James Bond personifies the modern gentleman. This is often an overused term in the world of fashion, just as ‘great’ is used to describe so many average footballers these days. However, breaking down just what the modern gent exemplifies – confidence, strength, politeness and a sense of style – it is evident that James Bond ticks all of these boxes.
The character of Bond embodies a childhood dream for so many of us. A patriotic spy, representing the best of British in his style, manners and ability to hold his liquor, he is also able to handle the fastest of cars and the most beautiful girls. Half of these attributes would propel most of us into twice the man we are now, but alas, the world of Bond isn’t quite as real as many of us would like it to be.
Nonetheless, the iconic series has reached its 50th anniversary, and by the looks of the latest trailer for Skyfall [see below], James Bond has lost none of his instinctively progressive yet classic style that reflects his penchant for politeness and charm, juxtaposed with inner steel wrapped in muscles and permeating confidence:
I can’t think of any other movie character that has survived fifty years of constant exposure to movie critics, unbarred public opinion and a stream of different actors charged with the responsibility of playing James Bond in a unique way, that simultaneously stays true to the original character as the author (and public) knew him. Therefore, the successful work of Sir Ian Flemming, numerous directors/producers, stylists and of course the actors; can only be heralded as a team effort.
Along with the aforementioned collective effort of many people, the character of Bond appeals to such a huge audience because the character stays true to who he is, in every facet of life. While many of our friends across the pond love the ‘Britishness’ of the whole 007 patriotic spy concept, they also appreciate his sense of self. This sentiment is echoed globally, and we can certainly learn something from James Bond’s self-belief, pride and appreciation of aesthetics.
“If one is poorly dressed, you remember the clothes. If one is impeccably dressed, you remember the person.” While this famous quote has been doctored slightly, this sums up the style of James Bond quite succinctly. Just as every rakish male knows, and you should too by now, real effort goes into the preparation of clothes, and dressing up. Forgetting what you are wearing, and inevitably just how good you look, is the real skill. Fighting villains from all over the globe donned in Sunday’s Best makes Bond’s casual disregard for the health of himself and his clothes very enviable.
While Sean Connery couldn’t be seen in anything other than a tux, since Daniel Craig became the latest Bond, there has been an obvious shift towards a balance of smart-casual outfits. This is finally catching up with the recently redefined notion of the modern gentleman, which as opposed to previous Bond actors, requires just as big shoulders as pain tolerance – and anyone who has seen Craig Daniel in the latest Bond movies wouldn’t deny that he brings an unprecedented presence to the screen.
“Bond should be classic, expensive, tailored – yet simple and particular.” Who can disagree with Lindy Hemming, who has dressed Mr Bond from Goldeneye to Casino Royale. Hemming also believes Bond’s general attire will be “vaguely aristocratic”, alluding to both his patriotism and his innate sense of dressing smartly. Formal wear has its origins on Savile Row, with many of Bond’s earlier dress shirts from Turnbull and Asser, who now makes most of Prince Charles’ daily attire.
Mr Bond typically eschews from any garment garish or tacky, preferring to integrate pieces of timeless, well-chosen clothes that ensures he looks his best, whatever the era and his physical condition. This is simply done through the use of complimentary muted colours, even in casual outfits, and a superlative fit and construction. The modern gentleman still has his hand in classic dressing and tailoring, no matter what the newly perceived notion of contemporary style may be. Matt Allinson broke this down wonderfully recently, in his article on keeping men’s fashion simple.
Often credited as the man who defined the character of Bond, Sir Sean Connery was not often seen without a suit on. At all times of the day, Bond for much of the 60s – befitting the generation of smartly dressed males of all ages – would be seen clad in suits to see them from morning to night.
Where we really see the looks of Bond excel, is in the evening. James Bond is synonymous with the tux. Ever since Dr. No in 1962, few men have worn such a strictly formal garment with a fusion of elegance and ease. A shawl collar tux in a midnight blue shade appears to be the favourite of all Bonds throughout the entire film series, and that is no surprise. It is a colour that reflects the shimmering lights of the evening and is far more luxurious compared to standard black attire.
Accessories are of the utmost importance for those of us who cannot afford the perfectly cut tux, as they can bring the look up a notch, making your outfit appear a whole lot more expensive than it actually is. A silk tie, handmade shoes and choice handkerchief (or no handkerchief) almost completes Bond’s usual evening outfit, but not before he orders his vodka martini, “shaken, not stirred”, assesses his prey with the confidence of Prince Charming, and a foppish handsomeness inherent in all Bond’s.
Adorned in sportswear is how we often see Bond dressed down, and the latest Daniel Craig movies are a perfect example. Of course, it helps that Daniel Craig is in good shape, and therefore is able to highlight the aesthetic benefits of slim fitting clothing. At FashionBeans we encourage all of you to be in the best shape your body and commitments allow, especially for the confidence boost it produces.
The last two Bond movies have seen the introduction of jeans alongside the trusty polo shirt, and an assortment of casual jackets. No better example of this was in Quantum Of Solace, with Bond atop a motorbike in slim white jeans, paired with brown John Lobb desert shoes and a black jacket. Complete with looks to kill, the outfit earmarked the moment where the new image of Bond looked just as sharp as in the 60s, with clean lines and a tailored fit.
As a patriotic British spy, I’d like to think that Bond enjoyed his free time in the country, reading by the fire place and looking after the dogs. The discerning man that he is, a tweed sports jacket and muted corduroy trousers would see him well kitted out for the unpredictable weather on the fells. Never one to wear a t-shirt, a simple oxford shirt underneath the outfit would make him well dressed enough to feel assured and stylish, while retaining a weekend attitude to match his casual attire.
Accessories still play their part in Bond’s casual apparel, as his trusty Omega again completes his outfit with a typically subtle piece of class. While we can’t promise these products will see your boss hospitalised, it may just be enough to land you a woman above your playing field, so to speak.
James Bond is at the heart of British style. He blends classicism and a modern edge without fuss, both in manner and attire. In every sense, he epitomises my idea of a gentleman for every era, and although fictional, he is someone I, along with others, try and emulate.
But I would like to hear your views:
Let me know in the comments section…