Update your summer wardrobe with 3 style tips from James Bond

The arrival of July finds many of us counting down the days to our summer holidays. In this article we look at some simple ways to update your summer wardrobe with some 007-style panache.


Many years ago my boss sent me to Italy for a couple of weeks to help our local agent install some equipment and train the end user. I was about 22 or 23 and terrified at the responsibility, but lucky for me I was headed to Cagliari in Sardinia for 10 days as the first part of the trip and it was the end of July.

Flying out to Milan, I met our agent at the airport before the short flight to Sardinia and soon we were in our hotel. Because it was late July and the heat was unbelievable, the customer was only working in the mornings and so we had the afternoons free.

What a stroke of luck; my first business trip abroad was a paid holiday!

Every afternoon we were able to hop on a bus and in 10 minutes were at the beach and during the weekend we hired a car and took it around the island.

1. Smarten up with a polo shirt


One of the things that struck me in Sardinia (and then Milan) was the flair Italians have for clothing and it was easy to see why.

Many men wore polo shirts, casual but with class, and looking so much better than a t-shirt. Since returning home after that trip I added a polo shirt or two to my wardrobe and ever since it has become an essential part of my wardrobe, suited equally well to the beach or going our to dinner.

Recently I asked my followers on social media for their favourite James Bond related products. The most frequent response was the Riviera polo shirt by Sunspel, designed for Casino Royale and worn by Daniel Craig in the scenes set in The Bahamas following his return from Miami.

Although it has been available since 2006, the Riviera polo shirt is still available in navy, as worn by Daniel Craig, as well as a number of other colours. According to Matt Spaiser’s excellent The Suits of James Bond, Casino Royale was the first time 007 wore a polo shirt since Thunderball.

Although I did contact Sunspel, who proposed an offer for readers of The James Bond Dossier, they unfortunately haven’t responded to my follow up emails,  but you can order the Riviera polo shirt online here.

Quantum of Solace also saw 007 in a polo shirt, this time designed by Tom Ford and looking, at least at a casual glance, suspiciously like it was modelled on the Sunspel design.

Of course, in Dr No Sean Connery wore a sky blue polo shirt to Crab Key and later, in Thunderball, a black long-sleeved polo shirt at Shrublands and a navy Fred Perry polo shirt after investigating the hull of Disco Volante. You can buy a similar model Fred Perry today, called the M3 in the UK and the M6000 in the US (according to James Bond Lifestyle).

None of these brands is exactly budget though and so if you are looking for a cheaper alternative look for a pique polo shirt with double stitched seams and a ribbed cuff if possible and don’t make the mistake of wearing one that is too large; a much more flattering look is a snug fit without being over tight.

2. Ditch the board shorts

Orlebar Brown Setter ShortWhile in recent years board shorts have become increasingly common, they are hardly flattering. Originally worn by surfers, they are designed to offer protection against the surfboard. While swimming shorts are better, they are so baggy on many men they are almost as bad as board shorts.

Take a look in the mirror and take an honest look at yourself (or even better, ask your other half for an honest opinion). Do you like what you see?

Think about the recent 007 films and you’ll probably recall those pale blue Grigioperla swimming trunks from Casino Royale or the Orlebar Brown trunks from Skyfall.

Prior to those, Sean Connery wore tight fitting swim shorts in a number of films, including Jantzen shorts in Thunderball.

Unfortunately the brand no longer makes swimwear for men, although Sunspel makes a similar swim short based on ones that Sean Connery wore while filming Woman of Straw; they were styled on photographs of Connery relaxing on set, mistakenly identified as during Thunderball.

While the Jantzen and the Grigioperla swimwear is no longer available, you can still buy the Orlebar Brown Setter swim shorts in Sky Blue; as Matt Spaiser points out, 007’s colour of choice for his swimwear has tended to be blue throughout the films.

3. Keep cool in linen

pink-linen-shirtWhen heading for the tropics in the books, James Bond tends to wear short sleeved Sea Island cotton shirts in dark blue or white. Times have changed as he also tends to wear a suit too (surprisingly with sandals in Thunderball) and so these shirts are too formal to really consider.

An alternative is to wear linen, which is comfortable in hot weather and, as it creases easily, has a much less formal look.

There are numerous occasions in which 007 has worn linen in the films though (take a look at this list of articles on The Suits of James Bond), most recently in Casino Royale when he wore a navy linen suit in the pre-title sequence during the bathroom fight, worn with a cotton/linen blend shirt.

He later also wears a grey linen suit and white short-sleeved shirt with epaulette straps in a relaxed take on the pilot shirt, which also appears to be linen.

With much of the action based in and around the water it is no surprise that Thunderball is a treasure trove of relaxed clothing ideal for a beach holiday, such as the casual pink linen shirt with swimming shorts when visiting Emilio Largo at Palmyra. If pink linen shirts are your thing then try Lands’ End UK and US, who currently supply the example above.

Roger Moore also wears linen in Live And Let Die, while there are numerous examples of Pierce Brosnan in linen. Probably you won’t want to pack a suit for a beach holiday (although perhaps I should have packed a linen suit that time in Sardinia), but a linen shirt is a good option and, like the polo shirt, it can be worn both on the beach and out to dinner.

Linen trousers are a good bet too; it can get cool in the evening and while you may be wearing shorts or swimwear during the day, you’ll almost certainly need to wear trousers at some point on your holiday.

Do you have any advice for fellow Bond fans on holiday packing? Share your ideas in the comments below!

David Leigh founded The James Bond Dossier in 2002. A fan of 007 since the age of 8, he is also author of The Complete Guide to the Drinks of James Bond. You can order a copy here if you don't own it already.

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