The Tan Corduroy Massimo Alba ‘Sloop’ Suit in No Time to Die

The full No Time to Die coverage on Bond Suits starts with the Massimo Alba tan needlecord suit. I think this is the most significant outfit in No Time to Die, thanks to the creative costume designer Suttirat Anne Larlarb, as it takes Bond’s classic uniform—the suit and tie—and turns it on its head. Bond has never before been so dressed down while being so buttoned up.

No Time to Die starts off with Bond having quit the service and on holiday with Madeleine Swann in Matera, Italy not long after he drove off with her at the end of Spectre. Just like at the end of Spectre in a damier check suit, Bond has no need to be dressed up, yet he still loves to wear a suit and tie. He puts on this needlecord suit for a specific purpose: to pay respects at Vesper Lynd’s grave. Bond would never wear anything other than a suit, the outfit most associated with respect, to visit a grave. Since Vesper taught Bond a thing or two about how to dress in Casino Royale when she provided him with an appropriate dinner jacket, he needed to wear a suit for this occasion to show Vesper that he hadn’t forgotten what she taught him. It’s also a fantastic excuse for putting Bond in a suit for the stunt-heavy action sequence that follows. Every one of Craig’s Bond films features him wearing a suit in the pre-title sequence, and since Quantum of Solace every one features him wearing a suit in an action set-piece in the pre-title sequence. Sometimes Bond does not seem to have a reason for wearing a suit apart from being James Bond, but on this occasion the suit is earned.

The suit is made by Massimo Alba, a Milan-based brand founded in 2006 by designer Massimo Alba. Massimo Alba feature prominently throughout No Time to Die, their first appearance in the Bond series. The brand, however, was already familiar to Daniel Craig, and it’s one of numerous brands that Craig introduced to the Bond series. The Italian brand is perfect for the Italy-set scenes in the film. Not only does the suit’s modern and relaxed Italian style help Bond blend in with his surroundings, it also gives the impression that this suit is something he could have purchased on his drive to Southern Italy. The suit is ready to wear in reality, and there’s no reason to think that it’s not supposed to be ready to wear in the context of the film.

In the Italian setting, Bond puts on the most casual suit he can: an unstructured corduroy suit. It’s Bond’s most casual suit of the series. It still shows respect, but Bond is in no way obligated to wear a suit here because he is off-duty so he is not trying to dress formally. The casual suit, which is casual due to both the corduroy material and the jacket’s soft construction, helps him fit in and look more natural in his relaxed surroundings. Corduroy is a fantastic fabric for both suits and sports coats when one desires a tailored look but still wants to dress down. It’s difficult to look dressed up in corduroy, or any sort of tailored cotton garment for that matter. This suit is for a man like Bond who wears a suit because he chooses to wear one, not because he has to. Bond is not dressing up, he’s merely dressing respectfully and elegantly. It’s the smartest version of ‘smart casual’ attire.

Corduroy is one of the most casual materials that a suit can be made of, and No Time to Die is the first time that Bond has ever worn a corduroy suit. Bond’s corduroy isn’t the typical thick autumnal corduroy but rather a fine cotton corduroy for warmer weather known as pinwale corduroy or needlecord. In its finest variety it is called ‘baby corduroy’, which is a term Massimo Alba have used at times to describe this suit. Massimo Alba’s corduroy is considerably different from the traditional corduroy, and it hardly looks or feels like corduroy, so none of the usual associations that corduroy has should be applied to this suit. The cloth is lightweight and the texture is much more subtle.

The suit is in Massimo Alba’s ‘Sloop’ model in a colour called ‘Desert’, which is a sandy tan. It is a traditional colour for corduroy, which commonly comes in either earth tones like this or in jewel tones. The colour blends in beautifully with the surroundings in Matera and Gravina, Italy. If there’s a place to wear a tan suit, this is it. Bond blending in with the scenery is a common theme of the clothes in No Time to Die, so that even when he’s wearing something unusual for the character he still looks like he is wearing the perfect outfit.

The suit has a modern Italian unstructured cut with soft, natural shoulders and a partial lining for cool-wearing comfort. It has a button two, show one jacket fastening, which is also known as a ‘three-roll-two’ because it has three buttons but the lapel rolls to the second button like on a button two suit. Two buttons is now by far the fashionable style today, but this suit’s buttoning style is considered stylish by many menswear enthusiasts. It is commonly found on unstructured Italian suits, but Tom Ford also use it on structured suits.

Craig fastens the top two buttons of his suit jacket, but the correct way to fasten this suit is at only the middle button because the lapel is cut and constructed to roll over the top button. He has to pull the lapels forward to force the top button closed. The suit shows some strain across the chest because of this, though a pulling suit is nothing unusual for Daniel Craig’s Bond. Fastening the top button of this suit does not look particularly stylish, but it may have been done to conceal a harness for the stunts thoughout these scenes. The cut of the jacket is rather boxy, and buttoning the top button makes the jacket look even boxier.

Compared to the Tom Ford suits, this suit does not have Craig’s usual too-tight look. However, it shares the fit problem of the jacket’s collar standing away from the neck. To fix this, the collar needs to be removed and shortened, and the upper back needs to be taken in. It’s a time-consuming but rather ordinary job for a tailor. Nobody took the effort to correct this on these ready-to-wear suits. The jacket’s length is slightly fashionably short, but it’s not distractingly so.

