With today being the 50th anniversary of the release of Dr. No, the first Bond film, and the release last night of Adele’s theme song for Skyfall, the 23rd Bond film of the EON Productions series, I figured it was about time we looked at James Bond himself.
Fitting for a celebration, although a bit untimely after Labor Day, here is Bond from the pre-credits sequence of Goldfinger, arguably the most popular Bond film of all time.
Sean Connery as James Bond, British government agent and legendary super spy
Mexico, Summer 1964
Release Date: September 18, 1964
Director: Guy Hamilton
Tailor: Anthony Sinclair
Wardrobe Supervisor: Elsa Fennell
Ever need that one outfit that you could wear when swimming, disarming a bomb, smoking at a late night dance club, and beating the tar out of a club-wielding assassin?
If you answered “Yes” to the above question, not only are you a very strange person, you are also desperately in need of James Bond’s white dinner jacket ensemble from Goldfinger.
What’d He Wear?
Not seen since Roger Moore sported one in A View to a Kill, the white dinner jacket in a warm or summer setting is a very classic Bond look. Connery wore his first in the pre-credits sequence of Goldfinger and, in my opinion, it never looked better.
The Dinner Suit
Bond’s ventless off-white dinner jacket is a tropical wool, which would be just comfortable enough for an evening close to the Equator. The narrow peak lapels give Bond a literal edge. A more classic look would be shawl lapels, which would turn this into Bogart’s dinner jacket in Casablanca, but the sharp peaks on Bond’s lapels reflect his gritty personality and style. (Not that Rick Blaine wasn’t gritty; he was probably the most cynical of all of my favorite film characters.)
In addition, the peak lapels are self-faced, not silk or grosgrain-faced like black dinner jackets. This is not only more correct for white jackets, but more comfortable as well. The jacket closes at a reasonable spot with a single mother-of-pearl button, perfectly separating the white of the shirt from the black of the pants as Connery’s Bond refuses to wear a cummerbund or waistcoat. The 4 buttons on the cuffs are also mother-of-pearl. The three pockets – breast and both hips – are jetted, with the right pocket housing Bond’s lighter and hotel key.
Finally, Bond’s pants are a deep midnight blue with double forward pleats and buttoned side adjusters known as “Daks tops”. It is hard to tell from the film if they have the formal tuxedo stripe, but the fact that they are midnight blue, rather than black, hints to me that they did indeed Bond with a pair of formal trousers with the satin stripe down each leg. Even if they didn’t, let’s pretend they did.
To complete the look, place a red carnation through the left lapel buttonhole.
Bond’s pleated shirt, which he also wears later with black tie, is white with a white satin stripe. The shirt has spread collar, no breast pocket, and double – or French – cuffs. His bowtie is black satin silk. Bond also wears round gold cuff links.
Over his shirt, Bond wears a light brown chamois leather shoulder holster with a blue strap. His .32-caliber Walther PPK sits in the holster a few inches under his left armpit and makes for a quick right hand draw.
Bond’s shoes in the film are very practical for his purpose – looking good in the nightclub as well as engaging in several action sequences. The shoes resemble short Chelsea-style boots in black calf leather with elastic side gussets. Connery’s Bond wears these very comfortable style of low boots throughout his tenure as Bond, a practical choice for a man of action who also needs to look good enough to seduce a villain’s wife.
If you have an extraordinarily shiny black wet suit with a zip-fastened front, this would be the best way to show up for a summer party, particularly if you can plant a stuffed duck on top of your head.
Picture it: A beach wedding. Boring, because you’re not there. A few guests spot a duck coming up towards the shore. Suddenly, the duck rises from the water – on the head of a man. The man unzips and… it’s you! In a white dinner jacket, no less. While you’re putting that red carnation in your left lapel, the bride will be chasing after you, demanding that you take her with you.
Unfortunately, the downside to arriving via duck-head is that you have no car to spirit her away in.
Go Big or Go Home
Bond’s environment here is very exotic. If you can’t afford, or just don’t want, to search through Latin America looking for a nightclub where you can pass a few hours drinking, smoking, and watching the dancer you’ll eventually be taking to your hotel room, you can replicate the experience on your own!
Get ahold of the right music – Mondo Exotica (a CD through the fun Ultra-Lounge series), place your trusty PPK in a shoulder holster due to your “slight inferiority complex”, light a few cigarettes from that flat gunmetal case in your left inner pocket, and strap a Rolex Submariner on your wrist. Where many men would choose a watch with a metal or possibly leather bracelet for this sort of setting, Bond wears his Rolex on a striped RAF strap. It’s informal, but it still looks great and reflects that Bond was previously wearing it over his wet suit to perfectly time the detonation of plastic explosives in a heroin plant. So… that’s a story to tell your kids, right?
What to Imbibe
What men typically drink in Mexican-themed bars:
- Your dad – A frozen margarita.
- Your cousin – Dos Equis or Corona. Whichever is on special.
- Your fraternity brother – Tequila shots, bro.
- James Bond – Whatever he damn well pleases.
In a rare turn of events, Bond is seen in a bar without a single drink during the pre-credits sequence of Goldfinger. However, as he later orders a vodka martini during his flight into the United States, we will investigate the classic James Bond vodka martini.
