Saturday, May 14, 2016

James Bond’s Uniform: The Grey Suit

James Bond may be most associated with wearing black tie, but he wears more grey suits than anything else in the film series. The grey suit could easily be called the film Bond’s uniform. Because grey suits are so common, they are not particularly memorable. After all, spy whose cover is a businessman does not want to dress memorably. Grey suits, however, do not have to be bland or boring, and even a wardrobe of all grey suits can be a very exciting thing when there are light greys and dark greys, and solids, semi-solids, checks and stripes. James Bond wears five different grey suits in From Russia with Love alone, and four out of the five are very different from each other. The right shade of grey can fit into any season or any location, and any shade of grey can work in any pattern. Bond wears some form of the grey suit in every film except in The Spy Who Loved Me.

Because grey is neutral and does not stand out, a grey suit can be worn almost anywhere. For this reason, a charcoal grey suit is the best first suit to have in one’s wardrobe. Its neutrality gives it a slight edge above navy for one’s first suit, though navy also makes for an excellent first suit.

Solid Grey Suits

Grey suits should never be a flat, completely solid grey. Though most of James Bond’s grey suits are without a pattern, they all have some form of texture to prevent them from being flat and boring. The most common texture on Bond’s solid grey suits is woolen flannel, which is a warm, fuzzy cloth without a visible weave. Bond wears charcoal or dark grey examples in Dr. No, From Russia with Love, Goldfinger and Thunderball, a medium grey flannel suit in Diamond Are Forever and a light grey flannel suit in For Your Eyes Only. Grey flannel cloths are typically woven from yarns spun in multiple shades of grey to give the cloth a livelier look than a single flat grey would. The grey flannel suit was once known as the uniform of the average, conforming businessman, and it helps Bond blend in with other businessman as part of his cover. But Bond’s grey flannel suits are all far from the average man’s suit. In a sharp cut and rich cloth, the grey flannel suit is a valuable piece in any stylish man’s wardrobe.

For warm weather, Bond wears light grey plain-weave topical worsted wool or worsted and mohair blend suits in Dr. No, Diamond Are Forever and Live and Let Die. These have a stylish business look for warm weather. Like with the flannel suits, these tropical worsted suits are woven in from yarns spun of multiple shades of grey to breathe life into what would otherwise be a very plain cloth. In Bond’s darker charcoal worsted suits, the cloths are also woven in multiple shades of grey. Bond’s charcoal suit at the beginning of The World Is Not Enough has brown and blue mixed in with the grey yarns for an even more interesting cloth that still looks charcoal overall.

Bond has worn solid grey suits in non-wool cloths that use texture to bring life to the grey suit. The charcoal dupioni silk suit in From Russia with Love, the dark grey dupioni silk suit in Live and Let Die and the elephant grey dupioni silk suit in Moonraker have textured slubs for interest. The light grey linen suit in Casino Royale has interest from both a textured open weave and the worn rumples of linen. In The Man with the Golden Gun, Moore wears two charcoal mohair-blend suits that have sheen to prevent the charcoal suits from looking flat.

Semi-Solid Grey Suits

Along with his solid grey suits, Bond wears many patterned grey suits, either woven in black and white or woven in different shades of grey. The most subtle of these patterns is the pick-and-pick, which is also known as sharkskin. Rather than rely on mottled yarns for a varied grey, the semi-solid pick-and-pick uses two different yarns to subtly give the cloth a more interesting appearance without a noticeable pattern. In From Russia with Love Bond wears a subtle pick-and-pick in black and grey, and in Skyfall he brings back the pick-and-pick suit in black and white. Bond also wears semi-solid grey herringbone suits woven in black and white, for a similar effect to pick-and-pick. These can be seen in You Only Live Twice and The Living Daylights. Semi-solid suits are appropriate for business, but they stand out more than solid grey suits.

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