The best spy movie style icons

07 October 2016

The Best Spy Movie Style Icons

Since the invention of the spy film, tailoring has become synonymous with the genre. There’s something about a man incognito shooting villains dressed in a dinner suit and landing the seductress of whichever franchise. It’s almost as if the suit does the work. Many a spy film is made (and broken) by its wardrobe. Fans of such films have come to expect a certain standard, and who could blame them? Suits convey confidence and every spy needs to look their A-game when they’re leaping from buildings and employing every technique to complete their mission. We’ve pulled together some of the strongest spy looks from the decades and have analysed why they work. Get your pistols and deadly umbrellas at the ready: we’re going in.

James Bond: the Sean Connery years

Everyone has their preferred Bond—Moore, Dalton, but never Brosnan; but it’s Sean Connery who gets everyone’s votes. Most of Connery’s tenure as Bond took place in the Sixties, so his suiting reflected the period and in the nature of fashion it looks just as fresh today. Anthony Sinclair dressed Connery and his tailoring took his masculine physique and emphasised certain features (and diminished others). With a strong frame and broad shoulders, Connery didn’t need much assistance; all the jackets had soft shoulders that followed the shoulder line into the sleeve. The narrow Sixties lapels suit this style of jacket; across the chest it’s full and less tapered at the waist to suit his shape. A nice touch on the dinner jacket is the satin shawl collar complemented by a matching shawl cuff and covered buttons—something to bring back today.

Henry Cavil, The Man From U.N.C.L.E.

A popular Sixties series-turned-international blockbuster in 2015, The Man From U.N.C.L.E. got the world interested in the intrigue of fast cars and old-school tailoring again. Esteemed British tailor, Timothy Everest was charged with making. Henry Cavil look even better. The suits were made to stand out against a fast-paced car-chased Roman streetscape. Each had the bespoke touch with simple details that any aficionado can recognise at ten metres. His windowpane three-piece suit is worth selling an organ for, with covered buttons, pull-tabs on his trouser and a ticket pocket. And without a doubt, the surgeon’s cuffs are fully functional—a true sign of custom-made.

Daniel Craig, Skyfall

An honourable mention is Daniel Craig’s Bond of recent years, whose missions are dressed from head to toe in made-to-measure Tom Ford. Less formal than its predecessors it reflects the habits of the modern man with a more relaxed fit and the introduction of smart casualwear in a British-American hybrid. And although this is a departure from tradition for purists, it does represent the Bond franchise’s relevance in a 21st-Century marketplace. Something you can emulate at work, or on your next spy mission.

Robert Redford, Three Days of the Condor

Not your traditional spy film, Robert Redford starred as a CIA agent and turned the standard for spy attire on its head. A strong look with lasting fashion influence it dresses down traditional tailoring for someone on the run. Playing with strong layers he wears classic pieces, such as a herringbone blazer with a crew-neck jumper worn over a shirt and woollen tie. It has that distinctly American sports look about it, but is so sleek in its execution. A chambray shirt open under a double-breasted navy peacoat, collar popped and worn with jeans has the right amount of attitude. A great example of wearing tailoring on your days off.

Colin Firth, Kingsman: The Secret Service

And finally, the surprise spy film that redefined how we should view the genre in which costumes gave an outstanding performance. Produced as a capsule collection for Kingsman tailors in Saville Row, suits were traditional British fits that can only be imagined by masters. With looks that range from Wall Street tycoon to English gent, Colin Firth was the perfect choice for the role and the suits were made to perfection for the actor. Get yourself a double-breasted and a matching shoe with a concealed dagger. And don’t forget your AR umbrella—an essential when trying to save the world.