Pierce Brosnan as Andy Osnard, sleazy and shrewd MI6 agent
Panama City, Fall 1999
Film: The Tailor of Panama
Release Date: March 30, 2001
Director: John Boorman
Costume Designer: Maeve Paterson
The Tailor of Panama, John Boorman’s darkly comic adaptation of John le Carré’s spy novel, presents Pierce Brosnan as we’d never seen him before.
“Yeah, a hard-drinking MI6 agent who beds women in exotic locales. Real switch-up for him,” you say, dubiously.
Of course, Brosnan’s character Andy Osnard could best be described as the anti-Bond. Though a stupid marketing campaign at the time led people to believe Pierce would be playing the dashing spy just under a different name, Osnard is far more fitting of M’s GoldenEye appraisal as a “misogynist… relic of the Cold War” than Bond ever was. Bond may be a bit of a womanizer, but he always put his loyalty to his country and the mission first. Osnard is far more opportunistic, callously playing his assets like pawns as a very realistic – if somewhat satirical – le Carré-esque spy. He still has Brosnan’s trademark charm, but it’s the charm of a shrewd, back-stabbing cad.
What’d He Wear?
Unlike Bond, Osnard looks as though he hasn’t visited a tailor in years… until he begins working with Harry Pendel, of course. He has several suits which go through heavy rotation throughout the film. The first and least-seen is a rumpled gray suit that he wears for the brief introduction at the MI6 office. The ill-fitting suit is more Columbo than James Bond, even if the gray suit/blue shirt-and-tie color palette recalls promotional photos for The World is Not Enough.
Next, we see him flying to Panama for his mission, wearing a similarly ill-fitting check blazer. This jacket would become one of his go-to garments during the film. There were a few more one-scene casual ensembles, but the most prominent outfit that Osnard wears is a tan linen suit, one of the most popular summer wardrobe choices for gentlemen. (Of course, Andy Osnard is far from a gentleman.)
The suit is actually a blend of linen and cotton, cut in the full style of the ’90s that would’ve still made sense to be hanging in Osnard’s closet by the fall of 1999. Both the jacket and the trousers are fully cut to provide a loose hang in the tropical climate.
The suit jacket is single-breasted and, as part of the very casual suit, is considerably unstructured when compared to most suit jackets. The casual nature of the suit is further indicated by the ventless rear.
The jacket has notch lapels, which breaks high on the chest, with the top button aligning with Osnard’s breast pocket. The jacket fastens with three brown-toned buttons, spaced widely apart to accommodate the higher stance.
The 3-button cuffs match the buttons on the front, as they should (even on such a casual suit). There is also a welted breast pocket and flapped hip pockets. Additional jacket features include stitched edges and a plain tan silk lining.
The suit trousers are equally as loosely cut as the jacket. They are flat front with on-seam side pockets, and jetted rear pockets that close with a button (although Andy lazily keeps them unbuttoned… very fitting for his character). The trouser bottoms are plain-hemmed with a full break.
Rakish though he may be in some manners of dress, Osnard does not violate the best-known rule of men’s fashion: his shoes and his belt match. The belt is brown leather with a brass squared clasp.
Osnard’s shoes are brown leather plain-toe monk shoes with a brass buckle. Monk shoes are a surprisingly formal choice for a suit like this, as they’re considered to bridge the gap between the über-formal oxfords or balmorals and the informal derbies or bluchers. A pair of light cream ribbed socks ease the transition from trouser bottom into his shoes.
Osnard’s pale blue shirt is lightweight cotton with a voluminous fit that both matches the large fit of the suit and serves to keep him cool in the Panamanian climate. It closes with white buttons down a front placket, with Osnard leaving at least the top two unbuttoned at all times. The shirt has a breast pocket, which he often uses to place his cigarettes.
The shirt is long-sleeved with pleats at the top of the sleeve where it meets the shoulder. Further down the arm, Osnard keeps his gauntlet plackets unbuttoned, although he wears the rounded cuffs either buttoned or rolled up to his elbow. The cuffs have two buttons with one buttonhole to close.
The roominess of the shirt is enhanced by the center box pleat in the rear, the most common option for off-the-rack shirts. Osnard, unlike Bond, would be the type of agent to pick up his shirts off the rack rather than going to a shirtmaker like Frank Foster. This rear pleat is the least formal, and it allows the greatest degree of movement for most wearers.
