The Infamous Clown Suit

Octopussy-Clown-Suit

The clown suit in Octopussy is often considered the lowest point of Roger Moore’s James Bond wardrobe, but it proves to be an effective disguise until his original red costume is discovered. Since the clown suit is a disguise—complete with white makeup and a red nose—is it fair to remember Roger Moore as the James Bond who donned the clown suit? Would there be a better disguise for Bond at a circus? Earlier in Octopussy he hides inside a gorilla costume, which is even more absurd than wearing a clown suit. Whilst Roger Moore is known for being the most humourous of the Bonds, he gives one of his most serious performances of the series when he’s dressed for the circus.

Octopussy-Clown-Suit-2The clown suit is yellow with a windowpane of turquoise lengthwise stripes and black crosswise stripes. There is a red rectangle at the points where the stripes intersect. The suit’s pattern is printed, and the cloth is likely polyester. The button two jacket is cut like an oversized lounge suit jacket, though it is unstructured. It has notched lapels, open patch hip pockets, a welt breast pocket, a non-vented skirt and black buttons. The ultra-high-waisted trousers match the jacket and are held up by thick red braces.

Octopussy-Clown-Suit-3The clown costume includes a white wing-collar shirt that has two large black buttons on the front. The buttons have a jagged edge. The costume also has a giant red bow tie with black polka dots, and there is a matching pocket square stuffed into the jacket’s breast pocket. The clown hat is a bowler with a red ribbon and red edge trimming. A fake yellow flower is attached to the left side of the hat, and thick red hair is build into the hat. White gloves that button at the wrist and the oversized orange oxford shoes with white wing tips finish off the clown outfit.

The Cummerbund

The cummerbund in Skyfall

The cummerbund in Skyfall

Though the cummerbund is a well-known part of black tie, Bond has only worn a cummerbund on a handful of occasions. Traditionally, one isn’t wearing a cummerbund because he’s wearing a waistcoat or a double-breasted dinner jacket, but those situations do not make up the rest of Bond’s black tie outfits. Bond is well-known for omitting the waist-covering altogether, but Bond wears the seemingly pointless piece of silk around his waist a few times.

According to Black Tie Guide, the cummerbund originated from coloured sashes that British officers wrapped around their waist in India. Now cummerbunds ordinarily come in the form of a piece of pleated silk—with the pleats worn facing up—in the front that connects in the back with a strap and buckle. The purpose of the cummerbund is to act as a formal waist-covering that wears cooler than a waistcoat. It covers the bottom of the shirt front and the trousers’ waistband, so it serves an aesthetic purpose if not a practical one. The cummerbund is not a belt and does not hold up the trousers, so there is no rule about not wearing a cummerbund with braces. Braces can be worn with a cummerbund just the same as they can—and should—be worn under a waistcoat. Bond wears both a cummerbund and braces in Licence to Kill and Skyfall.

Diamonds-Cummerbund

A fancy, coloured silk cummerbund in Diamonds Are Forever

The cummerbund is traditionally black and matches the bow tie in both colour and texture, but it can be other colours. Burgundy is the most common choice for a coloured cummerbund, but the bow tie should always be black no matter the colour of the cummerbund. Coloured matching bow tie and cummerbund sets are often sold and can be worn for “creative black tie” functions and high school proms, but if you’re trying to follow the elegant example that Bond sets the bow tie should always be black. After all, it’s called “black tie”. The only time Ian Fleming mentions Bond wearing a cummerbund it’s a “wine-red cummerbund” that he wears with his white dinner jacket and dress trousers in the Thunderball novel. Since the bow tie isn’t mentioned, we can assume that Bond wears a proper black bow tie. The first time Bond wears a cummerbund in the films it’s a fancy silk in burgundy and black in Diamonds Are Forever. It’s a flashier 1970s take on the “wine-red cummerbund” that Fleming writes about, but the bow tie is still black. It’s the only time in the series that Sean Connery wears any sort of waist-covering with black tie.

Built-In-Cummerbund

The built-in cummerbund in For Your Eyes Only

In For Your Eyes Only, Bond wears trousers with a sort of waistband that acts like a cummerbund. The waistband is very wide, flat silk that extends across the entire front and fastens with two buttons at the right side. It’s a little narrower than a real cummerbund, but it’s a clever design and acts like a built-in cummerbund. The same type of built-in cummerbund returns in Octopussy. It may not be a proper cummerbund, but it’s a step in the right direction.

Licence-to-Kill-Cummerbund

A flat cummerbund in Licence to Kill

The first time Bond has a traditional black, pleated cummerbund is in Licence to Kill. It’s one of the few redeeming qualities of the black tie outfit in that film. But actually there are two cummerbunds used. The one Bond removes is flat silk and is used with the purpose to conceal rope. But later when Bond wakes up at Sanchez’s villa and sees his dinner suit neatly hung up, it’s the traditional cummerbund with pleats.

