The Last 80’s Suit

Dalton-Blue-Suit

For the climax of Licence to Kill, Timothy Dalton dresses in a dark blue suit very contemporary to 1989. The jacket has two buttons with a low button stance and low-gorge, notched lapels, with flapped pockets, three-button cuffs and no vent. In the scene before we see Dalton in the full suit, we see him in just the trousers, which have triple reverse pleats and plain hems. The suit has a very full fit with padded, extended shoulders, and though it’s fashionable for the era it still has a poor fit. Though it’s possible to have a well-fitting, full-cut jacket, the sloppy back on Dalton’s suit is unacceptable.

Dalton-Blue-Suit-2

Dalton wears a white shirt with a small point collar, single-button mitre cuffs, a placket and a breast pocket. It’s a ready-to-wear shirt with a typical baggy fit. Again, the shirt is very typical for American and some Italian makers at the time. He wears a black belt and black low-vamp moccasins. The shoes are straight out of the Ian Fleming novels, and the rest of the outfit would be something the literary Bond would wear in concept—along with a black knitted tie—but not in execution.

Dalton-Blue-Suit-Trousers

71 thoughts on “The Last 80’s Suit

  1. For what it’s worth, in a British movie magazine article from last year , Dalton described this as a “beautiful serge suit”.

    • If you’re referring to the magazine article that I’ve read Dalton refers to his “beautiful suit” being destroyed doing an action sequence. he does not refer to the material.
      As for whether or not the suit is beautiful that is a matter of opinion. It’s not a safari suit and I think we’re all grateful for that.

  2. I’m old enough to remember wearing these suits and, fit aside, how awesome they looked to us at the time. I still remember fashion articles talking about how the padded, extended shoulders and the low, large lapels were “impressive” and “powerful” and made suits from a short time earlier look “timid and anemic”. And of course, they looked even better when paired with drop-shouldered shirts in a “full cut” (which really meant baggy).

    As everything is cyclical, I wonder how long it will be until them come back in style again, or at least a modified version of them? Again, I’m old enough to remember that there was a long time when Connery’s suits from the first few films were considered ridiculous looking!

  3. This outfit is one of my guilty pleasures from the series. Yes the suit is too big, yes the shirt is underwhelming, and yes it needs a tie, but Dalton is so handsome and his performance in this film is so intense that I actually think he pulls it off. It’s not early Connery, Lazenby or QoS!Craig level by any stretch of the imagination, but in this scene, in this film, with this actor, I think it works.

    • I agree that Dalton makes this work because he realises ( along with Connery, Craig and Lazenby) that Bond is a dangerous intelligent professional not an aging buffoon in a fancy dress competition.

  4. I too can easily remember this awful “style” of suit but as oft commented upon previously on this particular forum, the 2013 trend in men’s suits is every bit as distasteful as Dalton’s here. Those wearing these current suits look like something reminiscent of the style employed by the British comedy actor Norman Wisdom back in the 1950’s and that was for comic effect. I don’t care how often I see them something inside me always wonders how the wearer hasn’t sufficient self awareness to not find them ridiculous. Anyway…

    From my point of view all of this only illustrates how fluid a concept “taste” is and how removed it is from “fashion”. Your points affirm a view I have for a long time now which is that; for many people, they simply equate what’s current with what’s tasteful (the fashion marketer’s dream) rather than ever developing an individual sense of style. Ok, nobody wants to walk around in flared trousers and wide lapels when the prevailing trend might be for closer fitting trousers and narrow lapels but that’s where balance and individual discernment comes in.

    While Dalton looks here as if the clothes are at least a size too large for him, as you say, this was also seen as desirable and stylish at that time. Nobody “stylish” could imagine neat tailoring either. Yet, were Roger a little younger and still playing Bond in 1989 or were Pierce ensconced in the role they would have dressed different to this, for sure. Dalton hasn’t an interest in style. A recent documentary on Bond on SKY TV interviewed Moore, Brosnan and Dalton and while Moore appeared in his trademark blazer, collar and tie and Brosnan looked immaculate in his dark suit and open neck white shirt Dalton was in some sloppy, cheap looking half zip sweater thing and hair so long it didn’t become a man of his age.

    • David, I am 100% with you.
      The trouble is, if you have already found your style and have some basic knowledge about tailoring notions, with today’s current fashions you just have to wait for better times (in term of decent offer in ready to wear I mean) unless you earn enough money to go to a decent tailor. And if your personal style is just the exact opposite of today’s trends -as it is for me-, people often thought it’s just snobbery towards fashion -that it’s just a way to appear in opposition to the crowd or something as stupid- and not the result of a long and meticulate observation of the history of clothing ; to me it’s only when you know the characteristics of every period and every style that one’s able to decide what he likes and what he thinks will suit him the best.

      I quite agree with you about Dalton being the Bond actor the least interested in clothing. Thus his wardrobe looks terrible today, contrary to Moore’s (I don’t include his whole wardrobe, and personnaly prefer his 80s suits but I confess his 70s wardrobe is quite attracitve in general), Brosnan’s and Lazenby’s, who all have taken the best in term of clothing of their respective era (apologies for my terrible American), while leaving sartorial extremism and atrocities in the closet. For example, I find lots of Brosnan’s 90s suits quite timeless now, thanks to Matt’s precise and often neutral articles.

