Questionable clothing choices by 007 and other heroes

Being a hero is tough. You have to save the world, or an important part of it. People are trying to kill you. And when you develop a large following, your wardrobe gets critiqued.

Still, when heroes, including James Bond, make questionable clothing choices, people notice. This list is by no means a comprehensive list and it’s definitely subjective. With that in mind, here we go:

Connery 07

Q is in disbelief about 007’s choice of neckwear.

1. James Bond’s pink power tie (Diamonds Are Forever). When 007’s popularity peaked in the mid-1960s, the Bond image was that of Saville Row suits. Anthony Sinclair, who made Sean Connery’s suits for the film series produced by Eon Productions, even became a minor celebrity and was interviewed by newsmen (a clip of one of those interviews appears on the John Cork-directed documentary Inside Dr. No).

At the start of the 1970s, the world was changing in all sorts of ways. That included how men, 007 included, dresssed. The first hint of this was in Diamonds Are Forever. Bond (Sean Connery) is trying to find captured billionaire Willard Whyte and investigates a house out in the desert near Las Vegas. He wears a white suit (two-piece as opposed to the three-piece white suit Steve Martin would wear a few years later), presumably because of the heat. And he wears a wide, pink power tie.

Pink? Yes. That wasn’t part of the ’60s Bond wardrobe. As the decade progressed, and Roger Moore was hired to take over the role, Eon’s costumers put Bond in flared trousers (even with his tux) and a greater variety of colors. Arguably, the pink tie was the start of moving away from the Anthony Sinclair suit look.

2. Napoleon Solo’s clogs (publicity stills for The Man From U.N.C.L.E.) When you’re the star of a popular television series, as Robert Vaughn was during the 1964-68 run of The Man From U.N.C.L.E., you maintain a busy schedule that includes posing for publicity stills. One day, the star showed up for such a shoot wearing clogs and white socks. While he changed into his Napoleon Solo suit, he didn’t bother to change his footwear. Nobody was supposed to notice. The attention wasn’t supposed be on Solo’s feet, after all.


Illya Kuryakin is stunned to discover Napoleon Solo is wearing clogs.

One of those shots was used in the end titles of the show in the third and fourth seasons. It was cropped before you could see the clogs. Even if the full shot was used, Vaughn’s pose was at such an angle you’d really have to look hard to spot the clogs. (It would also show up in the 1983 television movie The Return of The Man From U.N.C.L.E. as a photograph on the wall of Solo’s apartment. We present a thumbnail version of the full image with this post.) A second still from the shoot, though, was used for the cover of the Ace paperback The Monster Wheel Affiar. The negative was flipped so both Vaughn and David McCallum appeared to be left handed. And Vaughn’s clogs were in full view. Decades later, The Solo Clogs Affair is still something of a running joke among fans, particularly among women fans of McCallum ribbing women fans of Vaughn.

3. Steve McGarrett’s leisure suits (later Hawaii Five-O seasons). In the original Hawaii Five-O, Jack Lord’s Steve McGarrett was a tough, shrewd no-nonsense leader of a Hawaiian State Police unit that dealt with crime bosses and enemy spies with equal efficiency. His wardrobe reflected that: simple, classic looking suits.

McG leisure suit

McGarrett in his preferred dark blue leisure suit

As the show progressed, and mens fashions took a turn for the worse with polyester suits, that look changed. By the 11th season, McGarrett was alternating regular suits (which didn’t look as classic as in earlier seasons) with that bane of 1970s mens fashion, the leisure suit. McGarrett wore two of them. The one he wore the most often was a very dark, Navy blue version. It was so dark a viewer could overlook it to a certain degree. But McG sometimes donned a light gray version, that exposed the flaws of the leisure suit for all to see.

In the 11th and 12th seasons of the show, McGarrett sometimes wears the leisure suits almost as he does his regular suits. In the 11th season episode The Skyline Killer (which featured excellent stunt work, staged by Beau Van Den Ecker, the show’s stunt arranger who graduated to director), Lord’s McGarrett and his stunt double wear the Navy blue leisure suit while pursuing a killer on a construction crane about 20 stories above the ground (not unlike a similar sequence in Casino Royale 27 years later). Meanwhile, in real life, one of the blue leisure suits was part of a 2008 auction.

7 Responses

  1. I personally think Connery first went wrong in GF, with the powder blue romper by the pool with Dink and Felix. The real difference in that movie and the earlier two was that Terence Young was not there to oversee the wardrobe. He knew men’s high-end fashion. Witness, if you will, the Sansabelt ™ pants and sandals in YOLT. No Terence Young there, either.

  2. Sean Connery doubled down on the terribleness of the pink tie by tying it in the manner of Oliver Hardy, i.e. long enough only to reach the bottom of his sternum. Making it, in effect, a comedy tie instead of a “power tie.”

    In the same film, he also wore a oatmeal-colored beach romper (perhaps a cousin to its Goldfinger counterpart), and a plaid tweed jacket — brown, no less — complete with a belted back panel. Perhaps he borrowed it from Q. Or inherited it from Allan Quatermane.

  3. McGarrett’s leisure suits weren’t a questionable choice because *everyone* was wearing them. He would have looked odd if he didn’t.

    As for flared trousers, ditto. Yes, even with tuxes.

    For a short time, from the mid-60s to around the 1980s, men’s fashions were as changeable as women’s. That’s pretty much ended now and men’s fashions have gone back to traditional and classic. That’s why Jon Hamm is Mad Men doesn’t look ‘old fashioned’ today even though it’s set in the early 1960s. But he would have looked really odd in the 1970s.

  4. @Anonymous: If everyone was wearing leisure suits, how come Danno and Duke weren’t?

  5. I remember an interview with Jack Lord talking about the expensive Brioni suits McGarrett wore. Can’t say I remember the leisure suits on him-but they were terrible all around. Hated Sean’s pink tie-not so much because it was pink-but because it was tied improperly and wasn’t long enough. It looked awful-especially for someone as impeccably dressed as Bond.

  6. […] for the U.N.C.L.E. movie, one request. No clogs for Solo as an “Easter egg,” […]

  7. […] and fourth seasons of the original series. That still is also known for what some fans view as a questionable choice in footwear for Solo. Interestingly, the feet of the Solo standees appear to have been darkened a bit, making […]

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