James Bond is no stranger to the life of espionage. Among his escapades, the secret agent has had to muscle his way through legions of henchmen, escape from fortresses of masterminds and navigate his way through romance after romance. He also knows how to wear a damn suit.
The world’s most famous spy is admired for his sartorial taste and the ‘007’ franchise has influenced generations of men’s style along the way. But stealing a bit of Bond’s style isn’t as easy as you’d think. While it’s very possible we’d look good in a Tom Ford suit with an Omega Seamaster peaking out from the cuff (hands on the steering wheel of an Aston Martin, of course), most of us don’t get our checks cut by MI6.
If you want to add a bit of 007’s wardrobe to your closet, the best thing to do is work with a suit you’ve already own and turn it into something Bond would wear. But before you go sending your suit off to the tailor, you should know what makes a James Bond suit a James Bond Suit.
Key Characteristics of James Bond’s Suit
According to Ryan Devens, founder of Tailor’s Keep in San Francisco, the style of suit that Daniel Craig’s Bond typically wears is a hybrid of sorts. “Traditionally, Bond has always been the pinnacle of English style,” Devens says. “His suits, for the most part, are pretty English — the colors, the structure in the shoulders, the general drape… but practically, the cut and fit have to be a bit more Italian because he’s more active in it. That’s going to mean higher armholes, a fuller chest and a fuller sleeve.” Higher armholes and a fuller chest allow the wearer a greater range of motion, handy when raising the arms to aim the latest gadget or escape over a wall. The fuller sleeve also helps to give Bond enough clearance to flex and bend his arms without ripping the sleeve. In other words, a slim suit isn’t necessarily the answer to your tailoring woes.
Matthew Spaiser, founder and author of The Suits of James Bond notes that in No Time to Die, Craig wears a relaxed corduroy suit from Massimo Alba “which is unlike the more structured suits that Bond always preferred before.” The Bond of Craig’s earlier ‘007’ films embraced the sartorial trend of the time which was super slim and tight tailoring. But, there’s a noticeable letting loose in the upcoming film.
This goes for the trousers as well. They aren’t skin-tight, but they’re not exactly voluminous. The trousers are relaxed enough at the thighs but tailored enough below the knee to still look bespoke. The rise of Craig’s trousers is neither too low, nor too high, but sits closer to his natural waist. This keeps his shirt tucked in. And, as far as the length, his trousers are cut with a slight break. No ankles to see here.
Where to Start
You may or may not already have a suit in your wardrobe. The cheapest way to own a Bond-like suit is by altering one you already have.
If you don’t have a suit or jacket you want to have tailored, the secondhand route is the next most affordable option. Tom Ford and Brioni have both supplied the ‘007’ films with impeccable tailoring and a simple search on sites like eBay, The Real Real and Grailed will yield a variety options. This gets a bit tricky, however. You’ll want to know your suit measurements before handing over your credit card digits. “Get a measuring tape and have a friend measure take your measurements,” Devens says. “You’ll need to know measurements for your chest, your natural waist which is right at the middle of your torso, and a hip measurement, which is the widest part of your seat.”
But, just because you score a Tom Ford suit doesn’t mean it’ll fit you like Daniel Craig. Bud, if only it were that easy. “The look that Tom Ford is better known for is more classic, with wide peaked lapels, which also made an appearance in ‘Spectre’,” Spaiser says. “Bond’s suits from these brands are always fitted especially for him, so that’s important when getting a Bondian suit.” For now, just make sure the shoulders and chest are the right measurements. Most other adjustments can be done at the tailor.
Okay, so what if you’ve got a bit more cash to spare? A lower-priced off-the-rack option with a Bond eye can be a good place to start. For that, Spaiser recommends Mason & Sons. The British brand specializing in suiting with Savile Row tailoring up its sleeves. The brand’s not only inspired by the Bond franchise, it actually served as the tailor for Sean Connery when he took on the role.
“You don’t need to buy a bespoke suit or a Tom Ford suit to get the Bond look,” Spaiser says, “but you also can’t get it from a cheap online tailor who doesn’t have the expertise to make a well-cut and well-fitted suit.” To that end, once you’ve gotten your hands on a suit, it’s time to get it altered.
Tailoring Your Suit
“Make sure the sleeve length is right,” says Devens. “It’s the easiest way to upgrade a suit.” Sleeve length is a common mistake he says he sees all the time, but the most simple way to make a suit look like it was made for you. When you’re at the tailor, make sure to wear a properly-fitting dress shirt with the cuff sitting just past your wrist bone. You want about 1/8″ to 1/4″ of your shirt cuff showing.
Next to that, taking in the waist is the next most-common option. There should be some waist suppression, but not to the point where there’s visible stretching at the buttons. Remember, you need enough room to chase bad guys. But, if you don’t have the shoulders right, a tailored waist can emphasize other problems the jacket may have.
Part of the reason Craig looks good in a suit is that the shoulder is the right shoulder size. Devens says, “Whenever a shoulder is too large on a jacket, it can make you look smaller and scrawny. But if you have the right shoulder, it can make you look proportional.” On Craig, the shoulder seam is right at the crest of the shoulder, which is where it should hit for you too. Devens says that some tailor shops can adjust the sleeves from the shoulder rather than from the cuff of the sleeve, but that’s a pricier job. The reason you’d even consider going about this option is that the jacket you own has functional sleeve buttons.
“If I have to take in a jacket in the shoulders, that definitely much means that there are other things about the jacket that are also going to have to be sized down,” he notes.
When you’re at the tailor, make sure to also wear your dress shoes and a belt. The belt ensures the trousers will sit where you normally wear them and the shoes will give your tailor a more accurate picture of how the hem fall. Remember, Bond’s not an ankles kind of guy. To that end, he also doesn’t really do a cuff. Ask for a plain, blind-stitch hem. From there, make sure that the silhouette has enough room at the thighs, but is still tailored through the leg.
A Bond suit doesn’t have to be bespoke. But, you can get pretty damn close with what you’ve got already. Whether you’re an actual living secret agent or not, we hope these tips can help you feel like the best-dressed spy in the world.