The Sea Wolves: Safari Jacket

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Sea-Wolves-Safari-Jacket

The Sea Wolves, starring Gregory Peck, Roger Moore and David Niven, takes place in India during World War II and features a wealth of both military khaki drill uniforms and civilian safari shirts, jackets and suits. Though Roger Moore had already been well-known for his safari suits by the time this film was released in 1980, here his safari clothes are in a much older and traditional context. Of the safari clothing in the film, the suit featured in this article is a beige cotton drill shirt-jacket with matching trousers. The shirt-jacket has a shirt collar and 2-button shirt-style cuffs. It has four buttons down the front below the collar, two flapped patch pockets on the hips, and shoulder straps. The back is very interesting, with a half belted waist, an inverted box pleat down the middle from the yoke to the waist, and a single vent below the waist. The matching trousers have a flat front rather than the pleats that would have been more common in the early 1940s.

Back of the safari jackets: Roger Moore, left; Gregory Peck, right
Back of the safari jackets: Roger Moore, left; Gregory Peck, right

Moore’s cornflower blue shirt has a spread collar, plain front, single-button barrel cuffs, an open chest pocket and shoulder straps. Moore wear a light brown leather belt and beige suede shoes with this outfit. It is unknown if Frank Foster made the safari clothes for this film like he did for some of the Bond films. But not only was Roger Moore a customer of his, so was Gregory Peck. Peck’s clothing in The Sea Wolves is actually a bit more elegant than Moore’s is in this film, with buttoned-up safari shirts, pleated trousers and more. But Moore’s look is more modern and casual, and in the right setting it could still look relevant today.

Sea-Wolves-Safari-Jacket-2

18 COMMENTS

  1. It will come as no surprise that I dislike this outfit. The back of the jacket is excellent -it reminds me of Clark Gable’s sport jacket in It happened one night-, but the front looks really odd, a mix between a shirt front and a common blouson front, plus shoulder straps to make it look like a typical safari jacket/shirt. As a 30s-40s style fan I don’t think it’s particulary typical of the era, and I much prefer pleated trousers to be worn with it, since the scene is supposed to take place during WWII.
    I guess it’s a “modern” interpretation of safari clothing, but the classic 40s safari outfit looks much better and much natural. I even think it could certainly look better than Moore’s modern outfit today, if worn in the right setting (sorry Matt !).
    Nice shirt though, even if shoulders straps are a little out of place on a long-sleeve shirt…

    • Ah, the 70s/early 80s when period costuming meant…well, usually nothing. As a huge fan of older films when I was a kid it always bothered me when films made no effort at all for period accuracy. I suppose at the time many actors didn’t want to appear “uncool” by cutting their hair or wearing period clothes.

      Hard to believe now, but you’d see films and TV movies made in the 70s where men were wearing longer, feathered hair and bellbottoms (!) even though the film was set in the 30s, 40s, or 50s!

      • Gregory Peck looks more authentic than Moore does, with his quintessential safari jacket and old-fashioned hair style. But Roger Moore’s clothing isn’t out of line for the 1940s either. The biggest fault in Moore’s clothing, however, is probably the open-neck shirt.

      • The lack of accuracy in TV productions existed well before the ’70s too.

        Hogan’s Heroes is a brilliant example (and never mind the cut-and-shut modifications of prop-department American air force dress uniforms for the character of Colonel Klink), just consider Bob Crane’s trousers – flat front and tapered narrow at the ankle. Pure ’60s.

        And the attire of the femme fatales of the show? As ’60s as you could imagine – and Karen Steele’s attire AND hairstyle in the episode “The Big Dish” is nothing short of Mod:

        http://images1.wikia.nocookie.net/__cb20080612234961/hh/images/8/8d/Ladyvaleriestanford.jpg

        Dare I say “Carnaby Street” for the second time tonight?

        -Kurt

  2. Having not seen this movie for many years I had in my mind a belted jacket of the classic type that seems to be favoured amongst my fellow contributors here and this is a little different. I can tend to agree somewhat with the criticism here and, yes, the outfit would be perhaps better buttoned and worn without the shirt although I agree with James that the blue with beige flatters Moore’s complexion (BTW I can’t see the shirt in great detail but it wouldn’t surprise me if it’s not from Foster which is unusual for Moore as he wore Foster’s shirts in most of his movies, Bond and non-Bond for many years). Anyway, overall this ensemble is middling and a little like something Polo Ralph Lauren might produce today. Hardly offensive, but not from Roger Moore’s top drawer.

    But surely it’s not realistic to imply that nobody wore plain fronted trouers in the 1940’s? Pleated trousers became fashionable again in the 1980’s and 1990’s but this wasn’t universal then either and many still opted for plain fronts. So, what’s the problem here?

    For what it’s worth, for me, the “Octopussy” safari suit and the belted one from “The Persuaders” were the best examples of Moore’s safari shirt jackets. When I checked footage of “The Sea Wolves” online yesterday I noticed he also wore a beige sports coat with half belt and, probably the movie’s sartorial highlight; a beautiful example of a double breasted ivory colour dinner jacket. Something for a future post, Matt?

    • Moore’s only belted outfit in the film is the khaki drill uniform. Pleated trousers were the norm at the time, but during World War II they were out in America due to fabric rationing (if only they saw how much less cloth trousers today would use). I’m not sure what the case was in Britain. As the early 40s was far before my time, all I have to base my knowledge on are films and fashion plates, and pleated trousers were always seen there.

      I will definitely be writing about more outfits from the film. The beige linen sports coat is very nice, as are both his black and white dinner jackets.

      • Didn’t uniform trousers (including the fabled WWII chinos) simply have no pleats to begin with? The only exceptions seemed to on some of the generals who had their uniforms made bespoke.

      • Matt, I suppose the thrust of what I’m getting at re: the trousers is that, while pleated trousers were indeed de rigeur in the 1940’s and 1950’s (not that I was about then either!) it wouldn’t preclude some people, for personal preference, wearing the flat fronted version (just as some dinosaurs like you or I may shun current fashions in men’s suiting!). Having said all this, their presence in this movie is no doubt due to the fact that pleated trousers were not popular at the start of the 1980’s and it could be deemed a lack of attention to period detail but it’s not really a hanging offence as the movie appears to capture the overall look of the time very well.

  3. I like this. The jacket is not so fashionable, and I had something similar in the late 1980s in high school. The open shirt look fits Roger’s age. As to whether it is period-proper, I defer to others’ judgment. Overall, Roger looks cool and relaxed, and the clothing seems to fit the character (I haven’t seen this movie in a real long time, and I am not sure I have seen the entire thing). Definitely Roger looking mature and his best, which I thought he did in this 1977-81 time frame.

  4. Matt, this is safari suit heaven! Moore is wearing a civilian form of the safari suit which his tailor would be making for generals and staff officers. They would keep the mass-produced issue version for touring jungle bases, etc. As a civilian, Moore is free to dress up his suit with a shirt, but this was rarely done with the uniform, apart from Field Marshal Jan Smuts, who wore his over a shirt and tie. Of course, if it wasn’t wartime, the door staff would provide him with a tie and urge him to get a haircut. Moore and Peck both look great – real pukka sahibs!

  5. Can I just draw everyone’s attention away from the clothes for a second and towards Barbara Kellermann?

    (pause)

    Ok, thanks, as you were.

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