Nick Guzan: Roger Moore may have only played James Bond on screen for twelve years (and, even at that, he’s the longest-serving 007 to date), but it was a role that he and his fans cherished for the rest of his life. Moore brought life into the Bond role, after a string of arguably uninspired performances in the later Sean Connery outings, who was tiring of the role he made famous, and Australian newbie George Lazenby. He also brought, for the first time, an individualistic sense of style that Moore himself had cultivated over his decades-long career.
Moore was noted for being a fashionable dresser from the start of his career. With the help of tailor Cyril Castle and shirtmaker Frank Foster, Moore’s outfits on shows like The Saint and The Persuaders! through the 1960s and early 1970s were always impeccable, interesting, and contemporary.
“When I stepped into the role, I suggested that my long-time tailor, Cyril Castle (of Mayfair), with whom I had worked on The Saint and The Persuaders!, would give Jim a more contemporary look for the 1970s,” wrote Moore in Bond on Bond: Reflections on 50 Years of James Bond Movies. “Lots of modern colours, sports jackets, and trousers became the new norm. The designs were fashionable, yet also elegant and comfortable.”
Sean Connery’s Bond had primarily adhered to the template of ‘Conduit Cut’ suits, with two-button jackets, solid-colored shirts, and unpatterned grenadine and knit ties. Developed by Dr. No director Terence Young and executed by the masterful hands at Anthony Sinclair and Turnbull & Asser, Connery’s look – which was also essentially “updated” for 1969 by Lazenby – was simple yet elegant. Moore would retain this elegance with a more expertly expanded palette of colors and styles than the character’s previous on-screen incarnations.
It was with Castle and Foster that Moore developed his early look for 007, sporting single- and double-breasted suit styles in cool city colors and warmer earth tones, always dressing appropriately for the context of the scene and embracing the luxurious side of the character with unique details; Moore’s Bond was the stylish bon vivant who travels to exotic locations with a suit – yes, even a safari suit – for every occasion.
The excesses of 1970s fashion – particularly wide collars and flared trousers – are well-documented, but Moore’s Bond kept himself relatively immune, thanks to Cyril Castle’s eye for tasteful tailoring. His peak lapels may have stretched towards the wide side, and his jacket sleeves certainly had a distinct flare, but Moore’s tailored clothing throughout the mid-1970s subtly incorporated – rather than all-out indulged – contemporary fashions.
Whether Castle would have been Moore’s tailor throughout his tenure a-la-Sinclair’s relationship with Connery is difficult to say, as it turned out that Moore’s self-imposed exile in the mid-1970s greatly impacted his sartorial situation. For the latter half of the 1970s, Moore was living in Italy, as a response to English tax rates, and was dressed on- and off-screen by his Italian tailor Angelo Vitucci, the founder of Angelo Roma who had opened his own firm after leaving Brioni in 1963. It was Vitucci’s tailoring, seen in The Spy Who Loved Me and Moonraker, that adapted Moore’s Bond more to the times, with wider lapels and wider flares but still an elegant cut, now more Italian-inspired than English, with elements of rakishness relevant to Moore’s mischievous portrayal. The Italian tailoring also coordinated well with each film’s visit to Italian settings.
“In the month of August, it was a joy driving to Rome for fittings,” Moore recalled in Bond on Bond. “The only sounds I heard on the two-hour journey were burglar alarms. Everyone was on holiday except the thieves!” Tailored by Vitucci, Moore’s clothing increased in variety, with Bond wearing his first three-piece suit in Moonraker, a series of both single- and double-breasted dinner jackets, and three different navy blazers for both films.
“I’ve been told – sometimes sneeringly – that nobody can carry off a safari suit quite like me,” Moore stated in Bond on Bond. Indeed, Moore has received undue criticism for the number of then-fashionable safari suits that appeared during his tenure as 007. While safari-inspired clothing may generally be a fad best forgotten, Moore’s Bond never wore a safari jacket unless it was contextually appropriate (e.g. his taupe safari suit in the Iguazú jungle in Moonraker), and his safari-inspired sports jacket in The Spy Who Loved Me is a sartorial highlight.
For better or worse, Moore’s Bond was as much a product of fashion as he would ever be in The Spy Who Loved Me and Moonraker. Much as the franchise itself sought to return to Earth after the space adventures of Moonraker, James Bond’s clothing would make a return to traditional English style with the help of a familiar face. Douglas Hayward had opened his London tailor’s shop in the late 1960s, quickly gaining a reputation with his roster of famous and fashionable clients, including Richard Burton, Rex Harrison, Steve McQueen, and Michael Caine, whose performance in Alfie was at least partially inspired by Hayward.
“At the time, Doug’s principle was ‘Keep them as classic as possible, as I believe people will be watching Bond films in twenty years’ time’,” recalled Moore of Hayward’s prescient gift for timeless tailoring. As Moore was growing older – now approaching 60 – and the series was returning to Earth, Hayward’s pragmatic and traditional approach to tailoring was perfectly in tune. Hayward all but ignored the extremes of contemporary fashion with his clients, and Roger Moore would be no exception, both on- and off-screen.