      I would say the same of Connery’s wardrobe (who didn’t care about clothing at all, apparently, but had a wonderful mentor, Terence Young) and, if we decide not to look at Skyfall, of Craig’s -which case is quite the opposite : he seems very interested about clothing, but perhaps he often don’t see the limit between “stylishness” and “overfashionness”…

      Regards

    • “I don’t care how often I see them something inside me always wonders how the wearer hasn’t sufficient self awareness to not find them ridiculous.”

      Probably because they aren’t ridiculous. I find the…insistent nature of some of the posts on this forum to be strange. Just because you don’t like something doesn’t necessitate that it’s ridiculous, just that it isn’t to your taste. As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, here and on other forums, I’ve been wearing “Skyfall style” suits for some time and always get fantastic compliments on them. And my “crowd” is 30s to mid-40s professionals. And the most flattering comments always come from the women. Now, it’s possible that they are deficient in their ability to discern style, or have been brainwashed by “fashion” to the point that they can’t see that they’re wrong to like what they like (if only the unhappy posters here could show them the error of their ways!) but…so what? Will I think that my suits look dated 15 years from now? Of course. But that applies to any style of suit, even the ones that you now think are timeless! No offence, but between the attractive, successful, mature woman that I run into and the people who complain about Craig’s clothes on here I know who I would rather have thinking that I look “sharp” and stylish. And I’m pretty comfortable in my choice ;-)

      The other thing that I don’t understand are the commenters here who believe that they are held hostage by current styles and have to wait for things to change. I’ve seen a wide variety of styles and cuts of RTW suits, and I’m not just talking about at Sears or K-mart. If someone was to go into, say, Zara or H&M then yes, there will only be one or two specific cuts of suit that are on offer. But I’ve seen fuller cut jackets and pant legs, higher button stances, larger lapels, even pleated pants (!) in different stores. Perhaps because I live in Toronto there are more retail options here than in other places but everything downtown (I work in the financial district) spoils us for choice. But surely this variety must be found online as well.

    • Women often compliment my classic style as well. Timeless style does indeed exist. Can you place a date on Ralph Fiennes’ suits in Skyfall?

      You’re right that less trendy suits are available, but they are typically either very cheap, very expensive or just very bland. In Canada you can find decent suits made by Samuelsohn. New York has Paul Stuart, which is one of the best places for stylish, timeless clothing. But in America you used to be able to walk into Brooks Brothers and get a classic suit, and that really isn’t the case anymore.

    • Great point regarding Brooks Brothers, Matt. BB should be a natural choice for me as a young lawyer living on the American East Coast. Yet not a single one of their cuts comes even close to fitting me in a flattering way, albeit for different reasons.

    • As another Canadian I can say that the “fashion” cuts do follow the trend of cheap or expensive, no inbetween. That being said, each of the major designers has options that fall within classical and good tailored.

      Ermenegildo Zegna, Canali, Armani (if you do the Sartorial or even the new Girgio model) all have garments that are timeless and it would be hard to nail down a specific era for these suits outside of the prevalent patterns.

      While many criticize Tom Ford for his “skintight” suits, we must remember that in a RTW setting, that model (newly crowned as the Base S) represents maybe only 10% of the actual buy. Infact the “O’Connor” has been modified from the “Skyfall” suit already, being made a little fuller, increasing jacket length slightly and widening the leg by a fraction of degree.

      Samuelsohn does roughly 90% of it’s business in MTM (Made to measure) so naturally the clothes can look more tailored and classical as they are being cut to a specific body.

      One walks into a store, you can see the extremes of a Dolce/Z-Zegna to the classical fuller cut of a Canali 13000, or a Samuelsohn Arno body (replaced by the Ashton, but still available in MTM.)

      While the current trend is slowly inching towards bigger clothes again, I don’t believe we will see the proportions of what we saw in the 1980’s. Yes the runway shows are showcasing some pretty outrageous looks. But let’s remember, 99% of runway clothes, never actually see production.

    • Marlborough, Dalton’s hair was longer for a role. As for wearing a sweater that is a frankly ludicrous criticism. He is not James Bond at all times. Surely you can understand that.
      I’ll refrain from commenting on Moore’s “hair” and whatever it is he uses to colour his scalp.

  5. This to me is the lowest point that the “Suits of James Bond” have ever reached. Rock bottom. Ironically, the fact that my eye has become so accustomed to the current shrunken look probably makes the LTK suits even more difficult to stomach.

    David, to your point, the comparisons between LTK and Skyfall are not unfair given Janie Temime’s well-documented missteps. However, I do not think all hope is lost for the modern Bond. Indeed, one need not look into the distant past to find a stylishly dressed oo7. The suits in QoS are among my favorite in the series. Although there may be a number of suit-makers better suited for the franchise than Tom Ford, a sensible costume designer could achieve a modern yet elegant look for Bond by combining the best aspects of Ford’s QoS suits (cut, details) and Skyfall suits (beautiful fabrics) into one.

