James Bond Halloween Costume Party Edition
It’s October, which means Halloween parties loom large. A costume is in order if you don’t want to be left out of the festivities. Depending on one’s proclivities, this may pose a considerable hurdle to overcome. Who needs to witness the millionth Boris Karloff-inspired Frankenstein? Or another take on Dracula? What if Jason Voorhees and Leatherface masks simply aren’t your blood-red jam? The predicament is your James Bond fandom. “Dressing up” as Bond is a tricky thing. Sporting a three-piece grey plaid suit with sumptuous Crockett and Jones shoes ensures you’ll look smashing, but not worthy of inclusion in a Halloween party.
Fear not, for the famous 007 has adorned a plethora of disguises throughout the decades to help save the day. In this special article, Tilt Magazine combines the Bond franchise’s 60th anniversary (which was on October 5th) with one of our favourite times of the year: spooky season. Here are, per actor, some costume ideas that will have other guests saluting your debonair efforts. And if they don’t understand the references, then they need to watch more Bond movies. That’s not on you.
Even in the series’ earliest days, costumes were a key component to many successful missions. Simply dressing in business attire and introducing yourself as “Peter Franks” or “Mr. Fisher” won’t do. Sometimes Connery’s Bond had to really get creative and integrate himself into the scenery to pull a fast one on the baddies.
We should really, seriously point out that, unless one is Japanese, or at the very least Asian, it’s probably not a bright idea to “go Japanese” as 007 does in You Only Live Twice. That might not go down so well.
That’s not to say that the 1967 film doesn’t have Bond get into character, so to speak. For the film’s climax, the British agent and a hoard of Japanese Secret Service ninjas storm S.P.E.C.T.R.E.’s hollowed volcano compound. James inexplicably packed his ninja gear throughout the day and is ready for action when infiltrating the villain’s headquarters. It’s unclear how cool the disguise is from an aesthetic point of view. Grey is a bit dull and Connery’s physique doesn’t make the look very flattering BUT you’d still be play-acting as a ninja and it looks remarkably comfy. Probably good for nap-taking.
The gold standard of Connery costumes however is surely in Goldfinger from 1964. In the picture’s famous pre-title sequence, 007 infiltrates a heroine factory south of the U.S. border at night. To sneak up on the compound from the nearby water, Bond sports his black-as-night wetsuit and breaths through his snorkel. The icing on the cake, however, is the plastic seagull glued to his cap. Pull that off with a white dinner jacket underneath and you’ll be the talk of the party.
Deep-cut costume idea
In the pre-titles to From Russia with Love, S.P.E.C.T.R.E assassin Red Grant (Robert Shaw) is training in a garden maze. In a bizarre twist that really doesn’t serve any purpose, his target is another assassin dressed as Sean Connery’s Bond. Kudos to anyone who pulls off dressing up as a random assassin dressed up as Sean Connery.
The Aussie actor infamously played James Bond only once. He quit the role when the film had barely finished shooting, much to the ire of the studio and producers. His lone outing, 1969’s On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, is a smashing film.
But even in his one outing, Lazenby’s secret agent must go undercover with the proper attire. During the film’s middle third, Bond makes his way to a fake allergy clinic in the Swiss Alps. Ensconced in the mountains, Blofeld (Telly Savalas) makes claims about some sort of heraldic heritage and wants a representative of London’s College of Arms to study supporting documentation. Enter Bond as Sir Hillary Bray (even dubbed by the actor who plays Bray) in a dashing, traditional Highland attire. Yes, sometimes a spy needs to go full kilt and jabot. Now, October is a bit of a chilly month, so this one might not be ideal, but it looks awesome.
Deep-cut costume idea: Bond’s golfing outfit in Portugal. It’s a very dated look, with lots of brown and beige, but the orange sweater looks delightfully comfortable. Orange equals Halloween, no?
Good heavens. How much time do you have? It stands to reason that since Roger Moore starred in the highest number of films, his 007 dressed for undercover purposes the most often. You would be correct, although many of his disguises are concentrated in a few films rather than evenly spread across his entire oeuvre.
Before we get to what most fans consider to be the obvious movie, a brief word about 1979’s Moonraker. As far as we know, James is not an officially trained astronaut (his female ally, Holly Goodhead, is), so when the final act calls upon the hero to shoot off into space and sneak into the villain’s celestial HQ, he is going undercover. After all, he’s pretending to be one of Hugo Drax’s (Michael Lonsdale) minions. The getup is quite remarkable, as in, no one could possibly miss a person floating about in space wearing that shiny, mustard-yellow outfit.
But who are we kidding? James Bond Halloween costume ideas and 1983’s Octopussy go hand in hand. Take your pick of the litter. Impersonating an army general from a non-descript Latin American dictatorship? Check. Just don’t forget the moustache. Slinking into a gorilla outfit to evade a pair of knife-throwing assassin twins? Check. Killing one of the two brothers, then going incognito in their own red circus costume? Check. Pretending to be a corpse stashed in a wool body bag? Check. Last but certainly not least, pretending to be a clown, full makeup and all, to de-activate a nuclear bomb amidst a circus show? You better believe that’s a check.
