A Humiliated Tailor’s Final Turn Dressing Roger Moore
Roger Moore as James Bond
Director: Guy Hamilton
Wardrobe supervisor: Elsa Fennell
Wardrobe master: Tiny Nicholls
Tailoring: Cyril Castle
Shirts: Frank Foster
The Man with the Golden Gun‘s wardrobe review immediately follows Live and Let Die‘s because the wardrobes go hand-in-hand. Cyril Castle’s second and final turn at tailoring James Bond ties up some loose ends from the previous film in the form of a black tie look. We get to see a bit more of Castle’s and Moore’s personal styles this time as well as more 1970s fashion.
The film’s wardrobe has a number of recurring themes that make it stand out from other Bond wardrobes and give a strong identity. Among these themes are silk, double-breasted jackets, striped shirts that tonally match the suit or jacket, shiny solid-coloured ties and safari clothes. The silk theme, particularly featuring slubby silks in jackets and ties, was likely chosen because of the Asian locations because Asia is famous for its silks. Solid silk ties have always been a Bond look, but The Man with the Golden Gun brings a new approach to them with more shine and new textures.
Roger Moore’s James Bond finally gets his turn at black tie in his second film, though he’s still trying to do something different than his predecessors. While Sean Connery already wore two ivory dinner jackets as Bond before, Moore becomes even more associated with the look because he starts his black tie tradition with it instead a black or midnight blue dinner suit.
Moore also differentiates his Bond’s black tie style from the two previous Bonds by wearing a double-breasted dinner jacket instead of a single-breasted. While it may not be the most appropriate style for the character, this dinner jacket looks amazing. Though it’s updated for the 1970s, the jacket itself does not find itself dated to the 1970s. It has a 1960s flair, but with the wider peaked lapels that have a timeless quality on a double-breasted jacket.
Moore avoids the quintessential double-breasted ivory dinner jacket that has a shawl collar and four buttons that only fasten at the bottom. Largo wears it in Thunderball, and more famously Humphrey Bogart wears it in Casablanca. Instead, Moore’s jacket has the typical double-breasted suit arrangement with six buttons and two to close. It’s not as traditional for a dinner jacket, but it looks balanced.
The jacket is beautifully made in a slubby silk dupioni. The traditional self-faced lapels work especially well on a silk jacket. The buttons are white mother of pearl. The return of gauntlet cuffs—a Cyril Castle staple, and not just on dinner jackets—is a nice touch. The slanted pockets are too sporty for a dinner jacket and incongruous with a double-breasted jacket, but they were fashionable at the time. And I like them here. Since they lack flaps they look more formal, and I like how the angle of the pockets balances the peaked lapels.
There’s nothing to distinguish this dinner jacket from a suit jacket, but that’s okay. The jacket is fancy enough, and the black evening trousers as well as the rest of the outfit say it all. The beautiful Frank Foster shirt is made of ivory silk crepe de chine and has a pleated front and cocktail cuffs. I like how the cocktail cuffs mirror the jacket’s gauntlet cuffs, but I understand if it’s too repetitive for some people. The black bow tie is a bit too large for Roger Moore’s face, but it was the fashion and a small criticism of an otherwise excellent outfit.
Cyril Castle’s suit style returns from Live and Let Die, but this time the lapels are slightly wider to reflect the infamous 1970s trend that the previous film avoided. However, they are still a reasonable width and look good. The jackets have long double vents, slanted flap pockets and flared cuffs with a link-style button.
Because it’s still the 1970s, the gently flared trousers are repeated in this film, and they now take a belt instead of being supported by side adjusters. The outfits are frequently shot from the knee-up so we aren’t constantly being bombarded with the flared trousers. I thank Guy Hamilton for not subjecting us to the flares too often.
Along with the double-breasted dinner jacket came two double-breasted suits and a double-breasted blazer. While double-breasted jackets are still a minority of this film’s wardrobe, they define the look of this film. Even though the narrow-wrap, wide-lapelled double-breasted jackets look good on Roger Moore, they are impractical for James Bond. It is awkward for Bond to draw his PPK from his shoulder holster, and in one scene when Bond needs to draw his gun the camera cuts to a shot with him already holding it.
The shirts with the suits and jackets are all from Frank Foster. The shirts are styled with the same classic semi-spread collar from Live and Let Die, but the cocktail cuff is a different design and the buttons are now on display down the front placket. The shirts all still look fresh today.
Bond’s first outfit of the film is one of two double-breasted suits. Bond wears it to M’s office, so while the suit may be out of character it’s not inappropriate for Bond’s circumstances because he doesn’t expect action in London. It’s made of a classic grey flannel chalk stripe, which looks appropriately British for the character. It’s an absolutely perfect choice for the office, and making it in a lighter shade of grey than the usual charcoal is a flattering choice for Moore’s complexion and makes him look young. The outfit also introduces another theme for the film’s wardrobe: fine Bengal-stripe shirts that match the colour of the suit of jacket. This one has a grey stripe. The look may be a bit too studied for Bond, but it’s a lovely choice. The otherwise monochrome look is contrasted with a textured red tie—an excellent choice for Bond.
