Roger Moore has earned a reputation for being the fashionable James Bond due to his collection of safari jackets and shirts. Some of them, like the cream safari jacket in The Man with the Golden Gun, are indeed fashionable 1970s items that have poorly dated. Others, like the safari shirt-jackets in Moonraker and Octopussy, are very practical garments based in traditional military wear that Bond appropriately wears in the jungle. Even though Roger Moore wears better and worse clothes as James Bond, these safari clothes will always be what he is most remembered for. The safari shirts and jackets are all complicated garments with many interesting details worth a closer look.
The brilliant actor Christopher Lee died Sunday at the age of 93. He will always be remembered to James Bond fans for playing the villain Francisco Scaramanga in The Man with the Golden Gun. Apart from Roger Moore’s stylish Cyril Castle suits and Frank Foster shirts, Christopher Lee is the best reason to watch The Man with the Golden Gun. His performance alone made the assassin Scaramanga one of the most memorable Bond villains. For the final duel on Scaramanga’s Island, Lee wears a light blue tropical outfit that takes from both tradition and fashion. Though he looks very much a product of the 1970s dressed head-to-feet in light blue, the colour perfectly suits the tropical marine climate of Scaramanga’s Island.
Scaramanga’s pale blue lightweight cotton poplin shirt has a unique and practical design. It’s inspired by the bush shirt, but in pale blue it has a looks more tropical than it looks safari. The shirt was made by Thai tailor Harry, on location where The Man with the Golden Gun was partially made. The short-sleeve shirt is mid-hip-length and has many jacket-like details, though it’s not designed to be worn as a jacket. The shape is more jacket-like than shirt-like, as it’s tapered at the waist and flared at the hips. Scaramanga wears this casual shirt untucked, and like a proper untucked shirt it has a straight hem. The collar is a tall and long two-piece point collar.
There are five buttons down the shirt’s plain front, The front of the shirt has three patch pockets—one on the left side of the chest and two at the hips. The pockets are rounded at the bottom corners, have a box pleat in the middle and have pointed, buttoned-down flaps. The top pocket has a separate pen pocket accessed from above the flap, which Scaramanga uses for a gold pen that makes up part of his golden gun. He wears the bottom left pocket flap tucked in to the pocket. The back of the shirt has a one-piece yoke, a sewn-on half belt, an inverted box pleat between the yoke and belt, and a centre vent below the belt. The shirt also has pointed shoulder straps.
Multiple shirts were made for these scenes, but there are a few differences between them. The shirt Scaramanga wears when walking with Bond to the door of his dwelling has shirring at the yoke and belt, whilst the other shirts have flat seams on the back. Some of the shirts have clear plastic buttons whilst a shirt that Scaramanga wears when first seen in the funhouse has off-white plastic buttons. Both sets of buttons are around 24 linge, which is the button size typically found on suit jacket sleeves. This shirt also does not have a hole in the top of the breast pocket for a pen (which at this point in the film had been made into the golden gun).
This shirt has similarities to casual shirts Bond creator Ian Fleming—who was also Christopher Lee’s cousin—would wear in Jamaica. Fleming has been photographed wearing similar white and navy shirts, but Fleming’s shirts had full belts rather than a half belt in back, and they did not have shoulder straps. The shoulder straps on Lee’s shirt are clearly inspired by the safari jacket’s popularity at the time.
Scaramanga’s trousers are sky blue and slightly darker than the pale blue shirt. The trousers are made of a heavier cotton—most likely in a twill weave—than the shirt since trousers need to be sturdier than shirts do. The trousers have a flat front and flared legs, with a more pronounced flare than James Bond’s Cyril Castle trousers have. Though the shirt and trousers don’t contrast much in colour, the contrast in weight and texture help.
The shoes are white horsebit slip-ons with a black sole and heel. Like James Bond’s horsebit slip-ons in The Man with the Golden Gun, Scaramanga’s are also likely from Gucci, but they contrast Bond’s black and brown shoes. Gucci was prominently featured in this film; Bond wears Gucci shoes and belts, and his suitcase is from Gucci. Goodnight’s handbag is also from Gucci.
One example of Scaramanga’s shirt—the one with off-white buttons—was auctioned at Prop Store on 16 October 2014 for £5,000.
Sean Connery’s suits in Goldfinger aren’t the only clothes to have been worn by a James Bond actor in a previous non-Bond film. In Connery’s case, many of his clothes in Goldfinger were originally made for Woman of Straw. During Roger Moore’s longest break between Bond films, he made an Italian film called Street People in 1976. Though Street People was released half a year before filming in Egypt began for The Spy Who Loved Me, a certain cotton suit jacket from Roger Moore’s Street People wardrobe was reused. That cotton jacket is the tan jacket with safari details that Moore wears in the Cairo and Giza scenes in The Spy Who Loved Me.
