An in-depth look into 007 reveals a complex protagonist with immaculate style. We examined a selection of Bond films for some of the best lessons in tailored menswear and accessories you’ll ever receive. You’ll be dressing like James Bond in no time!
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While we are obsessed with the current James Bond, Daniel Craig, the iconic style that has become vital to bringing the literary character to life on the silver screen began with three men: Terence Young, Anthony Sinclair and Sean Connery.
Terence Young coached Connery into portraying the Bond that would set the bar since his first film Dr. No. Using his own bespoke tailor, Anthony Sinclair, Young felt everything worn by Bond was a huge proponent of the persona.
We asked Remmert van Braam, founder of the popular Bond Lifestyle, from the clothes to personality, what is it about James Bond that attracts men and women:
Bond always knows his stuff, from the wine he drinks to the car he drives, he knows what he wants and wants the best. This is something Bond creator Ian Fleming already put in the novels, naming specific brands and Bond’s sartorial preferences. Usually these are high-end, quality products. It might sound materialistic, but what men and women might admire in Bond is that even though he gets all the best things, he just as easily ruins bespoke suits, handmade shoes, or expensive vehicles and he doesn’t seem to care. Except of course when it’s his beloved Aston Martin DB5 (or his Bentley in the novels).
— Remmert van Braam, Bond Lifestyle
Clean silhouettes, easy shoulders, a slight flare to the jacket and movable fit define the Conduit Street tailor’s aesthetics. The British style embedded by Sinclair still translates across all of the 007 films to this day.
Although some of us would love to spend our time living like James Bond, let’s just with just looking like him, as we break down all of Bonds’ main looks, and how to achieve them.
Tuxedos appear heavily throughout the Bond movies. It’s important to remember, tuxedos are notably different from suits:
- Suits can be worn anytime of the day, while formal tuxedos are for evening.
- Color plays a role; tuxedos are usually black or extremely dark blue. Suits can be lighter shades.
- Traditionally tuxedos will contain satin: the lapels, buttons, trimming down the trouser legs, while suits don’t.
- The jacket lapels themselves are different. You won’t see tuxedos with notched lapels.
- Tuxedos should have a bow tie versus wearing casual neck piece for suits.
If you want to be like James Bond, or at least exude some of the classic style, then you try taking inspiration from his classic films. Whenever we think of ‘Dr. No’, the first scene that comes to mind is that epic moment when through a cloud of cigarette smoke, Connery introduces himself as, Bond. James Bond. He was wearing a Sinclair designed tuxedo in midnight blue with a Lanvin shirt, these moments were the start of many.
Here is George Lazenby, Timothy Dalton and the most recent, Daniel Craig carrying on the classic, satin detailed tuxedo with confidence.
Get the Look:
- Go for a slim, contemporary fit akin to Craig’s Tom Ford designs.
- Keep to the traditional bow-tie and crisp white pocket square.
The Grey Suit
James Bond suits are iconic, and have been through a few changes throughout the years. Throughout the Connery era, Sinclair’s clean aesthetics were at the forefront. A popular style was his glen check three-piece suit in Goldfinger, featuring narrow lapels, ticket pocket along with the slip of a handkerchief and notched lapel waist coat.
Here’s Roger Moore working a grey, chalk stripe jacket with a peaked lapel. What’s the difference between pinstripes and chalk stripes? The latter is set wider, and sewn at an angle to mimic a tailor’s chalk line.
As time progressed, Brioni dressed Pierce Brosnan in neutral, but with a wider lapel with a higher gorge and no waist coat. The pleated trousers of Sinclair disappeared for slimmer cuts with darting.
Brioni was switched out for Tom Ford by “Quantum Of Solace.” While Craig did wear the Italian brand for one movie, a change in costume designer also influenced the change to Ford. Though there is variation between the designers of Bond’s suits, the fact remains from Sinclair to the more modern take we see now—grey is timeless.
Get the Look:
- Depending on your body build, certain cuts will work and others won’t.
