

Captain Nash holding the grey trilby

Captain Nash holding the grey trilby

So what makes this trilby so much different than the tribys that Sean Connery’s Bond usually wears? Instead of brown, this trilby is dark grey and has a narrow grey grosgrain ribbon around the base of the crown. Also, Nash’s trilby has a taller crown blocked in the C shape, unlike the centre dent that Bond prefers. The C-crown, also known as the teardrop crown, is the shape where the back of the crown is like a bowl (the C) and the front comes to a point. The centre of a C-crown is also domed, but it;s only slightly domed on Nash’s hat since it was shaped by hand. The front point of the crown necessitates that the front of the hat has a large pinch. Since the back of the crown is wider than the front when blocked with a teardrop shape, the back of the hat is consequently lower. On Nash’s hat the back is much lower than the front. The crown of a trilby can be blocked in many styles, so a hat with the more typical centre dent could be transformed into a hat more like this.

From-Russia-with-Love-Grey-C-Crown-Trilby-Hat-2Like most trilby hats, the British version of the usually-larger-brimmed fedora, Nash’s trilby has a tapered crown and a short brim. The brim is roughly two inches wide, bent down at the front and curled up at the back. It is finished with a raw edge. Inside, Nash’s hat has a tan leather sweatband around the base and a white silk lining. The maker of the trilby is unknown, though Lock is certainly a possibility.

We don’t get to see Nash wearing the trilby, but Grant and Bond wear it differently. Grant wears it back on his head, as if it’s slightly too small on him. Bond, on the other hand, wears the hat more forward and lower in front. Just a guess, but perhaps Nash does not wear the hat because it was only purchased in Bond’s size, which didn’t fit Nash.

Red Grant wearing the grey trilby

Red Grant wearing the grey trilby

Sean Connery’s Unique Shirts in Goldfinger

Goldfinger-Shirt-Collar-Placket

Anthony Sinclair’s release of a Goldfinger-inspired shirt with rounded double cuffs motivated me to take a closer look at the actual shirts that Sean Connery wears in Goldfinger. Terence Young, the director of the first two Bond films Dr. No and From Russia with Love, established the look of Bond’s wardrobe. Goldfinger, however, had a new director, Guy Hamilton, and some of the wardrobe choices were different. Knitted silk ties replaced grenadine ties, the tailored clothes were more country than city since most of them came from Connery’s previous film Woman of Straw, and the shirts were different. Turnbull & Asser most likely did not make the shirts for Goldfinger like they did for all of Sean Connery’s other Bond films. Shirtmaker Frank Foster is a possibility, though Dr. No is Connery’s only Bond film he says he made shirts for.

Click on the photo to enlarge. Notice the faint broken stripe on the cuff.

Click on the photo to enlarge and see the faint broken stripe on the cuff.

Instead of just solid white, light blue and cream shirts like Connery wears in his other Bond films, Connery wears mostly striped shirts in Goldfinger. The dress shirts with both the off-white and black dinner jackets have a fancy white-on-white satin stripe pattern. With his suits, Connery’s shirts are all white with a faint broken grey stripe. The stripe almost disappears in most shots, but it’s visible in close-ups. And yes, the shirt with the famous light grey glen check suit is not solid white. It too has the faint broken stripe. The shirt that Sean Connery wears with his brown hacking jacket has the same broken stripe, but on ecru instead of on white.

The shirts in Goldfinger have a classic English spread collar with approximately a 2 3/4″ point length and 3/8″ of tie space. The spread is around 5″ wide. The collar is made with a stiff sewn interfacing but isn’t worn with collar stays.

Goldfinger-Shirt-Rounded-Double-CuffGoldfinger is Sean Connery’s only Bond film that he does not wear cocktail cuffs in. Instead, he wears double cuffs (French cuffs) throughout the film. The double cuffs on the shirt he wears with his suits and hacking jacket have a rounded corner whilst the double cuffs on the shirts he wears with black tie have a large mitred corner, cut about halfway to the fold of the roughly 2 3/4″ deep cuff. Both the rounded corner and the mitred corner have the benefit of sliding more smoothly though the jacket sleeve than a square double cuff, which can snag on the inside of a jacket sleeve. Different style double cuff corners may possibly indicate different shirtmakers, though the cuffs appear to both be the same size and the link holes are in the same position. The link holes on all the double cuffs are around a 1/4″ off centre towards the fold, making them about 1 1/4″ from the fold. The cuffs are attached to the sleeve with shirring.

