What is or isn’t a blazer? By one definition, a blazer is a tailored jacket in navy—or less traditionally in other solid colours—with metal buttons. By another definition it’s a tailored jacket with thick, bright stripes, and it may or may not have metal buttons. Only the first type of blazer is relevant to James Bond. “Blazer” is neither another term for a tailored odd jacket nor a suit jacket, though the term has increasingly been used as such since traditional blazers have because less popular. Bond’s blazers are always blue, from the almost black Royal Navy uniform shade to a bright marine blue.
Single-breasted or double-breasted
Blazers can be either single-breasted or double-breasted. All of James Bond’s single-breasted blazers have two buttons and double vents. Sean Connery wears three similar single-breasted blazers in Dr. No, Thunderball and Diamonds Are Forever. Roger Moore wears two similar single-breasted blazers in The Spy Who Loved Me and Moonraker and another in single-breasted blazer in A View to a Kill.
Bond’s double-breasted blazers all have six buttons. Some of Bond’s double-breasted blazers have two to button in the traditional configuration with the top row placed further apart. Other blazers have three to button like a naval reefer jacket, which makes the jacket look rather columnar and give it a higher buttoning point. However, this style looks appropriate for a naval commander. The double-breasted blazers all have double vents like the single-breasted blazers have. George Lazenby wears a double-breasted blazer in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, Roger Moore wears double-breasted blazers in The Man with the Golden Gun, Moonraker and For Your Eyes Only and Pierce Brosnan wears a double-breasted blazer in GoldenEye, which has the last appearance of the blazer in the Bond series.
Blazers can be made in a variety of different cloths, but it’s best if the cloth has some character. The most common cloth for a blazer is wool serge. Serge is worsted wool or combination worsted and woollen in an even twill weave with a 45° wale. Heavier serge with more defined twill wales looks better as a blazer. Serge is one of the most common materials for a suit, but in navy it can be a great choice for a jacket on it’s own. Serge blazers are the most formal type of blazers due to the cloth being the same as what is often used for a business suits and military uniforms. Roger Moore’s blazer in For Your Eyes Only is likely made of serge.
Hopsack wool is a worsted commonly used for warm-weather blazers. Hopsack is a basketweave and is open and very breathable. Roger Moore’s double-breasted blazer in The Man with the Golden Gun and single-breasted blazers in The Spy Who Loved Me, Moonraker and A View to a Kill are hopsack.
Doeskin makes for the ideal cool-weather blazer. It’s a densely napped flannel woolen with a sheen, not the skin from a deer. It is woven in an even twill weave like serge, but the weave is traditionally not visible through the thick nap. Sean Connery’s three blazers in Dr. No, Thunderball and Diamonds Are Forever may be doeskin, even though he wears two of them in tropical locales. Roger Moore’s double-breasted blazer in Moonraker also appears to be doeskin. George Lazenby’s blazer in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service is likely doeskin as well.
Cavalry Twill is another good wool cloth for cool-weather blazers. It is similar to serge in that it’s a wool twill, but it has a steep, pronounced double-rib. Like serge, it is reminiscent of military uniforms, which makes it perfect for a metal-buttoned blazer.
Other cloths can make excellent blazers. A soft, thick cashmere is excellent in cold weather whilst silk and linen are exceptional in warmer weather. Plain-weave worsteds can work for blazers but are not as good of a choice for a blazer because they don’t have much character or interest.
Some follow the definition that a blazer must have metal buttons to be a blazer. Metal buttons reflect the maritime heritage of the garment. All of James Bond’s blazers have metal buttons, whether brass (polished or unpolished), polished nickel or gunmetal. Pewter buttons are a subtler alternative to brighter metals. At the moment, blazers with metal buttons are unfashionable. Some think they are for old men, some think they are for preps, and others think they are for security guards. The classic metal buttons have solid blank with a shank (metal loop) that sews onto the jacket. Crests should only be worn on the buttons if the crest has a personal significance. Naval motifs on the buttons are common, and Bond wears shanked buttons with such a motif in GoldenEye. Many of Bond’s shanked buttons are simply plain metal.
In The Spy Who Loved Me and Moonraker, the buttons are metal (nickel on the single-breasted blazers and brass on the double-breasted blazer) with four holes, and the buttons are sewn on with a contrasting navy thread. These buttons have a more modern look than shanked buttons, but they keep the blazer tradition by sticking with metal. Enamel buttons in a metal case are another classic choice for a blazer, but Bond has not worn these.
I believe that buttons other than metal buttons can be used on navy jackets, though whether or not the jackets still qualify as “blazers” is debatable. These buttons need to be different from suit jacket buttons, so that excludes navy or black buttons in plastic or corozo. Horn buttons in any medium to light shades of brown work. Unpolished horn gives the jacket a less assuming look whilst polished horn, particularly in light shades, can give a shiny gold effect closer to traditional blazer buttons. Smoke mother-of-pearl buttons are great on navy odd jackets and give a blazer look without the metal buttons. Smoke mother-of-pearl buttons are silvery, shiny and almost look like metal, but their variegation makes them more interesting. For lighter-weight jackets in hopsack or linen, blue or white mother-of-pearl buttons are an excellent choice as well, whilst darker horn buttons may look too heavy. For doeskin and cashmere jackets, wood buttons can give the jackets are more rustic look.
