One of the most alluring features of the James Bond films is how we see both the absolute cutting edge of industrial design go hand in hand with tradition.
007 himself might always be outfitted with high-tech gadgets, fancy watches and top-spec automobiles, but he’s almost never without a classic suit and tie. He drinks martinis, not hard seltzers, if you know what I mean? He’s a citizen of two worlds: at once both a representation of old-fashioned British style, wit and a stiff upper lip, as well as a globetrotting, always up-to-date secret agent provocateur – the ultimate gentleman. No wonder so many men aspire to be like Bond.
A perfect example of Bond’s dual nature is in his outfit choices in his latest filmic adventure, No Time to Die – the 25th Bond film and actor Daniel Craig’s final stint as the famous fictional spy. Without sharing any spoilers, Bond spends most of the film in a tidy Savile Row suit – although that’s to be expected – but his footwear choice is somewhat unconventional.
In multiple scenes, Bond can be seen pairing his formalwear with chukka boots: a rather inspired choice that might just be the best way to spice up an otherwise conventional suiting look, or nail the smart casual style brief.
Chukka boots, also called desert boots (although not all chukkas are desert boots per se), are ankle-high leather boots that fit somewhere between traditional high-tops or combat boots and low-cut shoes such as Oxfords. Desert boots specifically refer to chukka boots with crepe rubber soles and (usually) suede uppers, first worn by British soldiers in the Western Desert Campaign of World War II, but the terms are often quite interchangeable.
It’s a weird word, chukka. Named after the polo terminology for a period of play, chukkas tend to be worn with smart casual looks as opposed to more formal suits like Bond’s, but there’s no reason why you can’t wear a pair of smart chukka boots with a suit.
Australian men are already quite used to the idea of wearing boots with suits… Indeed, dressy leather Chelsea boots from the likes of R.M. Williams are an indispensable part of Australian business attire. Chukkas are somewhat less common, but as Bond demonstrates, they can actually work quite well, particularly with a narrow-cut suit, as they help avoid the dreaded skin/sock gap between your shoes and the hem of your trousers.
Actually, Bond being ‘suited and booted’ has become a rather key motif of the character; emblematic of his status as a secret agent. Bond might like to dress like a gent but he’s always prepared to leap into action. It all comes back to that dual nature idea: classy, but brutal. Traditional, but also modern. It just makes sense.
Daniel Craig has worn chukkas in all of his Bond films – notably, he’s wearing chukkas in the opening scene of Casino Royale – but he’s not the only Bond to rock chukkas, with Sean Connery having donned a pair in Diamonds Are Forever. Over the years Bond’s made a habit of wearing boots with suits, from chukkas to Chelseas to Jodhpurs. It’s arguably just as much part of his character as his penchant for Aston Martins.
Specifically, the boots that Craig wears in No Time to Die are AU$485 Crosby Moc-Toe Chukkas from esteemed English menswear firm Drake’s, but you don’t need to drop that much moolah on a pair of chukkas to look like Bond. A pair of archetypal Clark’s Desert Boots will set you back closer to AU$200, and there’s plenty of other brands out there making stylish chukkas for the man about town.
Whilst you’re here, check out our guide to the best Bond watches of all time below.