Thu, Dec 07, 2006 - Page 13 News List

Dress to kill

He may not care whether his martinis are shaken or stirred, but the new 007 is the snappiest dressed James Bond yet, and his style may be contagious

By Suzanne Brown  /  NY TIMES NEWS SERVICE , DENVER, COLORADO

This suit was photographed at the Omni Interlocken Hotel in Broomfield, Colorado.

PHOTOS: AGENCIES

Welcome back, Mr. Bond.

We've missed watching you vanquish villains and perform improbable stunts, and we've longed to see you in your bespoke suits and Brioni tuxedos again.

With Daniel Craig stepping into secret-agent shoes for Casino Royale, a grittier 007 has emerged, but both onscreen and off, Bond style is influencing fashion.

At recent premieres and red-carpet events, Craig showed up in three-piece suits that accentuate his muscular physique. Even for interviews, he wears tailored clothing rather than jeans.

Real-world guys are snapping up velvet jackets to be worn casually or dressed up for a night on the town. Suits with a lower two-button stance, French cuff shirts, contrast-collar shirts and even three-piece suits, like the one Craig wore to the recent MTV European Music Awards, are among the current sartorial standouts.

"Whenever there's a new James Bond, whether it was Roger Moore, Timothy Dalton or Pierce Brosnan, the movie reflects the mood of the times," said Tyler Thoreson, executive editor of men.style.com, the online site for GQ and Details magazines. "It's telling that the current Bond is going back to Savile Row tailoring and classic looks. The Bond from the late 1980s looked less traditional. What's current now is to embrace tradition, but with a twist."

Items like cuff links and bow ties aren't meant to look dandified or foppish, but well-chosen and unaffected. "The thing that's appealing about Bond is that he's a man's man," Thoreson said. "You think about how Sean Connery as James Bond would've worn a pocket square. It's subtle; he doesn't look like he's trying too hard."

A decade ago, men loved the idea of being free of workplace dress codes, and gladly mothballed their suits to wear chinos and shirts, Thoreson said.

Suits are back, he said, because men realize they've missed out on opportunities to express their personal style. It's not their dad or uncle's look, either.

"Guys in their 20s and 30s aren't dressing like they're going to a funeral or a wedding, but using classic elements in new ways," the editor said. "The moment we're in is that it's far more aesthetically pleasing and stylish to wear suits. Men have a renewed appreciation for the finer things and elegance.

"The biggest trend is the mash-up between high and low fashion," he added. Wearing a suit without a tie, or putting a blazer or suit coat over jeans is a way to add polish. And younger guys are wearing ties, with or without a jacket, Thoreson said.

"What's happening is that the young market is gravitating to suits for social occasions and the boomer consumer is dressing up to be more managerial in appearance," said Marshal Cohen, chief analyst for NPD Group, which tracks consumer behavior. "It's what I call dress to impress versus dress for success."

After a period of increases in suit sales, the growth now is in suit separates, which are up 6.5 percent over last year, and sport coats, up 0.9 percent, Cohen says of the US$4.8 billion men's tailored clothing market in the US. "Men bought their suits last year, and now the sport jacket has become the next wave of product they're buying, along with a dress shirt and tie. It updates what they had from last year."

Menswear retailers say customers are focused on building a wardrobe of high-quality clothing and luxury items.

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