Lapels and trouser legs grew slimmer from their late 1970s extremes to a more classic width. While less creative than some of Cyril Castle’s tailoring and less trendy than Angelo Vitucci’s pieces, Doug Hayward delivered timeless sensibility that served Moore’s mature Bond very well. In For Your Eyes Only, Octopussy, and A View to a Kill, Bond outlines a timeless template for gentlemen to follow when dressing: conservative grey and navy suits for the city, cooler-wearing tan suits for sunny summer destinations, classic navy blazers and tweed sports coats for dressed-down adventures, and – of course – black, midnight blue, and ivory dinner jackets for every occasion.
Pushing 58 years old by the time A View to a Kill was released in 1985, Sir Roger gracefully relinquished his role as James Bond, handing over the reins to Timothy Dalton. Dalton’s intense, gritty performance may have been truer to Ian Fleming’s novels, but his uncreative – and often unflattering – wardrobe choices and the serious tone of the films left many viewers yearning for the wit and style of Roger Moore’s era. Style was again prioritized when Pierce Brosnan and Daniel Craig took on the role of 007, but the involvement of fashion houses like Brioni and Tom Ford often meant an emphasis on luxury rather than creativity, tailoring, and fit.
It speaks volumes of Roger Moore’s sense of style that he remained the epitome of sartorialism throughout his long career. Both in real life and as 007, Roger Moore had a gift for working with talented tailors to create an image that could be trendy or timeless but always flattering and stylish.
Live and Let Die: Navy Chesterfield coat over navy suit and Royal Navy regimental tie
Live and Let Die reflected contemporary 1973 fashion in as tasteful a manner as possible, setting an early high water mark for Roger Moore’s Bond, with the elegant navy Chesterfield coat that 007 wears when arriving in New York. With it, Moore sports Bond’s first prominently non-solid tie of the series, appropriately a British Royal Navy repp tie, with the distinctive red and white-on-navy regimental stripe appropriate for establishing the new Commander Bond.
The Man with the Golden Gun: Blue mohair suit, light blue shirt, red tie
This beautiful blue mohair suit – worn with black loafers and belt, a red silk tie and a light blue Frank Foster shirt with turnback ‘cocktail cuffs’ – also carries the distinction of being a favorite of Sir Roger himself. Moore often recalled the final day of filming in Bond on Bond: “I did my level best to keep the suit smart, uncreased, and unblemished. As the director called ‘Cut!’ I smiled widely, stroked my lapels, and… a huge bucket of paste came down from above and completely ruined my lovely suit. I looked up and saw Cubby Broccoli wetting himself with laughter!”
The Spy Who Loved Me: Seaside in a dark navy blazer and white trousers
Roger Moore enjoyed wearing navy blazers both on- and off-screen, but Angelo Vitucci’s fashion-forward tailoring in The Spy Who Loved Me meant a creative refresh of this classic ensemble. For a summer afternoon in Sardinia, Moore glides onto the scene in a dark navy worsted blazer, fashionably updated for 1977 by Vitucci with wide notch lapels, silver sew-through buttons, and long double vents. While the flared hems of his gabardine trousers may drift a bit too closely to ‘bell bottoms’ territory, the bold choice to wear bright white trousers in a grand nautical tradition pays off well.
Moonraker: Dressed for the hunt in a brown Donegal tweed suit
Tweed originated as a heavy, durable cloth favored by hunters and sportsmen. Bond looks every bit the consummate sportsman as he arrives on the Drax estate in Moonraker, clad in a tailored Donegal tweed suit that nicely coordinates with his tab-cuffed ecru shirt and countrified brown knitted tie. Details like the dark suede elbow patches, flapped set-in breast pocket, and extra ticket pocket add appropriately sporting touches.
For Your Eyes Only: Tan gabardine suit for warm weather with light blue shirt and tie
Roger Moore’s Bond dresses appropriately for every occasion and climate. For a brief stroll through Corfu in For Your Eyes Only, 007 sports a warm tan gabardine suit with a sky blue shirt and a similarly toned tie. The tie’s subtle texture adds just enough contrast against the shirt to avoid the monochromatic look that Regis Philbin [American chat show host] tragically popularized in the early 2000s. The timeless cut of the suit, tailored for Moore by Doug Hayward, would be suitable for a warm-weather sojourn in any era.
Octopussy: Dressed for the office in a grey chalk stripe three-piece suit
Grey striped wool suits are standard for businesswear in the city. Bond sports a traditional and stylish dark grey chalk stripe three-piece suit to attend a briefing in M’s office in Octopussy, paired with an equally traditional pale blue shirt and red tie. The outfit is emblematic of Doug Hayward’s credo to keep his tailoring as classic as possible, serving Moore well as he embarks on what would be his penultimate adventure as James Bond.