    • You got a point there indeed. While we all have focused on the terrible fit of the Skyfall suits, the cloths and patterns were quite fitted for the character, quite British and less flashy than the QOS cloths. Perhaps a blend of the QOS Tom Ford suit cut and of Skyfall’s cloths could lead to something nice, although I am still nostalgic of the Brioni suits !

    • I find it hard to believe that this suit is the low point of Bond’s onscreen wardrobe. There are worse things in Diamonds Are Forever, AVTAK and NSNA. Indeed practically everything that Moore wears in TSWLM is an embarassment.

    • Never Say Never Again doesn’t count as a Bond film. But the suits in Diamonds Are Forever, The Spy Who Loved Me, A View to a Kill and Never Say Never Again are far better-tailored than this suit. What do you think is wrong with the suits in Diamonds Are Forever and Never Say Never Again? The pink tie is really the only bad thing in Diamonds.

    • Perhaps its erroneous memory on my part as I haven’t seen DAF in a long while, but I seem to recall thinking that the grey suit in Amsterdam- worn when Bond swaps wallets with Peter Franks- is ill fitting in that scene, as though Connery had gained weight since the suit was made. Of course I could be wrong in which case I apologise.
      I also recall that there is a brief scene with a loud brown check jacket, which seems completely unlike anything the literary Bond would wear. In any event I wasn’t impressed with it.

    • You’re right about the fit of the grey plaid suit in Diamonds Are Forever. That suit and some of the others have the same fit problem of pulling at the waist as Daniel Craig’s suits do in Skyfall. It’s clearly not on purpose in Diamonds, but it may be in Skyfall. I just wonder if Daniel Craig’s suits in Skyfall were fitted before he finished getting into shape and building up the muscle tone. The plaid jacket in Diamonds Are Forever is too bold for Bond, though it’s still classic for an English gentleman in the county and it doesn’t reach the fashionable levels that Roger Moore does in The Spy Who Loved Me. That’s why I didn’t include it. Look at Jimmy Dean for something more fashionable. Jimmy Dean’s clothing sure doesn’t fit the character because he had been sheltered a since before his jacket was fashionable! It shows that costume designers don’t always pay attention to the story. I definitely don’t think the Skyfall suits (along with Daniel Craig’s physique) fit the story. That’s why half the time it’s necessary to disregard the context.

  6. Well, I think this suit acquits itself well. And I disagree that it is a “poor fit” – it is the fit of 1989. It is supposed to fit like this. That, to me, is not a poor fit if it fits the way the fashions of the era demand – I recall all of the jackets had backs that fit like this one. I too remember when Connery’s early 1960’s look was considered hopelessly outdated and these oversized power suits were worn by everyone (including President Clinton in 1993). Now, thanks to other popular culture influences, the 1960s look is considered cool and inspirational for current trends.
    This suit is in keeping with the character as well, certainly more so than, say, some of Pierce’s dandy-ish outfits.
    The shirt looks cheap, however.

    • I agree. It is certainly less dated than much of the other movie clothing of the era.
      I’m not entirely sure that several commentators on here understand that character and context have any place in movie costume design..

    • The character is why these this suit is inappropriate. This suit is very much out of character for what had been established in the previous 15 films.

    • I realise that you are biased towards Moore Matt but you must agree that a single-breasted dark suit with a soft plain shirt is precisely what Fleming’s Bond would have worn in the novels. Fleming’s character would probably have worn short sleeves.
      It certainly suggests the character better than the showy outfits from TSWLM. Bond is not a dandy and would be suspicious of anyone who was.
      I agree that I’d prefer a more classic cut but I can remember far more unstructured suits being worn in 89. Indeed there was a Tv series the same year about a Major in the Irish Guards and his civilian clothing was of similar fit. Whether one likes it or not that was the fit of the time.
      I don’t think that the 89 suit is an exaggerration of the fit of the day. I do think the Skyfall suits are more exaggerrated than the fashionable cut of 2012/13, although in fairness I’m older now and possibly not acquainted with people who follow fashion so closely.

    • You’re definitely right that Dalton’s suit is more like Fleming’s in spirit, but it’s still a flashy Italian suit like Moore’s. Like I said just before, Pierce Brosnan shows how that 80’s Italian style can be done in the more fastidious way that we’re accustomed to seeing from Bond. Perhaps I’ll show one of his examples on this site soon.

      We see that unstructured-type jacket in some of Dalton’s casual wear, but at least it’s in a nice navy.

  7. The small collar was fashionable with the wide lapels at the time. It’s another fashion trend that doesn’t make sense, just like today’s high button stance doesn’t match the low-rise trousers.

    • Exactly, Matt, it’s a question of balance and perspective. Styles can and will inevitably change and we will all have our preferences but a suit must fit correctly in basic terms.

      By the way, would you say that Sinclair’s suits were cut with drape and is a suit with a full chest the same as a suit with drape?

