Ruffles: This Never Happened to the Other Fella

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George Lazenby is the only Bond to have the distinction of wearing a ruffled-front dress shirt. And he wears not one but two in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service. Roger Moore can be seen in a ruffled-front dress shirt in The Persuaders, and he wore one in some production stills for Live and Let Die under a very nice double-breasted dinner suit, but Moore never actually wore one in a Bond film. Moore and Lazenby used the same shirtmaker, Frank Foster, and he made their ruffled-front shirts.

Though ruffles have a long history in menswear prior to the invention of black tie, they didn’t start appearing on dress shirts for black tie until the 1960s. Ruffles on the front of a shirt take the place of the more traditional pleats that had been one of the standard styles for dress shirts since the 1930s. Pleats started out as a soft alternative to the stiff, starched marcella front, and ruffles continue in the traditional of the soft pleated front. By the mid 1970s, the ruffled shirt had fallen out of favour.

Lazenby’s ruffled dress shirts are made of white cotton voile, a high-twist sheer fabric that is very breathable in the heat of Portugal where Lazenby wears these shirts. Both shirts have a point collar, square double cuffs and mother-of-pearl buttons down the front placket, which is stitched 1 cm from the edge. The backs are darted so the shirts fit very close around the waist. Apart from his brown casual outfit, the ruffles are the only part of George Lazenby’s wardrobe that looks dated today.

The first ruffled shirt in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service that Bond wears when he rescues Tracy on the beach is the more tasteful of the two ruffled shirts. The front of this shirt is an inventive take on the traditional pleated front, with three ruffled strips on each side inserted between the pleats. This shirt is flashier than traditional shirts for black tie, but it would stand out as more unusual than outdated for a confident fashion-forward dresser today.

The second ruffled shirt, which Bond wears to the casino at the Hotel Palácio Estoril and later for walking around the gardens at the Palace of the Marquises of Fronteira, outdoes the ruffles of his first shirt. This is the infamous relic of the late 1960s and early 1970s that makes people cringe when they hear the word “ruffles”, and on either side of the placket are two layers of densely ruffled cotton voile. Other shirts from the era had only one layer of ruffled fabric on each size rather than two, either to slightly tone down the look or because it was cheaper to make.

The darted back lends a very close fit to the body of the shirt, though the sleeves are wide to provide a necessary range of motion.

10 COMMENTS

  1. I would love to poke fun at Lazenby’s OHMSS ruffled shirts; but being that I wore one just a few years later to my high school prom, I will withhold comment…

  2. When I see the treatment the guy in Tracy’s room gets, I do not think it wise to comment on Laz’s shirt 😉 I rather like the shirt in the PTS. I initially thought it was pleated but the more discreet ruffle is very nice. You mention in passing Sir Roger’s unused blue dinner jacket in LALD, IIRC there was a very interesting detail on the jetted pockets.

  3. The ruffled shirt was a look back to the Romantic period of about late 18th century and early 19th century. But were shirts around then ever this ruffled, or was this a misreading of the full chested puffy white shirt in combo with an unstarched white cravat?
    I do know the shirts back then never buttoned all the way down. So what ever the answer, this was for it’s time a completely modern shirt. It maybe a little dated now, but I don’t mind it. The coloured polyester versions that followed in it’s wake are a different matter. Thank god bond never wore those.

  4. Matt, would be maybe interesting to have a look some time at the unused LALD dinner suit which is referred to. I also recall seeing images of this with Moore wearing this type of shirt. He wore one, Foster produced, of this style with evening wear in the final “Saint” series in 1968.

    While I personally wouldn’t care to wear a shirt of this style they are not that bad, as the other commentators have noted above. The one Lazenby wears in the pre title sequence was, I agree, the more subtle of the two and therefore more pleasing to the eye. I couldn’t really see Connery’s Bond in one of these although I think I have seen him, surprisingly, in private photos from this time wearing one.

  5. Do you have any idea of the construction of the front? Is it a laid on front piece sewn on? Any idea on how the ruffle is actually made?

    Cheers,
    Cam

    • I’ve never looked closely at a ruffled shirt in person, but I would assume the ruffles are a separate piece. They’re probably sewn with pleats and gathers.

  6. I recall oscar de la renta, released ruffled dress shirts many years ago. I saw it in a dinner suit rent shop. The ruffles were small and very soft, so can this still be done today?

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