Accessory-wise, Osnard doesn’t overdo it. He sticks to the basics of a wristwatch and sunglasses with a ring adding just the right amount of jaunty personality to his look.
Osnard’s wristwatch has a stainless round case, white face, and a black leather strap. I can’t identify it myself, but some readers *cough cough* who are greater experts in the wristwatch field may be able to lend a hand. *COUGH*
Hard to really tell from the picture, but the lugs appear to be slightly sculpted and that’s why I’m thinking that it’s a DeVille. Plus the fact that Brosnan was an Omega ambassador back then.
His sunglasses also remain a mystery. The frames are silver with black rubber temples and dark lenses. Brosnan is known to be a Persol fan in real life, but I’m almost positive these are not any model that Persol ever released.
Another Update! Ron, another great BAMF Style commenter, noted that these are likely a pair of Fossil sunglasses, which notably had wider metal arms like these in the late ’90s. Thanks, Ron!
Osnard’s other main accessory is a gold monogram ring on his left pinky. I don’t have the Blu-Ray version so I can’t tell for sure, but I’ll lay you eight-to-five the monogram on the ring is “AO”.
We never see him wearing it, but it’s also worth mentioning that Osnard carries a light cream Panama hat in one scene when he enters Harry’s shop. The hat has a slim black band and would accompany this suit very nicely.
Go Big or Go Home
I can’t speak from any personal experience, but I’ve heard that a spy must be pragmatic – dispassionate enough to make difficult decisions without allowing too much emotion in but smart enough to know how to handle people. As Sidney Reilly says in Reilly: Ace of Spies, you must be able “to see life as a bit of a game.” Andy Osnard takes the game a bit too far.
Finding himself on a downgraded assignment in Panama after an affair with a foreign minister’s mistress, Osnard disregards his superior’s warning of the Panamanian government’s corruption and, in fact, sees the move as an opportunity. After he begins working with Harry Pendel, a tailor of both clothing and misinformation, Osnard eventually realizes that Pendel is actually using him for his own gains. The men’s games grow wider in scope, involving Pendel’s wife, his friends, and – eventually – the governments of England and the United States.
Andy Osnard: Without the Yanks to hold our hands, London will pull the entire project.
Harry Pendel: Why?
Andy Osnard: Because in matters of intelligence, dear Harry, as in most matters merry England sucks on the American hind tit. It’s called “The Special Relationship”.
Rather than seeing that they have gone too far, Osnard recognizes the opportunity for financial gain.
Long story short (and spoiler alert!), Osnard ends up making it out of Panama with more than a million dollars in a briefcase and the help of the British ambassador.
Ambassador Maltby: I’ll walk you to your plane.
Andy Osnard: Could this be the beginning of a beautiful friendship?
Ambassador Maltby: I think it desperately unlikely.
Osnard’s brands are Marlboro Light cigarettes, and – as far as we can tell – 12-year-old Glenlivet single malt Scotch… neat, of course.
How to Get the Look
Osnard dresses for comfort rather than aesthetics, but there’s something to respect a man who still incorporates a suit into his tropical wear. Osnard’s attire is many steps down from Harry Pendel‘s immaculate suits, but – all things considered – he still looks far better than those vacationers who opt for fanny packs and floppy hats.
- Tan linen blend loose-fitting suit, consisting of:
- Single-breasted semi-structured jacket with notch lapels, 3-button front, welted breast pocket, flapped hip pockets, 3-button cuffs, and ventless rear
- Flat front trousers with on-seam side pockets, button-through jetted rear pockets, and plain-hemmed bottoms
- Pale blue cotton shirt with point collar, front placket, and 2-button cuffs
- Brown leather monk loafers with brass buckles
- Light cream ribbed socks
- Brown leather belt with brass squared clasp
- Stainless wristwatch with a round white face on a black leather strap, likely an Omega DeVille Co-Axial
- Gold monogram ring, worn on left pinky
- Steel-framed Fossil sunglasses with dark lenses, wide arms, and black rubber temples
Do Yourself a Favor and…
Buy the movie and read le Carré’s book.
It’s dark and lonely work, Harry. Like oral sex, but someone has to do it.