Though James Bond is known for wearing black tie in the evening, most people don’t regularly attend such formal events. Bond sometimes goes out for less formal occasions at night, but what does he wear when he still needs to look his best? He wears a suit, naturally. When wearing a suit socially, such as for a cocktail party, an evening at a night club or a special dinner, one must look like they are dressed for pleasure and not for business. Stripes are usually a bad choice for this reason. Checks are great for social occasions, but they aren’t usually dressy enough for the evening unless the check is very subtle. Bond never wears a three-piece suit for evenings out, though in the right cloth a three-piece suit can be a great choice.
The cloth is what separates a social suit from a business suit. The cut of a suit or how many buttons it has doesn’t matter as much as the cloth. Darks suits, especially in blue, work best. The richer colour looks best under artificial light at night. Greys and browns are duller and don’t look as good at night, but in darker shades they can work well in the evening. Though worsteds are perfectly fine, luxurious cloths with a sheen, like mohair and silk, can also help differentiate a social suit from a business suit. Flannel can be a good choice for a casual evening out, like with the charcoal flannel suit Bond wears to dinner at the Roma camp in From Russia with Love.
The marine blue suit that Bond wears in The Man with the Golden Gun when at a nightclub in Beirut has a sheen that suggests mohair, making it perfect for both warm weather and for the club. Also in The Man with the Golden Gun, Bond wears a charcoal mini-herringbone suit that has a lustrous sheen for a dinner with Goodnight. Charcoal doesn’t isn’t as dressy as blue is in the evening, but with a sheen it’s an appropriate choice.
Though pinstripes aren’t the best choice for the evening, sometimes they work. When meeting Vesper for drinks on the train in Casino Royale, Bond wears a very dark navy suit with subtle grey pinstripes. Because these stripes are hardly noticeable, they don’t give the suit a business-like impression. However, his drinks are in a business setting with a bank liaison, making the pinstripes quite appropriate.
In Quantum of Solace (pictured top), Bond wears the easiest choice for a cocktail party: a midnight blue suit. Though black suits can work well for such an occasion, a midnight blue suit is infinitely more sophisticated. Being mohair tonic separates this suit even further from business suits, and the sheen raises the suit’s formality.
In warm weather, both dark and light suits can work for the evening. In Dr. No, Bond wears a light grey mohair suit at Puss Feller’s nightclub in Jamaica, though Bond donned the suit earlier in the day. The sheen makes it look great at night. In Thunderball, Bond wears a light grey pick-and-pick mohair suit that also works perfectly for a hot evening out at the Junkanoo in the Bahamas. When Bond dresses up for the evening in warm locations and doesn’t wear a suit, he chooses a navy blazer. The navy blazer is the dressiest of sports coats and has many similarities to navy suit jackets. In the context of this article, the dark colour makes the navy blazer look good at night. Bond wears a navy blazer for his date with Miss Taro in Dr. No and at the Junkanoo in Thunderball.
When accessorising, simplicity and contrast are key for these outfits. The elements are usually a dark suit, a light shirt and a solid or subtly patterned tie. The best shirt for the evening is solid white, like what Bond wears to the cocktail party in Quantum of Solace. Light blue can give the ensemble a friendlier look. Striped shirts are okay, so long as there aren’t multiple colours. Ties should be dark, like navy with all of Connery’s evening outfits; vivid, like the burgundy tie Moore wears with the marine blue suit in The Man with the Golden Gun; or lustrous, like Moore’s satin ties. The shinier a tie the dressier it is, and satin ties should be worn exclusively in the evening. Subtle patterns like on Daniel Craig’s ties are also great for the evening.