Especially as outlined in the book, Bond is a man with relatively simple tastes that stretch into eccentricity for practical reasons. The most common cocktail of this era was undoubtedly the Martini. Thus, Bond appreciated this simple drink. However, he had worked in Russia and he had developed a taste for vodka, which he preferred to gin.
In the days before 80 different flavors of vodka were present on the market and any drink served in a stemmed glass was a “insert-something-ridiculous-tini“, a Vodka Martini was known to be a man’s drink. It still is, but the negative connotation towards Martinis thanks to ridiculous inventions such as the Appletini, Chocolatini, and Fruity-Awful-Mostly-Juice-tini (which exists in principle, if not yet in name) has muddied the waters.
To make a true Vodka Martini, as Bond would have made:
Shake six measures of vodka in a shaker with plenty of ice and a measure of dry vermouth. Shake it until it’s ice cold. Strain the contents into the chilled martini glass and twist a lemon peel over the drink, then drop it in.
How to Get the Look
This is a hard one. Connery had a very classic, but unique, look and formalwear isn’t exactly cheap. Just look at the images, descriptions, etc. and make the look your own. While your other male friends will show up to summer cocktail parties in polos and khakis or – don’t say it – plaid shorts, you’ll be in style with your white dinner jacket. And if you’re overdressed for the party, who cares? They’ll all know you’ve got somewhere better to be later.
(Also, if you’re really channelling Bond, they won’t want to say anything to the guy with a pistol under his jacket.)
- Ivory white single-breasted tropical wool 1-button dinner jacket with slim peak lapels, welted breast pocket, two jetted hip pockets, 4 mother-of-pearl button cuffs, and ventless back
- Midnight blue pleated formal trousers with side adjusters, slanted side pockets, plain-hemmed bottoms, and satin silk side striping
- White-on-white satin-striped dress shirt with spread collar and double/French cuffs
- Large round gold cuff links
- Black batwing-shaped satin silk bow tie
- Black calf leather plain-toe side-gusset loafers
- Black thin socks
- Rolex Submariner 6538 on an undersized striped RAF strap
- Light brown chamois leather shoulder holster (RHD, with blue strap) for Walther PPK
- Red carnation for the left lapel
Walther PPK. 7.65 mil with a delivery like a brick through a plate glass window. Takes a Brausch silencer with very little reduction in muzzle velocity. The American CIA swear by them.
While a .32-caliber round isn’t exactly as potent as Boothroyd’s description from Dr. No of “a brick through a plate glass window”, Bond’s trusty Walther PPK has helped him out of many scrapes. Connery’s Bond, with the exception of Dr. No (where the prop department could only get a .380-caliber Walther PP), always carried a blued .32-caliber PPK with brown plastic grips and a Brausch suppressor to muffle sound for an assassination. Unless carried in a pocket, Bond always had his light chamois leather shoulder holster with blue straps to keep the PPK within one grab.
The Walther PPK was developed in 1931 in Germany, an offspring of the longer Walther PP that was introduced two years prior. It found service among European police and military, especially in Germany, and was reportedly the gun that Adolf Hitler used to off himself with in his bunker in 1945. The PPK was offered in several calibers, but primarily .32 ACP and .380 ACP. In Europe, .32 ACP is also referred to as 7.65×17 mm and .380 ACP is 9×17 mm. Thus, Boothroyd refers to Bond’s PPK as being “7.65 millimeter” and the new Q in Skyfall gives Bond an updated “9 millimeter” PPK/S.
The PPK originally was conceived as Bond’s gun after writer Ian Fleming first outfitted Bond with a .25-caliber Beretta as Fleming himself had used while working for British Intelligence during World War II. As the books grew in popularity, firearms enthusiast Geoffrey Boothroyd famously wrote to Fleming, appreciating his detail but disapproving of Bond’s choice of arms. After several exchanges, Boothroyd told Fleming that Bond should carry the Smith & Wesson Centennial Airweight, a .38 Special snubnose revolver, as well as suggesting the PPK. Fleming, who wanted his hero to carry a semi-automatic, gave Bond both for the book Dr. No in 1958, then had Bond immediately lose his revolver, leaving him with the now-iconic PPK.
Do Yourself a Favor and…
Buy the movie.
Or – better yet – if it’s playing in a theater near you, go see it! One of the greatest cinematic experiences of my life was taking my girlfriend to see Goldfinger in a local theater that shows classic films. Watching Goldfinger on the big screen makes a difference – Connery’s Bond is larger than life. The audience was incredible as well, laughing at the best parts (there are many best parts) and clapping during Bond’s hero moments.
- “My name is Pussy Galore.” … “I must be dreaming.”
- Bond stops Goldfinger’s bomb at “007”
- Most of all – Bond removes his wet suit to reveal the white dinner jacket (the focus of this article), and, if that wasn’t good enough, completes the look with the red carnation in his lapel.
Shocking… Positively shocking!
Matt Spaiser’s brilliant blog covered this dinner jacket in October 2010. Read his article for more detailed information about the clothing itself.