Roger Moore’s Trilby Hats in the 1980s Bond Films

25

In the 1980s James Bond returned to his roots after over a decade of more fantastic stories. Roger Moore left behind his flashy clothes of the 1970s and had a new wardrobe of more traditional clothes for the 1980s. Though he didn’t wear them, trilby hats were a consistent part of this new wardrobe.

In all three of Roger Moore’s Bond films of the 1980s—For Your Eyes Only in 1981, Octopussy in 1983 and A View to a Kill in 1985—Bond enters Moneypenny’s office near the start of the film holding a trilby. Never is he wearing the hat; it is merely a prop to toss or place onto the coat tree in the office as a throwback to Sean Connery’s entrances in the 1960s Bond films.

Bond’s navy trilby is flying through air to the coat tree in For Your Eyes Only

Bond’s trilby is a classic English felt hat with a tapered crown and short brim that is sharply turned up at the back. It is like a fedora but with a slightly different shape, not the cheap straw or wool hats commonly worn over the past decade on the back of the head that have given the trilby a bad name today.

The trilby was an iconic part of Bond’s look in the 1960s, appearing in every Bond film of the decade. It appears in every opening gun barrel sequence from the start of the series through 1971’s Diamonds Are Forever, whose gun barrel was originally filmed for Thunderball in 1965. Bond’s first appearance on screen is in Dr. No‘s gun barrel in the form of a trilby-wearing silhouette. It was not Sean Connery in this sequence but instead stuntman Bob Simmons. We can’t see Bond’s face, but we see the trilby, which is the first identifying item of Bond’s look. Lazenby wears a trilby in his gun barrel as well to start off the tenure of a new Bond actor with this familiar silhouette.

Bob Simmons Gun Barrel walking
The original Bond trilby in the Dr. No gun barrel

When Roger Moore became Bond with 1973’s Live and Let Die, the trilby was long out of fashion, and Bond no longer needed to be identified as a hatted silhouette in the gun barrel sequence. It was one of the many ways Moore distanced his Bond from Connery’s. By the time the 1980s arrived, Moore was well-established as Bond, but the film series needed to bring itself back to its origins after straying so far from them in the 1970s. Bringing back the trilby was one way Bond returned to his origins.

The hat is a symbol of the past, a status it first achieved in the early 1960s and one that firmly took hold by the end of the decade. In 1981 Bond would have looked too old-fashioned had he worn a trilby. But he could carry it into the office as a callback to the past, to show that a more traditional Bond has returned without looking like he belongs in the past.

Bond is holding his brown trilby in A View to a Kill

It is difficult to imagine Roger Moore wearing a trilby. He wears a reversible cap in Octopussy and top hat in A View to a Kill, but both look like costume on him. The only headgear Moore looks comfortable in as Bond are the knit caps he wears for skiing. When James Bond was wearing trilbies in the 1960s, Roger Moore was showing off his pompadour throughout the decade in The Saint.

Bond’s navy trilby is on the coat tree in For Your Eyes Only

Moore’s 1960s pompadour would never have survived under a hat, even with all the hairspray. His 1980s pompadour wouldn’t have done any better, which is possibly another reason why he walks into the office holding the hat rather than wearing it. Moore’s hair always had to look perfect. His flatter hairstyle in the 1970s worked better with hats, such as the bowler hat in The Man Who Haunted Himself, the film that debuted his less voluminous 1970s hairstyle, and the deerstalker in Sherlock Holmes in New York.

Roger Moore’s trilbies are similar to Sean Connery’s with a narrow brim turned up at the back, a tapered crown with a front pinch and centre dent, and a thin grosgrain ribbon at the base of the crown.

Bond is placing his brown trilby on the coat tree in A View to a Kill

The trilby in For Your Eyes Only is navy to match his suit, and the grosgrain ribbon is also navy. The trilby in Octopussy is dark grey with a black grosgrain ribbon. The trilby in A View to a Kill is a muted brown, and while the grosgrain band is not visible, the hat is revealed to have a brown leather sweatband and a white lining inside. Most trilbies are unlined for a more informal feel.

