For a low-key New Year’s Eve, a velvet dinner jacket is an elegant choice for someone who still wants to dress up. The velvet dinner jacket is an evolution of the Victorian smoking jacket to a simplified form. Like the smoking jacket, the velvet dinner jacket is most traditionally worn at one’s own home, whether for an intimate affair or as host to a larger gathering.
Roger Moore wears a black velvet dinner jacket as Lord Brett Sinclair in a 1972 episode of The Persuaders titled ‘The Morning After’. He’s appropriately dressed for the intimate gather he is hosting—filmed at Pinewood Studios’ Heatherden Hall, which also stands in for SPECTRE headquarters in From Russia with Love. He may look a touch peacock thanks to his ruffled shirt and wide bow tie, but he’s a lord and can dress as he pleases.
Cyril Castle made this black velvet dinner jacket for Roger Moore to wear in a few English-set episodes of The Persuaders, and he wears it briefly in a later episode titled ‘A Death in the Family’. 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.
The jacket is a little flashier than what Bond would wear, but a velvet dinner jacket became a Bondian wardrobe item when Sean Connery premiered it one month earlier in Diamonds Are Forever. The double-breasted dinner jacket wouldn’t have been out of bounds for Moore’s Bond in the 1970s, who preferred double-breasted dinner jackets, though the green velvet dinner jacket that he wears in other episodes of The Persuaders would have been a step too far for Bond.
Considering all else Moore wears as Brett Sinclair, the dinner jacket alone is fairly staid. As he is conducting serious business during the scene he wears it in ‘The Morning After’, the green velvet dinner jacket would have been too ostentatious for the occasion, but black velvet is suitable for the image of a trustworthy British lord.
Since it is double-breasted with a shawl collar, Moore’s dinner jacket is only one step removed from the smoking jacket that shares those traits. It replaces the old-fashioned frogging with covered buttons to turn it from a smoking jacket into a dinner jacket. The shawl collar is narrow and self-faced to limit the jacket’s pomp. Self-facing is classic for a velvet dinner jacket, but silk facings are a traditional option as well.
The dinner jacket is a double-breasted button-two, show-three—for a total of six black buttons in the classic configuration. The jacket is cut with a narrow wrap per Cyril Castle’s usual style. There is one button on each cuff, and Moore wears the cuffs unbuttoned. If they were not designed to be worn open, he is likely wearing them unbuttoned because they were cut too narrow to fit double cuffs. Castle usually cut narrow cuffs on Moore’s jackets at this time to fit trimly around Moore’s cocktail cuff shirts.
The jacket is tailored with softly padded shoulders, natural sleeve heads, a full chest and a gently suppressed waist. There are double vents in the rear. It is difficult to see the hip pockets, but they are most likely slanted jetted pockets like on Moore’s other dinner jackets of the era.
The velvet dinner jacket can take various styles of trousers, such as the traditional black wool barrathea dinner suit trousers or tartan trousers like black watch. Roger Moore wears unorthodox dark brown evening trousers with a black silk stripe down the outseams, which were originally made to pair with his Burma-coloured dinner jacket. The trousers are likely made of a worsted wool and mohair blend and are cut with a darted front and narrow straight legs.
Dark brown trousers are an odd pairing with a black jacket, and while they don’t exactly clash with the jacket, they don’t complement it particularly well either. The trousers’ colour is not immediately noticeable as brown, which helps. On screen, the trousers draw little attention, and if anything the colour emphasises the favourable textural contrast more than the less-favourable colour contrast.
Roger Moore wears a black dinner suit in the earlier episode ‘Greensleeves’, and the trousers from that suit would have been a better pairing with this dinner jacket. Perhaps Roger Moore had taken that dinner suit home and it was not at hand for this episode.
Moore’s usual shirtmaker Frank Foster made the flamboyant 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’s cuffs are Frank Foster’s usual large, rounded double cuffs, and the cuffs fasten with bulbous red cufflinks.
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 thick black velvet wide butterfly bow tie. The velvet bow tie nicely complements the velvet jacket, though a black silk bow tie would have been a more stylish choice. This kind of outfit presents the opportunity to wear just about any sort of black bow tie, particularly ones with black-on-black woven patterns that would be likely to clash with an ordinary dinner suit.
The outfit is completed with black patent leather shoes.
Thank you for this great, in-depth review. It’s interesting to see how Moore’s (or his characters’) dress sense changed over time; from more flamboyant pieces such as this, to the more restrained 007 of the ’70s to the positively conservative suits he wore in the ’80s. I never realised quite how much his tastes changed before I discovered this website!
“He is conducting serious business during the scene he wears it in ‘The Morning After’”…..Indeed. His interaction with the blonde lady sitting close to him looks like business of the utmost gravitas!
I believe that’s Catherine Schell, formerly one of Blofeld’s “Angels of Death”. Guess her allergies were cured…
Seriously, a great write-up.
Schell also turns up in The Return of the Pink Panther (1974) as Lady Litton opposite Christopher Plummer as Sir Charles Litton, taking over from David Niven, who originated the role. Fleming thought of Niven as a Bond contender; Plummer has a few Bondian scenes in the movie, including opposite Eric Pohlmann, who voiced Blofeld in FRWL and TB. The suits are also conspicuously well-tailored in most of the Peter Sellers Pink Panther films. Sellers himself was in the Casino Royale spoof.
Schell also appeared in an episode of Return Of The Saint, the late-1970s series that replaced Roger Moore with Ian Ogilvy. She is most famous as Maya the shape-shifting resident alien on yet a third ITC television program in the same decade.
I think the bow tie here is quite nice, would Fort Belvedere bow ties be similar to the one Roger wears?
While I generally like them conceptually, I always feel like the outfits in Sir Roger’s earlier shows make him look top heavy. His skinny lapels, barrel chest, and narrow trousers make his legs look very short and knobbly, which is impressive in a way, given he’s well over 6 feet tall.
Yeah I know what you mean. I catch old episodes of The Saint from time to time and even though I’m an advocate of slim lapels, it’s very obvious especially in the earlier serieses that his barrel chest dwarfs his skinny lapels and it looks out of balance.
Nice cover Matt! It was an interesting cover.
Not 100% sure but is it possible the jacket he wore was the one in this photo? https://bit.ly/3ou9xj1
Interesting how the cuffs are actually designed not to fasten with a button purely decorative. Also we can clearly see the slanted pockets which are reminiscent of some coats from the 1920s!
The only thing odd is the slight disruption between front and back panels. And they are sewn together, not like the double vents mentioned in the article. So could it be the same jacket but alterated?
Thanks for finding this! It still has double vents; notice the overlap at the bottom.
Oh yes you are right! I thought the panels were sewn together but it is an optical illusion. Now I see the double vents!
Matt, when an invitation has a black tie dress code, would a velvet dinner jacket be able to supplant a tuxedo if it was in a black or dark color. Does a velvet dinner have the same formality of a tuxedo?
A velvet dinner jacket is slightly less formal than a dinner suit, but it can still work for a black tie dress code. Traditionally it was something reserved for a host. These days you can wear one to most cold-weather black tie occasions, depending on what the event is. It’s appropriate for a large event at the opera, but if you’re attending a black tie wedding you may look like you’re trying to upstage the groom.
Wonderful article Matt. I always enjoy you turning your style eye to Moore’s days during The Persuaders. I must readily admit to loving the work Cyril Castle did for Moore during The Persuaders.