Quantum-of-Solace-Cummerbund

The cummerbund briefly appearing in Quantum of Solace

When Bond wore his dinner suit without a cummerbund or waistcoat in Casino Royale, many people took note of it and started doing the same. Though Bond’s tradition of foregoing the waist-covering began from the start of the film series in Dr. No, it took 44 years for people to notice and make a big fuss over it. When Bond returned in Quantum of Solace two years later, the cummerbund returned. And Bond wore a cummerbund again in Skyfall despite the cummerbund not being very popular at the moment.

The cummerbund does not work well with the low-rise trousers that make up the majority of suit trousers today since the cummerbund should be worn up at the waist and not down at the hips. Some people say that the cummerbund should be used with such low-rise trousers to prevent the white of the shirt from showing between the jacket button and the top of the waistband, but that’s not a true solution for a poorly-designed suit. The cummerbund’s purpose is not to prevent that bit of shirt from showing. The jacket’s buttoning point and the trousers’ waistband in a well-fitting suit should not be very far from one another. The cummerbund should actually be mostly hidden under the jacket and only show just a little above and below the jacket’s button, if it shows at all.

Kamal Khan: Grey Jacket

Kamal-Khan-Sports-Coat

When Kamal Khan, played by Louis Jourdan, dresses in western clothing in Octopussy, the outfits are similar to outfits Bond wears. His dinner suit is just as classic and his navy suit is just as minimal. His jacket in a broken twill weave of dark and light grey wool is equally simplistic, but it’s also not boring. There’s a continuity error, however, since there were at least two of these jackets used in filming. One of the jackets buttons one and the other buttons two. Other than this discrepancy, the jackets are the same. They have straight shoulders with roped sleeveheads, and they are cut with a clean chest and are shaped through the waist. The jackets have 1-button cuffs, no vent and jetted pockets with a ticket pocket. The jacket’s vent-less skirt signifies that this jacket is not for sporting use, and the straight jetted pockets follow the vent-less rear’s clean look and non-sporting purpose. The buttons are all black leather, something that sets this jacket apart from all of Bond’s jackets. Bond instead prefers slightly less rustic horn buttons for his jackets.

This sports coat buttons one.

This jacket buttons one.

Khan’s jacket sleeves are flamboyantly a little short to show off more shirt cuff. It’s usually recommended to show between 1/4″ and 1/2″ of shirt cuff when the arms are at rest, though, like Roger Moore’s character Lord Brett Sinclair in The Persuaders, Kamal Khan also shows too much shirt cuff. Shorter jacket sleeves visually shortens the arm length, and it’s possible that Louis Jourdan thinks his arms are too long. But over an inch of shirt cuff simply looks disruptive and like a mistake.

This sports coat buttons two. Notice its short sleeves.

This jacket buttons two. Notice its short sleeves.

Charcoal trousers complement and provide the necessary contrast to the lighter grey jacket. We can’t see if they have pleats or not, but they have a sharp crease. Khan’s light blue shirt has a spread collar and 2-button cuffs. The tie is navy with raised rectangles, woven in a checker pattern. Khan ties it in what is probably a half windsor knot. Overall, the outfit is timeless in both the colour palate and its proportions. The only thing that doesn’t fit in well today is the jacket’s vent-less skirt, but like everything else it comes in and out of fashion.

Kamal-Khan-Sports-Coat-Button-Two

The Navy Blouson

Navy-Blouson

My 400th post features yet another one the many blousons that Roger Moore wore in his 1980′s James Bond films. The navy zip-front blouson in Octopussy has a shirt-type collar and shirt-type button cuffs. The front has a welt pocket on each side of the chest and patch pockets below with buttoned flaps. The back of the jacket is made with a yoke and two pieces, which gather at the waistband at the bottom. It looks like there are two extra pieces to the back on either side of the centre, but those are probably pleats that have been sewn shut down the back from the yoke to the waistband. The flat front navy trousers have on-seam side pockets and at least one welt pocket on the back, on the right. Though both the blouson and trousers are navy, they don’t perfectly match. The trousers are most likely cotton drill, but the blouson could also be the same.

Navy-Blouson-2

The lightweight white shirt is made by Frank Foster in the same style as the formal shirts in the film, and it has a spread collar, button cuffs and a front placket. Moore wears his usual black slip-on shoes, which are a very odd choice for the assault on Kamal Khan’s palace. The stuntman wears lace-up shoes, which Moore should have been wearing too.

