Last week, Financial Times writer Robert Armstrong had an ax to grind with the costume design in the new James Bond film. “If 007 is looking for Spectre, he should try his tailor: Only infiltration by a global criminal organisation could explain the abysmal fit of his clothes,” Armstrong began his nearly 1,000-word blog post about just how shitty Bond’s suits look.
Specifically, Armstrong was no fan of the snugness of 007’s suits: The sleeves are too short, and the arms are too tight, allowing the material covering his muscles to bunch up around his arms and thighs. “The point of good tailoring is that it hangs smoothly; [Daniel] Craig’s Bond suits cling and pull around the waist and chest,” Armstrong continues. “The jackets stop near the top joint of the thumb, rather than the canonical lower one, when Craig’s arms hang by his side. The lapels are too skinny for a broad-chested man and look cartoonish.”
But as some subscribers of r/MaleFashionAdvice (MFA) rightly noted, the tight fit is merely an extension of an ongoing trend in men’s suits — i.e., the youngs like their suits tailored to be more form-fitting than in the past. “Today, most suits are more of a slim cut,” says Art Lewin, a master designer of bespoke suits. “The coat sleeves on Bond weren’t too short; it was the shirt sleeves that were too long and not closing properly at his wrist. It’s obvious they were NOT custom shirts.”
Lewin tells me that he makes 99 percent of his suit coats to show about a quarter to a half inch of shirt sleeves. “That’s the proper amount to show,” he explains.
Other MFA denizens, however, argue that the issue goes far beyond just tailoring. “Craig’s Bond makes the subtext of the franchise into text, by having his brawn literally bulging out of his suits at all times,” one argues. “Part of this is the slimness that was in style during most of Craig’s run, but they really cranked it up to 11 throughout in a very intentional way. The impracticality and discomfort is the whole point, as Bond is unable to conceal his thuggish nature.”
Speaking of discomfort, Lewin adds, “Many people now are looking at the Instagram models wearing super tight suits and trying to wear them as the IG models do. But most forget that those models have the suits pinned, duct-taped or clipped for the pics. You must be comfortable in a suit and able to move.”
Which, if nothing else, is the crux of Armstrong’s argument — namely, despite aesthetic preference being arbitrary, “it’s difficult to look chic while also looking uncomfortable.” Like Lewin, he has a point: Suits aren’t supposed to be uncomfortable. “If there is something constricting about a suit, it doesn’t fit,” Armstrong writes. “The true rules of tailoring (as opposed to mere preferences about details) are what they are because they convey ease, through the natural drape of the cloth and the proportionality of the cut.”
Interestingly though, if the costume designers of No Time to Die were purposefully designing Craig’s suit to accentuate his swole as an appeal to a younger audience, they might be surprised to find that the skinny-fit trend is now on the decline, which, as another MFA member astutely observes, might be why Bond’s suits suddenly feel so glaringly out-of-date.
And so, they have three pithy words for him: Room. Shoulder. Room.