  8. I agree with David. There is an obvious difference between fashion and taste and too many people slavishly follow the vagaries of fashion rather than wear what suits them. Women are not necessarily the best judges of what suits a man and frequently get their own dress appallingly wrong, whether professional class or not. If you want to see some of the best dressed women in the world, go to a small southern Italian town and you will see women turned out impeccably having spent 5 Euros on a local dress in the market.

    • For single men, I find that it’s still important to dress to impress women. Wearing a flattering, well-fitting suit in a classic style can still impress. I don’t mean a classic full-cut American style or a drape cut, but a fitted British or Italian suit. It just needs to be done well.

    • Matt, why do you think a well tailored but full cut suit can’t impress women ? That’s curious. I think that a double breasted suit with a rather full cut and some waist suppression, for example, could look terrific. But it certainly isn’t the easiest thing to look for today !

  9. I think this suit is a good example of how not to do a full cut -even if it’s certainly an off the peg suit, not a tailor’s work. The baggyness of the whole thing make a man who is apparently in good shape (third picture) appear completely shapeless, drowned in the suit. And the jacket isn’t even buttoned here. About the shirt, I just wonder why such a small collar? It really doesn’t mesh well with the wide lapels. It looks drowned too…
    It would be interesting to do a survey on the most terrible looking suit of the series. I wonder which look would be the most hatred, the 80s, the 70s or the shrunken look ? Hard to decide…
    About 80s fashion, I just don’t really mind baggy shirts like this one. If they are worn -and cut- casually, on the beach or in a similar environment, that could be quite comfortable.

  10. Well, it’s interesting to note how it’s deemed legitimate to criticize Dalton’s outfit here but that even touching on the excesses of the prevailing look in men’s suits brings the usual response as these are clearly deemed sacrosanct by the fashion forward amongst us. This proves the point I made in my initial comments re; current being king while anything over, say 5, 10 years is fair game for criticism. (I consciously never mentioned Daniel Craig or “Skyfall” in my observations and I agree that the QoS suits look, overall, fine despite not having watched the movie.) I still maintain that a grown man wearing a jacket that is too short (yes, it is TOO short if it stops halfway up your backside!), too tight and permitting the display of about 6 inches of superfluous tie between jacket and a trousers which sit low on the waist, looks juvenile and ridiculous and I am prepared to maintain that stance against all comers as it’s based on over forty years of living and observing (and yes, probably, environmental conditioning) on this planet. Dalton’s outfit here awful to look at but it’s not ridiculous, in my humble opinion.

    The dressing to please women thing is interesting as I suppose most men do this to some degree. I actually don’t care to bring my clothing choices in to this but many women over the years have commented that I looked great (I recall one ex girlfriend even said “striking”) when I wore a tailored 3 piece suit for example and this was in the mid 1990’s at the tail end of the loose, double breasted look. But I never needed or sought this approval. I agree with Steve’s comments on this topic and I applaud his bravery in making them! As a married man I haven’t altered my style of dressing too much either. Basically, I am saying that someone who is confident (and happy!) in their own skin dresses to their own individual taste and if that pleases others then that’s all well and good. If it offends them then ditto! A good tailor, as Le Chiffre states can cater for individual requirements so there’s no excuse (bar cost) to be stuck with current thinking or, at least, you can have some aspects of the current look without the ill fitting overall. And, if cost is a consideration, you can find beautiful pieces, in cuts you like, by classic tailors on Ebay for example and with a nip and tuck here or there, voila!

    But to get back to Dalton here; you do wonder why, after 25 years of Anthony Sinclair, Dimi Major, Cyril Castle, Doug Hayward, Turnbull and Asser and Frank Foster why the producers so radically altered Dalton’s wardrobe in 1986 and especially in 1988? Why so low? I think the actor himself would only be partially responsible as, let’s be frank, Connery would have been little better than Dalton if left to his own devices as we have seen plenty of small indicators of this in his movies.

  11. While the suit itself is rubbish, I really do like the fabric and colour of it. It’s too bad that the fit makes the suit look cheap and sloppy, while the fabric actually looks great (and worthy of Bond). I think this is a shade Daniel Craig could pull of very well, what with his blue eyes and light complexion.

    On a side note, Matt, I’ve been meaning to ask you – can you explain to me the difference between beige and tan? Am I right when I think it is that one of the shades go more towards yellow while the other goes more towards light reddish-brown? Dalton’s Tangier suit in TLD is described as beige while Moore’s Octopussy suit is described as tan, yet I have hard time seeing the difference. Also, you say Blofeld’s Mao-suit in YOLT is tan too, even though it’s clearly darker and browner than the Octopussy suit (not just depending on the light).

    • So there can be different shades of tan? Because the previously mentioned suit in Octopussy looks considerably lighter than the San Fransisco suit in AVTAK, yet both are described as tan. I’m sorry, but all of theese tan/beige shades sort of blend together for me.

  12. I don’t think the suit is all that bad fit-wise. It fits well in the shoulders, sleeves and chest. It’s the details that are poor for me. The gorge is too low and doesn’t flatter nor accentuate the chest/v shape torso. The trousers are too full all the way down the leg too. Maybe could have been tapered slightly.

