image-url

From cocktail cuffs to frilled fronts, a brief history of James Bond’s shirts

When James Bond starts feeling shirty, you'd better beware. Because, whether the man from MI6 is hunting rogue agents, burly henchmen or tyrannical tycoons, 007 doesn't just cuff his collars — he takes them out.

The superspy has a similarly severe approach to his actual shirting. As far back as Ian Fleming's original novels, Bond has taken his shirts seriously — buttoning up only the finest threads. In the first novel, Casino Royale, literary Bond pulls on a ‘heavy silk evening shirt’. In Thunderball, he pairs a ‘cream silk shirt’ with ‘a black knitted silk tie’. And, by Diamonds are Forever, he’s packing only the best button-ups; folding ‘some white silk and dark blue Sea Island cotton shirts with collars attached’ into his suitcase.

After moving to the big screen, similar attention has been paid to Bond’s shirts. From the first official film, 1962's Dr. No, the production team would call on the heritage clothing houses of London for Bond’s shirts, with a particular preference for Jermyn Street shirtmaker Turnbull & Asser. Here, we tuck in a brief history of each Bond’s signature shirt style — and help you replicate the looks for yourself...

Sean Connery mixed things up with cocktail cuffs

Connery kicked things off for cinematic Bond — and looked bloody good doing so. This was largely down to a finely-tailored bunch of Mayfair, Marylebone and St. James’s names, from Anthony Sinclair to Lock & Co.

But the most enduring piece from Connery’s formalwear wardrobe comes courtesy of Turnbull & Asser. Created specifically for his first film, this pale blue cotton shirt was designed to be suave, sophisticated — but also boast a little flair around its cuffs.

Two-button turnbacks with rounded edges, these ‘cocktail cuffs’, became a signature of the first big screen Bond. Today, the style goes by many names — including the ‘Casino’ cuff, ‘Portofino’ cuff or ‘Flowback’ cuff — and a faithful recreation of Connery’s poplin-weave original is available in Turnbull & Asser’s ‘007 Collection’.

Dr. No Blue Cotton Shirt With Cocktail Cuff As Seen On James Bond

Dr. No Blue Cotton Shirt With Cocktail Cuff As Seen On James Bond

£250

Buy Now

George Lazenby had a licence to frill

In On Her Majesty's Secret Service, George Lazenby’s sole outing as the superspy, 007 takes the flair of the cocktail cuffs above one step further. Flamboyance typified the final Bond film of the 1960s, with the Australian actor throwing on decoratively ruffled ‘jabots’, equestrian-inspired ‘stock’ ties and — perhaps most notably of all — shirts frillier than a Flamenco dancer’s.

But it’s his black tie look that lands Lazenby on this list. Slightly less exuberant than the various cravats and natty neckwear he wears elsewhere in the film, Bond’s eveningwear ensemble features a ruffle-front evening shirt — which turns heads at the baccarat chemin de fer tables of Portugal’s Hotel Palácio Estoril.

And, despite appearing early on in the runtime, this is actually the second frilled shirt Lazneby buttons up during the film. The first, featured in the pre-title sequence, is a less ostentatious affair (both were cut from white cotton voile by Pall Mall’s Frank Foster). We’d opt for this less-is-more approach if you’re looking to imitate Lazenby.

White Pleated Cotton Dress Shirt with T&A Collar and Double Cuffs

White Pleated Cotton Dress Shirt with T&A Collar and Double Cuffs

£275

Buy Now

Roger Moore took his shirts on a safari

When Roger Moore holstered up his Walther PPK for Live and Let Die, a new era of Bond shirting began; an altogether more practical, pocketed era. The safari shirt had arrived — buttoned up in tandem with its bulkier brother, the safari jacket. And Moore’s 007 wore them both by the wardrobeful.

