Wearing a Shirt-Jacket Like James Bond

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The shirt-jacket, also known as a ‘shirt-jac’ or by the portmanteau ‘shacket’, can be described as a cross between a shirt and a jacket or a jacket constructed like a shirt. It’s a flexible garment with few traditional rules, and it’s a garment that fits in well with today’s casual society.

A shirt-jacket, like a shirt, has no inner structure apart from in the collar and cuffs. Like a jacket it always has long sleeves, but like a shirt it has separate cuffs. There aren’t any other particular rules about what defines a shirt-jacket because there are many variations.

They’re usually made of jacketings, suitings or heavier shirtings, and they include jacket-weight linen for summer shirt-jackets and cotton flannel for winter shirt-jackets. They may or may not have a lining; a lining makes them less like a shirt and more like a jacket.

The cut of a shirt-jacket may be like either a shirt or a jacket. They may have a one-piece or two-piece back, usually with a back yoke. Some have larger pieces with chest darts or side darts like on a jacket, while others have side seams like a shirt with no front darts. The hem is ordinarily straight, while some more jacket-like examples have curved front quarters. They usually have at least two patch pockets.

Shirt-jackets are usually the domain of shirtmakers rather than tailors, but both can make them. A good bespoke shirtmaker who is willing can do a lot more than just formal and dress shirts.

How to Wear Them

Shirt-jackets are sporty or casual garment that can be worn in many different ways. In dressier materials they can be worn over a shirt and tie, and sportier ties like knitted, wool or linen work best with such shirt-jackets. Men traditionally often wore cravats with shirt-jackets, and wearing them with an open-neck shirt always works well. They can also be worn casually over a polo or a t-shirt.

Bond often wears his like a shirt over a bare chest.

Bond’s Shirt-Jackets

Bond wears his first shirt-jacket of the series in his first scene of From Russia with Love. It’s made of an indigo and white gingham check cotton shirting but cut like a jacket with front darts and patch pockets on the hips. It has a camp collar, large shanked metal blazer buttons and jacket-style horizontal buttonholes. The shirting has a bit of weight to it so it can support the large metal buttons. This and most of Bond’s shirt-jackets do not have a lining.

Based on the material, this garment is likely intended to be worn as a shirt in the manner that Bond wears it, but it would be appropriate over a t-shirt as well.

Roger Moore wears three safari shirts-jackets in the Bond films, all with four safari pockets each. The first one, in lightweight sage green cotton in The Man with the Golden Gun, is more shirt-like. It has a one-piece back like a shirt and no front darts. The large camp collar is similar to a jacket’s one-piece collar, and it’s a common type of collar on shirt-jackets.

This example is perhaps more of a camp shirt than a shirt-jacket, though it has many shirt-jacket features. Horizontal buttonholes, a half-belt and long side vents give it the look of a jacket. Traditional safari shirt-jackets have a full belt and buckle in front, while the half belt of this example allows it to wear more like a shirt, as Moore always wears his safari shirt-jackets.

The next example in Moonraker is made of pale taupe heavy cotton drill to help it wear more like a jacket than the two examples above, but Moore again wears it like a shirt. A two-piece collar and a raised front placket give it shirt-like qualities, while front darts, a two-piece back with a western yoke and long rear double vents bring jacket elements to the garment.

Though Moore wears it as a shirt, this one he could easily wear as a jacket over a sport shirt, a polo or a t-shirt.

The Octopussy safari shirt-jacket is similar to the Moonraker example but is made in lightweight tan plain-weave worsted wool suiting. Being in worsted makes it Bond’s dressiest shirt-jacket, but as always Moore wears it over his bare torso. Because it’s worsted wool it is an odd one to wear as a shirt, but it looks sharp on screen because of how well the wool drapes compared to cotton.

The Octopussy safari shirt-jacket—and most likely the similar example for Moonraker—was made by Roger Moore’s regular shirtmaker Frank Foster rather than Moore’s tailors, who made the accompanying trousers.

Timothy Dalton brings back the shirt jacket in Key West in Licence to Kill. This is a Spanish style known as a Teba jacket, where the ends of the one-piece collar line up with the jacket’s front edge, so there are no lapels. Tebas often have a slouchier fit, but Dalton’s Teba fits even more full as a result of 1989 trends. Tebas are more on the jacket side of shirt-jackets, particularly as they have light structure in the front. The shirt aspect comes from the shirt sleeves with separate cuffs.

This shirt-jacket is a Bondian navy in cotton or a cotton-blend, thought Teba jackets can be made of almost anything. Traditionally they’re a hunting jacket and can often be found in tweed. Dalton’s lightweight variation has endless possibilities and can be dressed up like a navy blazer or dressed down like a windcheater. Dalton wears it on two occasions in Licence to Kill over white and blue sport shirts and khaki and navy chinos.

Bond wears a few zip-front jackets throughout the series that have a shirt-like construction, like the Octopussy Circus jacket in Octopussy and the Adidas Y-3 jacket in Quantum of Solace but usually would not be considered shirt-jackets.

11 COMMENTS

  1. Great overview. I always liked this look. It is like a very light safari jacket. The last jacket that you show on Roger Moore reminds me very much of the casual jackets that were all the rage in the 70’s (those damned leisure suits) but with a more dressy military style.

  2. Never realized the gingham in From Russia with Love was a jacket style. Always thought it was a dress shirt and only now see the patch pockets

    • Yes, but it’s not there in every shot. We’re supposed to think that Bond is wearing his safari shirt-jacket over nothing else, based on the shot when he removes the leeches from his chest.

      • Never realized, too, but technically it’s true, the FRWL gingham is a shirt-jacket, thanks Matt. But it’s not relevant in that category, in Bond imaginary it belongs to sporty shirts, worn in casual environments, such as Thunderball camp collar shirts and so on. Saharian-style shirt-jackets definitely belong to Moore’s era, they have come to be a staple of his personal style. I don’t like them, as I generally don’t like ’70s and’ 80s style, but that’s just my taste.

      • The only garment in this list that Bond wears as a jacket is the Teba. The rest are sport shirts with a shirt-jacket cut and style that Bond wears as shirts. So the gingham shirt is no different than the Moonraker and Octopussy shirts. The gingham shirt has a lot more in common with those two garments than it does with the Thunderball camp shirts based on weight, cut and details.

      • Peter/Matt, the interiors in the Monsoon Palace were shot late in 1982 back in Pinewood and I’d say that accounts for the presence of the undershirt which wouldn’t have been necessary in the heat of India.

  3. The shirt jacket from TMWTGG has long been one of my favorite pieces from the series.

    As an aside, when I first discovered this website back in 2012, safari-style clothing was really a hot-button topic. Some defended it, but most disliked it. Fast-forward to the present and it seems to be mostly accepted again. Just a reminder of both the cyclical nature of style, and the longevity of Matt’s site!

  4. Very interesting article Mr. Spaiser! I am a fan of shirt jackets and would like to say that when it comes to them I am a big fan of those safari shirts!

  5. Yeah, the general opinion of safari jackets seems to have tilted from the negative to the positive during this site’s history.

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