The second suit is one of the best of the series. For an evening out at a nightclub, Bond wears a marine blue silk single-breasted suit. It’s flashy because it’s silk and a vivid shade of blue, but it fits the setting. The blue cotton voile shirt with cocktail cuffs is a Bond classic and ideal for warm weather. He again wears a red tie, but this time it’s appropriately smoother and shinier for the evening. The suit is iconic because of the colour, but it effectively helps Bond stand out in a dimly lit nightclub. The outfit overall looks fantastic on Moore.
He continues the silk suit theme with the next suit: a light blue-grey single-breasted. The swelled edges add a fun, sporty touch. With a white shirt and a solid navy tie he looks appropriately Bondian.
The next suit is the film’s only one that doesn’t work. The olive suit with tan pinstripes a red chalk stripes may have looked hip in 1974, but today it looks drab and unattractive. The tonal coordination with an olive silk shantung tie and a golden-olive striped shirt effectively keeps within the wardrobe’s themes, but I don’t know if improves or diminishes the look. Bond’s black shoes don’t look as good with this suit as brown shoes would have, but black shoes get a pass because it’s the evening and Bond wouldn’t be wearing anything else when dressing up after dark. The suit also fails Bond in an action moment because he can’t realistically draw his gun because it’s double-breasted. The only good thing about the outfit is how well it matches the RMS Queen Elizabeth set. This look is more appropriate for Brett Sinclair than for James Bond, and I would say that about very few of Moore’s Bond looks.
A charcoal mini-herringbone single-breasted suit for another evening affair has a subtle sheen that suggests it’s a wool and silk blend. A white shirt with fancy black and grey stripes again follows the tonal stripe theme, while a black silk satin tie dresses up the outfit for the evening. The outfit is tasteful, and while it’s not traditionally Bondian it works well for Bond in this context. Like the blue suit, it’s similarly a good compromise between traditional Bond style and Roger Moore style.
A black mohair single-breasted suit both starts and ends Bond’s tailored outfits in The Man with the Golden Gun. When we first see this suit it’s on a James Bond waxwork, and by the end of the film Bond dons it himself. Black isn’t usually Bond’s colour for suits unless he’s at a funeral, but in Bond’s world people die every day. Here the black suit effectively makes an imposing impression on the waxwork in a dark funhouse. The cream poplin shirt and Fleming-esque black silk knitted tie complete the look perfectly.
With all of his suits, Moore wears side-bit loafer that are most likely from Gucci since he also wears their branded belts and carries their luggage throughout the film. Most of these Gucci products are too flashy for Bond, particularly the belts with the large branded buckles. The Ferragamo shoes that Moore wears in later films are more tasteful, but the English shoes from the Sean Connery and George Lazenby films are sadly missed.
Jackets and Blazers
The Bondian blue blazer returns for this film, and Moore’s Bond’s first version of it is similar to Lazenby’s from On Her Majesty’s Secret Service. It has six buttons with three to button, slanted pockets and double vents. Silver buttons are a nice twist on the classic brass. Here the double-breasted style is a nod to Bond’s naval heritage, particularly in this high-buttoning cut, so it’s much more acceptable than the double-breasted suits.
Moore wears the blazer twice in the film, first with a blue and white fine Bengal stripe shirt—on theme for the wardrobe—and a mid blue tie and grey flannel trousers. It returns later with a cream shirt, cream trousers and the film’s only striped tie. The first outfit is a superb and classic combination. The second one is appropriately naval aboard the RMS Queen Elizabeth but would have looked better again with a striped shirt and solid tie.
While the blazer stands the test of time, Moore unfortunately also wears one of his worst tailored looks of the Bond series in this film. His first true safari look as Bond comes in the form of a tailored cream silk or silk-linen safari jacket. While I’m a fan of safari clothes, this one completely misses the mark and ventures into 1970s leisure suit territory. The droopy dog-ear-style Ulster collar, skinny pocket flaps and contrast topstitching look unbalanced. The cream shirt, brown tie and brown trousers complete the outfit’s ’70s earth tone palate, but that part of it doesn’t bother me.
The large-check jacket that Bond wears when he arrives on Scaramanga’s Island is a divisive one, but I’m in the camp of people who love it. The check is large and bold, but being mainly in black and white with a bit of red keeps it somewhat Bondian. The cream shirt, solid and textured black tie, black trousers and black shoes ensure that the rest of the look doesn’t compete with the jacket. Some people mistake the large checked cloth for being a heavy tweed, but the cloth is lightweight and loosely woven in either wool or a wool and silk blend so it wears somewhat comfortably in the tropics.
