Who in the history of film has gone through more fashion trends than James Bond? I remember my fashion awakening in the 90's, reading an article in Playboy (yeah, I read the articles) discussing Pierce Brosnan's wardrobe in Goldeneye. The article talked about the return of the nautical blazer with gold buttons and the matching of Bond's Omega watch face to his outfit, something I still do to this day.
Whether it was Sean Connery showing how you could fight in a suit and not ruin the crease or Brosnan's pretty-boy, born to wear a tux look, the Bond franchise has something to teach from every era.
Sean Connery (1962-1971)
The original Bond typically wore two buttoned, single-breasted suits known as the Conduit Cut. With lots of blues and grays, Bond was almost always in a suit. The lapels were of narrow to medium width, wider if the suit was a three-piece with a blue or white shirt. This style of suit has made a come back with the popularity of Mad Men and is very easily copied. Another trademark of Connery's Bond was a plain white pocket square, neatly folded, either rectangular in or in a single peak.
Black tie for this era was very traditional, narrow bow ties and almost always black on black. In Goldfinger, Connery broke this trend with a white smoking jacket with a lapeled shirt. If you want to stand out in a sea of black tuxedos, this is a great option.
George Lazenby (1969)
There is not much to say about Lazenby's impact on fashion in the Bond franchise. With only one film to his credit it's hard to see a trend or an influence but the suits had trendier cuts and pin stripes.
One thing I will say however, even though no one knew who Austin Powers was at that time, ruffles just do not cut it Baby.
Roger Moore (1973-1985)
During this era there was an effort to update Bond's look with more sport jackets contrasting the colors with the pants, wider lapels of the 70's and brighter colors. The fit was a little loser and had an almost leisure suit look to them. Also new to the Moore years was the introduction of more double-breasted jackets.
Colors of suits in this period tend to be light grays, khaki and patterns, however closer to the end of Moore's run styles started to revert back to more traditional three-piece suits of the Connery years with darker colors. Another obvious change were the wide pants as opposed to the slimmer cuts Connery wore (wide pants is a trend I personally hope never comes back).
Tuxedos had larger lapels during this time and Moore leaned more to the white dinner jacket than simply black on black. The bow ties were also wider, matching the lapel on the jacket.
Timothy Dalton (1987-1989)
With only two movies to his credit, Dalton did not get a real chance to influence Bond's style like Moore or Connery, but he did make an impact. Heavily contrasted by the neon colors of the 80's, Dalton's Bond stuck to dark grays, blacks and blues.
Up to this point, Dalton probably bore the least amount of suits than any other Bond being seen in tuxes or more active wear, reflecting the more aggressive nature of Bond then that of Roger Moore. However when he did wear suits, they were typically two-buttoned and the occasional three-piece.
Pierce Brosnan (1995-2002)
Moving away from English cuts, Brosnan's Bond wore custom Italian suits, toiled to the finest detail.
Brioni was the company building these suits, averaging $ 5000 per. Where as Connery and Dalton could blend into a crowd, Brosnan stood out like a Fortune 500 CEO. This guy looked like an ad for Omega, BMW or whatever high end product he might be selling. The suits had three buttons, which were popular in the 90's, elegant pin stripes and silk pocket squares matching the ensemble.
Tuxedos were black on black and fit like a glove. Not that Bond ever looked unfashionable in the past, but Brosnan's Bond was so elegant you were never going to confuse him for a spy, but maybe an investment banker.
Daniel Craig (2006 - Present)
Craig is probably the perfect mix of the high fashion of Brosnan and function of Connery. With out a doubt, the suits for Bond in the last two films had an understated perfection in both fit and style.
Starting with Brioni suits in Casino Royale then on to Tom Ford in Quantum of Solace, the Craig era shows how a suit can create a look of elegance and still be functional. One of the problems I had with Brosnan's Bond is that there is no way you're getting into a fight with a suit like that and still have it looking like you just put it on. On the other end of the spectrum was Connery with a utilitarian and conservative style that meant business.
The modern Bond can blend into a crowd like a spy should but you will never confuse his suit for "off the rack". This is a look of understated sophistication, a trend I hope continues.
Bond, James Bond
The beauty of a franchise like James Bond is that men have a fashion icon to follow, which is rare and its longevity allows us to witness the evolution of men's fashion. Depending on your style you will probably find a look that fits your style from any era.