Sean Connery as James Bond, sophisticated and resourceful British government agent
Morgan’s Harbour, Jamaica, Spring 1962
Film: Dr. No
Release Date: October 5, 1962
Director: Terence Young
Wardrobe Master: John Brady
Tailor: Anthony Sinclair
WARNING! Spoilers ahead!
With the release of Dr. No sixty years ago today, October 5 has since been immortalized as Global James Bond Day in commemoration of when Sean Connery first uttered that now-iconic character introduction:
Bond. James Bond.
Dr. No had actually been Ian Fleming’s sixth novel featuring the worldly secret agent, set primarily in Jamaica as he penned the novel from his Jamaican estate Goldeneye. The author had tired of the character and left Bond’s fate somewhat ambiguous at the end of his previous novel From Russia With Love, though ultimately choosing that the agent would live to die another day and beginning Dr. No with 007’s recovery from the poison inflicted by the sharp-shoed Rosa Klebb.
Back to relatively full health, Bond finds his punishment in the form of a simple assignment meant to ease him back into duty (and possibly penalize him for letting his guard down), investigating the disappearance of a station chief and his secretary in Jamaica. There, Bond learns that the late chief had been investigating an eccentric recluse with the equally eccentric name of Doctor Julius No (Joseph Wiseman). With the help of his CIA buddy Felix Leiter (Jack Lord) and local contact Quarrel (John Kitzmiller), Bond ultimately determines that he and his newly issued Walther owe the
good bad doctor a long-overdue visit.
From the start, the movie adaptation of Dr. No laid much of the groundwork for what would be familiar elements in the James Bond film series, including his shaken-not-stirred vodka martinis, his suits sharply tailored with just enough room under the left armpit for a Walther, the beautiful women that helped or hampered his missions, and the famous “James Bond Theme” composed by Monty Norman and arranged and performed by John Barry.
The straightforward plot and limited locations made Dr. No ideal for 007’s first cinematic adventure, produced on a modest budget of a million dollars and with a little-known Scottish actor in the role that would catapult him to fame.
What’d He Wear?
Felix Leiter: Where were you measured for this, bud?
James Bond: My tailor, Savile Row.
Witticism at gunpoint aside, the exhaustive research of James Bond scholars like Matt Spaiser of Bond Suits has informed fans that Sean Connery’s suits as 007 were crafted by Anthony Sinclair, a London tailor whose shop was located on Conduit Street, roughly two blocks away from Savile Row.
Matt has also written comprehensively about the light gray suit in this sequence, made from an attractive blend of mohair and wool, a wrinkle-resistant combination that wears cool and reflects an elegant silky sheen that serves Bond well under both the Jamaican daytime sun and the artificial light of Puss-Feller’s nightclub after dark.
Bond’s two-button suit jacket reflects Sinclair’s “Conduit Cut”, a term referring to Sinclair’s tailoring style that retained its elegant essence even while the exact details and cut slightly evolved over Connery’s near-decade portrayal of 007. Sinclair’s suit jackets for Connery followed classic English tailoring principles with soft shoulders, full chests with gentle drape, and waist suppression. (You can read more about the Conduit Cut from Bond Suits.)
The moderate lapel width balances the breadth of the ’50s and the narrower shape popularized through the ’60s, though Sinclair never wavered from notch lapels on Bond’s lounge suits (of course, dinner jackets are a different story!) Sinclair variously cut Bond’s suit jackets with no vents, single vents, and double vents; this suit features the latter. The sleeves are finished with four-button cuffs, the straight hip pockets are jetted (sans flaps), and Bond foregoes his usual white pocket square that he wears straight-folded in his welted breast pocket with his other suits in Dr. No.
The turned-back “cocktail cuffs” on his shirts stand out as a signature detail of Sean Connery’s style as James Bond. To over-simplify, cocktail cuffs blend the double-layered aesthetic of French cuffs with the practicality of standard button cuffs, resulting in a quietly fussy and sophisticated design. The origins of these distinctive cuffs remain in dispute, but they were visibly present on shirts that Frank Foster made for his stylish client Yul Brynner in the 1950s, and Turnbull & Asser had already mastered the cuff by the time director Terence Young introduced them to the young Connery to be outfitted as agent 007. (You can read more about cocktail cuffs from Bond Suits.)