  13. Well, I logged off for a few days and apparently missed this party! The usual contributors all have various and good points to make and the back and forth is fun to read. Going to a minor point from above, I find the Brooks Brothers 1818 Fitzgerald cut to be excellent (and fits me well) and just fashionable enough to not look stodgy, but just traditional enough to not look hip.

  14. Predictably the usual suspects, who scream like lovestruck schoolgirls whenever anyone comments negatively on Moore’s 70s clothing , are rushing to condemn Dalton. Sad but predictable.

    • As your 6 (!) contributions above were clearly for my attention I would just briefly reply by saying that my responses can hardly be regarded as juvenile (as you suggest in this last contribution). Whether or not you agree with them, my arguments are reasonably thought through and not childish and throwaway. Many may not agree with my points and that’s, obviously, fine but debate is about more than silly jibes.

    • Sam does have a point, though. People tend to like Moore and Brosnan or Dalton and Craig, but there is surprisingly little overlap between those two fanbases.

    • Sam,
      Nobody is condemning Dalton, only his wardrobe. The suits in Licence to Kill are not up to the well-tailored standards that we’re used to with Bond. Fashionable Italian suits are out of character for Bond, and it’s the same concept as the Italian suits in The Spy Who Loved Me and Moonraker. This suit is on par with those as far as following fashion trends go, though Moore’s suits were better executed than this suit it. This suit, with it’s large shoulders, wide low-gorge lapels and triple-reverse-pleat trousers, is just as much outdated as Moore’s late 70’s suits are. The context of the film doesn’t justify the poor fashion choices.

    • I am certainly not saying that I don’t wish that Bond was wearing something more classical, but given that the costume designer was IIRC famous for her work in Miami Vice
      I think the lead actor was forced to stand his ground or we’d have seen something far worse.

    • I’m afraid to say that I cannot agree that referring to Dalton and Craig as rapists ( as you have done several times elsewhere on this blog) is well thought out debate.
      You are entitled to express any opinion of the Bond films you wish ( at Matt’s discretion of course) but your constant overly emphatic comments, both in favour of those whom you admire and your vitriol towards those you do not is more than a little tiresome.
      I have no desire to undermine the hard work Matt puts into this blog by deviating into a clash of personalities but I think few people who have read the articles here will have been surprised to see your name as the first to comment in an article on Dalton, nor the supercilious tone of said comment.

    • Just as a suggestion, could we all leave the term “rapist” at the door? There is no humour in nicknaming actors who bring differing interpretations to a character as sex criminals, and beyond using a term that should not be used in polite company (let alone misused as it is here) it comes off as petty squabbling.

      Actors taking over a role very rarely want to do the same thing as the actor before them, and frequently take an opposing approach to distinguish themselves. The last thing an actor wants is to be accused of copying another actor’s performance.

    • Sam,
      I hardly think Dalton’s wardrobe is defendable -at least in Licence to kill ; his wardrobe of The Living Daylights was fairly correct, with some nice outfits -the flannel suit, the country checked jacket. It doesn’t affect his acting skills in any way.
      I think we all lack some sense of measure when our favorites actors (wheter it’s a favorite in term of elegance or of acting skills) are being criticized about their choices of clothing -which often are not theirs, but the costume designer’s. I can enjoy Moore’s clothing while not liking his acting, and vice versa about another actor.
      That said, I must agree that it’s funny to assist to an almost immediate reaction (whatever it comes from) whenever somebody criticizes Moore’s clothing, whether it’s a safari jacket or a 3-piece suit. It looks like that the commenters’ sphere would be divided in two parts, the refined ones who could appreciate Moore’s subtle sense of clothing and the poor crowd who is just too wrongheaded and stupid to appreciate it.
      Funny, but really boring sometimes too.
      If every Bond actor had as many fearless champions as Sir Roger has, Matt would have to deal with roughly 200 comments per day. So perhaps it would be better not to take Bond’s clothing so seriously.

      PS : and, as surprising as it may seem, I didn’t vote for Moore’s outfit…

    • I think that if one finds Dalton’s suits in LTK indefensible then the same must be said for much of the other films too.
      The only time I really regretted Dalton’s wardrobe for the film is the scene in the bank in which, unless memory fails me, Bond is the only one not wearing a tie.
      I’ve never met anyone who finds the wardrobe in LTK so distressing that it takes them out of the film ( although I’m beginning to suspect there may be some here). .Even those who don’t like it accept it as 8os styling. I cannot say the same for the frilly shirts in OHMSS, the jacket in the Egyptian scenes of TSWLM or the safari suit in MR.
      I even remember, as a small child, watching LALD on TV and my Mother commenting that the black silk safari suit and the silk shirt at the airport were too much, that Connery wore nice clothes but wasn’t ostentatious. ( I know Bond was a devotee of short sleeves silk shirts but my Mother was comparing the clothing with that of Connery’s Bond).
      My yardstick is whether it seems, in my view of course, like something the hero of Fleming’s novels might wear. I realise that the wardrobe must be extended from the limited palette of the novels but Bond is still a blunt instrument and Fleming makes the character’s views on overdressing quite clear.

