Welcome to the fourth and final part of our series! In this post, we’ll be focused on the James Bond polo shirts. Below we’ve shared some great alternatives for the classics, from the first polo Bond wore in Dr. No up to the fan favorite Johnny collar shirt from SPECTRE. There’s lots to look at, so let’s get started!
The Dr. No Pale Blue Polo
The first polo Bond wore was also the simplest. Just a basic, light blue piqué cotton shirt with a knit collar and sleeve cuffs and two dark buttons at the placket. It was a classic then and it’s a classic today. The best part is there’s no shortage of affordable alternatives available. In fact, there’s a ton of alternatives available! So I’ve added a few options that bring something a little different to the table, just case you want to play around with some “inspired by” looks.
A great suggestion from our Instagram friend @matthewjfok. In terms of style details, this one pretty much delivers everything we could ask for. It’s got the ribbed knit collar and cuffs, the two button placket with the darker buttons, and the color is darn close to what we see on screen. The 100% cotton fabric is treated with their proprietary “StayNew” technology, which helps prevent fading. And it’s very affordable. Plus, the have regular sizes small to 3XL and long sizes medium to 4XL in stock. So there’s something for every body type.
A couple of years ago, Orlebar Brown thought that toweling was a good choice for their homage to the Dr. No polo in their 007 capsule collection. So I thought I’d throw in another suggestion. I’ve shared this Aurélien shirt a few times. And with good reason: I own two now and I love them. My blue one is an older version (pictured below). But I also have the new design with the chest pocket. It’s a great cut (although it is a little on the slim side). The collar design, with its reveres and genuine Mother of Pearl buttons, has a slightly more contemporary feel to it. And the 80% cotton/20% polyester toweling fabric is awesome. Below is my Bond-inspired flatlay with the older version of the shirt. Aurélien has sizes small to XXXL available.
If you’re not too worried about getting the dark buttons and want to invest in a higher quality shirt, I’d also check out Aurélien’s Egyptian Cotton Polo in Mid Blue for $116.00/£82.00. It’s actually a more screen accurate polo than the toweling version above, with a piqué fabric in a great shade of blue and a ribbed knit collar and cuffs. It’s also available in sizes small to XXXL available.
If you’re looking for a more refined version of the Dr. No polo, this one will definitely do the trick. We get a great color match and the dark buttons (although there are three rather than the preferred two). But also comes with open cuffs and a self-collar, which will help up stand up under a blazer or sport coat. Selfridges has sizes small to XXL in stock, with very limited quantities available in each. Also note that this looks like a slightly oversized design. So you may want to consider sizing down for a trimmer fit.
Sunspel Sea Island Cotton Knitted Polo Shirt in Washed Denim: on sale for $127.00/£89.00
Old school Bond style from a contemporary Bond brand. For most of us, Sunspel’s Riviera Polo needs no introduction. But their knitted polo also makes a great alternative for 007’s Dr. No shirt. The ribbed collar gives it more traditional feel. However, the distinctive 100% Sea Island cotton knit fabric has a sophisticated look and is a great call-out to the literary Bond. Matches Fashion has sizes small and medium for that sale price on their U.S. site. If you’re in the UK or need a different size, you’re best bet is to get it directly from Sunspel. Unfortunately, the price there jumps up to $315.00.
Amazon Essentials Regular Fit Pique Polo Shirt: $8.92 to $16.13
Banana Republic Factory Vintage Polo in Blue Ravine: on sale for $24.49
Gap Organic Cotton Polo Shirt in Cornflower Blue: on sale for $27.00
The Thunderball Navy Blue Polo Shirt
Like the pale blue Dr. No polo, Bond’s navy Fred Perry shirt from Thunderball is also a classic design: a simple piqué cotton with ribbed knit cuffs and collar. And so we are again faced with the challenge of sorting through thousands of possible alternatives. The good news is that original brand still makes a polo in a very similar style at an affordable price. But this is also one of the few times Bond has worn clothing with a prominently displayed logo (unless you count sweeping shots of folded Brioni shirts and long close-ups of Omegas). So I’ve included some other alternatives from well known labels that will help us get that casual, just-back-from-the-beach look.
May as well get the original! Especially since the price is actually pretty reasonable. This is the 100% cotton piqué slim fit model with the white embroidered laurel leaf logo. So it should be about as close to what Bond wore as we can get. The best price I could find was at END Clothing, where they have sizes XS to XXL in stock.
Nautica Classic Fit Deck Polo in Navy: on sale for $19.99
If seventy bucks is still feeling a little steep for a polo, then this one from Nautica should give us the look we want for a lot less. White buttons aside, the design is very similar to the Fred Perry, with a 100% piqué fabric, ribbed collar and cuffs and two button placket. It even has an embroidered white logo on the chest. You’ll find sizes XS to 3XL on the Nautica website.
Brooks Brothers Slim Fit Stretch Cotton Polo in Brooks Navy: on sale for $67.13
Another 100% cotton piqué option, this time made with American grown Supima cotton and featuring a Brooks Brothers classic “sheep” logo embroidered in gold on the chest. The shirt is available in sizes XS to XXL in slim and more forgiving “Original” fits.
If Fred Perry just ain’t your thing, you can always go with a polo from a brand established by another iconic tennis player. Once again, we’re getting 100% cotton piqué fabric and the ribbed knit collar and cuffs. But we now have the famous crocodile featured on the chest instead of the white laurel wreath. Lacoste has plenty sizes in stock on their website.