With his suits, Connery’s Bond typically wore cotton poplin shirts along the white and blue color spectrum, here favoring a plain white that Bond Suits describes as the “Sea Island cotton” favored by Bond across Fleming’s novels. The cutaway collar features a wider spread than Connery would wear in subsequent movies, though all spread collars flatteringly balance the actor’s sharp, angular facial features. (This very philosophy explains why this post’s more rotund-faced author prefers point collars!)
Dr. No also established the essential Connery era neckwear—the navy grenadine silk tie, distinguished by its woven texture and tied in a Windsor knot that suitably fills the wide space under his collar… despite the literary Bond’s bias against Windsor knots as stated in Fleming’s novel From Russia With Love. (Read more about 007’s favored grenadine ties at Bond Suits.)
Connery wears almost-identically cut and styled suit trousers through his tenure as Bond, specifically through the ’60s when all of his trousers were rigged with double forward-facing pleats. These trousers have his usual straight vertical pockets with openings cut along the side seams, though we can assume that they also feature the button-through back-right pocket that we see on his other tailored trousers throughout Dr. No. The trouser legs taper to the cuffed bottoms.
The waistband is secured with a hidden hook-and-eye extended tab in the front and three-button “DAKS Top” adjusters on each side, a self-suspended system developed by Simpsons of Piccadilly in the 1930s. Bond’s side-adjusters not only hold his trousers up at Connery’s natural waist, they also provide an external button for him to secure his shoulder holster to his waistband.
The shoulder rig consists of a simple wide strap of blue vinyl that extends across Bond’s back, loops around the right armpit, and returns to where it appears to be velcro’d onto itself in front of the left armpit, below which hangs the tan chamois leather holster for his Walther.
Bond wears his usual black calf leather cap-toe derby shoes, laced through three sets of eyelets though he would also occasionally wear two-eyelet derbies later in the series. His dark socks are either black or, more likely, navy blue.
Unless it’s covered by shirt cuff, Bond appears not to be wearing the Rolex Submariner ref. 6538 steel-cased dive watch that had debuted in Dr. No, strapped to Sean Connery’s left wrist on a dark exotic leather band.
Even those not interested in firearms could probably tell you that James Bond’s signature sidearm is a Walther PPK, which the agent dutifully carried—with only few exceptions—across the novels and films.
The weapon had been introduced to the series after British firearms expert Geoffrey Boothroyd wrote to Ian Fleming to share his admiration for the character… but not his armament. Boothroyd believes the .25-caliber Beretta in Bond’s shoulder holster across the first few novels to be “a lady’s gun,” offering his expertise in finding a more appropriate alternative. The timing was fortuitous as Bond’s failure to draw his suppressed Beretta from his holster at the end of the novel From Russia With Love led to his questionable fate on the final page.
The second chapter of Fleming’s next Bond novel, Dr. No, thus introduced an armorer—named Major Boothroyd, in tribute to the author’s benefactor—who replaced Bond’s aging and anemic Beretta with a Walther PPK in 7.65mm, describing it as “a real stopping gun… about a .32-caliber as compared with the Beretta’s .25.” When Dr. No was chosen to be Bond’s first cinematic adventure, the scene was was retained—perhaps unnecessarily—in the spirit of providing a faithful adaptation.
“Walther PPK, 7.65-mil with a delivery like a brick through a plate-glass window. Takes a Brusch silencer with very little reduction in muzzle velocity,” Major Boothroyd describes as he loads the weapon and hands it to Bond. “The American CIA swear by them,” he adds, a Chekhovian suggestion that would pay off in a later scene.
Unfortunately, Dr. No‘s limited budget and the lack of attention to firearms accuracy on screen resulted in the production sourcing not a .32-caliber Walther PPK but rather a .380-caliber Walther PP to fill Bond’s shoulder holster. (Additionally, the anemic .25-caliber Beretta was portrayed on screen by a larger Beretta M1934… hardly appropriate solely for a ladies’ handbag as it had indeed been the Italian military’s service pistol, and its .380 ACP ammunition would have made it equal in power to the PP that Boothroyd issues Bond, if not more-so than the intended .32-caliber PPK. But I digress.)
