A Flick of the Widening Necktie
Roger Moore as James Bond
Director: Lewis Gilbert
Wardrobe supervisor: Rosemary Burrows
Tailoring: Angelo Roma
Shirts: Frank Foster
Footwear: Gucci and Ferragamo
The 1970s takes on new meaning with Roger Moore’s wardrobe in The Spy Who Loved Me. The film’s style is defined by wide lapels, gargantuan flared trousers, large shirt collars and Ted Lapidus-inspired tabbed shirt cuffs. Moore left his former tailor Cyril Castle behind when he became a tax exile for a year in 1975 and searched for a new tailor. While he wouldn’t be a permanent tax exile until 1978, he did not return to Castle for The Spy Who Loved Me.
Moore found a new tailor called Angelo Roma, founded by former Brioni model and Brioni manager Angelo Vitucci. There’s little information available about Angelo Roma and their connection with Roger Moore. One of Moore’s dinner suits from them was sold at Christie’s in 2001, and Moore also speaks of Angelo on the DVD commentary for The Man with the Golden Gun, mistakenly attributing Castle’s suits to Angelo. Angelo brought a new fashionable look to Bond, while also further removing Bond from the classic English style he was formerly known for wearing.
Roger Moore’s Bond finally gets his first full dinner suit in his third Bond film, and it takes after his ivory dinner jacket in The Man with the Golden Gun in its double-breasted, peaked-lapel style. Moore previously had two double-breasted dinner suits made in conjunction with his first two Bond films, but this time it appears in the film and makes a tremendous impression. While the double-breasted style does not practically suit the action, it looks spectacular on Moore due to its trim, elegant fit.
The dinner suit is the most prominent tailored piece of the film, and it’s part of why Roger Moore owns the role of James Bond so well in this film compared to the previous two films. He’s no long in the shadow of former Bonds, so he can dress like Bond should. The memorable sequence of Bond and Anya Amasova against Jaws in the Egyptian temple helps the iconography of Bond’s outfit.
It also may be Roger Moore’s most iconic look as James Bond. First, it is due to The Spy Who Loved Me being Moore’s most popular Bond film. Second, it’s because Moore wears this dinner suit in the film’s gun barrel sequence, which is reused in the following four Bond films. Unfortunately because the gunbarrel footage was used far too long, Moore became a bit more infamous for wearing flared trousers than he should be.
The dinner suit itself is either black or midnight blue. It looks midnight blue in many shots, but considering all the sun I’d expect midnight blue to look more blue than this dinner jacket usually does. It looks like it’s made of a crisp and shiny mohair-and-wool cloth, which not only looks amazing on screen but also helps the dinner suit wear cooler in Egypt.
The dinner jacket is perfect. It has a very traditional look, with little difference from 1930s and 1940s fashions. The lapels are wide, but wide peaked lapels on a double-breasted jacket look more ‘grand’ than they look outdated. Tom Ford have been making very similar dinner jackets for a number of years. The jacket has six buttons in the classic style with two fastening buttons. Perhaps it’s the Italian influence, or it might be down to tradition, but the jacket has no vents. It gives it an old Hollywood look on screen and would satisfy most purists.
The trousers are where the 1970s take hold. The flare is more pronounced and starts higher on the leg than in Moore’s previous two films. When I stop and stare at the leg, I hate the way it looks. But the trousers move well on screen and don’t prevent the dinner suit from looking elegant.
The Frank Foster dress shirt is superb in concept but suffers a bit from the 1970s trends. The shirt is made of off-white silk crepe de chine and has no fancy front so the outfit wears cooler. Small smoke mother-of-pearl buttons elegantly trim the front placket so they resemble studs. While I like a large collar, this approximately 4-inch point collar is too much. The traditionally-proportioned bow tie—it’s about 2 1/2 inches wide—unfortunately looks to small in comparison to the collar. The shirt has ‘Lapidus’ cuffs, which fasten with a large smoke mother-of-pearl button. I don’t think that these cuffs are fancy enough for black tie and would have preferred that they kept to cocktail cuffs like in the previous and subsequent films.
Lounge Suits and Jackets
The Spy Who Loved Me features a unique collection of tailored styles, starting with a return of the naval dress uniform from You Only Live Twice. This offers Roger Moore another opportunity to own the role by wearing an outfit that defines the character. It’s also an effective way of dressing Bond that gets around the 1970s trends. Flared trousers and exaggerated lapels on a uniform would have looked like a joke. This is a classic uniform, and it’s most likely English-made as it has a classic English silhouette. It’s one of the best outfits in the film, if not the best, and Moore looks better in it than Sean Connery did.
Moore improves on Connery’s naval uniform by adding a double-breasted greatcoat on top of it, another traditional military style. This is the first of three naval-themed outfits in the film.
