The Persuaders!: A High-Buttoning Green Suit

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For his character Lord Brett Sinclair to wear in The Persuaders, Roger Moore designed some very unique and innovative pieces of tailoring that went beyond the fashion of the day. One of these pieces is a high-buttoning green suit tailored by Cyril Castle with an equestrian and military heritage, featured only in the 1971 episode “Take Seven”. Rather than try to be creative with an unflattering fit or awkward proportions, like most fashion designers have done over the past half century, this suit is creative through its unconventional colour, historical cut and unusual details. Though these elements altogether make this suit look like a piece of costume, it’s a fascinating study in creative tailoring.

The unusual colour of this suit can be described as rifle green, which comes from the uniform of rifle regiments. Rifle green is a statelier and richer colour than a lighter and warmer army green, but still it has a long military heritage. The suit’s medium-heavy cloth is woven in a herringbone weave and has wide but subtle rust-coloured stripes. Though Moore wears this suit in the heart of London, being green automatically labels this a country suit. At least Moore visits Hyde Park wearing this suit, where it harmoniously blends with the greenery. Anywhere, rifle green has the benefit of being one of the most flattering colours to Moore’s warm spring complexion.

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This suit is hanging onto the “New Edwardian” from the 1960s and has taken nothing from the trends that had emerged by the start of the 1970s. Rather than take on the flamboyance of the 1970s, this suit has a flamboyance all of its own. The lapels are a balanced width and wider than lapels on a 1960s suit would have been. Though it’s inspirations are clear, this suit is ultimately too peculiar to look dated to any time. The suit jacket takes its high buttoning from the Edwardian era, when lounge coats usually had three or four buttons down the front in a higher stance than in more modern times. This button three suit jacket places the bottom button just below the natural waist, and the foreparts are cut away below that button. Because the foreparts are only cutaway below the high bottom button, and because the bottom button is up near the waist, all three buttons can be fastened. One a typical button three jacket, the middle button is near the waist and the bottom button is on a cutaway portion of the jacket so it not designed to fasten. Fastening the bottom button on an ordinary button three jacket (or button two jacket, for that matter) pulls the jacket out of shape and restricts the legs. The cut of this jacket has much in common with the button two “paddock” style jackets that the Duke of Windsor was known for wearing, where either both buttons or only the bottom button would be fastened.

Moore’s suit jacket is almost like a short version of the high-buttoning Edwardian morning coat—a garment that was originally designed for riding a horse—and the cutaway in the front of this jacket would spread apart nicely on horseback. If the colour of this suit didn’t already place it in the country, the equestrian cut would. The structure follows the traditional British equestrian and military cut. The jacket has straight shoulders, a clean and full chest for a strong polished-marble look, a nipped waist and a flared skirt. This cut has a sporty look, but the structure gives it a rather formal and martial look too.

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This jacket also has many sporty and equestrian details, such as swelled edges, steeply slanted hacking pockets and a flapped breast pocket, which is slanted down towards the side of the jacket instead of up towards the shoulder. The jacket’s most important equestrian detail is the long single vent, which balances the cutaway in front. This is Moore’s second jacket in The Persuaders, and in any of his appearances, with the flared link-button cuffs he would go on to wear on his jackets throughout his first two James Bond films. This detail was supposedly his idea that he pitched to tailor Cyril Castle. The jacket’s buttons are smoke mother of pearl, which give a more urbane look to this country suit. The excellent fit gives credence to this unusual suit, though the sleeves are noticeably an inch too short.

The suit trousers, cut by Cyril Castle’s and Anthony Sinclair’s apprentice Richard W. Paine, have jetted cross pocket on the front, and a dart centred on either side of the front cuts through each front pocket. The trousers have narrow straight legs, an elegant look from later 1960s fashion.

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This suit’s fancy details and unusual equestrian cut are reminiscent of and in the spirit of suits that Patrick Macnee’s character John Steed in The Avengers wore. Some of his high-buttoning Pierre Cardin suits in the first colour series were very similar in style, and a navy high button two suit made by Hammond & Boyle from the same series came close as well. It’s certainly not the kind of suit James Bond would wear, and it’s not the kind of suit the the average man could wear either. The suit’s jacket would work as a fancy riding jacket, but few people need that. It’s too structured and buttoned-up to work as a casual piece today, but even in navy it would also be too unusual to work as a dressy suit, neither for business nor for social use. Though few people would have use for anything like this suit, there’s much to be learned from and admired about this distinctive piece.

With this suit, Moore wears a pale yellow shirt made by Frank Foster that has a spread collar and button-down cocktail cuffs that fasten with a single button. The jacket’s too-short sleeves show off the shirt’s special cuffs. The tie has wide dark blue and dark green stripes and is tied in a four-in-hand knot. This is the Inns of Court Officers Training Corps regimental tie, and the tie signifies that former army officer Lord Brett Sinclair was a part of this regiment. Moore’s shoes are black calf monk shoes with a square apron toe. He wears black socks to match his shoes.

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In later episodes of The Persuaders “The Old, the New & the Deadly” and “Read & Destroy”, Roger Moore wears an almost identical suit in a much lighter and more olive shade of green.

