Silver Screen Revisited: James Bond (Goldfinger, 1964)

When trying to put together a list of the best-dressed movie characters of all time, there is one that really stands out. He has been a hero to so many for generations and has graced our screens for over 50 years. We are speaking, of course, of none other than Commander James Bond.

If you are concerned that you don’t quite have time to read a rundown of all of Bond’s outfits, let us reassure you that we will be focusing on only one film in today’s article, namely 1964’s Goldfinger. Many die-hard fans believe this to be the basis for the classic Bond formula, which serves as a yard-stick to all later iterations.

Bond’s wardrobe

To gain a fuller understanding of Bond’s wardrobe, you have to understand that it is an extension of his character. It says more about him than any number of martinis and sports cars ever could. His clothing signals Bond as a civilised British secret agent. It melds timeless design with functionality. Take this quote from the first Bond tailor, Anthony Sinclair: “With any well-made suit, you should be ready to roll it, to crush it, to stand on it or to sleep on it and it still falls back into its correct shape.” This is the ethos he had when tailoring Bond’s suits and that is why Bond’s attire looks truly authentic in every situation.

Bond, James Bond.

That white dinner jacket

The now-iconic intro already gives the audience a taste of things to come. Bond completes his mission in a very practical diving suit, before whisking it off and revealing the white dinner jacket that he was wearing under it all along. What else would Bond wear on a secret mission?! Since its first tongue-in-cheek appearance, this garment has been referenced numerous times in later Bond iterations. Can you imagine anything more elegant and fittingly Bondish than lighting a cigarette in a white dinner jacket while all of the guests are panicked by a near-by explosion?

That grey three-piece suit

Similarly, Bond’s three-piece suit – in a very subtle light grey Glen check- has become an icon in the menswear world. Our first glimpse of this beauty is when Bond steps off Auric Goldfinger’s (one of the truly great Bond villains. His plan is actually coherent!) plane in the United States. The fact that Frank William Abagnale commissions a direct copy of the suit in the 2003 classic Catch Me if You Can goes some way to demonstrating the kind of impact this suit has had on our understanding of elegance every since.

Grey Three-Piece.

The casual clothes

When in a more casual mood (when tracking Goldfinger using a tracking sensor hidden in the heel of his shoe and driving his Aston Martin DB5, for example), Bond is seen wearing a brown tweed jacket, a pair of Cavalry Twill trousers, and a brown knit tie.

What would Connery’s Bond wear today?

Connery’s Bond is very British and has more classic tastes. However, the idea that a secret agent should dress unobtrusively is rejected by the man who cannot seem to stop telling anyone who will listen his real name at every possible occasion. Of course, nowadays, wearing anything like a well-fitted jacket will draw everyone’s attention. However, dressing well was more common in the 1960s. The current Bond, Daniel Craig, gives us a clear idea of how difficult it can be to find clothing which fits in the modern day. In fact, even Tom Ford, whom provided the suits for all of the Sam Mendes films, has complained that Craig insists on wearing a size smaller than recommended, so as to appear more athletic. If it fell to us to dress Bond, we would first convince him to wear something which fits, then suggest a one-button suit with notch lapels cut from heavy grey herringbone. The jacket would feature three slanted pockets with flaps and moderately wide lapels. You can never go wrong with a classic monochrome grenadine or knit tie and a white linen pocket square. Shoes are non-negotiable: Black oxfords.

Posing.

Further information

Firstly, even when golfing (and cheating), Bond cuts a striking figure in a burgundy sweater, dark grey trousers, and a light grey polo shirt. Secondly, we’ve already commented Bond’s suits in a previous article: James Bond – Style Never Dies. Thirdly, we highly recommend Matt Spaiser’s blog The Suits of James Bond to anyone looking for more information on Bond’s outfits throughout the decades. FMB/MM/DPFC

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