Bond Style: Poolside Terry Cloth in Goldfinger
Sean Connery as James Bond, British government agent
Miami Beach, Summer 1964
Release Date: September 18, 1964
Director: Guy Hamilton
Wardrobe Supervisor: Elsa Fennell
WARNING! Spoilers ahead!
Happy birthday, Sean Connery! On his 90th birthday, let’s take a look at one of the Scottish legend’s most talked-about (and controversial) outfits as James Bond… and see how it can be updated for the modern Bond style enthusiast catching some late summer rays or rubdowns by the pool.
Following Goldfinger‘s memorable credits sequence bolstered by Shirley Bassey’s famous contralto, we find 007 in respite, enjoying the poolside amenities of the famous Fontainebleau Hotel in Miami, particularly the tender touch of a voluptuous masseuse known only as Dink (Margaret Nolan) who receives an unfortunate dismissal so that Bond can engage in “man talk” with Felix Leiter (Cec Linder).
Bond’s impromptu investigation at the Fontainebleau introduces us to some of the most iconic figures of Bond lore—the avaricious Auric Goldfinger (Gert Fröbe) and the alluring but ultimately doomed Jill Masterson—as well as a “Bond, James Bond” introduction for the ages.
Goldfinger would be the last of his novels that Ian Fleming would live to see adapted to the screen as he visited the set like he had during Dr. No and From Russia With Love. The author’s death in August 1964 prevented him from seeing the final product that took global “Bond-mania” to a new level and remains the gold standard (if you’ll forgive the pun) of quintessential 007 cinema.
Aside from the narrative using Felix to sic Bond onto our greedily gilded villain rather than a canasta-playing American millionaire, Goldfinger remains relatively faithful to Ian Fleming’s source novel, right down to the black silk underwear he described Jill to be wearing when 007 caught her in the act of aiding her gold-obsessed confederate.
What’d He Wear?
One point of divergence between the novel and film is that the literary James Bond conducts his initial surveillance of Goldfinger while wearing his usual “dark blue tropical worsted suit”, while Connery’s cinematic version is arguably—and understandably—dressed for leisure. For a movie that includes not one but two black tie ensembles, already becoming a signature of 007 style, Bond is dressed for these iconic early scenes in Goldfinger not in a tailored dinner jacket but instead…
The light blue belted playsuit that Sean Connery zips up over his slate blue swim trunks in Goldfinger has been thoughtfully detailed in a 2012 post at Bond Suits, Matt Spaiser’s definitive blog exploring all things sartorial in the world of 007.
The simple one-piece garment worn on screen is made from terry cloth, the piled toweling fabric typically used for bath robes and towels, though it had become increasingly popular among men’s resort-oriented leisurewear by mid-century, modeled on screen by Alain Delon in Plein soleil (1960), Elliot Gould in Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice (1969), and then Connery again with his terry cloth shirt in Diamonds are Forever (1971).
Like Mr. Bond keeping an eye on Goldfinger above, let’s take a closer look at the pieces in Bond’s Miami Beach fits and see how you can incorporate the same looks into your own wardrobe.
Let’s start with the item most likely to appeal to any man: swim trunks.
Connery wears a pair of slate blue swim trunks with a short inseam and a long rise to just about an inch below the actor’s navel, where it fastens solely with a single brass-toned button through a short, pointed tab.
It’s a good thing Bond’s playsuit has a triple complement of pockets as it appears that his trunks have none! Sans pockets, fasteners, or adjusters, these short and simple trunks are detailed only with a white contrasting double stitch around the waist, around each thigh hem, and down the side of each leg.
Consistent with its recent 007 Heritage Collection releases, British beachwear guru Orlebar Brown offers the Goldfinger Swimshort ($395) in a mid-blue polyamide blend, continuing the color, snap closure, and contrast stitching from Connery’s screen-worn shorts while adding more modern-expected details like side pockets and a zippered back pocket. These elegant trunks are also designed with side adjusters that can reduce the waist up to 0.8″ for greater versatility of fit. If you’re not into the franchise-branded goods or the higher price tag that comes with them, you could opt for a set of OB’s Setter shorts ($275) in “blue haze” nylon, similarly styled but with multi-colored side stripes in lieu of the contrast stitching; the Goldfinger Swimshort is a variation of OB’s standard Setter, both with a 4.5″ inseam.
From southern California-based leisure outfitter Dandy Del Mar, we have the Riviera Trunks ($89) in “seagrass” teal blue nylon. These update the Goldfinger look with a white drawstring pulled through two pairs of brass-toned stainless aglets and detailed simply with white piping down each side seam. Dandy also adds a handy yet unobtrusive pocket on the back right and side pockets that open just ahead of the piped seams for a functional yet minimalist look à la Sir Sean. Having received a pair of my own, I can personally vouch that they blend comfort with a classic vibe that feels right whether lounging near the high-dive or hi-fi.
A third option comes from the athletic-minded Myles Apparel out of San Francisco, offering the Sutro Swim Trunk ($78) in ocean blue. In the spirit of Connery’s screen-worn trunks, these 5″-inseam shorts are the simplest of our trio of options with just a black-finished snap, sky blue side piping, and the same triad of side pockets and back pocket (with zipper) as seen across the others. As they tout, “we like to think this is what Cary Grant would’ve worn for a morning jog, an afternoon swim, and a nightcap by the bonfire.”
Goldfinger marks the debut of Connery’s favorite casual warm-weather footwear as Bond, classic espadrilles with jute-wrapped soles, light blue canvas uppers, and short white elastic side gussets that ease slipping them on and off. These are likely the exact same shoes that would subsequently appear among Bond’s beach wardrobe in Thunderball, one of the few times 007 would wear the same item in more than one movie.