Bond’s following tailored looks introduce the bolder 1970s styles from Angelo that would define this film’s and Moonraker’s style. The two sports coats and the one suit that Bond wears in this film are all quite sporty, which is partially due to the 1970s fashions but also due to Bond’s less formal needs in this film. The fun details on these clothes add to some of the wardrobe’s excitement.
Angelo Roma’s cut is a traditionally Roman one with straight padded shoulders, roped sleeve heads and a close, lean fit. The cut is very similar to Pierce Brosnan’s Brioni clothes as James Bond, but Moore’s jackets are cut much trimmer. The straight Roman shoulders are a good look on Moore, and it helps that they aren’t too narrow. The only dated aspect of the cut are the wide lapels, which appear to be about 4 1/4 inches wide. There’s no question that we’re in 1977.
The rest of the trousers have the same flare that the dinner suit trousers have. The hem is so wide that the flare had to start above the knee. The trim fit at the top of the trousers, assisted by a complete lack of pockets on the front or side makes the trousers look a bit feminine. They might not even have rear pockets, but the trouser rear is rarely on display.
The trousers also have no visible method of support, neither a belt nor side adjusters. It’s possible they have internal adjusters, or they may just be tightly fitted at the waist. They stay up very well, so whatever the method is, it works.
The first tailored outfit is a tan safari-styled sports coat, likely made of cotton poplin. It’s similar in concept to the cream safari jacket from The Man with the Golden Gun, but this one is a tremendous improvement. It looks more like a regular sports coat with a button-two front, but it has details like shoulder straps, patch hip pockets with flaps, a set-in flap breast pocket, a half-belt in back, sleeve straps, top-stitching and squared quarters.
I think the style mainly works, but I don’t think the squared-off quarters of the jacket’s front are attractive. The front is cut straight down from the waist button and has a tiny curve at the bottom. It makes the jacket look bottom heavy to be cut so straight and so closed without it buttoning higher on the chest, like a safari jacket traditionally does. Otherwise, I think the safari details are fun and appropriate for the location, if slightly overdone. I think that Daniel Craig’s safari-style suit in Glass Onion does a similar kind of jacket better.
This jacket was originally from a film Moore made in 1976 called Street People, among other names. There it was part of a suit with matching trousers. In The Spy Who Loved Me, Moore wears the jacket with cream in lightweight wool, which I think makes the outfit more stylish. The low-contrast pairing is classic Bond and works well here. There is just enough contrast.
Moore wears a breezy blue voile shirt from Frank Foster with a long point collar and Lapidus cuffs, and he accessorises the look with a wide blue and red striped tie. Tan gucci bit loafers look appropriate with the outfit.
The light brown silk suit is the nadir of James Bond’s 1970s suits. Independent of the 1970s lapels, it’s also a more boldly Italian look than any of Bond’s other suits, which isn’t a bad thing unless you’re a representation of British culture. While tobacco brown suits are popular in Italy, this suit is a more muted shade that lacks the interest of tobacco brown, while also lacking the subtlety of a British ‘fawn’ shade. While a nicer shade of light brown, particularly in this silk, would suit the Sardinian location, this one isn’t quite right and is too much of a fashionable 1970s shade.
The suit jacket is detailed with open patch pockets on the hips and swelled edges for a sportier look. Bond does not wear many suits with patch pockets, but these touches nicely bring a sportier and more Italian look to this suit.
The striped shirt and wide-striped tie are both in shades of brown as well for a well-coordinated tonal look, but the brown is overdone to reflect the 1970s fashions. Bond wears this suit two days in a row, and on the second day changes into an ecru shirt, which provides a bit of relief from all the brown while still keeping with a tonal palette. The striped tie also looks better against this shirt than against the striped shirt, but he should have changed his tie (particularly with the striped shirt) along with the shirt. I think a much more subtle tie would help the outfit considerably.
The best of the Angelo looks in The Spy Who Loved Me is the navy blazer, especially as it provides a pleasant relief from the previous brown looks. The blazer is at the heart one of the best outfits in the film along with the dinner jacket. It’s detailed with hacking pockets and a ticket pocket, and despite the blazer’s wide lapels the pocket flaps are quite narrow to cut down on bulk at the waist and hips for a more flattering silhoutte. The buttons are four-hole silver-toned metal rather than the traditional shanked buttons, which give this blazer a more modern look that I have replicated myself.
Swelled edges give a nice finish to the sporty blazer. Though the blazer has the same wide lapels that Angelo’s other jackets have, the width doesn’t look as jarring on the very dark navy.