In Street People, the cotton jacket was part of a tan suit with matching trousers, possibly made by Angelo Roma, Moore’s tailor at the time. In most cases, suit jackets don’t work well without the matching trousers, but the casual cotton material as well as the sporty safari details make this jacket work well on its own. It may even work better with the stoned-coloured trousers that Moore wears it with in The Spy Who Loved Me. In Street People, the details on the jacket are brought to attention more by the wearing trousers that don’t distract from the jacket (not that the trousers in The Spy Who Loved Me are distracting).
Tan is one of the best colours for a cotton suit since it looks great for warmer weather and fits the suit’s casual material. Tan also looks great with Roger Moore’s warm tan complexion and golden brown hair.
The structured suit jacket could have been made by Angelo Roma since the silhouette is similar to the other suit jackets that Roger Moore wears in both The Spy Who Loved Me and in Street People. It has a clean, trim cut with straight shoulders, roped sleeveheads and a suppressed waist. If the wide lapels don’t make the jacket look dated, the safari-esque details do. It has shoulder straps, a belted back with a deep single vent, belted sleeves, patch hip pockets with flaps and a set-in breast pocket with a flap. The jacket has swelled edges all over to reinforce the garment.
Differing from Roger Moore’s typical suit jackets at the time, the lapels have a slight fishmouth shape and the front quarters are cut closed with the bottom corners only a little rounded. The closed, straight quarters give this jacket a more military look that goes with the safari details. The jacket’s brown buttons are probably made from the Tagua nut which comes from the seed of a tropical palm and is similar to ivory. These buttons are also known as corozo and are commonly used by Italian makers for suit buttons since they can be dyed in colours to match the suit. In brown they go especially well with the safari jacket look.
The suit trousers are similar to the Angelo Roma suit trousers that Roger Moore wears in The Spy Who Loved Me. They have a flat front, no belt loops and wide, flared legs. They differ from Moore’s trousers in his Bond films by having turn-ups. The turn-ups are approximately two inches, but they don’t look so tall because the bottoms of the trouser legs are so wide. Ordinary 1 1/2 inch turn ups would look very short on such a wide hem. Despite the suit being one of the most fashion-forward items Roger Moore has ever worn, it is well tailored and creatively tailored.
Moore wears this suit either with a open-neck cobalt blue shirt or a dark brown polo neck jumper. The cobalt blue shirt has a long point collar, a front placket and cocktail cuffs with a rounded and contoured shape. The shirt is made by Frank Foster. The contoured shape of the cuffs is different from the straighter cocktail cuff design that Foster made for The Man with the Golden Gun and Moonraker before and after this film, respectively, but Foster used to experiment more with cocktail cuff shapes. The collar and collar band shapes on this shirt are very similar to the collars Foster made for The Spy Who Loved Me and Moonraker, but this collar is a little shorter. The shirt’s buttons are shiny medium blue and possibly made of shell. Moore wears the collar button as well as the first three buttons below the collar open. The buttons are spaced a little closer together and higher than on an ordinary shirt, but it’s still a lot of buttons to have open and looks a bit sleazy.
The dark brown ribbed polo neck jumper must be lightweight to be comfortable in the seemingly warm weather in this film. However, even a lightweight jumper looks too heavy to wear with a light cotton suit.
With the suit, Moore wears dark brown socks, except for one shot where light brown socks are visible. His shoes are chestnut brown square-toe slip-ons. Briefly he wears a pair of large plastic oval sunglasses.
When Q visits Japan in You Only Live Twice, he wears the classic British military warm-weather outfit of a bush shirt tucked into Bermuda shorts. Q’s military-issued, khaki cotton bush shirt has a two-piece point collar, front placket, shoulder straps and two breast pockets, each with a box pleat and button flap. The shirt’s buttons are light brown horn. Q wears the collar button and first two buttons open. He also wears the shirt’s long sleeves rolled up above the elbow.
Q’s linen bermuda shorts are british tan—darker than the khaki shirt—and have single forward pleats and slanted side pockets. The shorts’ waistband is wide and has an extended button closure and slide-buckle side tabs. In the rear, there are two darts on either side in the rear and no pockets. The hem is knee-length, though more traditionally for Bermuda shorts it’s an inch or two above the knee. Though Bermuda shorts can be tailor-made, Q’s certainly are not. They are too large in the seat and bunch up, and the legs are a little baggier than they should be. Bermuda shorts are cut like dress trousers, and in Bermuda they are treated as such when made of dressy materials. With this outfit, Q wears the requisite light brown suede, 2-eyelet, crepe-soled desert boots with tan over-the-calf socks.
Q’s two assistants who set up Little Nellie wear similar clothes to Q’s clothes, all surely provided by the military. They both wear bush shirts; one wears a khaki shirt with the sleeves rolled up and the other wears a british tan shirt with the sleeves down and cuffs buttoned. His shirt’s cuffs are rounded with a single button. Both assistants wear khaki cotton Bermuda shorts, light brown desert boots and long light brown socks, all in the same style as what Q wears.