    • A lot of people exaggerate how bad Moore’s clothes are and that has rubbed off on most people. My dad used to comment on how Moore wore polyester suits. But Moore didn’t wear polyester suits like everyone else in the 70s did. He didn’t wear a silk safari suit. The flared trousers on the Moonraker safari suit are unnecessary, but he’s in the jungle. What’s more appropriate than a safari suit in the jungle? That’s what the English had been wearing for decades in such situations.

    • Well, it seems I’m not the most popular contributor to this fine forum! At the end of the day, I have enough self awareness to understand why my dogmatic style of comment gets up some people’s noses and I don’t really take it too seriously, to be honest. After all if you dish it out then you should be able to take it too! But I would like some space to defend my comments and consistent bias towards Roger Moore’s Bond particularly in the sartorial realm (something which you, Matt, also tend towards, for the reasons you point out.) as, after all, this is the blog’s remit.
      Re; the “rapist” term, this was a term my wife came up with and meant to illustrate, with a little humor, a situation where an “artist” interprets a particular role or art form (film, music etc.) in a way radically differently from the style which went before. While each actor’s portrayal of the Bond role differed to some degree, arguably Dalton and Craig’s uber- intense portrayal of the character constituted a more marked deviation in the interpretation of the cinematic character than other changes of actor. This is bound to polarize people. I can appreciate too that there were plenty of Bond buffs who, back in 1973, found Moore’s more flippant version an abomination of the template set by Sean Connery and found him a “rapist” (despite this Moore represented big box office returns for a total of 7 movies so enough cinema goers liked him to merit his reappearance). Perhaps Connery and Lazenby achieved the feat of balancing the cinematic Bond’s toughness with the trademark humour most successfully and the others leaned a bit too far in one direction or the other. When people keep claiming that Dalton, Craig et. al’s Bond is in keeping with Fleming’s character it overlooks the fact that the cinematic Bond was never a facsimile version of the literary character and not intended (for the most part) to be so, at least not from “Goldfinger” onwards when the producers steered a determined course to fantasy driven spectacle. Those who take the portrayal of the Bond role seriously will always resent Moore’s “sending it up” but, then again, a number of us found, hand in hand with his perfectly tailored suits, Moore’s more light hearted interpretation agreeable and very entertaining. I don’t think it’s too wide of the mark to suggest that Connery himself played the role with a nod and wink in his “official” swan song “Diamonds are Forever”.
      Then there’s the sartorial misconceptions which, as Matt points out, built up around Moore’s Bond. For example, as he points out above, there was no silk safari shirt in LALD yet, the person who says this slams me because I merely have the courage of my convictions. A perception developed around Moore’s clothes which often doesn’t translate to fact, so why wouldn’t somebody who admires the actor seek to correct this when they see it? Matt’s Dad judged Moore’s clothes to be polyester while, in terms of quality they were the diametric opposite. Surely, even Moore’s detractors can appreciate that his clothing was expensive and 95% of the time fit perfectly and that, along with Brosnan and Lazenby, it’s not possible to say this for any other actor to date? What seems to irk other contributors is that I state trenchantly that I find it consistently odd that a sizeable amount of contributors regard a suit (which fits perfectly) from 1977, for example, as “laughable” on account of its colour and its styling which is no longer fashionable, while at the same time these people don’t appear to find the extremities of current fashions risible.
      Finally some might say I am fixated with an outdated version of cinematic Bond. Fair enough, but wouldn’t a slavish following of the literary character which many other fans seem to hold as such a high aspiration bring the character further in to the realms of history?

    • Matt, I definitely remember reading Moore saying that he felt like an idiot posing for publicity pictures in a “black silk safari suit” in the published diary that he kept in 72/3 when the movie was being filmed.

    • Sorry, posted comment before it was complete.
      I can understand that a safari suit might seem appropriate in MR or OP but in LALD it was a fashion item.
      the MR safari suit strikes me as a fashion item too. If it had been khaki perhaps and worn with hiking boots or somesuch then it might have looked more appropriate.
      As for David’s suggestion about portrayals of Bond then I am as disinterested in Craig’s performances as I am in Moore’s ( or indeed the John Gardner novels). I have no interest in a character that just happens to be called James Bond. Indeed I find the 70’s films preferable to Craig’s Jack Bauer wannabe, because one might think of Moore’s acting the films themselves do contain some Bondian elements

    • The leisure suit in LALD was definitely a fashion item as you said. The shoes with the Moonraker safari suit are inappropriate, but I think the colour is fine, even if it is on the pale side of beige. It looks nice next to the stone walls of the temple.