The naval theme from earlier in the film continues with this blazer, particularly with the white lightweight wool trousers. The white trousers have the same wide flares as Angelo’s other trousers, but here they recall the traditional naval bell bottoms that sailors started wearing in the early 1800s. 1970s trends are the more likely reason behind them, but their similarities with naval bell bottoms gives them a reasonable excuse.
Bond wears this outfit aboard a number of different watercraft, including a speedboat, Stromberg’s base Atlantis and the Lotus Esprit submarine. This outfit’s nautical theme is perfect for these scenes. The blue striped silk shirt and a blue silk shantung tie are also perfect choices because they beautifully recall the colour of the sea.
The Spy Who Loved Me features another one of the the Bond series’ many all-black casual outfit. Usually Bond wears such looks when he wants to be sneaky, like in Goldfinger, Thunderball, Live and Let Die and Moonraker. This one is just worn for style and consists of a shirt with a trendy two-button collar, a V-neck jumper, trousers and bit loafers. Black is not Moore’s best colour, as it looks best on people with darker hair and a higher-contrast complexion, and in this daytime scene it overwhelms him.
Despite its colour, the outfit would be well-styled if the collar points weren’t so long and the trousers weren’t flared (if I have to repeat it at this point). I like two-button shirt collars, but this one would be better served with slightly shorter points. The concepts behind this look hold up well, and this is a look than can easily be updated and worn today.
A few of The Spy Who Loved Me‘s most notable looks are very specific to this mission. The yellow ski suit with a red cap, backpack and footwear that starts the film is one of Roger Moore’s most iconic looks. But compared to the rest of Bond’s skiwear in the series, this look is the most garish. It effectively ensures that Bond stands out on screen, but bold clothes aren’t good when someone’s behind you on skis trying to put a bullet in your back.
Bond finds himself dressed as the locals dress when he’s in the Egyptian desert. It’s a practical choice that serves him better than an British outfit would. When a British man dresses this way, is the outfit respectful to the locals or is it cultural appropriation? In the following scene, Bond recalls colonial looks with his safari-styled sports coat, which is much more in character. But would his safari look have been a better choice in the desert than the traditional local styles for the character? I don’t know enough to pass proper judgement.
A naval battledress uniform from costumer Bermans and Nathans is Bond’s only look for the film’s final act, and it continues the naval theme. The uniform consists of a matching dark navy blouson with brass buttons and patch pockets on the front and straight-leg trousers. The uniform allows the film’s climax to be taken seriously without thinking about fashion. It has a perfect fit and makes Roger Moore look like the tough James Bond he needs to be in these moments.
Jaws is one of the best-dressed men in the film, particularly in his three-piece suit and his double-breasted blazer. The large 1970s proportions flatter Jaws’ tremendous stature better than they do the average person. His trousers have a gentler flare than Bond’s, like Bond’s have in the previous two films. Jaws tries remains as elegantly dressed as he can while wearing 1970s looks. Bond should have and could have dressed more like Jaws.
Well Done, James
Despite the fashionable excess, Angelo Roma’s clothes fit extraordinarily well. The fit is very lean and clean. Though Moore didn’t need the shoulder padding, it is still flattering on him.
The navy blazer is the best civilian piece of the film, working beautifully with its surroundings, following the film’s nautical theme and making the best of 1970s trends. The dinner jacket itself is quite timeless, ignoring the cut of the trousers.
Focusing on naval uniforms for Bond was also a very smart choice. While Connery already wore the dress uniform, the extensive use of the battledress uniform is enough to make Moore ‘the naval Bond’.
Not Perfected Yet
Bond follows fashion trends in The Spy Who Loved Me more than he had in any film prior to this, and the 1970s fads are not as tastefully adopted as in the previous films of the decade. Rather than incorporate trends as he had done before, he embodies them. The large shirt collars, the wide lapels and the wide trouser flares go too far, even if they possibly could have gone even further. Some of the men in the film wear wider lapels than Bond does, so at least there was a modicum of moderation in Bond’s wardrobe.
The Spy Who Loved Me is Roger Moore’s worst-dressed Bond film. The wardrobe is also one of the smallest of any Bond film, so there isn’t enough good to outweigh the bad. While I love the blazer look, and I mostly like the dinner suit and the safari sports coat, I find the rest of the film’s wardrobe uninspiring. Inspiration for my own wardrobe is one of the most significant ways I evaluate at a Bond wardrobe.
The only perfect looks are the naval uniform and greatcoat and the naval battle dress. The naval theme of the wardrobe, including both the uniforms and the blazer, is its strongest part. While the dinner jacket and blazer are well done, the trousers with both suffer from the exaggerated flares. The brown suit is one of Moore’s poorest looks as Bond. The majority of the wardrobe finds itself too deep in 1977, even though most of the outfits get something right.
Do you agree or disagree with my assessment? Leave your comments below.