Of all the people James Bond pretends to be, he most gets into character as Sir Hilary Bray in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service and as James St John Smythe in A View to a Kill. For the former he truly has to transform into someone else, a real person from the College of Arms, and he wears his clothes too as part of the disguise. The latter is a character Bond invented, who is little more than an exaggeration of how fans expect actor Roger Moore to be.
James St John Smythe is an English socialite who inherited stables from his aunt, so he decides to breed horses. He is far more pompous than Bond, but does not dress overly so. His outfits are for the most part quite Bondian, but each include an element or accessory to set it apart from what Bond would normally wear. St John Smythe dresses in mostly classic English tailored styles with an ostentatious touch of nouveau riche.
For most of Bond’s aliases, Bond dresses as himself without giving much thought to dressing as his cover. For this ruse, Bond wears a number of his usual sports coats and his ivory dinner jacket, but with a twist.
Grey Tweed Jacket
The first outfit Bond wears as St John Smythe is a grey tweed sports coat with charcoal trousers and a blue shirt. Bond has never worn another outfit exactly like this, but the colour scheme is classically Bond, as is the traditional English style of these clothes.
The jacket is cut with drape in the chest, giving it a more relaxed look than Moore’s other jackets in the film. This may or may not have been intentional to give St John Smythe the look of certain English nobility who wear drape-cut suits.
The tie is a navy and white plaid with a red overcheck, which is unlike any other tie that Bond has ever worn. This is an obvious way the costumers set St John Smythe apart from Bond, though the navy ground still relates it to classic Bond ties. A tie is an easy (and realistic) way someone can change the perception of themselves. It’s why a power tie can express power, or a black tie can express solemnity.
With this outfit he arrives with a complete set of Louis Vuitton luggage. This luggage identifies him as a showy man who spends his money frivolously and marks him as more of a new-money type, whereas the old-fashioned Englishman would have a set from Swaine Adeney Brigg. However, he carries a stick umbrella with him to maintain the appearance of a traditional Englishman.
Ivory Dinner Jacket
St John Smythe’s ivory dinner jacket and accessories are very Bondian. The pleated voile dress shirt and black bow tie are classic Bond. The dinner jacket stands out from Bond’s other ivory dinner jackets in the series being the only one with notched lapels and horn buttons, but these details are not un-Bondian and are likely nothing special for Bond’s cover.
What is different here are Bond’s large, round tortoiseshell sunglasses. These are far too bold to be anything Bond would normally wear, but they are perfect for St John Smythe.
The velour Fila tracksuit is the least Bondian outfit that St John Smythe wears, and it is particularly out of character for Moore’s Bond. The black half-zip shirt in Moonraker would have been something more traditionally Bondian for this sneaky scene.
The Fila tracksuit works for St John Smythe, who wears it for its high-fashion status as well as for comfort. This outfit is one that emphasises how old Roger Moore is to be playing James Bond, but it also shows that St John Smythe is a playboy who fancies looking young by showing off his hip fashion sense. Moore’s James Bond is careful not to dress this way in the 1980s, leaving the younger fashions back in the 1970s. But with this cover he can dress differently.
The brass-buttoned blue blazer with khaki trousers is another classically Bond look, and it’s even more of a classic Roger Moore look that couldn’t be absent from Moore’s final Bond film.
Rather than a tie or an open-neck shirt, Moore wears this blazer with a burgundy day cravat. The day cravat would not become a proper Bond item until GoldenEye, so here it is a character-defining item for James St John Smythe.
The day cravat is commonly used to identify someone as a rich playboy or an old school English gentleman, so in both manners it is the perfect accessory for Bond’s cover. But here he’s more Thurston Howell III than a retired naval commander.
The brown barleycorn tweed jacket from Goldfinger returns in A View to a Kill. It’s not exactly the same, as the barleycorn weave is slightly different, and the pockets are straight rather than hacking pockets, but overall it recalls this classic Bondian item.
Bond uses the jacket for horse-riding—its intended purpose—this time, so he needs the proper gear to accompany it. He wears it with jodhpurs and riding boots, similarly to how he dresses for hacking in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service.
The yellow tie breaks tradition for Bond. Yellow ties were a 1980s trend, but other than wearing one as St John Smythe, Bond does not wear them.
In the 1983 episode of Remington Steele titled ‘A Good Night’s Steele’, Pierce Brosnan’s Mr Steele reflects poorly on a man who owns a yellow tie, though he gives no reason for why a yellow tie is bad. To him, a man who wears a yellow tie demonstrates poor judgement.
Perhaps he’s wearing a yellow tie to separate St John Smythe from Bond. Or he’s wearing a yellow tie to look more fashionably 1985.
St John Smythe’s yellow tie is a cool light yellow that is especially difficult to wear, and it’s not a particularly flattering shade on Roger Moore, who could more easily wear a warm yellow tie. A more traditionally Bondian brown knit tie would look better with this outfit, but then he might look too much like Bond.
The tie still has one strong connection to classic Bond style, and that’s because it’s a knitted tie. Knit ties are the quintessential Bond tie, starting with Ian Fleming’s books. Every actor who has played Bond on film has worn a knitted tie.