21 COMMENTS

  1. Although green is my least favorite colour when it comes to clothing (not counting olive, wich works for sports coats), the fit of this suit is superb and the tailoring is indeed admirable!

    What’s interesting to me is that although this jacket has a much higher button placement than the jackets Moore wore in The Saint, it does not give him that barrel-chested look as many of the 3-button Saint jackets did. Do you Think it’s because the lapels are more classic on this piece, hence giving some balance to his chest, or is the jacket just cut slimmer? Moore benefitted from a slim cut, wich helped balance the proportions of his upper body.

  2. Very interesting post about a very interesting suit.

    I wonder how the sleeves came to be so short? You would think that Moore and Castle would know how long sleeves should be…?

  3. As much of a fan as I am of Moore’s wardrobe, I’m just not sure about this outfit. Also, it’s interesting to notice how puffy and unhealthy Moore looked in The Persuaders, compared to how much leaner, healthier, and younger he looked a year later in LALD

  4. Matt,how long lasted the new Edwardian fashion in UK?
    The trend (but is a trend or a lifestyle) begin in late 40s and continued through 50s and 60s crossing with “Mods” and “Peacock revolution” style.
    Obviously was a style for few Londoners,but Is possible that in some point,in UK,New Edwardian meet the flamboyant 70s style?
    In 70s i count almost three famous New Edwardians: two are the old Cecil Beaton and Bunny Rogers,and the third is Nicholas Fairbairn that was a member of Parliament (in the picure below),more,of course, the John Steed od “New Avengers”.

    http://s31.postimg.org/4jrcjms1n/z_Nicholas_Fairbairn.png

  5. To me the outfit looks a little bit like the German police uniforms that were used between 1972 and – depending on the county – end of the 2000s. They featured a similar green as well as yellowish / beige shirts. Of course they did not fit as well as the one Moore wears, but the similarity is just too much for me. That is of course no fault of Moore / Castle as the series was aired way before the introduction of the German police uniforms, but still it looks funny to me.

    If I was better with Photoshop I’d add a police cap to the picture. Probably good for all of us that I am not.

  6. As usual, Matt, an excellently detailed and researched post. The equestrian styling is undeniable and I must admit, it does flatter Moore a lot better than a number of his Saint suits and the details are extremely interesting. I didn’t know that the link cuff was Moore’s idea.

    Having said all that, I’m with Dan when I say that I don’t really care for this suit. Overall it’s the high buttoning position and rather exaggerated feel of it that just doesn’t work to my eye. Sure, it does work in the context of the Sinclair character but it does look, as you say yourself matt, a little “costumey”. Perhaps, 15 years ago, when those awful high buttoning suits with even more awful high buttoning waistcoats were in vogue this look (although different in many ways) would have been something wearable without it appearing as a kind of costume. Today, for better or worse, not. That’s a feature of several outfits worn by Sinclair yet his Bond wardrobe of 2, 3 years later, not so. I also agree that Moore didn’t look the healthiest here in comparison to when he took over as Bond. This was noticed by Broccoli and Saltzman who demanded he lose weight and cut his hair which made Moore quip to his wife that they were looking for a bald, anorexic Bond or words to that effect!

    Anyway, characters like Sinclair and Steed were great for guys like Moore or McNee who had both a flamboyant streak and an effortless sartorial sense. Thank god for them especially in today’s monochrome world

  7. hideous look, far too young and trendy for a man of Moore’s age, and totally inappropriate for the character

    • It wasn’t the kind of outfit that would have been worn by a peer of the realm and a former Guards officer. The choice of tie just highlights how ridiculous it is.
      What is the male version of the term mutton dressed as lamb

  8. Another thing absolutely wrong with the “Avengers” movie 1998 ( over the cast) was the Steed’s wardrobe.
    The classic Anderson & Sheppard suits were fine,but Steed need something of more structurate and “military look”.
    Furthermore a important feature of his suits is the New Edwardian touch.
    So better for John Steed,a Huntsman or Dege & Skinner single breasted one button three piece suits,with slender flat front trousers ( without cuffs),and some Edwardian touch like a velvet collat and turnback cuffs.
    Oxford or derby shoes are inappropriate for the character ,the right choice is a chelsea boot.

  9. I generally agree with David and Dan. Very costume-look.

    As for Roger, he looks fine at 43, but he is much heavier than he is Bond; assuming he is 6’1″ or so at this age, he is probably 20 pounds heavier than in Bond. And his hair is much lighter and flatter/thinner, missing the hairspray and blowdrying used in the Bond movies. Both weight and the lighter flatter hair age him.

    • And he is lit differently to the style of lighting you normally see in his Bond films. Lighting can make a huge difference to how an actor looks.

  10. I agree with David’s comments and find the suit a complete monstrosity. Not even Roger can pull this one off.

  11. Monstrosity? Come on.

    I find the jacket not suiting Moore’s physique very well. It makes him appear rather boxy and uncomfortable. Though, as has already been pointed out, not to the degree as in The Saint’s three buttoned pieces from a few years earlier.

    With that said, I think the jacket is quite cool. It combines a slight 1960’s feel with the equestrian heritage that would suit Lord Sinclair perfectly. The coulour is too much German police for my taste. After having dealt with Bavarian police in Munich, it’s not a very nice connection.

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