A Fan of Flannel

Sean Connery's Bond was a fan of flannel. Throughout his tenure as the world's favourite secret agent, Connery worked the soft woollen cloth into the wardrobes of all of his 007 movies - except 'You Only Live Twice' (1967), as the summer weather in Japan was too hot for the warm fabric... something that he discovered on arrival in Jamaica (pictured above) for his first cinematic assignment in 'Dr No' (1962).

 

FROM RUSSIA WITH LOVE

A handsome combination. 'From Russia With Love' (1963)

For the cooler months in temperate climates, flannel is the perfect choice. Not only is it supremely comfortable to wear, it is arguably the most handsome of all suiting fabrics, particularly when tailored into Anthony Sinclair's classic Conduit Cut. It has a subdued, matte finish that, when paired with a solid Cocktail Cuff Shirt, plain Grenadine Necktie and neatly folded White Linen Pocket Square, creates a timeless, understated look that helped define Bond style. It stands testament to the maxim that, "less is more".

Anthony Sinclair Solid Navy Flannel Suit

Earning his stripes. 'From Russian With Love' (1963)

In addition to a vast range of solid colours, flannel suitings are available in striped and checked patterns. Amongst the most popular designs are Chalk Stripes. The 'brushed' surface of the cloth has the effect of softening the definition of a pattern. This works to wonderful effect on a chalk-stripe design, particularly when there is a strong contrast between the stripe and the background - the pattern can literally appear to have been applied by tailor's chalk.

Getting his kicks. 'From Russia With Love' (1963)

The softness of flannel cloth offers ease of movement, making it both comfortable and practical - should there be a sudden need for unexpected, energetic activity. Whilst not the hardiest of cloths, it stands up to general wear and tear, and recovers well to treatment for cuts and abrasions.

Anthony Sinclair Chalk Stripe Flannel Suit

 

GOLDFINGER

Risking the wrath of 'M' with brown in town. 'Goldfinger' (1964)

For his third appearance as 007, in Goldfinger (1964), Connery became a little more adventurous with his flannel finery - not only choosing to wear brown (in town) but also making the addition of a contrasting waistcoat. The jacket and trousers were made from a small-scale, dark-brown houndstooth (often referred to as puppy-tooth).

Moneypenny becomes a fan of flannel. 'Goldfinger' (1964)

As with the chalk-stripe, the flannel's brushed-finish blurs the edges of the design, creating a subtlety to the pattern, which in turn blends nicely with the lighter coloured flannel vest. The combination was a controversial choice for a London office-meeting, but it is an undeniably attractive outfit.

Anthony Sinclair Puppy-Tooth Flannel Suit with Solid Flannel Waistcoat

Keeping it simple. 'Goldfinger' (1964)

In the final scene of Goldfinger, Bond returns to formality for a supposed meeting with the President of the United States. The three-piece charcoal-grey Conduit Cut suit illustrates the use of flannel cloth in its most elegant guise.

Flannel. Standing up to general wear and tear. 'Goldfinger' (1964)

This most sober of suits is worn with a black tie, white shirt and pocket square, to dramatic effect. It is a prime example of how to keep it simple, yet serious, creating a look for men who mean business (usually followed by pleasure).

Anthony Sinclair Three-Piece Charcoal Grey Flannel Suit

 

THUNDERBALL

Flannel. Elegant and refined. 'Thunderball' (1965)

Having closed the Goldfinger film in a three-piece grey flannel suit, Bond opens the sequel in another. The flannel worn in 'Thunderball' (1965) is similar to that worn in the previous film, and appears to be equally useful in a wrestling match. It is a shade lighter in colour, woven with a mélange yarn that produces a slightly mottled effect, showing flannel cloth in its most recognised and popular form.

Flannel. Responds well to treatment for cuts and abrasions.

The most significant difference between the Goldfinger and Thunderball grey-flannel suits is the styling of the waistcoat, with the latter having the points removed from the hem to create a square front - a design that became increasingly popular in the late sixties.

Anthony Sinclair Three-Piece Dark Grey Flannel Suit

 

DIAMONDS ARE FOREVER

Connery comfortable in Conduit Cut. 'Diamonds Are Forever' (1971)

As mentioned earlier in the article, Connery abandoned his flannel clothing for the filming of 'You Only Live Twice' (1967), before abandoning the role of 007 altogether. Following a brief sabbatical, he returned in 'Diamonds Are Forever' (1971) - as did the flannel suit. The black three-piece suit was Bond's appropriate choice for the funeral scene - no risky experiments with shades of brown on this occasion.

Flannel needs a degree of care... but it's worth the effort.

Flannel is arguably at its most magnificent in solid black, with the matte finish absorbing all elements of light. Admittedly, such a dark, soft fabric can tend to pick up lint, requiring a little more maintenance than lighter tones, but there is nothing to worry about if you have someone to provide occasional assistance.

 

Anthony Sinclair Solid Black Flannel Suit

All of the flannel suits featured in this article have been recreated as part of a 60-piece collection of essential spy-wear to celebrate six decades of Bond style.

Click here to view collection.

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