Roger Moore wore the safari jacket before he was James Bond and before the late 1960s when Yves Saint Laurent and Ted Lapidus made it a fashion item. In the 1965 episode of The Saint titled “The Sign of the Claw”, Moore wears a mostly traditional British safari jacket, which is probably in the classic khaki. The episode takes place in the Malayan jungle, where the tropical climate and British colonial history makes the safari jacket an entirely appropriate piece of clothing.
The safari jacket has four buttons down the front plus a button at the collar. The shirt-style, two-piece point collar is stitched close to the edge. The front of the jacket has four button-down-flapped patch pockets. The upper two pockets each have a box pleat in the middle, and the lower two pockets each have bellows for extra usability. Though the jacket is slightly shaped with a dart on either side in the front, a belt made of the same cloth as the jacket cinches the waist. The belt has a shiny metal two-prong buckle. The jacket’s long sleeves have square-cornered button cuffs. The back has a long, deep inverted box pleat from the bottom of the yoke to the belt, and a long single vent from the belt to the hem. Of course, the jacket wouldn’t be a proper safari jacket without the obligatory shoulder straps.
Though this safari jacket closely follows the traditional model, it breaks from tradition in one area. Instead of begin made from military cotton drill, this jacket is likely made from a linen and silk blend. It looks softer and lighter than cotton drill, it has a few slubs and it shows some wrinkles. Though the cloth may not be typical for a safari jacket, the jacket is still more classic compared to the slightly more modern safari clothes that Roger Moore wears in The Man with the Golden Gun, The Spy Who Loved Me, Moonraker and Octopussy.
The trousers possibly match the jacket, but since this episode is black and white, the match is difficult to make out. Under the jacket’s collar, Moore wears a silk day cravat, which is probably cream. It is not a practical item, but Moore plays a gentleman who almost always keeps his neck covered. Moore’s shoes are taupe suede 2-eyelet desert boots. At one point in the episode, Moore wears a dark leather utility belt over the jacket’s belt.
For some James Bond-related trivia, this episode features Burt Kwouk, who was in Goldfinger and You Only Live Twice.
This outfit from The Man with the Golden Gun may be the one most to blame for Roger Moore’s undeserved reputation for always wearing a leisure suit as James Bond. This safari jacket, made of cream-coloured silk or a linen and silk blend, is really the only one that’s a 100 percent product of the 1970s. Unlike Moore’s traditional safari shirts, this one is a structured jacket. It has natural—but structured—shoulders, set-in sleeves and a tailored waist. It has most of the traditional details of a classic safari jacket: shoulder straps and four flapped patch pockets with inverted box pleats. The sleeves have buttoned straps around the cuffs as well as a vent. The front has a dart that extends to the bottom hem. The front of the jacket has four buttons, and Moore leaves the top button open. It has a long, single rear vent.
What takes this jacket, more than any of Moore’s other safari jackets, into the 1970s are two things: the collar and the stitching. A safari jacket should have a shirt-type collar, but this jacket has a a long, dog-ear style, leisure-suit collar. The other really fashionable aspect of this jacket is the dark, contrast stitching that’s found all over the jacket. It’s on the collar, lapels, shoulder straps, cuff straps and pockets. And Moore wears the jacket with medium brown, slightly-flared-leg trousers, so it’s not a suit.
The ecru shirt is the standard from Frank Foster, with a large spread collar, front placket and 2-button cocktail cuffs. The tie is solid dark brown. The slip-on shoes are dark brown or black with an apron front and a strap with a buckle at the side.
The Sea Wolves, starring Gregory Peck, Roger Moore and David Niven, takes place in India during World War II and features a wealth of both military khaki drill uniforms and civilian safari shirts, jackets and suits. Though Roger Moore had already been well-known for his safari suits by the time this film was released in 1980, here his safari clothes are in a much older and traditional context. Of the safari clothing in the film, the suit featured in this article is a beige cotton drill shirt-jacket with matching trousers. The shirt-jacket has a shirt collar and 2-button shirt-style cuffs. It has four buttons down the front below the collar, two flapped patch pockets on the hips, and shoulder straps. The back is very interesting, with a half belted waist, an inverted box pleat down the middle from the yoke to the waist, and a single vent below the waist. The matching trousers have a flat front rather than the pleats that would have been more common in the early 1940s.
Moore’s sky blue shirt has a spread collar, plain front, single-button barrel cuffs, an open chest pocket and shoulder straps. Moore wear a light brown leather belt and beige suede shoes with this outfit. It is unknown if Frank Foster made the safari clothes for this film like he did for some of the Bond films. But not only was Roger Moore a customer of his, so was Gregory Peck. Peck’s clothing in The Sea Wolves is actually a bit more elegant than Moore’s is in this film, with buttoned-up safari shirts, pleated trousers and more. But Moore’s look is more modern and casual, and in the right setting it could still look relevant today.
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.
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.