Deep-cut costume idea: For those with a tendency to get clever, there is a special disguise in 1974’s The Man with the Golden Gun. In it, 007 is involved in a game of cat and mouse with the titular villain (Christopher Lee), whose real name is Francisco Scaramanga. To advance his quest, Bond presents himself as Scaramanga while visiting one of the assassin’s Hong Kong business associates at a lush palatial estate. After all, reportedly no one has ever seen Scaramanga’s face. All you’ll need to identify yourself as the villain (while being Bond) is a subtle, little add-on to your person: a superfluous papilla.
The Welsh actor’s approach to 007 in the late 1980s was in stark contrast to what his predecessors strove for. Dalton had a penchant for adhering to Fleming’s Bond, going back to the books and keeping the character as real and honest as possible. With that in mind, it should surprise no one that his Bond didn’t wear fake third nipples or play-act as a cozy ninja.
This is still Bond and the occasional dress-up session can be the only way to succeed a mission. While we don’t advise dressing up as a member of the Mujahadeen as per The Living Daylights (seems like that would be in rather poor taste), there is one stellar outfit that feels oh so right for 007. Sticking with ‘87’s Daylights, early in the film Bond is sent to Bratislava to protect a defecting Soviet general. The would-be ally is to leave a concert hall during the intermission and avoid sniper fire in the process. Bond is tasked with shooting enemy the sniper.
A concert hall and cloak and dagger all in the same evening? Easy! 007 adorns a “tactical tux.” Once he arrives at the safe house, he folds the lapels of his dinner jacket and a little velcro extension on his collar holds them together, thus concealing the white dress shirt and dickie bow. Simple, subtle, effective. You’ll be ready to look dapper or dangerous at a moment’s notice with this costume.
Deep-cut costume idea: There is a moment in 1989’s Licence to Kill when Bond visits the villain’s cocaine factory. Guests are asked to put on little masks over their mouths and noses to avoid inhaling, well, you get the point. If irony is your thing, we suppose you could aim for a “pandemic Bond” look. It’s a reach, but he looks a lot like what everyone did for about 2 years up until recently. Best saved for parties with exorbitant amounts of cocaine involved, not that we encourage that sort of thing.
With those looks, Brosnan was born to play Bond. Unfortunately, even though he starred as 007 no less than four times, it’s slim pickings with respect to undercover garments. One supposes it was a crime to conceal those dashing good looks.
There are a couple of options, one of which is not so inspiring, the other which will certainly turn some heads. First, in 1999’s The World is Not Enough, 007 infiltrates a nuclear bunker taken over by Renard (Robert Carlyle) and his cronies pretending to be a team of Russian nuclear experts. In doing so he puts on their dark blue jumper and pants. The red star on the back is smashing, but it’s not the coolest outfit. Just explain that you “go where the work takes you.”
However, if you want to get a little wild, there is something for you in 2002’s Die Another Day. Early in the movie Bond is recovering from his 18-month stint in a North Korean military prison. MI6 has him in a medical lab on a ship off the coast of Hong Kong. Tired of being babied and wanting to get after the baddies, he escapes his benefactors. No time to shave or dress. He just gets up and leaves. After swimming ashore, he waltzes into his favourite hotel lobby, soaking wet, Santa Clause size beard, and an open hospital shirt. It’s too late for the 2022 Halloween parties, but if you start now, you can have an amazing beard 12 months from now.
Deep-cut costume idea: Again, the dearth of costumes in the Brosnan era makes this a tough selection. The best we can come up with is Die Another Day-inspired. In the pre-title sequence, Bond sneaks into North Korea. The mission is to pose as a diamond dealer, Mr. Van Bierk. The effect works because Brosnan and the actor playing Van Bierk look similar, especially when 007 puts on the man’s sunglasses. So, find yourself a doppelganger, sport identical brown pants, a brown jacket, and sunglasses. Explain that one of you is a diamond smuggler, the other James Bond, without exactly saying who is who.
So much has been made of how Craig’s run of films brought the character back down to earth, and how the actor made the character of 007 relatable (as if the Dalton era never happened…). It’s fair to argue that there are few attires worthy of a Halloween party in his 5-movie run. With one obvious exception.
Surely to no one’s surprise, we’re taking inspiration from 2015’s Spectre pre-title sequence. The Mexican-flavoured Day of the Day action set piece was such a hit that it subsequently inspired how the city presents its real-world Dia de los Muertos festivities. Bond, accompanied by a beautiful colleague, tracks down an assassin. To seamlessly weave their way through the crowd, 007 is draped in full Day of the Dead regalia. The costume is stunning: an extended, midnight black overcoat with skeletal decorations, a top hat, and a grisly skull mask. Just make sure to remember the cane. For self-defence purposes, obviously.
Deep-cut costume idea: Much like with Brosnan, we need to get cute and clever for the deep-cut idea. Take a cue from 2006’s Casino Royale. Look as smart as possible in your best dinner jacket and show up as is. Clearly, you’re dressed up as James Bond, right? Wrong. You’re Arlington Beech, a wealthy playboy entering a high-stakes poker game at Casino Royale. It’s critical that you introduce yourself as such. Whenever someone says they thought you were Bond and admits confusion, just answer “Well we wouldn’t want that now would we?”
Happy Halloween and Happy 60th to James Bond!