Notice the mitred corner on the double cuff

Notice the mitred corner on the double cuff of Sean Connery’s dress shirt in Goldfinger‘s pre-title sequence

The plackets on the shirts in Goldfinger are slightly different than the plackets on the shirts in Connery’s other Bond films. See the image at the top. The placket is a little wider and stitched further from the edge than on the Turnbull & Asser placket. It isn’t identical, however, to the plackets that Roger Moore wears on his Frank Foster shirts in his James Bond films, which are stitched very close to the centre. The placket on the Goldfinger shirts is identical to the placket that Roger Moore wears on his shirts in the two-part episode of The Saint titled “Vendetta for the Saint”, and that shirt was most likely made by Frank Foster.

Goldfinger-Dress-ShirtThere’s more to the Goldfinger shirts than meets the eye. It’s too bad that only the dress shirt with the off-white dinner jacket in the pre-title sequence is the only shirt in the film we see without a jacket or waistcoat over it. The shirt has a much trimmer and cleaner fit through the body and the sleeves than the Turnbull & Asser shirts Sean Connery previously wore in Dr. No and From Russia with Love. Whilst the shirts in From Russia with Love have darts to shape the shirt through the waist, this shirt has a cleaner fit without darts.

The “Legend” Jumper by Slazenger Heritage Gold

Slazenger-Legend-Jumper

Commemorating the 50th anniversary of Goldfinger‘s release on 17 September 1964, Slazenger collaborated with Anthony Sinclair to reissue the Slazenger jumper that Sean Connery wears when playing golf in Goldfinger. The new wine red V-neck jumper revived the original gold panther logo that graces the left breast of Connery’s jumper. However, the new jumper has been updated in a number of ways, so it’s not an exact copy. It is woven in a superfine two-fold Merino wool, whilst Connery’s jumper is likely acrylic—as Slazenger often made and still makes their jumpers—in a chunkier knit. The ribbing on the cuffs and hem is much finer than on Connery’s jumper. The short V-neck opening may be the most noticeable difference on the new jumper, as the V isn’t nearly as deep. David Mason of Anthony Sinclair told me about his decision to update the Slazenger jumper in its reissue:

It’s just not my philosophy to create exact copies. Things must evolve. I often ask myself, “What would Anthony be doing if he was still with us now?”. The Slazenger sweater is a good case in point. The objective was to design a product that is instantly recognisable and clearly related to the original, yet very modern, wearable and totally up to date.

Slazenger-Legend-Jumper-BoxThis is certainly a more wearable jumper today than an exact replica of Connery’s would be. It’s not a baggy jumper like Connery’s is. Even though the fit has been updated to be shorter and cleaner, it still has a classic fit. If you’re undecided on whether to get a certain size, I recommend sizing down if you like your jumpers to fit closely. For instance, my chest measures 38 inches, so I should wear a medium per the sizing guide (38-40). However, I found that a small (35-37) has a cleaner fit on me and is not too tight. The medium would better fit a size 40, which is at the top end of the recommended medium size range.

The jumper comes packaged beautifully in a heavy black cardboard box with a magnetic closure containing a “quality certificate” and a very large descriptive tag about the history of the jumper in Goldfinger and Slazenger Heritage.

Slazenger-Legend-Jumper-Box-2

Anthony Sinclair has also just recently released a white twill double cuff shirt, and the cuffs have rounded corners like on Sean Connery’s shirts in Goldfinger. The shirt comes with either a semi-cutaway or a cutaway collar in either a regular or slim fit. The Anthony Sinclair shirt is “evolved” in its style from the original shirts in Goldfinger that may have been made by Frank Foster. Anthony Sinclair also just released a number of new blue grenadine tie colours, for a total of seven different blue grenadine ties ranging from ice to midnight.

Visit AnthonySinclair.com for more information on the Slazenger jumper and the other new offerings.

The Russia House: Blazer and Duffle Coat

Connery-Russia-House-Blazer

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-Russia-House-Blazer-2Connery’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.

Connery-Russia-House-Duffle-Coat-2Under 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.

Connery-Russia-House-Duffle-CoatOver 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.

Sea Island Cotton

Turnbull-Asser-Shirt-Connery

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.

