You would think spies might dress down a bit, considering their entire job is to go unnoticed. Lots of beige. Nothing tailored beyond ‘easy fit’. Basically, they should look like an M&S mannequin, then you wouldn’t give them a second glance. Yet, thanks to the movies, we assume all spies are always dressed perfectly, both on mission and off. These chaps are chiefly to blame for that, as the best-dressed spies in film history.
The 007 Series
Bond in a dinner suit is considered the epitome of stylish dressing, but the thing is, that’s easy. Black tie is probably the one look any man can get right. Harry from Spooks can look sharp with a decent tailor. It’s in his more casual moments that 007 proves his style credentials – the beach look in Dr No or Pierce Brosnan’s chunky roll neck in Die Another Day. Or, frankly, any of Daniel Craig’s dress-down outfits. James Bond always keeps his colour combinations subtle – a lot of navy, stone and black – and the cut very close to his body, which makes even just a polo shirt and jeans look smart. Also, you will never see Bond in a bad coat. Buy the best coat you can afford and everything underneath suddenly looks exponentially more expensive.
Not the tracksuits in the first film. They’re horrible, although he could probably say they were Vetements and get away with it. Colin Firth’s Harry is the more traditionally elegant, but Eggsy’s outfits are the more interesting. His suits are mostly double-breasted, which might look ageing if not for the fact he’s muscular, and they’re cut well enough, that instead they give him the tapered silhouette of a superhero. As for that orange, velvet dinner jacket in the sequel, Kingsman: The Golden Circle… sounds horrendous; looks superb.
Tom Cruise’s secret agent is quite a daring dresser. He does a lot of suits, usually without a tie, and sometimes gets a bit playful with his fabrics. He’s definitely worn suits that are shinier than most men would consider, and somehow makes them work. His casual game is stronger, with an apparently endless wardrobe of leather and suede jackets, many of them Belstaff, that look like they’ve seen a lot of field action. Which is exactly how a leather jacket should look.
Three Days Of The Condor
The film’s brief time frame means Turner (Robert Redford) barely changes his clothes, but look at every item he wears. Each is the perfect example of its type, from the pea coat to the navy jumper to the sturdy brown boots. He looks exactly as any of us should hope to look when we leave the house in cooler weather. The film was made in 1975 but this entire get-up would look just as good now. There are very few other 1970s films about which you can say the same.
The Man From UNCLE
Henry Cavill is not the ideal shape for suits. He’s in incredible condition, but he’s massive. He’s actually Superman. His chest size is about the width of three-seater sofa, so if you put him in Bond-esque black-tie he’s going to look like a bouncer. In Guy Ritchie’s larky spy-comedy he looks stylish while being enormous by making statements with pattern and colour. No bouncer’s going to wear a three-piece with a blue windowpane check. And his all-black for ‘night mode’ mixes different textures – wool, cotton, leather – to maintain subtle interest.
The Ipcress File
Palmer’s look is actually rather boring – unstructured grey suits, white shirt, black tie, coat that looks like your grandad’s – but there’s something in his attitude that makes it stylish. He puts it on and doesn’t think about it, as you should with a suit. The thing that really elevates it, though, is probably those thick black glasses. Those are distinctive enough that his clothes are just a backdrop. A reminder that sometimes, your accessories can be the main event.