Timothy Dalton as James Bond, British government agent
Oxfordshire, England, Fall 1986
Film: The Living Daylights
Release Date: June 27, 1987
Director: John Glen
Costume Designer: Emma Porteous
Costume Supervisor: Tiny Nicholls
For the 00-7th of March, I’m finally getting around to my first post celebrating Timothy Dalton’s brief tenure as James Bond. After a few tumultuous years for the Bond franchise which saw Roger Moore going head to head with Sean Connery’s Never Say Never Again, Pierce Brosnan briefly signed to take over the role before Remington Steele came calling back, and a geriatric Roger Moore going head to head with Grace Jones in A View to a Kill, the franchise gave itself its first attempt at a reboot.
Timothy Dalton had long been considered for the Bond role, first approached nearly 20 years earlier when Sean Connery walked away after You Only Live Twice. Dalton made the mature decision of realizing that – not yet 25 years old – he wasn’t old enough for every man’s dream role nor did he want to try to steal the spotlight from Connery. After Moore’s retirement and Brosnan’s recall to TV in 1986, Dalton was again approached and finally decided to take the role.
Dalton had been a fan of Ian Fleming’s novels, so his portrayal meant a return to the basics: less lavish outrageousness and more grounded seriousness. Dalton’s Bond was a seasoned, professional spy who shared his predecessors’ appreciation – if not weakness – for fast cars, women, and martinis.
In this scene, Bond is called to MI6’s Blayden House (actually Stonor House in Oxfordshire), where his superiors are debriefing with General Georgi Koskov, the loquacious ex-KGB official played by Jeroen Krabbé, the Dutch actor who seemingly specializes in playing charmingly eccentric villains whose treachery is always discovered in the final act.
What’d He Wear?
Despite Moneypenny telling him that M wanted him to “hurry”, Bond changes out of his gray herringbone three-piece city suit into a more appropriate country outfit of a gun club check sportcoat, knit tie, and trousers.
The last time gun club check appeared on BAMF Style, it was a louder pattern sported by Mad Men‘s Don Draper during a visit to the west coast in season four’s “The Good News”. A GQ analysis of this sporty style also delves into the origins; gun club check emerged in the mid-1800s as “the Coigach”, based on the district of the Scottish highlands where it originated, and thus also providing a nod to Bond’s Scottish heritage. The four original colors of the Coigach – black, red-brown, light gold, and pine green – intersected to create a geometric box pattern designed to resemble the district’s landscape palette.
Bond’s wool gun club check sportcoat is created by intersecting brown, blue, green, and black checks. The single-breasted, two-button sportcoat has notch lapels, a welted breast pocket, flapped hip pockets, and two-button cuffs. The padded shoulders are so wide that each roped sleevehead is slightly lower than usual on Dalton’s shoulders, a product of 1980s tailoring.
This sportcoat was auctioned by Christie’s in December 2001, fetching £411 ($593) and identifying the jacket’s maker as Benjamin Simon. Although other details are confirmed by the listing – such as the brown “art” silk – it strangely incorrectly mentions a “single vent” when the sport jacket seen in the film clearly has long double vents, best seen when Bond is entering the safe house.
The gun club check sportcoat can be spotted later in the film; Bond is wearing it in the photo for his Soviet passport as “Jerzy Bondov”.
The rest of Bond’s outfit is comprised of various shades of brown, evoking his rustic surroundings and further establishing his outfit’s fitness for the country. His low rise trousers are dark brown wool with single pleats, slanted side pockets, and plain-hemmed bottoms.
Bond’s light ecru dress shirt has a spread collar, front placket, and single-button cuffs. His knit tie, a Fleming favorite, is dark brown with a flat bottom.
Bond’s brown leather oxfords are briefly seen as he exits his Aston Martin, although the break of the trousers and the distance of the shot prevent any additional details from being determined. Based on the brown shoes and trousers, it can be safely assumed that Bond is wearing brown socks as well.
For another analysis of this outfit, check out Matt Spaiser’s post on his blog, The Suits of James Bond.
The Living Daylights meant the return of Swiss watches for James Bond, although this film was the only time 007 wore a TAG Heuer. He evidently forewent a wristwatch for this scene, however. His only visible accessory is the black leather shoulder rig that securely holsters his trusty Walther PPK under his left armpit, until the security detail takes it away.
Go Big or Go Home
Timothy Dalton marked the franchise’s first attempt to return to the source material for its character, a subtle but fashionable dresser with definite opinions about what he likes, remaining a shade shy of snobbery. The strong, unfiltered cigarettes of Fleming’s Bond make their return, likely due to Timothy Dalton’s real life smoking habit. Bond’s V8 Vantage is also the first Aston Martin seen in the series since On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, a convertible here until Q “winterizes” it for his snowy trip to the continent.
Dalton gets a nod to the snobbishness of Fleming’s Bond when he brings a picnic basket of gourmet food to General Koskov. M quickly realizes that Bond opted for items beyond the scope of MI6’s allotted budget, and it’s telling that this is one of the few times we actually see Bond turn in an expense receipt.
Koskov: As Russians say, hearts and stomachs good comrades make. What’s this? Caviar. Well, that’s peasant food for us, but with champagne it’s okay. Bollinger RD. The best!
Bond: (off M’s look) The brand on the list was questionable, sir, so I chose something else.
How to Get the Look
A callback to the sportier suits and jackets that Ian Fleming chose for his literary James Bond’s trips to the country, Timothy Dalton’s 007 dresses simply but stylishly when meeting with his business-suited superiors at the Blayden safe house.
- Brown, blue, black, and green gun club check wool single-breasted 2-button sportcoat with notch lapels, welted breast pocket, flapped hip pockets, 2-button cuffs, and long double vents
- Dark brown wool single-pleated trousers with slanted side pockets and plain-hemmed bottoms
- Light ecru dress shirt with spread collar, front placket, and 1-button cuffs
- Dark brown knit necktie
- Brown leather loafers
- Brown dress socks
- Black leather shoulder holster (RHD), for Walther PPK
Do Yourself a Favor and…
Buy the movie.