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James Bond research paper

James Bond and His Influence on Menswear and Fashion

Since the era of silent films, film has been influencing the way people dress and trends in the fashion industry.  As the years go by fashion designers have been trying to keep up with onscreen characters.  While this trend in later years has been most noticeable on the red carpet and on fashion catwalks there is one character who since his inception has been inspiring both designers and consumers alike.  James Bond since the early 1960s has been a fashion icon in menswear.  This is because Bond allows men the freedom to explore their own interests, style, and sexuality. Using the tools of fashion as a confidence boost and armour. 

Though James Bond’s extensive history in both films and novels, his clothing has played a major role in the character’s development.  James Bond was never limited by his choice of outfit, he used every tool at his disposal to get a job done including the clothes he chose to wear.  “[Bond] defined what a well-dressed man should look like” (GQ).  He built himself not just a suit of armour but increased his confidence as well.  Through every iteration of the films, the titular character has remained a fashion icon.  He does this by staying within the traditional definition of menswear. Each era has its own trends and slightly different styling but as a general rule, the main outfits are well-fitted British suits1 and other traditional pieces. 

Bond’s style has become famous because no matter what he is wearing he continues to be very traditional and classic.  Even Roger Moore, who played Bond through the 1970s, wore traditional menswear though he added a ruffled shirt to a tuxedo, the tux itself was classic.  “The essentials of Bond’s style are all there: simplicity, fine materials, a bias toward formality.” (The Global and Mail).  These principles create building blocks.  Things that men who are not James Bond can look to when styling themselves.  This is what allowed Moore to be able to add ruffles to a classic black tie tuxedo.  Bond also never finds himself underdressed.  This combination of simplicity erring slightly toward formality allows Bond to blend in almost seamlessly anywhere. 

This ability to blend in was key to the character that author Ian Flemming wanted to create.  James Bond, after all, is a secret agent.  “A secret agent should not stand out” (The Global and Mail).  This quote goes back to the style principles that Bond held himself too and guided the creation of many outfits throughout the film series.  Each Bond could be placed down in any era and still look fashionable, maybe excluding some of Moore’s looks that included bell bottoms.  This ability to blend in has had the most progression between Craig’s current Bond and Connery’s Bond of 1960s.  This progression demonstrates the shifting values of the men that were watching the films. Connery was influential because he built men’s confidence while Craig inspires and shows the attractiveness of being well dressed.  

In Connery’s era, his outfits were Savile Row suits. They were military inspired and made to blend in with the upper class that Bond was a part of but Connery wasn’t.  Connery came from a working class family and did not have the build that was commonly associated with suits of that nature, he was broad in shoulders and more fit than the men who the suits were originally made for.  Connery did an excellent job of blending in and becoming his character he allowed men from all over to see that no matter where you come from or what your background is that fine clothes can still be worn.  In the current era of Bond, Craig has a slightly different challenge.  He is tasked with highlighting men’s fashion from what some would say is a bygone era because now style is something that is very individualized.  One of the most influential outfits Craig has worn is one of the simplest.  It is a Barbour Jacket2, crew neck sweater, jeans, and Brogue boots3.  This outfit is made up of building blocks.  Referencing Bond’s style principles this outfit provides a fair amount of inspiration and structure while simultaneously allowing for creativity and freedom.  

It is outfits like Craig’s and suits like Connery’s that have cemented James Bond as a fashion icon for generations.  “If the James Bond series is a leader of any industry, that industry would be fashion” (Bond Suits).  This is one hundred percent true.  James Bond has influenced menswear all through the twentieth and twenty-first centuries.  Another example of Bond’s influence over fashion comes again from Craig.  Through his fourteen years as Bond, Craig has reintroduced menswear pieces that had fallen out of fashion such as ivory dinner jackets with silk faced lapels.  This is a trend that has become ever more popular on the red carpet since Craig wore his in 2015.  A trend that has affected more men was the shrunken suit that Craig was so fond of in the first few Bond films he featured in.  

Over the past fifty years, James Bond has made history with his choice of clothing.  James Bond has given men everything from confidence to the freedom to execute when it comes to style.  He has also given many ideas to menswear designers.  Through his many films, novels, comics, and video games James Bond has become a modern male icon and will continue to lead the charge in popularizing traditional menswear for generations to come. 

  1. A suit that is structured with heavy canvassing, padded shoulders, and waist suppression. Traditionally in a darker color and heavier wools.
  2. A waxed cotton jacket that is a staple of British country fashion. The name comes from the traditional company that made them.
  3. Low heeled boots that are usually made of multiple pieces and have decorative perforations along the seams

Bibliography

“Brogue Shoe.” Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 6 May 2020, en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brogue_shoe.

Everett-Green, Robert. “How James Bond Has Defined an Era of Men’s Style.” The Globe and Mail, 24 Nov. 2012, www.theglobeandmail.com/life/fashion-and-beauty/fashion/how-james-bond-has-defined-an-era-of-mens-style/article5486516/.

“J. Barbour and Sons.” Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 11 Mar. 2020, en.wikipedia.org/wiki/J._Barbour_and_Sons.

“James Bond Fashion Through The Ages (04 Oct 2012).” James Bond Fashion Through The Ages | Presenter, www.expressoshow.com/articles/James-Bond-Fashion-Through-The-Ages?articleID=3130.

Laneri, Raquel. “How Movies Changed the Way We Dress.” New York Post, New York Post, 26 Feb. 2017, nypost.com/2017/02/24/how-movies-changed-the-way-we-dress/.

Lee, Christopher. “Checks, Grids, Windowpanes & Squares in Menswear.” Gentleman’s Gazette, Publisher Gentleman’s Gazette LLCPublisher Logo, 15 Jan. 2020, www.gentlemansgazette.com/grids-plaids-windowpanes/.

Real Men Real Style. “Dress Like James Bond | Celebrity Style Series | Ashley Weston Men’s Stylist | Casual Style 007.” YouTube, 4 Jun. 2016. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2mYyPn-6RTE

Spaiser, Matt. “(00)7 Current Trends in James Bond’s Clothes.” The Suits of James Bond, 14 Dec. 2019, www.bondsuits.com/007-current-trends-in-james-bonds-clothes/.

“The Difference between a Topcoat and an Overcoat.” SUITABLEE, suitablee.com/en/suitblog/the-difference-between-a-topcoat-and-an-overcoat-blog/.

“What Is a Sharkskin Suit?” Style Manual, 15 Mar. 2017, www.burton.co.uk/blog/what-is-a-sharkskin-suit/.

Wolf, Cam. “This Might Be the Most Influential Menswear Outfit in Movie History.” GQ, GQ, 6 Apr. 2018, www.gq.com/story/james-bond-skyfall-most-influential-outfit.

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