Roger Moore has earned a reputation for being the fashionable James Bond due to his collection of safari jackets and shirts. Some of them, like the cream safari jacket in The Man with the Golden Gun, are indeed fashionable 1970s items that have poorly dated. Others, like the safari shirt-jackets in Moonraker and Octopussy, are very practical garments based in traditional military wear that Bond appropriately wears in the jungle. Even though Roger Moore wears better and worse clothes as James Bond, these safari clothes will always be what he is most remembered for. The safari shirts and jackets are all complicated garments with many interesting details worth a closer look.
I think the safari clothing was done well from The Man With the Golden Gun, onwards. They were often used in settings and situations that made sense, especially for a traditional western traveler like James Bond. I could accept that safari clothes were a fashion during the 1970s, yet they weren’t always out of place as long as they were worn reasonably. The Bond films were not bad, in that regard, and it did not seem out of character for Bond to be wearing one during that period, or even the 1980s. For the current and future films, a full safari suit may be an unfashionable oddity, but I think a safari shirt or a structured squared-hem jacket with buttons and lapels could be something the cinema crowds may identify with more closely. Safari shirts and jackets have also been somewhat more fashionable within recent years, if I understand, so it’s not as if people have forgotten about wearing these clothes in a more urban/settlement context.
My problem with The Live and Let Die leisure jacket is that it was not an earthtone color, as I believe safari clothing should generally be,, although it was also supposed to be a reversible tan jacket. Bond did wear a much less timeless light blue leisure suit in that film, although I don’t think that qualifies as a safari suit. Both of those garments clearly fall into the mold of 1970s leisure suits and jackets. One of the purposes of safari clothing is for it to be worn with the climate and terrain in mind. Even for more fashionable purposes, while wearing the clothes in the city or a settled part of a country (not the wilderness), safari clothing looks best in tones of tans, greens, and browns, perhaps in some cases also white or off-white. Another important defining feature, although not always an essential one, seems to be epaulets. I think people could normally tell apart a safari suit or jacket from a 1970s fashionable leisure equivalent, if by nothing else, brighter colors, wider lapels, and either (or both) the absence of epaulets or a belt.
Incidentally, I happen to own a sage green (called “woodlands”) safari shirt from Cabelas that reminds me of The Man With the Golden Gun one, although they also sell a safari jacket in that shade, with a somewhat similar arrangement of four pockets and a squared-hem at the bottom, despite the lack of a button-front.
It is very flattering to me that the term “infamous” with regard to certain items of Moore’s wardrobe by now has occupied such a prominent place on this blog since I think I was the one first to apply it. Makes me feel very proud of myself ;-)
Given the reception of these outfits, infamous certainly applies. I do think they made absolute sense in some of the situations, though. Are safari suits still somewhat popular in India? I thought I remembered reading of references to a certain popularity of them.
I like this style very much, indeed. Makes me wanna a buy a safari suit/jacket myself.
. . . I just cannot bring myself to hate these.
I think had I been around during the ’70s I would have fit in well.
I wear safari jackets and bush shirts almost every day. All bespoke some quite similar to those of Mr. Moore’s.
Perfect garmets for the warm season. I have no worries about their style or if they are dated today. It is just the question if you pull it off or not. Mr. Moore did.
Well, I hadn’t expected this but excellent, Matt. Excellent. It’s a mystery why so many object to these garments and why so much invective is fired at them. JB is correct about India. I believe that, up until quite recently anyway, they were quite common apparel, even at Governmental level, there. I received many compliments for mine when I visited India a few years ago. The 1970’s kitsch v tradition argument persists however the point is that the garment is very much traditional but this has to be coupled with the fact that safari inspired clothing just happened to become popular in mainstream fashion in the late 1960’s. This created the “perfect storm” for Roger as Bond as he always happened to like this type of clothing prior to their popularity and so embraced this fashion for himself. However, what it comes down to, for me, is, as with all Moore’s clothing; its quality and superb tailoring. Look at other similar clothes from that time in movies or TV series’. I’ve seldom seen any to match the standard of his.
The production of the early Bond films took great care of the costumes for both actors. Therefore garments as safari jackets are looking superb in those films.
It is not so easy to get them right in terms of cut. Important points are width, length, sleeve width, size and position of the pockets as well as size and form of the button flaps and the box pleats.
If one wants to receive a perfect bespoke bush shirt or shirt jacket the tailor has to work on those details a lot until the right proportions are achieved.
I mean they took great care of the clothes of SC, GL and RM.
What colour of trousers and shoes would pair well with a dark grey safari bush shirt?
Dark grey is not a good colour for a bush jacket.
I agree with you on that advice Matt. Though would it be more acceptable if it wear tans to light brown?
Thanks for the advice
Hi Matt – could you please share actual photos of the Beige cotton Military shirt from Octopussy? I couldn’t find that in your blog posts. Thanks a lot.
Hi, there’s a photo of the Octopussy shirt here: https://www.bondsuits.com/green-uniform-other-side-reversible-jacket-octopussy/
This post has not aged well at all. Any tasteful young sartorialist would kill for Moore’s safari wardrobe from TMWTGG.