Bond, James Bond. For 50 years he has been the epitome of style and elegance. Depending on the Bond, he’s either been a rough and tumble man’s man (Dalton or Craig), a sophisticated scallywag (Moore), a debonair gentleman (Connery), a suave lady-killer (Lazenby) or a mix of all of the above, jack of all trades, but master of none (Brosnan). The one thing that every bond has in common is impeccable style.
In the books, Bond has a cover identity. He’s a wealthy man-about-town who drives (until it dies a fiery death in a car chase) a 1930’s Blower Bently. In order to maintain this cover, he must always be seen in top of the line bespoke suits, expensive time pieces and immaculate shirts and shoes. When Bond came to the big screen, his cover identity was lost in translation but the style remained. At some point in their lives, all men have looked at James Bond and thought “Damn, I’d look good dressed like that”. Well, good news, Northern Gentleman has scoured the internet and the stores and found how to dress like Bond, but on a budget that almost anyone can afford.
Bond (the Daniel Craig version) almost exclusively wears bespoke suits made by Tom Ford. You’ll notice that there are no prices listed on the website for his custom-tailored suits. It is literally one of those cases where, if you have to ask, you can’t afford it. But, not to worry, you can get the same look for about $600 (or less if you hit a sale). For example, about a year ago, I lost some weight and found that my suits no longer fit properly. I managed to find a 2-for-1 sale at Moores Clothing and picked up two new suits for about $750 after tax and tailoring.
One is a Calvin Klein suit. Normally priced at about the $425 price point, this suit is a charcoal colour with a nail-head pattern. It’s made of 100% wool, hangs nicely and keeps its form (unless you really load up the pockets).
The other suit is a Guy Laroche. This is a proper designer suit made by a Paris designer (and then stitched together in Malaysia to save some money). It normally runs at about $650-$750 on its own (depending on the style you choose) and that’s only if you opt for the two-piece suit. Adding the matching vest will put you in the $800-$900 range.
As I said though, by biding my time and waiting for a 2-for-1 sale, I picked up both suits for about $750. Not too shabby.
Recently, Bond has also been seen in Tom Ford shirts. A Tom Ford shirt (just one) starts at about $560 and can go as high as $825. At that price, I, for one, would be afraid to put it on for fear that exposing it to air might somehow damage it.
The Northern Gentleman has found an alternative shirt that holds its style, irons well and doesn’t fade if you opt to wash it at home instead of dry-cleaning it. It’s the Van Heusen line which is available at Sears Canada (though you can also shop online at Macy’s and Amazon). One of these shirts will run you about $40 at full price. Again, the Northern Gentleman is on a budget, so we wait for 2-for-1 sales. Most recently, I picked up two of these classic dress shirts from Sears, one in crisp white and another in royal blue. Total price, about $46 after taxes.
Bond has, on numerous occasions and going all the way back to Goldfinger and Thunderball, been seen in monk or ankle length boots. Evidently they’re not only stylish but excellent shoes for kicking a villain in the face. That’s handy. But wait, did I just suggest boots with suit pants? Yes, I did. And, moreover, I suggested boots that don’t have laces. This is for two reasons:
- Bond, literarily speaking, hated shoe laces. In On Her Majesty’s Secret Service (the novel) Ian Flemming wrote that Bond “abhorred shoe-laces”; and
- Boots, typically, work well with narrow-legged suit pants because shoes will tend to show a sock and nobody wants to see your socks, no matter how clever or hip you think they are.
Now, the current bond prefers the Camberley, from Crockett & Jones. At the price these boots run, I expect that they will come complete with a built-in phone (I may now be confusing James Bond with Maxwell Smart) and a dagger in the toe (and back to Bond). The starting price for the Camberley is about $800. Yet again, I’d be afraid to wear them for fear that the ground might be dirty. With that in mind, we have another option for you…
The Martino Waterproof Leather Commuter Boot. No laces (thusly Bond-approved), ankle length and dressy. These boots are available at your local Sears store for about $180. You can find a similar style at Payless shoes for about $40 but the product reviews on their version are less than stellar.
The watch has been largely replaced by the smartphone for day-to-day use, but for the occasion where you want to look your best, a watch is a necessity. Over the years, Bond has worn a wide variety of watches. Some were made by well-known designers, others were designed by “Q” and had no brand-name on them. According to the books though, bond favours a Rolex.
It seems, however, that fitting lasers and Geiger counters into a Rolex is more difficult than imagined and so, since Goldeneye, Bond has been wearing Omegas. At full retail, one of these watches will cost between $900 and $8,000 (and the $900 is a real bargain-basement, fell off the back of a truck price). Not for the Bond on a budget, then.
What to do? The look isn’t complete without a decent looking watch. Well, here is where the budget bond can really save some money (presumably for the down payment on a classic Aston Martin DB5). Wal-Mart has a Timex Acqua Men watch which looks remarkably similar to the Omega featured in Goldeneye and you can pick one up for about $34. You’re welcome, Northern Gentleman has just saved you approximately $7,965 on a watch.
The final look
A full retail Bond look will run you about $15,000… for one outfit. That’s a bit steep, although, admittedly, you can wear the watch and boots with just about anything. Still, a suit that costs about $9,000 and a shirt for $900 is a bit out of most people’s price ranges. If, however, you choose the Northern Gentleman’s discount Bond style, you’re looking at about $575 for the whole lot (if you hit the 2-for-1 sales).
Not bad at all, you get all the glamour of Bond for about 4% the cost of the real thing. With those savings, you can use the other 96% as the first payment on a new Aston Martin, or at least hire an engineer to fit the watch with a laser.