Happy 78th birthday to George Lazenby today! Though Lazenby wore a few items as Bond or as Bond masquerading as Sir Hilary Bray that have given him a bad name sartorially, he deserves more recognition and praise for wearing one of the best Bond wardrobes in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service. Sean Connery was not the only stylish James Bond of the 1960s.
By Sean Connery’s fifth James Bond film You Only Live Twice, his style had changed very little from what it was five years earlier in Dr. No. Connery’s clothes were by no means outdated, but they weren’t so modern and hip either. When Lazenby came along two years later in 1969 for On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, we saw a fresh style for Bond.
For George Lazenby, this style was still too stodgy for his hippie sensibilities, but for James Bond it was a step towards keeping with the times and would open the door for more fashion-forward changes to come. While Lazenby’s ruffled dress shirts and brown golf outfit haven’t exactly stood the test of time, most of his other clothes still look stylish and relevant today, yet with a timeless British flair.
1969 was a period of transition from the 1960s to the 1970s. The 1960s flashy peacock style was in full-swing, but while hippies and the younger generation were wearing bell-bottomed trousers, they had not caught on with mainstream fashion yet. Some fashion designers like Tommy Nutter had already debuted wide-lapelled suits in reaction to the narrow lapels from earlier in the 1960s, but wide lapels would also not get widespread attention until a few years later. Lazenby would likely have preferred to wear these more dramatic styles that Roger Moore would adopt as James Bond by the mid 1970s, but he would have been even less happy wearing what Sean Connery was wearing as Bond just two years earlier.
In You Only Live Twice, Connery’s Anthony Sinclair suits had a full cut though the chest—but the waist had become trimmer than it was in Connery’s earlier Bond films like From Russia with Love—with narrow lapels on the jackets and double-pleated trousers, and his ties were very narrow. For Lazenby, that was a style of the past. Currently, the narrow lapels and narrow ties are in fashion—but could also be on their way out like they were in 1969—though the full cut of Connery’s suits certainly looks just as old-fashioned today as it did to Lazenby in 1969. Connery’s suits still look excellent because they are well-cut and Connery wore them well, but they are quite far from the way people like to wear their suits today.
Lazenby’s Dimi Major suits look more aligned with many aspects of today’s fashions than they do with Connery’s 1960s suits, but Connery’s suits will always get more attention no matter the fashion trends because Connery is the more popular Bond. There’s no question who the public thinks is the cooler and overall better Bond, and people often have difficulty separating the clothes from the man wearing them. Despite Lazenby’s distaste for wearing suits, he wore them just as well as Connery did, if not better. He wore them with confidence and ease, and he always buttoned them properly. This is not to say that Lazenby can be compared with Connery, but the way he wore his suits can.
Today’s trends in suits, as seen in Skyfall and Spectre, are all about a trim fit and softer construction. These trendy jackets have natural shoulders, a very close fit and a shorter length. The trousers have a very close fit without pleats and a low rise. Lazenby’s suits are more in line with much of the qualities that are popular in a suit today than Connery’s suits are. A comparison of Lazenby’s suits to both Connery’s and Craig’s shows this.
Lazenby’s suit jackets have a closer fit than Connery’s suits have, with soft shoulders with natural sleeve heads in comparison to Connery’s soft shoulders with roped sleeve heads. The length of Lazenby’s jackets is slightly shorter than the length of Connery’s jackets, but his buttocks are still properly covered. Today’s jackets have a high button stance, and while Lazenby’s button stance is in a lower, more natural place like on Daniel Craig’s Tom Ford suits, it’s higher than Connery’s jackets’ extremely low button stance. While softness in a suit’s construction is popular today, Lazenby’s suits still have a fair amount of traditional British structure. However, Daniel Craig’s Tom Ford suits, as trendy as they are, also have this structure. Craig’s personal Brunello Cucinelli suits are more aligned with current trends overall.
As narrow lapels have been falling out of favour, Lazenby’s suits’ well-balanced lapels are looking even better. Not that they ever looked bad; they’re neither too narrow for the traditionalists nor too wide to ever look ridiculous.
Lazenby’s suit jackets in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service are divided between the button two style that Sean Connery previously wore and the button three style, which was then new to James Bond. The button two style is what is in fashion today, despite Daniel Craig rarely wearing the style. The button three style that Lazenby introduced to Bond has been the most popular style in the Bond films since the 1990s, with it most recently seen in Skyfall despite being out of fashion at the time.
Despite all these details, there’s something more to Lazenby’s suits that give them such a striking look that transcends fashion trends. The curves of the jacket’s foreparts, the steep angle of the hacking pockets, the striking waist suppression and the gentle and clean line of the shoulder were creative elements from Dimi Major’s mind and hand that could fit into any era.
Lazenby’s suit trousers are more like Craig’s trousers and today’s currently fashionable trousers than Connery’s suit trousers are. Lazenby’s trousers are very similar to Craig’s Tom Ford trousers, but more along the lines of the well-proportioned and well-fitted trousers in Quantum of Solace rather than the shrunken trousers of Skyfall and Spectre. They have no pleats, side-adjusters, a medium rise—lower than what was traditional and what would come back in the 1970s—and straight and narrow legs. These trousers fit in with today’s trends but still have a balanced look and practical fit.
Despite Lazenby wearing an updated suit cut for James Bond, he continued to wear many of the classic colours and patterns that James Bond wore before and still wears today. His midnight blue dinner suit continued Connery’s tradition of midnight blue for black tie, and it’s something Daniel Craig has worn twice. Lazenby’s blue and grey suitings in herringbone, glen check and chalk stripe are timeless suitings, though his light blue suit that he briefly wears in Portugal hasn’t held up so well, though the colour would stick around for the 1970s.
Lazenby wears some excellent tailored items beyond his suits. Like Connery, Lazenby after him wears a navy blazer with metal buttons. Lazenby’s example, however, is double-breasted and in a classic naval style, which opened the door for Roger Moore’s numerous double-breasted blazers. Lazenby also wears a beautiful navy double-breasted car coat that takes inspiration from the pea coat and the British warm. Considering the current popularity of pea coats and shorter overcoats, this one fits in well with coats that are trendy today.
Lazenby’s Frank Foster shirts in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service are white, light blue or pink, and the first two are colours that we still see James Bond wearing today. These will never go out of fashion, and pink has always been a popular choice for more confident men. Lazenby’s collars on the shirts that he wears with his suits and blazer are either point or semi-spread, and despite point collars not being so popular at the moment, Daniel Craig wore them throughout Spectre just two years ago. Craig’s shirt collar in Spectre actually looks somewhere between the two different collars that Lazenby wore.
Lazenby’s shirts are most relevant today because of their close fit. Close-fitting shirts came back into style in the 1960s, but until recently they were uncommon outside of bespoke. Though the frilly ruffled dress shirts look silly today, even they could make a man jealous for such a perfectly fitted shirt.
Knitted silk ties are something that Connery and Lazenby shared, and Craig finally brought them back to Bond in Spectre to show that the classic Bond tie since 1955—its first appearance in Fleming’s Moonraker—is still relevant. In navy and red and tied in a modestly sized Windsor knot, Lazenby never has to worry that his classic neck ties will date him.
From his suits and coats to his shirts and ties, George Lazenby, for the most part, had one of the most elegant and timelessly stylish wardrobes of all of the James Bonds. What better time than his birthday to celebrate how excellent his clothes still look today.