The Walther PP had actually been the first of the series, introduced in 1929 and intended for use by German police as its designation—Polizeipistole—suggests. Within two years, Walther released the downscaled PPK with a shorter barrel, frame, and grip that made it more appropriate for plainclothes officers and undercover work. Similar to earlier blowback-operated pistols like the Colt Model 1903 Pocket Hammerless, the Walther PP and PPK were primarily chambered in both .32 ACP (7.65x17mm) and .380 ACP (9x17mm), with the PPK taking shorter magazines that carried one round less than the PP.
Though the James Bond franchise presents the Walther PPK as a relatively rare gun—particularly suggested in films like You Only Live Twice and GoldenEye to be used uniquely by the agent—it was really anything but, having been produced in great numbers during World War II, including its notorious usage by Adolf Hitler to commit suicide in May 1945. The PP and PPK didn’t die with Hitler, and its compact size and reliability made it a favorite among cops, criminals, civilians, and even celebrities, with Elvis Presley owning a few himself, including a gold-plated PPK that he gifted to Jack Lord—the actor who portrayed the PP-carrying Felix Leiter in Dr. No.
Two Walther PP pistols were thus sourced for Dr. No, only appearing on screen at the same time when Bond and Leiter meet. One of Sean Connery’s screen-used Walthers from Dr. No was auctioned in 2020, along with a letter of provenance from Bapty, the British prop house that had provided screen-ready weapons to the Bond series since Dr. No.
Indeed, swapping the Walther PP in for the PPK was hardly the only firearms-related error in Dr. No, as a close-up of Bond attaching his famous silencer also shows that he now carries an FN Browning Model 1910, likely the only pistol that could host a suppressor that was available for the film. Additionally, shots of Bond firing what should be his Walther on Crab Key depict him firing a full-size M1911A1, perhaps the only available semi-automatic pistol that could cycle blanks.
After Dr. No proved that James Bond would indeed return to the screen, the production team worked more carefully to ensure that 007 would carry a proper PPK when the situation called for it, likely the result of increasing product placement deals with Walther that landed their respective new pistols—like the P5 in the ’80s and P99 in the ’90s—in the agent’s holster as well.
What to Imbibe
Dr. No establishes the “shaken not stirred” vodka martini as James Bond’s preferred cocktail, but it also presents the diversity of agent 007’s palette. After meeting Felix Leiter and Quarrel, the trio split a bottle of Black & White blended whisky at Puss-Feller’s bar, where they also force the company of Dr. No’s camera-toting operative Annabel Chung (Marguerite LeWars).
The Black & White whisky story dates back to the 1880s, when Canadian-born businessman began marketing his “Buchanan Blend” whisky to address what he perceived to be a fruitful market opportunity in England for bottled whisky. The blend was first renamed “House of Commons” in recognition of its legislative audience, though it became even more recognizable for its two-color label that led to the official rebranding of “Black & White” in 1902. The brand would become additionally familiar for the pair of terriers—one black, one white, naturally—illustrating the labels.
BAMF Style readers may recall recently reading about Black & White—and, indeed, the same passage above—as it featured as Cary Grant’s favored booze in Father Goose (1964). Additional pop culture references and appearances of Black & White include Dashiell Hammett’s 1924 Continental Op story “The Golden Horseshoe”, movies like Mogambo (1953), A Night to Remember (1958), Beat Girl (1960), La Dolce Vita (1960), and Frenzy (1972), as well as in Connery’s last “official” Bond movie, Diamonds are Forever (1971), when Bond and Tiffany Case (Jill St. John) each enjoy a dram of her whisky.
How to Get the Look
While the character and his style were still being established for the screen, James Bond adapted his quintessential gray tailoring for a warm Jamaican day in his light-wearing mohair-blended suit, accompanied by his staples of a “cocktail cuff” shirt, navy grenadine tie, and—of course—a shoulder-holstered Walther.
- Light gray mohair/wool-blend suit:
- Single-breasted 2-button jacket with notch lapels, welted breast pocket, straight jetted hip pockets, 4-button cuffs, and double vents
- Double-forward pleated trousers with “DAKS Top” 3-button side-adjusters, straight/on-seam side pockets, and turn-ups/cuffs
- White cotton poplin shirt with cutaway spread collar, front placket, and 2-button turnback/”cocktail” cuffs
- Navy grenadine silk tie
- Black leather three-eyelet cap-toe derby shoes
- Navy cotton lisle socks
- Tan chamois leather shoulder holster with blue vinyl straps
Do Yourself a Favor and…
Check out the movie.
I hope he cooks better than he fights.