The suit jacket is detailed with straight flap pockets, a ticket pocket, double vents and four kissing buttons on each cuff. The buttons are brown horn. It has pick stitching, which is is very visible because of the nature of corduroy. The centre rear seam is lapped, which adds to this suit’s sporty look.

The trousers have a straight leg, a mid-rise, on-seam side pockets and plain hems. Though the trousers have belt loops, Bond wears them with braces from Albert Thurston in ‘dove grey’ ribbon, which is a blue-grey. They are trimmed with brown crocodile-print leather ends, brown back elastic and brass adjusters. The costume department sewed buttons for braces inside the trouser waistband because the suit does not come with the buttons, but they did not remove the belt loops like they should have. It is not ideal to wear braces on trousers with belt loops, but it’s not a faux pas. What is against the rules is wearing a belt with braces because they serve the same function, so Bond does not do anything wrong. With a jacket worn properly and fastened, nobody should see the empty belt loops. While the empty belt loops do not present the cleanest look when they are visible, they demonstrate that this suit is most likely supposed to be ready-to-wear in-universe. It gives Bond a touch of Italian sprezzatura, which isn’t usually part of Bond’s ethos, but it suits both the location and Bond’s relaxed demeanour at this moment in his life.

It is highly unusual for Bond to wear braces outside of evening wear, and there’s no reason why Bond is wearing braces instead of a belt. It may have been because either Craig or Larlarb was a fan of the braces, so it could have been a stylistic choice. The braces are only visible when Craig is running around with the jacket unbuttoned, but the quick glimpses we have at them add some interest to the outfit. They are practical for action and fight scenes because they keep the trousers at a consistent height. Braces are perfectly acceptable for any suit, no matter how formal or casual, as long as the braces match in formality. The crocodile-print ends of Bond’s braces dresses them down.

His cornflower blue shirt from Brunello Cucinelli, one of Daniel Craig’s favourite brands and one he previously wore in Spectre, proves to be an unusual choice thanks to a  button-down collar. A View to a Kill is the only other film when Bond wears button-down shirts, and there his button-down shirts are worn under blousons rather than dressed up with a suit and tie. Some people consider it wrong to wear a button-down collar with a tie, though that’s a matter of taste with no right or wrong answer. A button-down collar looks particularly good without a tie because it keeps the collar standing up. The collar’s association with America, however, does not traditionally suit James Bond. Though while it may not suit the history of the character, it is an appropriate choice with this casual suit and pairs stylishly with the suit in a very Italian manner. Daniel Craig is a personal fan of button-down shirts and may have chosen the shirt.

The blue denim twill shirt has a front placket and square two-button cuffs. The shirt’s buttons are blue to match the shirt instead of Brunello Cucinelli’s standard white mother of pearl.

The tie is from New York-brand Alexander Olch and is their ‘Avery’ necktie burgundy silk twill with bourette silk spots—they look like squares—in light blue and black. The blue spots superbly pull the colour from the shirt. The tie is a custom width at 3 1/2 inches wide.

The tie is unique, and the irregular texture gives it a more casual look that plays well with the corduroy suit. However, this is a missed opportunity to put Bond in the most Bondian tie of all: the knitted silk tie from the Ian Fleming novels. A knitted tie would pair perfectly with the relaxed suit. A black knit tie would recall the colour of the literary Bond’s knit tie as well as have the sombre look that Bond has often chosen in the past for graveyards. A navy knit tie would have more of the look classically associated with the film Bond and go beautifully with the rest of the outfit. A burgundy knitted tie could maintain the colour scheme that Larlarb chose for this and still look good. Nevertheless, I think the Alexander Olch tie is an inspired choice.

In a split-second moment during his fight with Primo, played by Dali Benssalah, Bond removes his tie. It’s rare for Bond to remove his tie like this, but it’s a tremendous liability in a fight because it could easily be used to strangle Bond. It brings a realistic element to Bond’s tailored wardrobe. Removing the tie also shows how upset Bond is after he feels like he was betrayed by Madeleine, and looking his best has undoubtedly left his mind considering the circumstances. After he removes his tie, the button-down collar worn open at the neck still presents a neat appearance because the button-down feature keeps the collar standing up.

The colours of this outfit—a tan suit, blue shirt and burgundy tie—are not typical for Bond, and they’re particularly unusual for Craig’s Bond. Roger Moore and Pierce Brosnan had previously combined tan suits and jackets with blue shirts, and the closest they got to this outfit was with Moore’s tan cotton safari sports coat in The Spy Who Loved Me paired with a blue striped tie that included a narrow red stripe. This departure for Craig’s Bond lead people to believe when they first saw photos of a stuntman wearing this outfit that it wasn’t Bond.

Craig wears the Drake’s ‘Crosby’ moccasin-toe three-eyelet chukka boots in dark brown suede. These boots are unlined and have a crepe sole. He coordinates his blue socks with his shirt. The motorcycle stunt driver wears a different pair of brown boots, which are a higher-fastening combat style.

He wears the Barton Perreira Norton sunglasses in chestnut brown with CR-39 bottle green lenses. They have a classic keyhole bridge and round lenses. The sunglasses are 50mm wide. The design is similar to the polarising sunglasses that Roger Moore wears with his ivory dinner jacket in A View to a Kill, but the design is more modern and not as exaggerated.

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