James Bond style on film started with Sean Connery, and naturally all Bond style that has come since is often compared to and frequently inspired by Connery’s. The two actors who replaced Connery—George Lazenby and Roger Moore—not only had to replace the irreplaceable Bond actor but had to dress the part of Bond. The costume designers faced a challenge when dressing new Bonds to decide what to keep from Connery’s look and what new fashions to give the character.
On Her Majesty’s Secret Service was to be the first Bond film without Sean Connery. Recasting James Bond was a challenge after Connery left the role following You Only Live Twice, and copying Connery was to be the route to success. Apart from a reference to that fact that George Lazenby was not Connery (“This never happened to the other fella”), Lazenby’s Bond tried to follow Connery’s Bond in his manner, his preferred drink, and mostly in his style. George Lazenby dressed like Connery in an Anthony Sinclair suit when he met the Bond series producers to show that he could look like Connery. For his Bond style, Lazenby started with the Connery Bond template but expanded it and modernised it.
Lazenby’s suits did not have the traditional Savile Row look of Connery’s suits, but they still looked unquestionably English. Compared to Connery’s Anthony Sinclair suits, Lazenby’s suits from Dimi Major were cut in a more fashion forward manner, with more suppressed waists in the jackets and trimmer straight-leg trousers without pleats. But at first glance the suits aren’t a whole lot different from Connery’s. Lazenby’s suits are two or three-piece with familiar cloths like navy herringbone, navy chalkstripe and black-and-white glen check. He wears these suits with a navy knitted tie, something Connery wears in his Bond films on occasion. Lazenby wears some flashier summer suits in cream and light blue, while Connery preferred light grey.
Lazenby’s Bond takes many Connery staples but turns them into fashion statements. Lazenby wears a blazer, but his is double-breasted in a naval style instead of a discreet single-breasted model. He wears a hacking jacket, but it has a bolder check than Connery’s and he wears it in a more flashier manner with a stock instead of a knitted tie. Lazenby wears a classic dinner suit, but it has peaked lapels instead of a shawl collar, and he pairs it with a ruffled shirt instead of classic pleated shirt. While Lazenby’s Bond wardrobe is more fashion forward than Connery’s, the clothes were still too old-fashioned for the 29-year-old George Lazenby who aspired to be a hippie to appeal to the younger women at the time. Even in a modern suit he didn’t look young enough.
When people talk about Lazenby’s style they focus on the items that stand out in a bad way: the ruffled shirt, the brown golf leisure suit and the highland dress. These are the elements that most separate his clothes from Connery’s, though they don’t entirely define his Bond’s wardrobe. He wore some clothes that made his wardrobe unique amongst the Bonds, but he also wore many of the classic Bond items that defined the Bond look before him.
When Connery returned to the Bond role in Diamonds Are Forever after Lazenby’s brief turn, his old style returned with only a slight update: his suit jackets had wider lapels, wider pocket flaps and hacking pockets, and his suit trousers no longer had pleats. The ties are wider. Otherwise his well-established look from the 1960s returned. The cream suit that Lazenby introduced to Bond returns here.
When attempting to make Lazenby into Connery failed, the filmmakers took a different approach the next time Sean Connery was replaced. Roger Moore’s first Bond film Live and Let Die attempted to make his Bond much different than Connery’s. He doesn’t drink the quintessential “vodka martini, shaken, not stirred”. He receives his mission briefing at his home instead of at the office, and M delivers his gadget instead of Q. George Martin’s funky score replaces John Barry’s combination of jazz and romanticism. Bond doesn’t even appear in the pre-title sequence. As for the clothes, Moore dresses quite differently from Connery in his first film.
Roger Moore brought in his personal tailor Cyril Castle to tailor him as Bond. Castle had dressed Moore for many productions prior to Bond and was an experienced costumer as well as a celebrity tailor. Castle was located on the same street as Sean Connery’s tailor, Mayfair’s Conduit Street, but cut a more fashion-forward suit.
Roger Moore’s Bond does not wear the quintessential Bond outfit, the dinner suit, in his first Bond film. He wears one in promotional photography, but it does not appear in the film. He wears an ivory dinner jacket, with a much different take on it than Connery’s, in his second Bond film, and he doesn’t wear a dark dinner suit until his third Bond film. And then it is double-breasted, which was still something new for Bond. Moore wears striped and printed ties instead of the grenadine and knitted solids that defined Bond’s ties before, and when he wears solid ties they have new textures for Bond. Moore introduces the double-breasted suit and the tan suit to Bond. Instead of a blue blazer or a tweed jacket, his sports coat is in a summery tan and it is paired with dark, contrasting trousers.
The cuts of Moore’s suits are fully updated to the 1970s in Live and Let Die, with wide lapels and flared trousers. However, the lapels in Live and Let Die are not as wide as Connery’s are in Diamonds Are Forever, the pocket flaps are not overly wide, and the trouser hem width is not exaggerated. The lapels and trousers would get wider in following Bond films.
Moore’s casualwear introduces the 1970s leisure suit to Bond in two forms in Live and Let Die. Moore’s famous safari suits, safari jackets and safari shirts, which are unique to his Bond, would appear in his later Bond films.
Moore still wore a few classic Bond pieces in his first Bond film, such as navy and grey suits and cocktail cuff shirts in light blue and cream. Bond likely inspired Moore to wear cocktail cuffs in The Saint half a decade earlier in 1968 and they were a signature style for him for a decade. Many more classic Bond tropes and Bond styles would reappear in Moore’s later Bond films, but for his first film he was established as a very different character with a very different wardrobe, albeit one that was still made up primarily of tailored clothes.
All later Bonds had their own styles, but Lazenby and Moore showed two ways of introducing new Bond actors.