Also known as white tie, full evening dress is now worn primarily at state dinners, very fancy balls and a select few other occasions. For many occasions where it was once worn, black tie has now replaced it. Though James Bond never wears full evening dress, Roger Moore wears it in the 1962 episode of The Saint titled “The Charitable Countess.”
The focus of full evening dress is the evening tailcoat. Bond has in fact worn a different type of tailcoat: a morning coat. Like the morning coat, the evening tailcoat has a waist seam and tails in the back. The evening tailcoat is either black or midnight blue, with black satin silk peaked lapels. Moore’s tailcoat, made by Cyril Castle, is cut with natural shoulders and roped sleeve heads, just as Moore’s lounge coats are. The front is double-breasted with three buttons down each side, but the front panels do not meet or fasten. Though not all tailcoats have breast pockets, Moore’s evening tailcoat has a welt breast pocket, adorned with a white linen handkerchief. There are four buttons on each sleeve, and all of the buttons on the tailcoat are in covered satin silk.
The trousers have a long rise, double forward pleats and a silk braid down the side of each leg. Because the trousers sit so high it’s necessary that they are held up with braces. Though we don’t see Moore with the tailcoat off, he is most likely wearing braces. The single-breasted waistcoat is made of white cotton marcella. It is low cut with three mother of pearl buttons and square-cut lapels, and it is most likely backless. The shirt’s front has a stiff marcella bib to match the waistcoat. The front of the shirt closes with two mother of pearl studs. The shirt has a stiff, detachable wing collar and single link cuffs (stiff, single-layer cuffs to wear with cuff links).
The bow tie is also white cotton marcella to match the shirt and waistcoat. Sometimes Moore wears the bow tie in front of the wing-collar tabs and sometimes behind. Both have shown to be historically correct, though fashion mavens of today such as Alan Flusser insist that the bow tie must be worn in front of the wing-collar tabs.
Moore wears the most traditional accessories with his evening wear: a black plush silk top hat and white kidskin gloves. However, he goes a step too far and carries a walking stick.
This is a perfect example of full dress. More recently Roger Moore wears full evening dress in the 2011 television feature A Princess for Christmas, but it’s a most atrocious example of the style in every manner. It looks rather like a rental and fits very poorly. Full dress is very difficult to fit well when not bespoke, especially since the waistline of the tailcoat, the bottom of the waistcoat and the waist of the trousers all need to fit perfectly. The tailcoat’s waistline should mirror the waistline of the person wearing the tailcoat, though it can be adjusted to make one look taller or shorter. The waistcoat needs to be shorter so it does not show below the jacket’s waistline. And the trousers need to sit extra high on the waist so they are completely covered by the waistcoat. Cyril Castle fits all three parts perfectly for Moore.