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 the cuffs are designed not to fasten. The cuff does not overlap itself and has an open vent with the button only sewn onto the cuff without a buttonhole.
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. The hip pockets are slanted, like on Moore’s other dinner jackets of this era, but they are welt pockets in the breast-pocket style instead of jetted pockets, and the welts are very wide.
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.