Whether or not a navy jacket with non-metal buttons is technically a “blazer”, it can still be a wonderful odd jacket. If the navy odd jacket were to return to the Bond series, this is the form I could see it returning in rather than as a traditional blazer.
Blazers are cut and fit the same as suit jackets. Some people prefer a looser fit for their blazers, sometimes so they can wear a jumper underneath, but there’s no rule that says a blazer should but cut differently than a suit jacket should. All of James Bond’s blazers are structured, cut and fit exactly the same as the suit jackets he wears within the same films as the respective blazers. Most of James Bond’s blazers have details that make them more than ordinary suit jackets with metal buttons. The blazers in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, Diamonds Are Forever and Moonraker have swelled edges for a sportier look. All of Bond’s blazers have double vents to follow British tradition, though blazers in the American have single vents. The double vents are key to wearing a blazer like Bond.
The pockets on Bond’s blazers are rarely ordinary straight, flapped pockets, though that is what the single-breasted blazer in A View to a Kill and the double-breasted blazers in For Your Eyes Only and GoldenEye have. All three of Sean Connery’s blazers have open patch pockets for not only the hip pockets but for the breast pocket as well. Patch pockets are the most casual type of jacket pocket and are never found on business suits. Roger Moore’s double-breasted blazer in Moonraker has patch pockets on the hips with flaps. The breast pocket on these blazers is an ordinary welt breast pocket since an open patch breast pocket wouldn’t match the flapped hip pockets, and a flapped patch breast pocket would look rather heavy on the chest.
Many of Bond’s blazers have slanted “hacking” pockets, which are taken from the double-breasted military greatcoat rather than from the hacking jacket in the case of the blazer. Some of Bond’s blazers with slanted pockets also have ticket pockets.
When and where to wear a blazer
The navy blazer has proven to be one of the most versatile garments. In some parts of America, blazers are appropriate business dress, but they are essentially a type of sports coat and are best worn socially. Bond mostly wears his blazers socially, and he only wears a blazer to the office in Thunderball because he’s hurrying in from the country. Blazers are the most formal of all sports coats due to being a solid, dark colour. A blazer isn’t all that far off from being a navy suit jacket, which is what allows it to be worn in dressier settings. Like a navy suit, the navy blazer is great both during the day and in the evening.
Blazers have a maritime heritage and are always appropriate by the water. Bond wears blazers on tropical islands in Dr. No and Thunderball, aboard the RMS Queen Elizabeth sunken in Victoria Harbour in The Man with the Golden Gun, and in the Mediterranean in The Spy Who Loved Me, For Your Eyes Only and GoldenEye.
Blazers do not need to be worn near water. For social occasions in the city they don’t stick out too much amongst the suits. In the country they’re perfect for drinks at the country club.
What to wear with a blazer
James Bond has worn many different colours in his trouser with his blazers. The trousers worn with a blazer need to contrast the blazer to avoid looking like a mismatched suit, and thus navy, black and charcoal trousers do not pair well. Sean Connery pairs his blazers with dark grey trousers—a shade lighter than charcoal—to dress up the outfit as much as he can. The less contrast there is between the jacket and trousers the more formal the outfit is.
James Bond has worn medium grey, light grey, tan, beige, stone (light taupe) and white trousers with his blazers. Any shade of grey is a great choice for the city or a dressier look, particularly in the evening. Tan, beige and stone give the blazer a sportier and more casual look, and these colours are best worn in the daytime. White trousers, give the blazer a nautical look and should only be worn with a blazer on the water, where Bond wears his blazer with white trousers in The Man with the Golden Gun and The Spy Who Loved Me. Even when worn by the water, white trousers with a blazer can come off a costume-like. Cream and British tan are other great choices to wear that Bond has not worn with his blazers.
The trousers Bond wears with his blazers are always wool, in woolen flannel for shades of grey and cavalry twill or gabardine for earth tones and white. Tropical and fresco wool, silk, linen and cotton gabardine are other great trouser materials to pair with a blazer, particularly hopsack and lighter serge blazers. Cotton chinos are acceptable with a hopsack blazer, but they should be pressed.
The options for shirts are ties to wear with a navy blazer are limitless. Bond usually wears similar shirts and ties that he would wear with a navy suit. Bond occasionally wears his blazers without a tie for a more casual look. The colour of the shoes should complement the trousers. Oxfords can dress up the outfit whilst slip-ons can dress down the outfit. The many different items that can be worn with a navy blazer to dress it up or down contribute to the incredible versatility of the garment.