As my own small tribute to Sean Connery, I wanted to mark his passing with a post about one of my favorite outfits of his. I couldn’t decide between the tweed hacking jacket from Goldfinger or the black long-sleeve polo from Thunderball so I let my Instagram followers vote and the long-sleeve polo was the clear winner.
I really like this look for a couple of reasons. First, it’s simple but sophisticated, an effortless and comfortable outfit good for a business-casual office or a weekend at home. Second and more importantly, I love the idea of James Bond (or any spy, for that matter) deciding that a polo shirt and trousers is the best “stealth” outfit to wear when they have to sneak around. It’s hilarious.
In Thunderball, Bond wears his black long-sleeve polo twice: first at Shrublands and again at Largo’s estate. According to Matt Spaiser over at Bond Suits, the polo is made from a lightweight cashmere and features a three-button placket and ribbing at the cuffs and hem. Orlebar Brown previously released their version of the Thunderball polo but it has long-since sold out. Fortunately, there are plenty of other options available.
If you’re in the market for your own black long-sleeve polo to wear on a stealth mission or just lounging by the fire, here are six budget-friendly options:
This option from Uniqlo checks all the right boxes with its three-button placket and ribbed hem and cuffs. It’s made from 100% merino wool, which is an excellent feature at this price point. The extra-fine knit gives the shirt a soft look and a slight sheen. I bought the same shirt in navy and I really like it so far (I’ll write up a full review after I wear and wash it a few more times so I can tell you how well it holds up). At $40, this is the kind of shirt you could easily buy in multiple colors to stock up. (And, yes, it comes in black.)
This polo also hits the right style notes: a three-button placket and ribbing at the cuffs and hem. Unlike the Uniqlo option, this one is made from a cotton-cashmere blend. But I want to point out that it’s only 5% cashmere, so it’s really more of a cotton shirt. This shirt also has a small diamond-shaped knit texture, but it’s hard to see that except in the close-up product photos on the website.
This shirt from H&M also has the three-button placket with ribbed cuffs and hem, and like the Uniqlo option, it’s made from 100% merino wool. In fact, based on the product photos, this one looks almost identical to the shirt from Uniqlo. So unless the Uniqlo shirt is sold out or you have an affinity for H&M, you can save yourself $20 and go with the Uniqlo option.
It’s right there in the name, “Three Button Polo”—add the ribbed cuffs and hem and we once again have all the necessary features. This shirt is unique because silk is the primary thread in the fabric at 55%, followed by cotton at 40% and cashmere at 5%. That makes the care instructions a little more demanding but you can also rest assured it’ll be an insanely comfortable shirt.
Like the other options on this list, this shirt from Mango delivers the three-button placket with ribbed cuffs and hem to match the shirt from Thunderball. The big difference with this shirt is that it’s made almost entirely with synthetic fibers—only 9% wool. As a result, they recommend handwashing it. That’s not a huge deal but if you’re someone who wants the lowest-maintenance option, you might want to go with a different shirt on this list.
There you have it! Five black polo options to choose from whether you need to go slinking around a villain’s lair or you just want a comfortable shirt with a few more style points. Honestly, long-sleeve polos are a dime a dozen right now so I’m sure there are a lot more options out there. But if you’re looking to get Connery’s Thunderball look, these will absolutely get the job done. Happy shopping!