Headgear, Heels, Cummerbunds and Belts: James Bond’s Wearable Gadgets
When it comes to James Bond’s wearable gadgets, it’s his watches that immediately come to mind. On occasion, Bond wears other items that are more than what meets the eye. He has gadgets hidden in his clothes, or his clothes themselves are gadgets. Starting in Goldfinger, gadgets became an integral part of the Bond series and that included gadgets he could wear.
Goldfinger: Seagull Headgear
James Bond’s first wearable gadget is also his silliest. Bond’s snorkelling gear to infiltrate a Latin American drug laboratory is topped with a seagull to disguise himself. Of all of Bond’s wearable gadgets, this one is the least expected from a Bond film and more expected from a Bond spoof. Nevertheless, it’s a clever piece of equipment.
Goldfinger: Shoe Heel Homing Device
James Bond’s shoes in Goldfinger, whether they’re his elastic-gore ankle boots or his two-eyelet derbies, are equipped with a sliding leather heel that can house a miniature homing device. It’s a clever place to hide this device, as anyone searching Bond is unlikely to find it. It’s a less invasive—but also less reliable—way of tracking Bond than the pill in Thunderball or the injectable chip in Casino Royale and smart blood in Spectre. Bond’s Aston Martin DB5 and Felix Leiter’s car are both able to track this device.
On Her Majesty’s Secret Service: Radioactive Lint
Q devises and discusses in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service a gadget made of lint, the fluff shed by clothing, stating it can be used as a weapon and for tracking. Bond does not use this gadget, but it’s a clothing-related one as once it is placed in a pocket is essentially becomes part of the clothes.
Diamonds Are Forever: Cummerbund-Concealed Harness
As Bond scales the outside of the Whyte House in his black dinner suit in Diamonds Are Forever, he attaches one end of the rope he shoots from his piton gun to a hook under his burgundy cummerbund. Whether this cummerbund is a decorative part of his harness or he just wears a cummerbund—an unusual item for Connery’s Bond—to conceal a harness underneath is unknown, but either way it’s a clever way of using clothing combined with gadgets.
Live and Let Die: Brush Transmitter
James Bond calls this a ‘hairbrush’, bit others have referred to this gadget as a clothes or lint brush. James Bond would naturally pack a clothes brush for all of his trips, seeing as he frequently gets himself dirty and needs an easy way of making himself presentable.
Live and Let Die: Reversible Suit Jacket and Breakaway Trousers
Bond has a quick costume change aided by a reversible jacket and breakaway trousers. He starts off with a black silk leisure/safari jacket and matching trousers for hang-gliding reconnaissance. After he lands, he breaks away the black trousers to reveal beige trousers, and he removes his jacket and turns it inside-out to reveal a beige suit jacket. Though such a reversal is not realistically possible, the tactical-to-social change looks suave.
Octopussy: Reversible Tweed/Military Jacket
Bond again wears a reversible jacket in Octopussy to transform one disguise into another disguise, making the change of clothes easy with no evidence left behind. This one starts as a classic brown tweed hacking jacket and reverses to a green army jacket. The style of reversal is almost like the opposite of the one in Live and Let Die, taking a jacket with a curved hem and flipping it over into a straight-hemmed jacket. It’s not a realistically possible transformation, and tailor Douglas Hayward had to make separate garments to represent each side, with the original tweed jacket also serving as the fake double-sided garment. Bond also has an easy-to-remove dicky and a flat cap that reverses into a military cap to complete the transformation.
Licence to Kill: Rope Cummerbund
Bond’s cummerbund in Licence to Kill with his black dinner suit is used to conceal rope for Bond to use to rappel from the roof a building to spy on drug lord Franz Sanchez. This is only the second time in the Bond series that Bond wears a cummerbund, so it’s an accessory that Bond has no need for unless it is good for another purpose like it does here. He wouldn’t wear a cummerbund merely as a fashion accessory until Quantum of Solace.
GoldenEye: Grappling Hook Belt
To escape the Russian archives, Bond removes his black leather belt and shoots a piton with a high-tensile wire from the belt’s buckle. With this gadget, Bond swings across the archives and crashes outside through a window. Q tells Bond that the belt is tested for the weight of one person. Bond had planned on using it to escape with Natalya, but since she is captured he doesn’t have the opportunity to test it for two people.
The World Is Not Enough: Inflatable Parka
If parkas weren’t puffy enough, Q developed a coat that could inflate into a protective bubble. R demonstrates the device on a different coat than what Bond later uses this feature on his ski jacket to protect himself and Elektra King during an avalanche when they are out skiing.
Casino Royale (1967): ‘Protective Clothing’
James Bond-recruit Evelyn Tremble in the 1967 James Bond spoof Casino Royale is presented with a onesie in British Racing Green full of all the gadgets he could possibly need in the field. Q’s assistance Fordyce tells Tremble that it is ‘Sanforized, non-iron, and also available in chocolate, oyster or clerical grey’, as well as ‘hand-reefed and double-charvered’. It contains a switchblade, Geiger counter, intercom and infrared camera. It also has ‘a tape recorder in the shoulder padding, a Beretta in the buttonhole, and a cute little minigun in the gusset.’ What more could someone on his way to becoming Bond want?
Casino Royale (1967): Bowler Hat Gun
Also in this James Bond spoof is a black bowler hat that has a gun embedded in it. An assistant in Q’s lab demonstrates it, and either the force or the sound of the gunshot knocks out the demonstrator.
In addition, the film features CIA agent Ransom wearing a trick carnation that spits cyanide, a variation on the classic squirting flower practical joke. The Joker in Batman also had a poisonous squirting flower.
The Bond villains have some of the most famous gadgets in their clothes. Rosa Klebb in From Russia with Love has a retractable poison-tipped dagger hidden inside her shoe, which she uses in a battle with James Bond. Morzeny has the same gadget hidden in his boot, which he uses to kill Kronsteen.
Oddjob‘s hat is the most iconic clothing-related gadget of the entire Bond series. What sounds like a silly concept is turned into a frightening one in Goldfinger, when a man can kill with—and by killed by—his own flat-crowned bowler hat made by London’s Lock & Co.