The latest James Bond extravaganza, Spectre, will be released this October; the 24th official feature and Daniel Craig’s fourth outing as the debonair super-spy.
While the plot, villains and girls vary from film to film, there are always a few constants: breathtaking action sequences, bizarre gadgets, exotic locations and most of all, some very, very cool clothes. For more than half a century Bond has blazed a trail in fashion, be it evening wear, safari, ski or scuba-gear, or relaxed boudoir attire.
In his various incarnations 007 has served as an inspiration for the fashionable man ever since Dr No hit cinemas in 1962 – a traditionalist at heart, he is nevertheless a trendsetter, and clearly puts a premium on looking good even when his neck is on the line – witness Craig straightening his cuffs after a near-miss with a train in Skyfall. So what can James Bond teach us about fashion?
Classic designs stand the test of time
Whoever dresses Craig knows their job. A similar physique to bodybuilder Sean Connery, he is reverting to the broad-shouldered cuts that the latter would prefer. Look at an image of Connery in a casino, or waltzing into M’s office – whatever he’s wearing then would look equally good today. All men should have a few classic pieces in their wardrobe that they can fall back on no matter what, such as these impressive Dobell men’s blazers – choosing the right formalwear is so much easier if you don’t pay too much attention to fashions that wax and wane.
Clothes can serve more than one function
In The World Is Not Enough Pierce Brosnan survives an avalanche by inflating his ski suit into a giant ball – similar devices are actually available, but this demonstrates that many items of clothing can be multipurpose, and incidentally how the right outfit can save your bacon in a sticky situation. And not just scarves that can be ornamental or warming – today you can buy coats that will charge your electronic devices as you walk, while VIPs and the paranoid can buy bulletproof boxer shorts.
Even the best of us sometimes make mistakes
One of the many reasons George Lazenby wasn’t a good fit as Bond and only made one film was the woeful ruffled shirt and kilt combination he wore to infiltrate Blofeld’s mountain lair. But even Connery had his moments – the powder-blue flannel towel suit in Goldfinger was especially memorable. We all occasionally buy something we shouldn’t have, and some of us even go so far as to actually wear it in public. The best thing you can do is shrug it off as experience, untag yourself from any Facebook photos where you’re wearing the thing, and take it outside and burn it.
It’s hard to recall ever seeing Bond weighed down with a stack of heavy suitcases at the airport, despite how many outfits he may get through during a mission. That means one of three things – he has someone bringing them through for him – unlikely for reasons of operational secrecy; he goes shopping for clothes every time he arrives – possibly if he’s on assignment in Rome or Paris, less so when he’s arriving in Mogadishu or Pyongyang. So we must assume then that he knows how to pack for a few weeks away, and has a quality, compact set of luggage.
While you might not need TNT in your shaving kit, a tracking device concealed in the sole of your shoe, or a keyring that explodes when you whistle a certain tune, you can learn much from Bond’s ability to accessorise well. From a shapely hat worn with a fitted suit, to a fine dress watch when he’s playing baccarat, to a premium leather briefcase to transport documents, Bond is all about the finer things in life.
Dressing well leads to confidence
Bond is a dangerously attractive, highly trained killer with a successful naval career behind him, so maybe his self-confidence doesn’t entirely stem from his clothes, but they certainly don’t hurt. As he emerges from a wetsuit with a comedy duck on the head to reveal a cracking white dinner jacket underneath and pauses to light a cigarette, you know that when the bomb he just set to go off does detonate, barely a nerve will twitch in his face.
He looks good, and that unmistakably carries through into his manner.