Why Sir Roger Moore was the best James Bond
You could argue that there are a lot of things which made Roger Moore the best James Bond; the aristocratic drawl, languorous manner, superb one-liners or the fact that he remained charmingly down to earth his whole career long.
But, one thing more than any other marks him out as The Jackal’s personal favourite; his ability to dress for the part as no other 007 could. Dress sense is important to any self-respecting ‘jackal’ and Moore took his tremendously seriously both on and off screen.
He worked on his secret agent wardrobe with celebrity tailor Cyril Castle for the first couple of films, before becoming a longtime client of legendary Mount Street-based tailor Doug Hayward, along with Michael Caine and many other top actors of his generation. Once the two met, Hayward dressed Moore for the majority of his turns as Bond. The tailor’s shop was a celebrity social hotspot in its day and Moore was often known to drop-in just for ‘cups of tea and a chat’. He also famously credited Doug with a ‘cracking inside-leg measurement’, doubtless with his trademark twinkle in-eye.
Below, we’ve picked-out a few of Moore’s superb outfits, reminders of his enduring style and easy gravitas. And for conclusive evidence of the importance of style to Moore’s Bond, let’s not forget the very best of all his one-liners. In Moonraker, following an impeccably dressed tumble with CIA agent Dr Holly Goodhead (Lois Chiles), Moore is asked ‘did you break anything?’
‘Only my tailor’s heart’, comes the immortal reply.
The safari jacket in The Man with the Golden Gun
This suit is synonymous with Roger Moore’s Bond. It’s undeniably less polished than many of the costumes which followed it in subsequent films, but it is more than appropriate for Bond’s heated adventures overseas and is evidence of Moore’s interest in ‘correct’ dressing. Let’s also not overlook the fact that safari jackets have been back in fashion, offered by British heritage brands and international fashion houses alike for a good few seasons now. Clearly Moore was playing the long-game.
The hacking suit in Moonraker
This outfit bears all the classic Moore hallmarks, including an earthy colour-palette and a tremendous tie-knot to accompany. Nonetheless, the jacket and trousers are a sophisticated combination and the softly textured donegal tweed feels contemporary even by today’s standards. Then there’s the jacket’s proportions to think of; a slim waist with a strong shoulder and heroic notched lapels, it is a quintessentially British look. The slanting set-in flap on the breast pocket is a sharp addition too.
The power suit in The Man with the Golden Gun
Without a shadow of a doubt, this is one of the most underrated Bond suits of all time. Yes, it retains a 70s edge, but it has a sense of gravitas that few other 007 outfits have matched before or since. For starters, it’s olive – not an easy colour for a suit – when was the last time you saw one? Then, there’s the fact it’s double-breasted and features a noticeable tonal stripe for added punch. Combine that with big peaked lapels and you’ve got a recipe for a look that truly does mean business.
The black rollneck in Live and Let Die
If you did have to drop-in on a hostile jungle, what could possibly posses you to do it wearing a black rollback and flares? Only superb taste in clothes, clearly. The rollneck is as fashionable today as it was then and Moore carries it with aplomb. It’s also worth bearing in mind that the decision to make his accompanying gun harness from tan leather was quite deliberate – apparently Moore wanted something that would contrast nicely.
The Ivory dinner jacket in The Man with the Golden Gun
It takes a serious dresser to pull-off a pale jacket at the best of times, let alone a double-breasted dinner suit worn with flared trousers. Believe it or not, this is one of the most luxurious outfits worn in any Bond Film, with good reason. Look closely and you’ll see that it’s been cut in pure shantung (a precious raw silk with a slubby weave) that’s tremendously expensive and difficult to tailor. It’s a very fine suit and thanks to the needle of Cyril Castle, this outfit alone is enough to put Moore front and centre as one of the sharpest Bonds of all time.