For its 007 Heritage Collection, Orlebar Brown specifically cited Thunderball as the influence for these now-sold out Spanish-made slip-ons, which retailed for $225 and boasted “washed indigo” canvas uppers with the same white elastic inserts seen in both Goldfinger and Thunderball.
Even well-made espadrilles tend to be affordable, with several varieties available from Amazon including from Alexis Leroy, Kentti, and Soludos. If, like me, you prefer a darker blue, check out these from Soludos and TOMS.
Over the last decade, I’ve owned darker blue espadrilles from Ben Sherman, H&M, and Sperry. The Sperrys—featured below—are likely my ultimate favorite of the three, though the H&M pair were surprisingly comfortable and durable for their low cost. The Ben Shermans were decently constructed, but I found the heels to irritate the backs of my feet.
The Toweling Cover-up
Finally, the pièce de résistance: the cover-up piece that Bond wears over his swim trunks, alternately known as a romper, playsuit (by Bond Suits), or onesie (by Orlebar Brown). The brand of Bond’s toweling one-piece is likely lost to history (or buried in an EON Productions archive), but it bears a striking similarity to this yellow Caulfield by Town & Country playsuit of 1960s vintage, currently listed on Etsy. Evidently this brand specialized in mid-century men’s leisure wear as cursory searches for other Caulfield by Town & Country goods primarily yields vintage robes and pajama sets.
Made of light blue terry cloth toweling cotton, the garment is pulled on by stepping into the hip-length legs and zipping up the three-quarter length fly front. The silver-zip fly extends as high as the upper chest, where a camp collar lays flat at the top though a white-threaded loop on the left side suggests a hidden button under the right collar leaf to close at the neck should Bond so desire.
In addition to the patch pocket over the left breast, Bond’s piece has two side-entry patch pockets on the hips, similar to those found on a zip-up hoodie. The elasticized self-belt latches in the front through a gold-toned buckle, pulling the garment in at the waist for a somewhat more athletic silhouette.
While I’ve come to embrace terry cloth tops as essentials for an aquatic holiday, Connery’s zip-up one-piece may be purely a time capsule to many, as dated (but not quite as offensive) as Bond smacking Dink’s rear to dismiss her from the conversation.
Some may recall a thankfully short-lived attempt some three years ago to introduce the fashionable female romper into men’s summer style a half-century after Connery’s Bond had worn his own terry romper on screen. The RompHim didn’t take, there does seem to be a more classically inspired momentum behind the terry cloth revival as several brands have been leading the charge to incorporate terry cloth toweling back into men’s leisure-wear, such as Busbee McQuade, Dandy Del Mar, Eton Shirts, OAS Company, and Orlebar Brown.
Option 1: The Full Playsuit
The latter company has been particularly conspicuous in its well-marketed tributes to reviving classic Bond style, with pieces inspired by Sean Connery, George Lazenby, and Roger Moore included across the regular installments added to Orlebar Brown‘s 007 Heritage Collection. In 2019, OB unveiled the “Goldfinger Onesie” in their signature Riviera blue cotton toweling, complete with three pockets, covered fly zip-up front, and self-belt with gold-finished buckle.
“Every guy wants to be James Bond. But would they pay $545 for his onesie?” asked Josh Axelrod in his NPR coverage of the collection’s release. Yet, despite this high price tag, this “all-in-one” has been sold out almost since its introduction.
Despite OB’s much-heralded official collaboration with EON Productions, this was far from the first attempt to recreate Connery’s terry cloth playsuit for a modern audience:
- In March 2017, William Charleton posted an ode to the practicality of Connery’s garment on his blog, modeling a costume-oriented version made by ZestyWear which is available for $124 on Etsy where it continues to rack up positive reviews supported by user-submitted images.
- Several months later, after the RompHim fad was in full gear, Volcano Designs of San Diego began offering its own 100% cotton toweling for $140, though I haven’t heard any firsthand reviews of this interpretation.
Option 2: Dandy Del Mar Shirt and Shorts
Whether you’re looking to save a few hundred dollars or would like a more versatile approach, I recommend the Tropez terry cloth shirt and shorts from Dandy Del Mar. I was introduced to this brand via their eye-catching Instagram ads several months ago and was pleasantly surprised when my girlfriend gifted me the sky blue Tropez shirt and shorts set for my birthday this year, unwittingly providing me with the alternative Goldfinger outfit I never knew I needed!
I can personally vouch for the Tropez terry cloth’s comfort and durability while enjoying a day in the sun, sand, or swimming pool or even a laidback evening at home with the right cocktails and music. The shirt and shorts together offer not just the chest and hip pockets that Bond had on his onesie, but also a button-fastened back pocket for wallet, phone, flask, or whatever your day of adventure or leisure requires.
The Tropez Terry Cloth shirt in soft sky blue sells for $109, while the matching shorts are a nice $69.
(Dandy Del Mar does offer a zip-up belted romper in Caribbean blue terry, but this offering seems reserved for women for now.)
All prices and availability above current as of August 2020.
While I wax poetic about certain brands, I have received nothing in return for their mention here nor do I receive any commissions from non-Amazon purchases made from this page… consider this, like most BAMF Style content, merely a labor of love.
How to Get the Look
That’s what this whole post has been! But, if you want the literal breakdown of Bond’s screen-worn garb…
- Light blue terry cloth toweling cotton hip-length “playsuit” with camp collar, zip-up fly front, patch breast pocket, side-entry patch hip pockets, and self-belt with gold-toned buckle
- Slate blue short-inseam swim trunks with contrasting white stitching and short waistband tab with brass button
- Espadrilles with light blue canvas uppers, white elastic side gussets, and jute-wrapped soles
Do Yourself a Favor and…
Check out the movie.
Bond… James Bond.
One thousand likes for the Doxa, Mr. Strike.