From Live and Let Die to Moonraker, Octopussy to The Man with the Golden Gun, Moore’s Bond pulled on many spins on the style. Whether a linen leisure jacket or a camp cotton shirt, it’s a look that didn’t age as handsomely as the man himself — and has today fallen somewhat out of favour.

But there remain ways to incorporate elements of the expedition-ready style into your modern wardrobe. The lightweight linen construction, for instance, is perfect for the sweatier summer months — even if you’re not infiltrating a lair by the Iguazu Falls. And the safari-style pale green colour is also one of the season’s most covetable colours.

Olive Andros Hemp Shirt

Olive Andros Hemp Shirt

£120

Buy Now

Timothy Dalton kept things classic with his formalwear

Dalton’s Bond did a lot of things well. He ushered in the more grounded, gritty style of action we’ve come to expect from 007. He ushered in the return of Aston Martin to the famed franchise. He even literally ushered; welcoming guests to Felix Leiter’s wedding after parachuting into the Key West ceremony.

But Dalton did one thing very badly; shirts. Despite pulling off the suave-but-realistic secret agent character perhaps more believably than anyone who came before him, Dalton’s button-downs were badly lacking. His first problem? Pockets. Acceptable on Moore’s safari shirts above, chest pockets peppered Dalton’s shirts — even in his eveningwear.

His morning dress, too, typified the 1980s American style of wedding outfit — almost a pastiche of the traditional British look. And the wing-collar shirt he tucked into those ‘cashmere stripes’ trousers had a passé pleated bib, double cuffs and an old-school attached wing collar. It’s a collar style today reserved for the most rarefied of events, and one we’d usually steer clear of. But, if your dress code demands one, nobody does it better than New & Lingwood.

New & Lingwood ‘Ritz’ Wing Collar Shirt

New & Lingwood ‘Ritz’ Wing Collar Shirt

£125

Buy Now

Pierce Brosnan’s Bond had the blues

By the time Brosnan’s Bond careened onto our screens (swan-diving off that dam in Goldeneye), 007’s shirts had settled down a bit. From simple formal styles — starched and slipped on under his Brioni suits — to his off-duty, sometimes even short-sleeved shirts, Brosnan’s wardrobe kept things reasonably basic. Basic, and blue.

Because, although Connery’s first cocktail shirt was a pale blue hue, no Bond has even buttoned up so much blue as Brosnan. Whether leaping from a bank in Bilbao, cruising a classic car around Havana or busy being garroted in Istanbul, the Irishman’s take on the superspy seemed to almost constantly be wearing blue.

And it’s a style tip worth taking. Especially over summer, when you could pair the shade with lightweight linen and evoke Bond’s breathable look from the Saigon chase scene in Tomorrow Never Dies.

Navy Linen Shirt with T&A Collar and Button Cuffs

Navy Linen Shirt with T&A Collar and Button Cuffs

£250

Buy Now

Daniel Craig stripped things back to basics

And so we come to Craig. The latest actor to take on Bond exploded into his tenure with a Brioni-tailored bang. But, beneath the Italian suits of Casino Royale, Craig buttoned up shirts from Turnbull & Asser — most notably during the film’s key Texas hold 'em tournament at the titular casino.

Specifically designed by the Jermyn Street shirtmaker, the simple garment took things back to basics. Cut using a classic silhouette and featuring double cuffs, only the collar differs from the brand’s existing patterns — a uniquely designed ‘Bond’ collar with a medium spread, fairly high stance and slightly elongated points.

Subsequently, Craig’s Bond also kept things classic — although Tom Ford was brought on to handle his tailoring. And, in the most recent film, No Time To Die, 007 had a throwback threaded into his shirting; a ‘cocktail cuff’ added to his usual Tom Ford dress shirt. But, for the most part, Craig’s formal shirts were simple, solid and there to do a job — much like the actor’s take on the iconic character.

Casino Royale White Dress Shirt As Seen On James Bond

Casino Royale White Dress Shirt As Seen On James Bond

£295

Buy Now