The Casino Royale Navy Pocket Polo
Still a warm weather favorite among Bond fans 15 years after it’s introduction. As most of us know, the screen used polo was developed by heritage British brand Sunspel specifically for Daniel Craig. At the time of its launch, the self-collar and chest pocket set the Riviera apart from the sea of floppy collared piqué polos on the market. But it was the fabric Sunspel used that really deserved the attention. Developed by the grandson of the company’s founder, the special cotton mesh is knitted on lace machines to make it as light and airy as possible. For many of us, the Riviera was the “gateway drug” into Bond style.
Most of us also know that Bond wore a similar navy polo in Quantum of Solace. That one was made by Tom Ford. But it also had the self-collar, the chest pocket and was made from a light weight fabric. According to David Zaritsky of The Bond Experience in this video, the big difference between the Tom Ford and the Sunspel is the cut. The Quantum of Solace polo bells out through the body and has a wider hem. This gives the shirt what David affectionally calls a “swing” when you’re in motion (or beating up a bad guy in a hotel room).
Since it’s almost impossible to find out which alternatives will have that “swing” without trying on hundreds of polos and considering that the Tom Ford and the Sunspel have so many other features in common, I’m going to suggest that one polo can do the job for both. Controversial, I know. But I’m a practical kind of guy and only so much space in my closet for navy polos.
Sunspel Riviera Polo in Navy: $125.00/£105.00
The original. It’s expensive. But many of us have made the investment with no regrets. The Riviera is the quintessential Bond shirt from the Craig era. And, compared to some other pieces (Tom Ford suits and Omega watches come to mind), it doesn’t seem that expensive. Plus, it’s incredibly versatile. Relaxed enough to wear with jeans or chinos but refined enough to use under a sport coat. END clothing seems to have the best price going right now and sizes XS to XXL are in stock. But you can always order it directly from Sunspel for about ten dollars more.
This one’s a little tricky. The product photo above from the Banana Republic website is an older version of the polo. And it’s not a bad match. But the new version is even better. Below is a photo I took of it in-store.
As you can see, the new polo has added dark buttons and done away with the contrasting lining around the collar. The 96% cotton, 4% spandex fabric also comes close to what we see on the Riviera, a sort of open mesh that will help keep things cool and airy. Both the old version and the new share the same product code (785165), but the new one is labelled as the “Performance Pique Polo”.
If you can get into a Banana Republic to pick one up, I’d recommend it as an alternative without hesitation (especially if you can catch one of their frequent sales). However, things get a little more confusing if you order it online. No one, not the Banana Republic customer service team nor the in-store staff, can tell me with 100% certainty whether you’ll get the old version or the new. Banana Republic does offer free returns, so it’s not the riskiest thing in the world to order one. But it’s still something to keep in mind. They have sizes XXS to XXL in stock on their website.
Is this offering from Mack Weldon the perfect Casino Royale polo alternative? Many seem to think so. Am I still hesitant about including it on this list? Yep, and it really has nothing to do with the actual shirt. If you’re interested in knowing my reasons, you can read this post on AJB007. If you couldn’t care less about my ethical quandary, then buy it and be happy. Most customers seem to be satisfied with the shirt (it has 4.3 stars out of 5 after more than 500 reviews), with complaints focused mainly on the sizing (apparently it runs small). You’ll find sizes small to XXL available on their website.
Amazon Essentials Regular Fit Pocket Jersey Polo in Navy: $3.30 to $15.00/£13.00 to £14.00
Polo Ralph Lauren Two Button Polo in Navy: on sale for $77.00
The SPECTRE Navy Johnny Collar Polo
Another Craig-era Bond polo that almost immediately became a fan favorite. And it certainly is different from anything we saw him wear before. Designer Tom Ford went with a buttonless Johnny collar with a deep V neck line and a sweater-style banded hem that gave the shirt a serious 1970s retro-cool vibe. When it first hit the screens in 2015, there really wasn’t anything else like it on the market. Now, six years later, it’s a style that’s been adopted by almost every fashion brand out there. We recently updated on our dedicated post with all new alternatives for the SPECTRE Polo, so I’m just going to highlight three of the best options here.
Massimo Dutti had some great alternatives for the SPECTRE polo this season. But their latest offering is probably the best. Made from an 80% cotton, 20% linen knit fabric, it has the banded hem, wider collar and placket-free neckline we want. We even get some interesting stitching details around the sleeves. And it’s reasonably priced. You’ll find sizes small to XXL on their website.
A great alternative for the Tom Ford SPECTRE polo suggested by our AJB007 friend Ron Berry. Aside from the other screen accurate details like rib knit cuffs and hem, this one really nails the placket-free design at the neck we see on the original. I’m not sure if this is made to be worn oversized, so I’d recommend checking the Mango size chart before ordering if you want that screen accurate fit. They have sizes small to XXL available.
John Smedley Noah Polo in Indigo: $260.00/£155.00
The Noah has been part of John Smedley’s polo collection for a while and people regularly recommend it as an alternative for the SPECTRE polo. The company is a heritage British manufacturer of high quality knitwear with two Royal Warrants to their name. As for the polo, they’ve used a fine gauge Sea Island Cotton (one of Bond’s favorite fabrics!) and designed the polo with the ribbed hem and cuffs and the placketless V neckline. Overall, it’s an excellent alternative for the Tom Ford if you want to make the investment.
Have some suggestions for alternatives for the James Bond polo shirts we’ve shared in Part 4? Tell us about them in the comments! If you’re looking for Bond’s solid colored short sleeved summer shirts, remember to check out Part 1 of our series. And you’ll find alternatives for the short sleeve patterned shirts in Part 2. For long sleeve summer weight shirts, have a look at Part 3. You can also visit our Facebook Page, Instagram Account and Pinterest Boards for more James Bond and Steve McQueen style advice, inspiration and info!