Baggy All-Blue Casual Wear


Timothy Dalton is partially responsible for this all-blue outfit in Licence to Kill. In a 1989 interview with Garth Pearce, Timothy Dalton said he didn’t want to wear the pastel colours that costume designer Jodie Tillen wanted to dress him in. Dalton said, “The clothes say so much about Bond. He’s got a naval background, so he needs a strong, simple colour like dark blue.” That’s what this outfit is: three different dark blues. However, someone with a naval background would likely prefer trimmer-fitting clothes and not excessive bagginess.


Throughout Licence to Kill, Bond combines his casual wardrobe items in different ways, giving a certain realism to part of the wardrobe. Bond does not often mix and match different wardrobe items unless they are basics like navy grenadine ties, solid-colour formal shirts or shoes. When Bond meets Pam Bouvier at the Bimini Barrelhead Bar, he is wearing the same navy shirt-jacket he wears at the Hemingway House earlier in the film with the purpose to conceal his Walther PPK. The shirt-jacket is probably made of a synthetic material and is too large, most notably in the shoulders, as was the trend in the late 1980s. The shirt-jacket has a four buttons down front, has pockets on both sides and is constructed with a yoke in the back of the shoulders like a shirt. The cuffs are single-button shirt-type cuffs with a large button, and the sleeve is gathered into pleats at the cuff. Bond wears the jacket open and the collar up.


Under the shirt-jacket Bond wears a french blue shirt with a short spread collar and two breast pockets. The placket is folded to the inside rather than the outside so that only a row of stitching is visible to the right of the buttons. This gives the front a neater look than a placket does but still has the extra support a placket provides. The collar and placket are stitched on the edges. Bond’s trousers are faded dark blue cotton and slightly lighter than the shirt-jacket. They have triple reverse pleats, slanted side pockets and two rear pockets. The trousers are the same blue trousers that Bond wears when he arrives in Isthmus City. Bond wears a black belt and black slip-on shoes with his blue outfit.


Shirt Pockets


Pockets are a common feature on shirts, but what shirts should have pockets? A true dress shirt—a shirt for black tie, white tie or morning dress—should never have a pocket, but on the other hand, pockets are always appropriate on sports shirts and work shirts. What about formal shirts (called dress shirts in the US) with pockets? Pockets generally make a shirt less dressy, so should the shirts you wear with your suits and sports coats have pockets? Most formal shirts in the US have a left breast pocket whilst most formal shirts in the UK do not. Formal shirts in the UK are typically dressier than their American counterparts in many other ways: poplin versus pinpoint, double cuffs versus button cuffs, spread and cutaway collars versus point and button-down collars. In the UK, a shirt with double cuffs never has a pocket, though some makers put pockets on their button-cuff shirts.

An unsightly pocket peaking out from under Timothy Dalton's suit in Licence to Kill

An unsightly pocket peaking out from under Timothy Dalton’s suit jacket in Licence to Kill

James Bond almost never wears pockets on his formal shirts, with the exception being two of the worst shirts Bond has ever worn in Licence to Kill. These shirts have the standard single American oversized, open patch pocket with a pointed bottom. Since the film was made in Mexico and Florida, the shirts were more than likely sourced in America. Most Americans are used to pockets on all formal shirts, so much that I witnessed a man returning a shirt he thought was defective because it did not have a pocket. If a man is wearing a suit or a jacket, the pockets in the jacket are there to be used. If a man is not wearing a suit or jacket, a sports shirt is usually appropriate. Formal shirts with pockets are most useful for the man who does not wear a jacket in the office, though there are more elegant ways to carry things away from one’s desk. Unlike a structured jacket, a shirt has no support for anything in the pocket. Anything heavier than a couple pieces of paper in a shirt pocket ruins the lines of the shirt.


A single pocket on Roger Moore’s Frank Foster sport shirt in For Your Eyes Only

Pockets are at home on sport shirts, and James Bond has worn many sports shirts with pockets. Sean Connery’s many short-sleeve camp shirts in Thunderball and You Only Live Twice, Pierce Brosnan’s two camp shirts in Die Another Day and Daniel Craig’s floral shirt in Casino Royale all have on the left side of the chest a small open breast pocket with rounded bottom corners. Roger Moore’s short-sleeve shirts in For Your Eyes Only made by Frank Foster similarly have open patch pockets on the left, but his have mitred bottom corners. These pockets are all correctly sized to the proportions of the body and drape neatly on the chest. Roger Moore also wears a blue long-sleeve Frank Foster sports shirt (auctioned at Prop Store) under his gilet in For Your Eyes Only that has a mitred patch pocket that matches the mitred shirt cuffs. In Casino Royale and Quantum of Solace, Daniel Craig’s polo shirts each have a small patch pocket on the left.