    • I, too, get a little incensed at the unfair criticism of Moore’s sartorial choices, most of which were excellent (with a few exceptions). I have been puzzled for years at the vitriol aimed at the longest-serving and most personally pleasant of the Bonds (and not just at his tailoring, either) and have developed a hypothesis: in this time of the violent, angst -ridden, “darkandgritty” anti-hero (Craig’s Bond, Bale’s Batman, and even the new Superman), Sir Roger rubs some young people the wrong way. He is too elegant, too confident, a tad too pleased with himself for contemporary tastes. Perhaps he also inhabits a moral universe that is too simple and clear-cut for modern sensibilities. Speaking for myself, however, whenever I pop a classic Moore Bond in the DVD player, it feels like catching up with an old friend who never fails to charm and entertain.

    • Even when Brosnan was Bond and the films weren’t dark and gritty, people still criticised Moore. But then again, pretty much everyone criticised Die Another Day too.

    • I can’t recall because I haven’t seen the film in years but I assume the outfit that Moore refers to as a black silk safari suit is the one in the hang gliding sequence. Do you ever get a good look at it? Its appearance is pretty brief and filmed from below iirc.
      Please don’t be offended but I’m inclined to believe the man who wore the suit and was probably involved in its commision or design.

    • There are a number of publicity stills that show the leisure suit in daylight, so I can confidently say it’s navy and does not have shoulder straps. Click here to see a good photo of it.

    • Sam,

      I remember watching LTK when it first came out and leaving distressed by the ugliness of it all: the OTT violence, the clothes, the language, Dalton’s hairline… I could go on and on. The only redeeming feature was the lovely Carey Lowell. In the final analysis, movie Bond is not book Bond – he is an aspirational character. I doubt there are many men in the Western hemisphere who haven’t stood in front of a full-length mirror at least once in their lives and mouthed the immortal line “Bond, James Bond”. If I am correct, a scruffy, poorly dressed Bond who looks like an off-duty policeman will simply not do.

    • If you see Bond as an aspirational character then of course that’s your interpretation and quite valid. I am not sure that everyone aspires to be Bond or Bond like.
      As for your theories on why people don’t like Moore’s portrayal I can’t stand him because he is an absolutely terrible actor who makes no attempt to play any character- let alone Bond- and continued to attempt to play an action hero when he was far too long in the tooth. Look at AVTAK. Patrick Macnee and Moore should have been appearing in Last of The Summer Wine not a spy thriller. I think even the most devoted Moore hero worshipper cannot ignore the fact that the fight with Eastenders’ Big Ron is easily the worst fight in the history of the franchise and cringeworthy in its ineptitude.

    • The point of this site is to discuss clothing and help others dress well, using James Bond as the primary example. Sean Connery set the foundation for a well-dressed cinematic Bond, and he dressed much better than the literary character did. Wearing grenadine ties with a suit is a step up from the literary Bond’s knitted ties (which I think are too informal for a city suit). And wearing short sleeves with a suit is not something to admire. Moore may have been inappropriate to play Bond in A View to a Kill, but he’s very well-dressed in that film and that’s what matters here. This blog is about clothing first, Bond second. Context still matters, of course, but a nice outfit is still nice and an ugly outfit is still ugly, whether or not it’s appropriate for Fleming’s character. And if your opinions are different than mine or anyone else’s I welcome you to continue to share them. I don’t think that anyone should aspire to be like James Bond (I wouldn’t want to be his friend, no matter which version), but to use him as an example of how to dress is something different.

    • Given that this is the last Licence to Kill suit, I wanted to point out something that I’ve found interesting about the comments on this blog. Everyone who really dislikes Dalton’s suits from this film seem to also dislike the film itself.

      While I can see that his clothing is of a rather poor quality (the tuxedo is particularly unflattering, with a gorge so low it shows the cummerbund even while buttoned), I really like this film. I see it as the revenge film that should have occurred after the memorable final scene of On Her Majesty’s Secret Service. You know, instead of a bored-sounding Connery in the cold open of Diamonds Are Forever.

      And yet, I’ve seen one commenter who was shocked that John Glen listed this as his favorite Bond film he’d directed. Really? That’s difficult to believe?

      Yet, people like movies for different reasons. I’m just wondering how many of you feel that the aesthetics of Bond films, such as Bond’s sartorial leanings, are an important factor is your enjoyment of them, or if you actually prefer entirely different aspects of them that I’ve failed to bring up.

    • I absolutely DON’T wish to open up something else controversial but (and, as Matt correctly reminds, this is off the remit of this blog) as regards Moore’s “terrible” acting, he is on record as saying he personally hates guns, explosions and violence so being surrounded by them in action films must indicate that he’s not that bad of an actor and anyway, must you be of Shakespearean standard to play such an unbelievable cinematic character?

      As a matter of fact, his performance in “The Man Who Haunted Himself” is reasonably good and his Bond performance in “For Your Eyes Only” is not that bad either. From interviews he’s given through the years, Moore found the Bond character wholly incredible, treated the part that way and enjoyed himself. For people like me or Dan, that enjoyment which he brought to the role came across and was infectious. For others, who didn’t care for the send up, it grated. Fair enough. Personally, I think behind Moore’s self depreciation lies a better actor than most – including himself – give him credit for. He can act it’s just that he became typecast from his youth in certain roles and didn’t have to do so.

