Another New Year’s Eve means another dinner jacket, and this one is for those currently in a warm locale. To introduce the new year I will examine one of Roger Moore’s most memorable warm weather dinner jackets: the “Burma” dinner jacket from his 1971 television series The Persuaders. Roger Moore designed his own wardrobe for The Persuaders and brought in his tailor Cyril Castle to make it.
In the first episode of The Persuaders titled “Overture”, Roger Moore’s character puts on an unusually coloured dinner jacket for evening drinks at his hotel bar. “Overture” is set in the Côte d’Azur, and exterior shots of the hotel were filmed at the Hôtel de Paris Monte-Carlo with interior shots at Pinewood Studios in England.
Ivory is not the only colour for a warm weather dinner jacket, and just about any light-coloured jacket that has the proper detailing of a dinner jacket has historically been worn as an alternative. Esquire wrote in the August 1936 issue that though the single-breasted white dinner jacket is the most popular summer formal wear, “the favorite deviation from the norm of white is the new Burma shade.”
This “Burma shade” is close to buff, a light tan. The Burma dinner jacket saw popularity as a warm-weather alternative to the off-white dinner jacket through the 1950s. The 1960s saw even more adventurously coloured evening wear, but when pastel-coloured Tuxedos and brown suits became exceedingly popular in the 1970s, it is no surprise that the Burma dinner jacket returned. Roger Moore dressed his character Lord Brett Sinclair in unorthodox clothes, and the Burma dinner jacket is indeed a more unusual choice than the ivory dinner jacket but is likewise appropriate for the Mediterranean. Of all the dinner jackets Moore has ever worn, this Burma colour of this dinner jacket is the most flattering to his warm-toned complexion. It matches particularly well with the golden blonde colour he dyed his hair in The Persuaders.
The dinner jacket is made of a lightweight and luxurious blend that is difficult to identify. It has a soft look that is likely the mark of cashmere along with rippling that suggests cotton. Silk could also be in the mix, adding to the jacket’s slight sheen. Cotton is comfortable to wear in warm weather but does not tailor well or drape well, which is why it is commonly blended with cashmere and/or silk in suitings and jacketings.
Roger Moore’s regular tailor Cyril Castle made this dinner jacket. Castle tailored Moore from 1962 through 1974, making clothes for The Saint, The Persuaders and his first two James Bond films, Live and Let Die and The Man with the Golden Gun. This double-breasted dinner jacket in The Persuaders gives us a hint at what Roger Moore’s take on James Bond’s most famous outfit, and Moore’s first dinner jacket in his Bond films would end up also being a double-breasted warm-weather dinner jacket, though a bit different than this one.
The Burma jacket is a double-breasted button one show two (a total of four buttons in a keystone configuration). This is the most traditional buttoning style for a double-breasted dinner jacket, with only one fastening button like a single-breasted dinner jacket has. The two top buttons are added for visual balance, since having only one row of buttons on a double-breasted jacket can visually widen the body. The bottom, fastening row of buttons is placed at the waist rather than below it (as is usual in this buttoning configuration) to emphasise the waist and to allow the jacket to move well with the body. The jacket is cut with a narrow wrap per Cyril Castle’s usual style, and the small overlap makes this double-breasted jacket wear cooler in the hot weather it is designed for.
The jacket is tailored with softly padded shoulders, natural sleeve heads, a full chest and a gently suppressed waist. It has a narrow self shawl collar, the width a holdover from 1960s fashions. The collar has pick stitching for a crisp edge. There are deep double vents in the rear, which show off a gold-coloured lining when they open up during a fight.
The buttons are covered in the Burma fabric that the jacket is made of. This dinner jacket introduces Roger Moore’s flared link cuff, where the ends of the sleeves come together in a kissing fashion like double cuffs on a shirt and flare out. One button shows on both sides of the cuff so to look like the sleeve is fastened with cufflinks.
The dinner jacket’s slanted jetted pockets were trendy at the time. Slanted pockets are traditionally too sporty for a dinner jacket, which traditionally has straight jetted pockets. However, the slant is gentler than that of hacking pockets, and omitting flaps brings these pockets closer to the dinner jacket’s traditional pockets.
Instead of traditional black trousers, Moore softens his evening look with dark brown trousers that harmonise with the warm-toned dinner jacket. The trousers are likely made of a worsted wool and mohair blend, which is perfect for warm weather. The trousers are cut with a darted front and narrow straight legs. Because these are trousers for black tie, they are properly trimmed with a black silk stripe down the outseams.
With a Burma dinner jacket and dark brown trousers, Moore has downgraded the formality of his eveningwear as much as possible, and compared to the other men in suits at the bar he looks more flamboyantly dressed rather than more formally dressed. His clothes are still appropriate for a warm-weather black tie occasion, but he can also wear these clothes in less formal settings than a black dinner suit, which would have made him look like one of the waiters at the bar.
If the colour choices of his jacket and trousers aren’t flamboyant enough, the ruffled shirt is. Though Roger Moore only wears a ruffled shirt as James Bond in promotional photos for Live and Let Die, he wears ruffled shirts in The Saint and The Persuaders. Moore’s usual shirtmaker Frank Foster made this white cotton voile shirt with a row of ruffled cloth on either side of the placket. The front placket fastens with white covered buttons for a dressier look than ordinary mother-of-pearl buttons.
The shirt has a semi spread collar with a high stand. The high stand is flattering to Moore’s long neck but is also necessary to fit the large knot of a luxuriously thick black velvet wide butterfly bow tie. Moore removes the bow tie for a fight. The shirt’s cuffs are Frank Foster’s usual large, rounded double cuffs, and the cuffs fasten with round black onyx cufflinks.
The outfit is complete with black silk hose and black square-toed patent leather shoes.
Roger Moore wears this outfit again briefly in later Persuaders episodes “Angie… Angie” in Cannes and “The Man in the Middle” in Italy.