Bond’s grey trilby is on the coat tree in Octopussy

Not hatter has confirmed where Moore’s trilbies came from. Lock & Co., Bates, Christys’ and Laird are the main hatters still around today that could have provided the hats. It is difficult to identify the hats from the films because little of them is seen on screen, with only Octopussy providing a good shot of the hat. The hat in Octopussy appears to be a match for the Lock & Co. Voyager rollable trilby in grey, which has a fairly narrow 5.5 cm brim. The trilby in For Your Eyes Only has a similar profile and may be the same hat in navy, but no detailed shots of the hat are available.

The Lock & Co. Voyager in grey, which Moore’s hat in Octopussy resembles

25 COMMENTS

  1. I don’t think you could even get away with carrying one anymore. I used to wear fedoras in my late teens and early twenties and I would always get queer looks. It’s a shame, hats are practical as hell and I would like to wear them more.

    I still do, just not as often. My point is though, can you imagine Craig walking into M’s office even holding a trilby? Because I can’t.

    • Interesting point. There are definitely certain Bonds who wear a hat better than others. I feel Craig, Moore, even Brosnan would look strange in a fedora while Connery, Lazenby, Dalton could pull it off perfectly even in today’s context. I can imagine Matt and Pete wear a fedora even better!

      • I think Pete has the perfect face for a fedora! Not sure he’d ever wear one but he’d make it work.

  2. The straw ones run from cheap to expensive, and are also called Cuban hats, to differentiate them from the wider brimmed Panama hats.

    Aside from the width of the brim, I believe the main difference between a trilby and a fedora is that a trilby’s crown rises from back to front and a fedora’s is usually more even, like a Homburg.

  3. I was shopping for Trilbys at Lock & Co. Hatters just last November, and chose their unblocked Traveling Trilby for a jaunty, casual look. I have three other Trilbys; one in straw for summer. One formally blocked in a grey felt for winter with a top coat, one in blue for casual wear, and the one from Lock in black. I tried wearing Fedoras, but the crown and brim are too large for me. My favourite is a Homburg with a pencil roll bound brim, but sadly I find very few occasions to wear it. My wife says I like a a Dickensian Caroler in it.

  4. Thanks for this article Matt!

    I live in Prague where the temperature drops dramatically in winter (But not this year – climate change). When it’s -20 below (Centigrade, -4 to you stateside) a hat is mandatory.

    I wear suits to the office and an overcoat so I tend to wear a fedora or a trilby. The hat kind of works with the look. I always think it looks odd to wear the hat without the overcoat but that’s possibly because I’m not used to seeing or wearing hats if a coat isn’t involved too.

    Here on the continent more people wear hats on a regular basis but it is really a winter thing. I wonder what Bond would wear if he had to try to blend into this environment. Would you be able to extrapolate Bondian style and write one or two what-if articles?

    • This is a topic that is very difficult to cover. I don’t know if Bond could wear a hat as himself or to blend in. He may need to wear a flat cap, Daniel Craig’s preferred headgear. I don’t think any hat will make Bond look proper and look cool with a suit.

    • Interesting throughs.
      I wrote about hats from a Mod perspective and with a mention of Bond several years ago on my blog, and if it’s not seen by Matt as poor etiquette to self-promote, this may be of interest to some readers:

      https://www.google.com/amp/s/rodsmodblog.wordpress.com/2015/02/08/hats/amp/

      I have a couple of felt brimmed hats which are worn on the rare occasion I travel north I the winter, but living where it’s hot and sunny year round I get more use from straw Panama hats that I have in several colours and which provide utility along with (I hope!) some style.

      I agree that Craig’s portrayal would not suit brimmed hats. Let’s not forget that today’s Bond is still a SECRET agent and supposed to blend in to his surroundings. Brimmed hats are in most cases likely to result in the opposite effect.

      • Great article! The hat is a very important part of Bond’s look through the end of the 1960s, even though it was out of fashion by then. Because the gun barrel sequences filmed for Thunderball and On Her Majesty’s Secret Service still featured the hat of the original, it associated the hat with this cool character through the end of the 1960s. Connery doesn’t wear the hat much after From Russia with Love, but Lazenby does because it’s more important that he have the Bond silhouette in his opening scene than he look current.