Navy-Blouson-3

The Tan Safari Suit

Octopussy-Safari-Suit

None of Roger Moore’s infamous safari suits are identical. The safari suit in Octopussy is one of the most classic, being in tan, and it doesn’t have the flared 1970′s trousers to date it. It’s now 1983, and Moore has continued to wear safari suits. And why not? It’s a classic piece of English clothing, and most appropriate for the safari that Bond finds himself being hunted in. Frank Foster said he made the shirt-jacket, and he said it’s made of worsted wool. High twist wool in a plain weave is very comfortable in warm weather, and that’s what this cloth appears to be. The lack of wrinkles in this safari suit also shows that it’s made of wool and not pure cotton or linen. Though cotton or linen would be more comfortable, wool is very durable and looks great on screen. Plus, the tan colour is great camouflage against the Monsoon Palace’s stone.

Octopussy-Safari-Suit-2

The shirt-jacket is tailored like a shirt, as a safari jacket should be. But the cut is more complex than a typical shirt. It has two front panels, two back panels and a western yoke across the shoulders with a point in the middle. The front panels have darts under the arms that extend forward to the middle of the hip pockets, and the side seams are pushed back and have deep vents. There are four buttons down the front, on a wide placket. The collar is a formal-shirt-type point collar, but larger and without a button. The front has four patch pockets with box pleats and pointed button-flaps. The sleeves end in shirt-style cuffs, fastening with a single button. Completing the safari shirt look are the essential shoulder straps. The trousers have a flat front and straight legs. Here in light brown are Moore’s usual—but inappropriate—slip-on shoes.

A close-up of the open-weave cloth and Seiko

A close-up of the open-weave cloth and Seiko G757 digital watch

Shirt Darts

From-Russia-With-Love-Shirt-Back

Darted Turnbull & Asser shirt in From Russia With Love

Darts on the back of a shirt are currently more popular than ever now that people like wearing their clothes tighter. When darts are used, two are typically placed at the back towards the sides. They start above the waist and may extend down to the bottom of the shirt or as far as needed. Most often shirts are shaped as much as possible with the side seams and back darts are used when needed. Traditionally darts are not used on men’s shirts, but can often be found in both the backs and fronts of women’s shirts. But it’s completely acceptable for men to have darts on the back of their shirt for a more shapely and less blousy look. Darts are rarely found on ready-to-wear shirts because the closer fit they provide is very specific to the person wearing the shirt. However, they can easily be added to the shirt if taking in the side seams is not enough.

Turnbull & Asser put darts on Sean Connery’s shirts because of his large drop rather than for a close fit. Without darts, a shirt on someone as athletic as Connery would be much too large around the waist. Connery’s shirt also shows that pleats and darts on the back can work well together.

Octopussy-Shirt-Back

Darted Frank Foster shirt in Octopussy

Frank Foster used darts for George Lazenby and Roger Moore’s shirts to achieve a closer fit. Foster fits his shirts much closer than most English shirtmakers, but the clean, streamlined look is perfect for James Bond. The back is shirred under the yoke for fullness across the shoulder blades, and the darts take in the fullness at the waist. Daniel Craig’s dress shirt in Casino Royale is darted, and his Tom Ford shirts in Quantum of Solace and Skyfall are also darted.

Darted Tom Ford shirt in Quantum of Solace

Darted Tom Ford shirt in Quantum of Solace

Luggage Gone Ahead

Octopussy Hotel Closet

“My luggage?” asks James Bond. “Gone ahead,” replies Sadruddin, in Octopussy. Bond’s clothes have been hung in the closet of his hotel room, with the Ferragamo luggage placed on the floor. Either a few of the suits were hung up rather carelessly or they are sized inconsistently. The suit on left looks especially poorly hung. From left to right we see a brown suit, a beige suit, a grey suit (sans cuff buttons), light blue trousers, a white dinner jacket hung with black trousers, a black dinner suit, a safari jacket and a brown vest. The first four items in the closet are not worn in the movie but the rest are.

Kamal Khan: Dinner Suit

Kamal Khan Dinner Suit

Octopussy‘s Kamal Khan, played by French actor Louis Jourdan, is one of the best-dressed villains of the James Bond series. When he’s not wearing a villainous Nehru jacket he’s wearing well-tailored suits, and he dresses for dinner in a classic peak-lapel dinner jacket. The button one black dinner jacket has natural shoulders with roped sleeveheads, and it is cut with a little drape in the chest and gentle waist suppression. It has single-button cuffs, jetted pockets and no vents. The lapels are satin-faced and buttons and trouser stripe match the lapels. The trousers are cut with a straight leg.

Kamal Khan Dinner Suit

Kamal Khan wears a pleat-front shirt with a spread collar and double cuffs, probably made by Frank Foster like Roger Moore’s is. It’s essentially the same shirt as what Bond is also wearing in the scene. He finishes the ensemble with a black satin silk, thistle-shaped bow tie, and a matching cummerbund.