It’s a bit odd that he comes to a remote tropical island in a jacket and tie, but it’s to demonstrate respect for his host, particularly when showing up unannounced. He wears the jacket for lunch, but when it comes time for the his showdown with Scaramanga he’s dressed in his shirt sleeves without the tie. It’s a fantastic moment for showing off the cream Frank Foster shirt.
This jacket shows one downside to the well-fitted wardrobe: while the close fit looks nice on Moore, there’s a moment when he wears his PPK in his holster with the jacket buttoned. It reveals that the jacket was not tailored for concealed carry. Full fits like Connery wore in the 1960s were too out of fashion for Bond to dress realistically for concealed carry.
The venerable Fox Flannel love this jacket too, as they created a heavy cloth inspired by it (and unfortunately named it after Moore’s later tailor Doug Hayward), but I do hope that one day someone does a proper summer-appropriate re-creation and calls it the ‘Castle check’.
The casual looks in the film don’t get as much attention as the tailored ones. The first one is a cream-on-cream look of a cream silk shirt and cream linen trousers. While it looks comfortable in the hot and humid climate, a bit of contrast would have helped. The full-fitted shirt doesn’t look so good on Moore, and Castle’s flared trousers are a focus of the outfit. The nicest part of it are the classic dark brown Gucci bit loafers, and they’re best use of Gucci products in the film.
His sage green safari shirt and beige trousers is a fantastic look by contrast. The flared trousers, again, unfortunately stand out, but the shirt is almost perfect. It’s a perfectly tailored shirt by Jimmy Chen with classic safari details. The camp collar is a bit large, reflecting 1970s fashions, but the rest of the shirt stands the test of time. It’s much less of a ’70s fashion piece than the cream safari jacket is. It’s appropriate for the location and looks great on Moore. The choice of footwear is elegant but inappropriate. The brown tassel loafers are nice, however it would have been more appropriate to wear boat shoes, chukka boots or more rugged boots to match the safari look.
The wardrobe also includes a classic light blue bathrobe, likely belonging to Bond’s hotel, and a luxurious black silk bathrobe that belonged to Scaramanga. Both are far superior to the dressing gowns that Bond wears in Live and Let Die.
When Bond is captured at Hai Fat’s home he is brought to a martial arts school and dressed in an appropriate white outfit. Even though it’s not Bond’s own outfit, he looks good in it. The scenes when Bond wears this outfit are amongst the worst in the film, but the outfit makes sense in context.
Nobody else’s clothes hold a candle to Roger Moore’s in The Man with the Golden Gun. Britt Ekland’s bikini is the next-most memorable outfit after Bond’s clothes. Christopher Lee’s Scaramanga dresses in some stylish looks that are very unique to his character. His blue shirt from the final showdown is particularly stylish and creatively styled.
Well Done, James
Like in Live and Let Die, the tailored clothes are all beautifully crafted. The full-cut chest and suppressed waist on all the jackets create a dramatic but elegant silhouette. The nods to 1970s trends are subtle and rarely overdone, except in the olive suit and cream safari jacket. Otherwise the rest are all notably superb and stylish choices.
The film’s striped shirts, as well as Bond dressing in shirt sleeves for the film’s climactic showdown, bring more attention to shirtmaker Frank Foster. They made beautiful shirts for Moore, and they’re given centre stage this time.
The green safari shirt is a very nice look too, and it’s both classic and practical. It’s one of Moore’s best safari looks of the series.
Not Perfected Yet
Castle’s poorly fitted collar returns, and it’s the reason Roger Moore cited for leaving Castle behind after this film. The subtly flared trousers return, again a necessity for the era but are tastefully executed. The olive suit and cream safari jacket are both very poor choices, and they date terribly. The cream casual outfit is not a flattering look, although it’s considerably better than the powder blue trucker suit from Live and Let Die.
There was a trend for eye-catching linings in the 1970s, and a number of red or patterned linings that show up on screen. They can be fun and quite appealing in real life, but on screen they are more distracting than they are anything else.
The wardrobe has a fun selection of suits, jackets and casual styles. It gets ahead by having one of the largest tailored wardrobes in a Bond film, tied in second place with On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, behind Diamonds Are Forever. More suits usually result in less places to go wrong. The dinner jacket and the large majority of the suits and the jackets—particularly the grey chalk stripe suit, the marine blue suit, the black suit, the ivory silk dinner jacket and the blue blazer—are among Moore’s best looks as James Bond.
The necessary flared trousers bring the wardrobe down a notch. Though there are a few appalling looks with the olive suit, the cream safari jacket, and the cream silk sports shirt, for the most part Moore looks in top shape throughout the films thanks to the exciting but tasteful outfits. The themes in the wardrobe give it a unique identity that help bring a new edge to classic Bond looks for the Roger Moore era.
Do you agree or disagree with my assessment? Leave your comments below.