James Bond Is Happiest, in the Sports Coat
Roger Moore as James Bond
Director: John Glen
Costume designer: Emma Porteous
Costume supervisor: Tiny Nicholls
Tailoring: Douglas Hayward
Shirts: Frank Foster
A View to a Kill is not only Roger Moore’s final Bond film, it also completes a trilogy. It’s the third and final of Moore’s 1980s Bond films, the third and final of Moore’s Bond films directed by John Glen and the third and final of Moore’s Bond films tailored by Doug Hayward.
Doug Hayward made the suits in the same style as he did for Octopussy. The jackets have a soft shoulder, high gorge, low button stance and medium-width lapels. The trousers have a flat front and a medium-width straight leg. The suits still look superb today.
Costume designer Emma Porteous might not have had as much room for creativity in A View to a Kill as she did with Octopussy, but here she curated one of the most timeless, tasteful and down-to-earth wardrobes of the series. Moore is beautifully dressed while never looking ostentatious. The wardrobe features a lot of grey, which looks timeless but isn’t the most flattering choice on an ageing Roger Moore. The occasional blues and browns he wears are also classic but at the same time make him look slightly more youthful.
A View to a Kill features the most formal dress of all of Moore’s Bond films, and Moore is able to pull it off better than any other Bond actor could. He starts off with the perfect example of morning dress for Royal Ascot and sets the template for how Bond should wear morning dress. Hayward made a dark grey herringbone morning suit, where all three pieces match. It’s a modern way to wear morning dress. The shade of grey is perfect for Bond, as it doesn’t draw as much attention as a lighter shade of grey would but isn’t dark enough to make a statement. When King Charles was Prince of Wales he had morning suits in both lighter and darker shades. Bond’s suit being in the middle is perfect for him.
He wears it with a white shirt that has a wide spread collar and double cuffs, which is a classic but subtle shirt. Moore rarely wears such a wide collar, but this more formal style is both appropriate here and flattering. The grey patterned tie is equally subtle and very Bondian. The obligatory grey top completes the look, and Moore looks superb in the hat.
Like in Octopussy, Moore once again wears two dinner jackets: a dark and a light. The dark dinner suit is like an updated version of The Spy Who Loved Me’s dinner suit: double breasted with peaked lapels and midnight blue. It’s in Hayward’s preferred 4×1 style with one fastening button at the bottom, which was trendy in the 1980s. It’s also a traditional style for a dinner jacket. The double-breasted cut isn’t seen much on screen, and it’s also not the best choice for the action sequence. A single-breasted dinner jacket would have moved better on screen. The medium-width straight-leg trousers like in Octopussy look great again.
The Frank Foster shirt is a repeat of the shirt Moore wears with his black dinner suit in Octopussy: ivory silk crepe de chine with a pleated front, mother-of-pearl buttons and double cuffs. The warmth of the silk’s colour is flattering against Moore’s complexion, particularly in the early evening French summer sun.
The ivory dinner jacket returns in a new form for Bond: a single-button jacket with notched lapels. Instead of mother-of-pearl buttons, Hayward used light brown horn buttons. While Hayward’s black horn buttons look good on dark dinner suits, the light brown horn buttons and notched lapels almost make this dinner jacket look like a sports coat. The jacket’s shiny cloth that suggests a silk blend, and a single-button front and jetted pockets tell us it’s a dinner jacket, but if the jacket were paired with matching trousers or tan linen trousers it could just as easily work in a more casual context. I appreciate the jacket’s versatility, but I don’t think it’s particularly strong as a dinner jacket.
The Frank Foster dress shirt paired with this dinner jacket is one of my favourites. It’s like the other pleated dress shirt but in white cotton voile instead of silk. It’s the same style as the original Dr. No dress shirt and one of the most classic styles. I have same shirt, and it’s one of my favourites. The large round tortoiseshell sunglasses may be bold and a very unusual choice for Bond, but I love them.
Lounge Suits and Jackets
Moore continues tradition for a fourth time and wears a three-piece suit to the office. The suit’s dark grey woollen flannel cloth continues another Bond tradition that started back in Dr. No. This is the quintessential suiting of the on-screen Bond, or at least it was in the 20th century.
The suit jacket is made in the three-roll-two style, which is the only time Hayward made this style for Moore. It’s more relaxed than the button-three suits made for the previous two films, but in this context worn unbuttoned it makes little difference. I think it looks good, but I prefer the more traditional British button-three style from the previous two films.
The Frank Foster shirt brings back the white collar and cuff style from For Your Eyes Only but does the body in a red and white stripe instead of blue and pairs a red tie with the look. The shirt and tie reflect the power-dressing style of the 1980s while also keeping to classic styles. It looks good on Moore but the red shirt is rather bold for Bond, especially when paired with a red tie.