  15. Some final thoughts for my critics. Ok, Le Chiffre finds my dogmatic Moore defence “really boring”. Fair enough but I can also turn this around and say that I (and some others here) find the constant bashing of, for example, Moore’s safari clothing on this forum equally boring (as the critics line of “logic” doesn’t alter either and at least on some occasions the observations are simply incorrect). Matt summed up this topic, for me anyway, with his eminently logical conclusion above here “What’s more appropriate than a safari suit in the jungle? That’s what the English had been wearing for decades in such situations.” But yet, silly remarks like “at least it wasn’t a safari suit” come up regularly, presumably just to provoke. We get new criticism of his “ostentatious” silk sports shirt in LALD but what about Connery’s terry cloth version one movie earlier?
    Also, I actually don’t view any fellow commentator as “stupid” and it is a little unfair to posit that. We might all have “a bit too much time on our hands as they say” but that’s another matter…
    You also say, “If every Bond actor had as many fearless champions as Sir Roger has, Matt would have to deal with roughly 200 comments per day”. I reckon, aside from me, there’s about another 3 or 4 commentators who fit that bill so that’s a bit of exaggeration.
    Also, as Matt points out the overall negative press for Timothy Dalton is not personal or for his acting ability merely his clothing (although yes, personally, I didn’t care for his gloomy portrayal). And he DID state that the suit above here “my very beautiful suit – made of strong serge as Fleming specifies in the books – was in shreds”, on page 74 of the June 2012 edition of “Empire” magazine. I wasn’t imagining it or making the remark to be unpleasant (though I can’t say this for some other commentators!)

    • Then I apologise. That’s not the interview I’ve seen.
      Again I know Dalton refused to wear pastels and insisted upon a dark blue suit. I can imagine he might insist on serge or tropical worsted as that’s what is in the novels.

    • David,

      I quite understand your attitude and your logic in defending Moore’s clothing.
      I mention that -as my older comments prove it- I am not particulary biased towards Moore and I too can appreciate the fine tailoring of lots of his suits, perhaps almost all of the Hayward’s ones, and some Castle and Angelo too.
      I laugh with equal pleasure -see my comment about Craig litteraly bursting out of his clothes indeed in Skyfall, for example- of overly leg-flared suits than of shrunken looking suits. To be clear, I try to be neutral with Moore as well as with Craig , even if it’s perhaps not for the same reason :
      -Moore’s suits that I find fussy-looking (the navy leisure suit for example) because they are too much fashionable, but I recognize the fit still really nice. I actually really appreciated his first suits in LALD.
      -Craig’s suits look terrible just because of a poor fitting ; they may be the same quality of Sinclair’s -which I frankly doubt with Tom Ford but whatever-, but they are just one size too small. Or perhaps two size for the pants. They make me think ( in term of style) of Jerry Lewis’ Mr. Love’s suits in Dr Jerry in Mister Love, except that these fitted him very well.

      There is some Moore stuff that I like, it’s visible in some comments. The way I like his Bond interpretation or not in another subject, better suited for other websites than Matt’s.
      Last but not least, well perhaps some comments I often found boring just because I understand them -quite a paradox I know- and thought it wasn’t necessary to develop and justify the fact that the safari suit is a typical British piece. I think it’s well not basic knowledge but not worth such an explanation ; if we all comment on this forum we all know a little the British culture. If some people don’t understand the origins and thus the normal presence of safari clothing in some particular context (Matt briefly mentionned it in his articles about safari clothing if I remember well), well, why bother to explain them again ? Shure they weren’t 30 articles about safari clothing, perhaps I am just not patient. But I appreciate safari suits too, they are a very sensible and “logical” piece of clothing in the jungle -or in hot countries. I just prefer them cutted in a 50s-40s way -I mentionned Mogambo quite a few times on safari suits articles. I just prefer them, but can appreciate the Octopussy one. People laughed at it perhaps more because of the bell bottoms trousers than because of anything else. I grant you that, I am biased towards flared pants indeed.

      As a matter of fact my preferred style of clothing is the 40s style, the London drape cut to be short. And a timeless cut is something I really love and I am seeking it everyday, whereas it’s for myself when I search a suit or for my inspiration when watching a movie. Regarding these 40s suits as ones of the most timeless in the history of the lounge suit (of course everybody doesn’t have to appreciate a drape cut, but that’s just me), it means nothing irritates me most in a suit than a cut that looks trendy for its time. And it’s not because some of flared trousers make me laugh that Craig’s suits don’t make me laugh too -as a matter of fact, as I really like his interpretation it makes me really sad to see such a sartorial low point.

      Being young, thankfully, doesn’t mean having to conform oneself to this current fashion trend that make men looking like effeminate young boys. Appreciating full cut suits leads almost to a hate towards today’s fashion trends, I thought my opinions about it were quite obvious, because I have the impression you see me as a person who quite tolerates a lot of Bond actors’ style except Moore’s !

      I hope I have make myself clear on the subject. Apologizes for such a long comment for others readers. Now before commenting another brand new article I am going to take a breath and have a few minutes of pleasure while discovering my first “real” suit, that’s what I waited for all day, but I couldn’t help myself answering.

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