A pocket on Daniel Craig's Sunspel polo in Casino Royale

A pocket on Daniel Craig’s Sunspel polo in Casino Royale

The sportiest of sports shirts—as well as work shirts and military shirts—have a patch pocket on both sides with a flap and button, and often a box pleat. Many of Bond shirts have this pocket style, like the terrycloth shirt in Diamonds Are Forever, a number of the shirts in Licence to Kill and the printed shirt in Skyfall (pictured top) have two breast pockets.

Oversized Blue T-Shirt


Like all of Timothy Dalton’s clothes in Licence to Kill, his royal blue t-shirt is a size too large. Or if judged by current fashions, Dalton’s shirt is two sizes too large. Even though baggy clothes were fashionable in 1989 when Licence to Kill was made, nobody else is wearing such large shirts. This is mostly likely a shirt that Bond found rather than bought, unless the store where Bond shopped was sold out of his size. The shirt looks even worse when it’s wet, and the large size makes it even more cumbersome for swimming in than a t-shirt ordinarily would be. The shirt has a large crew neck, an open patch breast pocket and sleeves down to his elbows. Dalton wears full-cut dark blue jeans, which one of the rare occasions Bond wears jeans. He doesn’t wear shoes or a belt.


In this scene Bond is likely attempting to dress like what the henchmen aboard the Wavekrest wear without having their actual clothes to wear. Bond’s shirt is a little darker and it doesn’t have the Wavekrest emblem on the left side of the chest that the henchmen’s shirts have. Bond’s jeans are a little darker than the security guard’s jeans and have a fuller cut compared to the henchmen’s bell-bottom trousers.

Milton Krest's henchmen

Milton Krest’s henchmen


Low-Vamp Slip-Ons


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.


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 (29%, 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 1980s Suit: Navy Pick-and-Pick


For the climax of Licence to Kill, Timothy Dalton dresses in a dark blue pick-and-pick suit very contemporary to 1989. Though it may not look expensive, the suit is from Florentine fashion designer Stefano Ricci. The jacket has two buttons with a low button stance and low-gorge, slightly wide 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 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.


The Advantages of 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.


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 in Casino Royale wearing white silk moiré braces  with gilt brass fittings 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.

James Bond also wears braces with his naval uniform trousers in You Only Live Twice, though the braces cannot be seen under his double-breasted jacket.

Do you ever wear braces?


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

Morning Dress Mistake

For Felix Leiter’s wedding in Licence to Kill, the wedding party wears morning dress. Presumably Felix rented the morning dress because it follows few conventions of morning dress; something better should be expected of Bond. After all, Bond wore an excellent example of morning dress in A View to a Kill only four years earlier. This morning coat is better cut than the suits in the film and isn’t a relic of the 1980’s. However, there are a few problems with fit: the collar stands away from the neck and the back just looks sloppy overall. It is properly cut with a 1-button front that cuts away to the tails in the back. It includes a waist seam, proper of body coats. Other details include peak lapels, a breast pocket—which not all morning coats have—and 3-button cuffs. The buttons are grey plastic. However, there is one big problem with this morning coat: the colour. A morning coat that is part of a suit can be mid to light grey like Roger Moore’s morning suit is. But when it’s part of the more traditional and more formal morning dress, it should only be black or dark grey. The mid grey of Dalton’s morning coat isn’t formal enough to match the formality of the rest of the outfit. The choice of a mid grey coat may have to do with the hot weather of Key West, but in that case a morning suit would have been a better choice.

The trousers are in the traditional striped pattern in black and grey. The not so traditional part comes in the double reverse-pleat cut. Early morning wear always had flat-front trousers, as that was the style at the time. In the early 20th century when men started wearing pleated trousers, the trousers had forward pleats, and that still remains the standard in English tailoring. Reverse pleats are more relaxed than forward pleats and are not as traditional on morning wear. The dove grey waistcoat has a 5-button front, with all buttons fastened, and the shanked buttons are stainless steel. The waistcoat has two single-jetted pockets.

The shirt and dress cravat are even less traditional. The shirt has an attached wing collar, a fine-pleated bib and double cuffs. More appropriate since the 20th century is a spread or cutaway collar, though a wing collar is still acceptable. The collar should be detachable, especially a wing collar. With a turn-down collar the tie should be a four-in-hand, though the dress cravat is standard with a wing collar. Bond’s dress cravat has grey, black and white stripes. The problem with Bond’s cravat is that it is a clip-on (with a clasp in plain sight in the back) and not self-tied. Bond’s shoes are black cap-toe lace-ups. The outfit is completed with a light grey top hat and white carnation worn in the left lapel buttonhole.