      • Yeah I think it’s interesting that aside from the ‘This never happened to the other fella’ comment, they tried to preserve some continuity between Bond and Lazenby, and keeping the hat in the gun barrel sequence was a part of that. Conversely they seemed to take the opposite approach with Moore and wanted a line of demarcation between he and Connery. IIRC Moore didn’t order his martinis “shaken not stirred”, smoked cigars instead of cigarettes, etc.

        As for the gun barrel sequences – Bob Simmons’ arm is still swinging around when the blood comes down. Connery for Thunderball and beyond is wobbling one leg, Moore uses his left hand to support his firing hand but not cupping the heel of his right hand regulation style, but halfway up the forearm. It wasn’t until Dalton that they really nailed it!

  5. Interesting and informative post as always, Matt. Speaking of Sir Roger’s always-perfect pompadour, I recall that in one of his commentaries to the Saint or Persuaders he explained that his copiously-sprayed hair had to remain perfect for continuity sake.

  6. Apart from the brief sequence in Octopussy, I can recall Moore wearing flat caps on a number of occasions in various screen roles; The Persuaders ( a couple of times in an impersonation context), The Wild Geese and The Naked Face (as part of the character’s wardrobe). I respectfully disagree that they looked costume-like and rather felt they seemed like something he’d wear quite naturally. Probably the most of any head gear I have seen him wear and this is somewhat ironic as traditionally these are were worn more by working class men and despite hailing from working class stock, Roger’s screen image was always that of a toff! The top hat in AVTAK would have looked like costume on anyone because, essentially, that’s almost what it is.

  7. I don’t see what’s so costume-y about wearing a flat tweed cap with a sport coat in an equestrian setting….

  8. I always liked Moore walking in with a trilby as it was a great tribute for the Connery years without a direct tribute. It show Bond to be a traditionalist who didn’t always follow fashion or changing times. Moore’s hair understandably wouldn’t have stood up to wearing a hat a lot, even though it did look like his hair had thinned slightly in the 1980’s. Moore’s hair had a hard enough time combating a windy day.

    • I’ve see a few early episodes of The Saint recently. It’s interesting how in just about every episode, sometimes twice, there’s a fairly violent fight scene which looks much more realistic than those filmed during Moore’s tenure as Bond. (I don’t recall seeing the obligatory grab-for-an-overhead-bar-to -do-a-double-footed-kick once!) It’s funny to see Moore’s coif in such complete disarray once things calm down post-fisticuffs, and the level of continuity by which all is replaced in the next camera angle or scene!

  9. Rod: Roger Moore actually filmed two gun barrel sequences, and in the second one he supported the gun correctly!

    • Really? I didn’t know that – wonder what goes into the decision as to which one to use? And on a wider point some of the out takes of the series are interesting. I think Matt said that Rog had publicity shots done in a tux for LALD but we never see him dressed that way in the film (perhaps more distancing from the Sean era?) There’s also pics of Pierce circa Goldeneye in a good looking glen check suit but comitting the faux pas of matching royal blue tie and pocket square which aren’t worn in the film. I think that pic is in ‘The Suited Hero’ book.

      • Through the Brosnan era, gun barrel sequences were filmed only when the actor changed and when the aspect ratio changed. Aspect ratio changes are why new gun barrel sequences were filmed for Thunderball and The Spy Who Loved Me. They never went back to previous gun barrels.

  10. Nice write-up of a detail often overlooked. The trilby’s return was a nice nod to Bond’s 1960s past as the Bond series did a soft reboot, shifting from Roger as the fashionable, globe-trotting celebrity spy to Roger as aging British icon (and he was terrific as both). On Roger and hats, I can’t speak to trilby on him, but he looked terrific and relaxed in The Spy Who Loved Me http://www.bondsuits.com/royal-navy-greatcoat/

  11. It’s really a shame that hats are now so anachronistic. I would love to wear one for practical reasons, and because I love the look. But I just can’t justify it, even though I wear a suit (or blazer, odd jacket, etc.) to work everyday. I have a beautiful old felt trilby that belonged to my grandfather. But as soon as I put the hat on, I look like I’m trying too hard. I assume this is also why we’ll never again see Bond in a hat.

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.