The semi-spread collar lacks tie space, suggesting that the collar button was moved to make the collar smaller to accommodate Moore’s weight loss. The shirt’s cuffs are rounded with a single button like in Octopussy, but all the cuffs have a regular small button. The cuffs are deeper than typical cuffs, but they lack any kind of special details, which defined the cuffs in Moore’s previous Bond films. While the lack of fussiness may be in line with the spirit of the literary Bond (who preferred short sleeves because he hated all cuffs), it makes this film’s wardrobe a little less exiting.
For the third time in a row, Bond enters the office with a trilby, and this time it’s brown. Even though we still don’t get to see Moore wear the trilby, it’s always a nice touch for him to bring it to the office to remind us of the 1960s Bond films.
For scenes in San Francisco, Bond wears a tan wool gabardine button-two suit. It’s the ideal choice for the Bay Area’s Mediterranean climate, and the warm-toned low-contrast outfit with a cream voile shirt and tan tie looks perfect on Moore. Of Moore’s three similar looks in his 1980s films, this one is the most iconic because it has the most screen time, but it also is a successful look on Moore.
The scenes at Max Zorin’s French chateau necessitate three sports coats, all of which blend Bond’s tastes with those of his alias James St John Smythe. These are technically disguises, but the disguises in A View to a Kill are much more subtle than in Octopussy. When Bond masquerades as James St John Smythe, he’s dressing as himself but with different neckwear. It’s a subtle distinction that is highly effective because Bond still looks like Bond.
A grey tweed jacket with three patch pockets worn with dark grey flannel trousers and a light blue oxford shirt is undoubtedly a Bondian look. It’s somewhat like a more subtle, cool-weather version of the checked jacket look from The Man with the Golden Gun, but I think this one is more successful for the character. A checked navy wool tie from Burberry’s is what transforms this look from Bond’s to St John Smythe’s. It’s still a tasteful tie, but it’s not what Bond would wear, so I consider it an element of disguise.
The blue blazer in a later scene is again a modified Bondian look. The blue blazer, khaki wool trousers and white shirt are all Bondian, but to look the part of St John Smythe he wears a burgundy day cravat under the shirt collar. It’s a small adjustment but an effective one because the cravat is subtle.
A View to a Kill shares a number of similarities with Goldfinger, and a variation on the brown barleycorn tweed jacket from the earlier film reappears in this one. It is a different kind of barleycorn pattern and it lacks hacking pockets, but it’s otherwise the jackets are very similar. He wears it with a Bondian ecru shirt. Unusually for Moore, he leaves out the collar stays for a more relaxed look. I think this way enhances the outfit. He also wears brown trousers tucked into tall black riding boots, a fantastic choice to show that Bond is wearing his barleycorn tweed jacket for riding this time.
The yellow knitted tie is fantastic for being a Bondian knitted tie, but this pale shade of yellow is a poor choice. It is unflattering on most people, and it doesn’t anchor most outfits like a tie should. In a 1983 episode of Remington Steele titled ‘A Good Night’s Steele’, Pierce Brosnan makes fun of someone’s yellow tie (even though the character has worn them himself), and that comment has stuck with me. It may be another choice to distinguish St John Smyth from Bond, but it is unnecessary. A brown knitted tie would have worked much better.
This film has a diverse wardrobe of casual style and sportswear. It starts with Bond in a white ski suit from Bogner. It’s elegant, particularly with the fur-trimmed collar, and the colour makes sense from a camouflage standpoint. However, Bond is spotted easily enough. I think it’s Bond’s most sophisticated ski suit of the series.
The Fila velour tracksuit may be part of Bond’s cover as James St John Smythe, but it’s unnecessary. It may have been chosen to portray St John Smythe as a flashy person who is interested in the latest fashions, but that doesn’t fit with the other outfits he wears. St John Smythe is supposed to be an old money aristocrat, so the fashionable tracksuit seems out of place for the cover. It may have been chosen so that if Bond was caught when sneaking around at night, he can use the excuse that he was out for a jog. But the snoring recording in his room would raise questions.
It is ultimately a poor choice. It is unflattering on a 56-year-old Roger Moore, who needs a higher collar around his neck to look his best. It was a missed opportunity to bring back a more Bondian sneaky look, like the half-zip jersey shirt in Moonraker or a dark long-sleeve polo like in Thunderball.
A Japanese robe makes a brief appearance at a spa in San Francisco’s Japantown. It’s an appropriate look for the location but doesn’t have enough screen time to make much of an impression.
Bond’s most significant casual wear consists of button-down shirts with leather jackets. The button-down shirts are made by Frank Foster in England but are well suited for the film’s American location. This first is a grey striped shirt, which Moore pairs with a grey suede jacket and grey flannel trousers. The suede jacket has unique details that keep in interesting, while Bond looks sophisticated in the flannel trousers. The grey monochrome look is especially Bondian.