- Generally slimmer lapels are more fit slimmer builds. You want to flatter your chest proportion.
- Notch lapels are found on single-breasted jackets. Single-breasted jackets are versatile, and better for every day wear.
- Peaked lapels are commonly on double-breasted jackets. They are more formal, so think weddings and even black-tie events if you forego a tux. Peak lapels have the illusion of adding height as well because the edges point upwards to the shoulder.
The French And Turnback Cuffs
You can’t have suits and tuxes with a solid button down. In complete Bond-esque style, luxurious fabrics are a must. Well-fitted and easy to slip under jackets, the shirts are all neutral based. We do have shirts rounded up for you, but there’s a fine detail that cannot be overlooked – the French cuff and Turnback cuff. You’ll notice how neat they look on the gauntlet cuffs of Bond’s jackets.
How every Bond rolls the cuffs of his shirt is the most important factor in achieving a similar appearance. If you are going to a very formal event, you need to use the French cuff, specifically a kissing double cuff.
- Fold the cuff back onto itself from the crease.
- Make sure button holes are aligned properly, do not overlap.
- Fasten with cuff links. Choose links that are complimentary to your suit and the colour of your shirt.
- There’s one more style of called the single cuff, this is the most formal style. There is no fold back.
Now let’s look at the Turnback also known as the cocktail cuff. You won’t need cufflinks, buttons are used to hold the sleeve. There is still elegance in the fold, but buttons are a more practical closure. This style is for those happy hours and dressy events that don’t require a tuxedo.
You’ll often see the Turnback cuff referred to as the James Bond cuff thanks to the styling used on Sean Connery and Roger Moore.
More fine details in evolve the actual cut. You’ll see the way the end corners are cut in three variations: square, rounded and angled. Bond worked with all of the different cuts, so you can decide for yourself which you prefer most.
Get the Look:
- Avoid pockets to keep your look streamlined. Yes, you’ll see in a couple films Bond does wear shirts with a breast pocket, but in a casual setting. We say, go without it.
- Stick to white, grey and blues, Bond doesn’t venture far from those main colours.
The Watches: Rolex To Omega
Cue in those famous words from Ian Fleming himself, A gentleman’s choice of timepiece says as much about himself as does his Savile row suit. For Fleming it began with Rolex.
Though, if we really look into the time pieces during all the Bond movies other brands made a very short appearance such as Seiko and TAG Heuer. Ultimately, it comes to down to Rolex and Omega being favored by 007.
Connery almost always wore Rolex with a couple others sprinkled in, Moore went with Seiko initially and eventually it became Omega.
Fleming himself was a Rolex man, and whatever watch company was able to grace the wrist of James Bond found themselves at the hearts of fans. When Omega released their “Goldfinger” Anniversary time piece it sold for about £78,000. Talk about solid proof that there’s die-hard adoration for James Bond’s flawless style.
Curious as to what actors wore what watch? Here’s a breakdown for you avid James Bond watchers.
- Sean Connery: Rolex Submariner References 1016, 6358, Breitling Top Time, Gruen
- George Lazenby: Rolex Submariner Reference 5513, Rolex Chronograph Reference 6238
- Roger Moore: Rolex Submariner Reference 5513, Hamilton Pulsar LED, Rolex GMT Master, Seiko 0674 LC, Seiko M354, Seiko Professional Divers Watch, Seiko H357 Duo Display, Seiko Divers 150m
- Timothy Dalton: TAG Heuer Professional Night Dive, Rolex Submariner Reference 16610
- Pierce Brosnan: Omega Seamaster Professional 300M References 2561.80 and 2531.80
- Daniel Craig: Omega Seamaster Diver 300M Reference 2220.80, Omega Seamaster Planet Ocean Reference 2900.50.91, Omega Seamaster Planet Ocean 600M Reference 2201.50, Omega Seamaster 300 Spectre Limited Edition, Omega Seamaster Aqua Terra
For us, it isn’t about whether we have the chance to sport an Omego or Rolex, but rather what a watch does emotionally.