Comparison: Suit Trousers in the First Two Bond Films

Connery-Trousers

Connery’s suit trousers in Dr. No

Throughout the 1960s, Anthony Sinclair tailored all of Sean Connery’s suit trousers in the same style. They have double forward pleats, the traditional English-style pleats that opens towards the fly. The leg is tapered and has approximately 1 3/4″ turn-ups. The trousers’ waistband has an approximately 2 1/2″ square extension that keeps the front of the waistband straight, and it closes with a hidden clasp so there are no buttons visible on the front. Inside, the trousers are secured with two buttons and a zip fly. The sides of the waistband have button-tab “Daks tops” side adjusters with three buttons—usually made of smoke mother-of-pearl—on each side. The side pockets are on the side seams, and there is one button-through jetted pocket in the rear on the right side.

Connery's updated suit trousers in From Russia with Love

Connery’s updated suit trousers in From Russia with Love

Though all of Sean Connery’s suit trousers in Dr. No, From Russia with Love, Goldfinger, Thunderball and You Only Live Twice are made with the same features, the trousers’ cut was updated after the first Bond film, Dr. No. The change can be seen in the second Bond film, From Russia with Love. The rise in Dr. No is extremely high by today’s standards, and it was even high for 1962. A year later for From Russia with Love, Sinclair lowered the rise slightly to correspond with the new lower button stance on his suit jackets. The rise is still high for today’s fashions, but it doesn’t look quite as old-fashioned. The cut was also trimmed down overall. The deep pleats seen on the Dr. No trousers were made shallower for From Russia with Love, and as a result the trousers fit closer around the hips and thighs. Though this updated fit continued through the 1960s, by You Only Live Twice Connery’s pleated trousers were markedly unfashionable and old-fashioned.

Plastic Buttons

Grey plastic buttons on the three-piece glen check suit in Goldfinger

Grey plastic buttons on the three-piece glen check suit by Anthony Sinclair in Goldfinger

Plastic buttons are currently held to be less desirable than buttons made of natural materials, but when Sean Connery was James Bond in the 1960s they were the standard choice for lounge suits amongst England’s best tailors. Almost all of Sean Connery’s Anthony Sinclair suits in his 1960’s Bond films have thin, plain, glossy plastic buttons, and most of Roger Moore’s Cyril Castle suits and sports coats in Live and Let Die and The Man with the Golden Gun have the same type of buttons. Though it may seem illogical to put inexpensive plastic buttons on bespoke garments, there are reasons to why plastic buttons were used.

Connery-Plastic-Buttons

Dark grey plastic buttons on an Anthony Sinclair dark grey flannel suit in Dr. No. The smooth texture of the buttons does not fit with the fuzzy texture of the flannel cloth.

The uniform look of plastic buttons matches the clean look of worsted suiting, and some people believe that horn buttons look too rustic for a city suit. Plastic buttons also can be made in virtually any colour, so they are typically matched with or used in a slightly darker shade than the suit. In the 1960s and 1970s, synthetics were not so taboo in quality clothes the way that they are now. Tailors may also have liked how plastic buttons were thinner than other choices. Douglas Hayward, who typically used horn buttons, used grey plastic buttons on both Roger Moore’s grey flannel suit in For Your Eyes Only and on his grey tweed jacket in A View to a Kill since horn is not found in a flat medium grey, and he wanted to match the buttons to the suit. These grey plastic buttons, however, have a matte finish like horn instead of the shiny finish buttons that Sinclair and Castle used.

Plastic Buttons on Daniel Craig's suit in Casino Royale

Plastic Buttons on Daniel Craig’s Brioni suit in Casino Royale

Timothy Dalton’s suits in Licence to Kill, not surprisingly, have plastic buttons. Most of Pierce Brosnan’s and Daniel Craig’s Brioni suits—worn in GoldeneEye, Tomorrow Never Dies, The World Is Not Enough, Die Another Day and Casino Royale—also have plastic buttons. Not all plastic buttons are created equal. Brioni’s plastic buttons both look nicer and are more durable than the average plastic buttons. This is not to say they are just as good as natural materials, but the plastic buttons give the makers of Brioni suits the look they want.

Urea buttons on Timothy Dalton's suit in The Living Daylights

Urea buttons on Timothy Dalton’s Benjamin Simon suit in The Living Daylights

Timothy Dalton’s suit buttons in The Living Daylights are another kind of plastic, made from urea. These urea buttons mimic horn but often have a more pronounced grain. Unlike horn buttons, which due to nature can never be identical to each other, the grain of urea buttons will often match each others. If the buttons look like horn but are suspiciously identical, they can’t possibly be authentic horn. The grey buttons on the black-and-white pick-and-pick suit in Skyfall are similar fake horn in urea.