Later he wears a more conventional outfit of a dark brown leather blouson over a light blue button-down shirt and charcoal flannel trousers. The higher contrast in this outfit has a more dramatic effect that suits the scenes, and while the clothes are all bespoke the outfit still looks accessible. It’s one of Moore’s most ordinary looks as Bond, yet it’s still very effective.
To disguise himself in Zorin’s mine, Bond steals an pale teal Zorin Industries blouson to replace his leather jacket. The blouson looks like a flight jacket with a large Zorin Industries patch on the back. Bond also takes a hard hat for his disguise but does not wear it long. The logo patch is only on the rear of the jacket, so we’re not constantly reminded that Bond is wearing a stolen jacket throughout the rest of the film. The jacket looks appropriate on Bond, but it’s not the type of garment Moore’s Bond would normally gravitate to.
The button-down shirts contribute to the ordinary look, even if the shirts are English bespoke. It’s an unusual look for Bond, but at least he isn’t wearing them with a tie. While the button-down collars look neat and are controlled during the action sequences, they don’t seem quite right for Bond to me. Fleming wouldn’t have liked the fussiness. The semi-spread collars that Bond wears casually in For Your Eyes Only and Octopussy would have worked just as well here and looked more traditionally Bondian.
The Zorin Industries blouson with the blue button-down shirt is the final outfit of the film and of Roger Moore’s long tenure as James Bond. Moore’s Bond films often end with him disrobed—as in A View to a Kill—or in loungewear. Frequently loungewear comes immediately before disrobing. As far as outfits before the customary final bedding scene go, A View to a Kill doesn’t have the worst example—it’s not a spacesuit. But a Zorin-branded blouson and button-down shirt aren’t exactly the most exciting items for Moore to end his seven-film run with. None of Moore’s Bond films did the final outfit better than The Spy Who Loved Me‘s naval battle dress.
Christopher Walken’s character Max Zorin is a well-dressed villain. His unusual charcoal morning suit may have been inspired by Prince Charles’ morning suit, but the wing-collar shirt effectively portrays him as an outsider. His single-breasted and double-breasted power suits with red power ties are perfect for a character who demands ‘More power!’, and they’re a good example of 1980s fashions without being a caricature of them. Just as many other actors have worn Frank Foster shirts in their roles in the Bond films, it’s wonderful to see Zorin in them too. The pleated, fly-front dress shirt that he wears with his black double-breasted dinner suit is one of the best shirts of the film.
Well Done, James
This film’s wardrobe benefits from having a large amount of tailoring with plenty of variation. Costume designer Emma Porteous did brilliantly in giving each outfit its own identity. There’s a three-piece suit, a two-piece suit, a morning suit, a double-breasted dinner suit, an ivory dinner jacket, two tweed jackets and a blue blazer, all contributing to an exciting wardrobe. The casual pieces have a theme of blousons, but each one is unique.
There are also a lot of grey and blue clothes in this film, which help it date well. When there are earth tones, they are used in classic settings in classic garments. As usual for Moore’s 1980s Bond films, he wears little that screams ‘1980s’. At a time when large shoulders were in vogue, Bond was wearing soft shoulders that still look good today because they look natural. His jackets’ low button stance and the low-fastening double-breasted dinner jacket are of their time, but they aren’t necessarily dated.
There was a cut scene that featured Moore wearing a Chevron-branded cap, plaid shirt, dingy white undershirt and blue jeans. Though the outfit would have been an effective disguise, it’s considerably un-Bondian, and cutting the scene was an excellent decision by John Glen to not subject us to seeing Roger Moore in this outfit.
Not Perfected Yet
The Fila tracksuit was a poor and unnecessary choice, but I know it has its fans. The garment has its place in the world, but I don’t think it’s place is on an ageing Roger Moore. It’s the most dated item of clothing in the film too, particularly compared to how almost all the rest of the wardrobe is so classic and elegant.
I’m also not crazy about the red striped shirt with the white collar and cuffs paired with a red tie. It’s too much of a banker look for Bond and a power 1980s look, though it’s not exclusive to the 1980s.
The ivory dinner jacket looks good, but its more casual details don’t quite work for me.
The lack of any interesting shirt cuffs in this film, which was a Bond hallmark until this film (with a couple exceptions), takes this wardrobe down a notch. This is, however, only a minor complaint. Many of the shirts look too large around Moore’s neck, which is probably because he lost weight. He’s noticeably slimmer in this film than he was in the last few Bond films and in his previous film, The Naked Face.
Emma Porteous put together a wonderful wardrobe for A View to a Kill that feels down to earth and realistic for James Bond. Sometimes the clothes look a little too realistic and end up a bit dull. However, I still find the wardrobe inspiring because I can see myself wearing so many of the clothes in the film. Apart from the tracksuit, the majority of the clothes are both flattering and appropriate on a 56-to-57-year-old Roger Moore. While Moore may have aged out of the character by this time, his wardrobe did its best to keep him looking the part.
Do you agree or disagree with my assessment? Leave your comments below.