There is something about watches that boosts confidence. Just putting one on makes us feel more in command. There aren’t as many accessory options for menswear, so watches hold a special place.
We focused on suits and watches, but what good are they without a solid pair of shoes. Let us look at four main styles seen on the actors:
- Plain Derby Shoes
- Monk Shoes
Brogues in short terms is ornamentation. The perforated pattern allows you to distinguish between a brogue, derby and oxford style. There should be a lower heel with a cap, and lace panels, as is the style below worn by Pierce Brosnan. Brogues can be broken down into multiple categories:
- Wingtip: perforations are only on the edges.
- English: the wingtip seaming goes all the way to the back of the heel.
- Spectator: brogues with two contrasting colours.
Plain derby shoes are a favourite of James Bond. They’re sleek, minimal style and open lacing system are easy to pair with suits. There’s minimal differences between a derby and oxford, but it comes down to the vamp and quarters. Eyelets will be sewn on top, and quarters are stitched above vamp. You can pull apart the vamp and the bottom has a gap allowing it to open.
Oxfords will be your formal go-to including tuxedos. If you pull at the vamp it doesn’t open at the bottom as with a derby. This is a closed lacing system, see the diagram below. Oxfords also have variations:
- Cap Toe: a seam is sewn to separate the toe box and vamp.
- Plain Toe: there’s no seam present on the toe box.
- Whole Cut: there are no seams for the toe box and quarter area.
The final style is a monk shoe. Instead of a lacing system, the shoe has a single or double buckled strap closure. It’s not quite as formal as the previous styles. There’s no stress over laces coming untied which can be handy, especially if you’re James Bond.
Get the Look:
- It’s good to have a pair of each because they all have different formalities.
- Oxfords being the most formal, one solid black pair is best. If you wear a tux, despite the white jacket ones, they’ll always be black and midnight blue.
- If you don’t care for the ornamentation of brogues, shop for a derby.
- Ankles will show, so socks are a must.
Dressing Like James Bond Cheat Sheet
- The suit is paramount to emulating Bond’s look, and a tailored fit is fundamental.
- A watch is the ultimate way to finish off any Bond look – go for a timeless classic.
- While the Derby is Bond’s footwear of choice, Oxfords work well for more formal occasions.
- Rolling the cuffs and adding a pair of cufflinks is a fundamental touch – no rolled up sleeves here!
- The attitude is a major part of pulling off the bond look with sophistication – shrinking violets need not apply.
On That Note
This was more of a comprehensive view of the formal attire for James Bond, but when it comes to casual he is rarely seen in it. There are scenes in all the films you will catch Bond in a laid-back setting, but ultimately it is the suits and tuxedos that draw attention. If you are looking for more of the accessories Bond sports, we have it here for you.
Part of emulating the style of Bond comes with understanding the development of Fleming’s writing to the actors we love today:
There is quite a difference between the literary Bond and the movie Bond. This makes sense as the novels were written in a relatively short period, late 1950s/early 1960s, while the film franchise spans more than 50 years and the character was portrayed by six different actors. Each actor built on the literary character but added more to it, including Sean Connery’s famous one-liners and Roger Moore’s ultimately debonair gentleman. Timothy Dalton did a great job of keeping those new elements but also staying true to the more gritty book Bond. Daniel Craig takes Bond in to the contemporary muscular action hero type, while also trying to keep the roughness of Fleming’s 007. The character is so much more now then it was in the novels, but in a movie you can never get a close look in to the mind of Bond or other characters, so the rich world of Fleming has its own merit.
— Remmert van Braam, Bond Lifestyle
And there you have it! Of all the men’s style icons, Bond’s look is probably the most sophisticated, timeless and iconic of the lot. Looking back through the films, most looks could still be worn today and still be miles ahead of your average man on the street. Although we can’t teach you how to be James Bond, we can at least help you dress like him, and if you get that right then you’ll be well on your way to achieving a timeless style that’s endlessly classy.