Bond’s Gray Office Suit in For Your Eyes Only
Roger Moore as James Bond, British government agent
London, Spring 1981
Film: For Your Eyes Only
Release Date: June 24, 1981
Director: John Glen
Costume Designer: Elizabeth Waller
Tailor: Douglas Hayward
I often cite For Your Eyes Only as the best 007 film of Moore’s era despite many fans’ contention that The Spy Who Loved Me was his apex. After a sketchy start with two OK outings, Moore finally found his footing with a good script and co-star in The Spy Who Loved Me, but it still rings of a disco-enthused rehash of You Only Live Twice dunked underwater. I still like the film, but For Your Eyes Only appeals more to the From Russia With Love fan that I am.
The minds behind the Bond franchise realized (a bit too late) that Moonraker was excessive, even by 1979 standards. Sure, it remained the highest-grossing Bond film until GoldenEye sixteen years later, but are massive profit margins any excuse for a loss of artistic integrity?
Thankfully, the franchise scrapped any ideas of continuing Bond’s space adventures against unkillable giants with the help of just the right gadget. In 1981, For Your Eyes Only marked a new direction for Moore’s Bond: a grounded and (relatively) realistic spy thriller.
John Glen, the franchise’s loyal editor, was promoted to director and immediately made up for Moonraker‘s double-take pigeon – for which he was responsible. For Your Eyes Only turned its back on the gadgets and excess that had been tarnishing the series; the first scene immediately explained this new direction by Bond’s symbolic disposal of an old enemy*.
Michael G. Wilson and Richard Maibaum turned to two of Ian Fleming’s yet-unused stories as source material to create the newest Bond adventure, drawing the “Bond girl” and exposition from the titular story “For Your Eyes Only” and sprinkling in the villains and major plot of “Risico” to round everything out. An ending was still needed, and now that over-the-top auteur Lewis Gilbert, master of the underground volcano lair, was out, the franchise used For Your Eyes Only as an opportunity to test out a subtle ending that saw five protagonists against the small villainous gang on a remote mountaintop with the right people killing the right enemies and a final shill for détente to save the day.
Very few critics of the era praised the film, calling it boring with not enough distractions between stunts. Retroactively, For Your Eyes Only is now viewed by many as one of the best in the series and certainly one of Moore’s finest. Moore’s acting was also top-notch, with sophistication, charming, and competence oozing from more than just his eyebrow. The film’s few low marks are mostly-era specific: the late disco-era non-Barry music, the “perky” inclusion of Bibi Dahl, and the non-sequitur opening which – while symbolic – could have done better. Stainless steel delicatessen, my ass.
It also helps that I have a soft spot for Carole Bouquet due to her resemblance to my high school psychology teacher of whom I was very fond.
* Neither I nor For Your Eyes Only can officially name this “old enemy” as Blofeld because of Kevin McClory.
What’d He Wear?
In my quest to end BAMF Style’s tragic lack of discussion of Moore’s Bond, I’ve chosen to present one of the Moore era’s sartorial highlights. Matt Spaiser also wrote about this suit previously on his blog, The Suits of James Bond.
Poor Moore didn’t have it very easy when he took the role of Bond. Beyond the world of Bond, 1973 through 1985 is often remembered as a decade of tacky clothing ranging from too tight (disco) to too baggy (’80s). Luckily, Moore had allies like Cyril Castle, Douglas Hayward, and Frank Foster to help him keep looking timelessly stylish in a world marred by bright pastels, gold chains, and oversized collars.
It was Hayward who stepped up to dress Moore for For Your Eyes Only. Though Hayward had likely worked with Moore before, this was the first film where he took Castle’s place as Moore’s on-set tailor. Much as the film itself did away with the excess of the ’70s, Hayward discarded the excess of ’70s styling and kept Moore looking strong, trim, and traditional without looking boring.
After sporting a few fashionable three-piece suits for his previous office visits, Bond makes the rounds of MI6’s offices in a subtle gray flannel suit tailored by Hayward. Context clues – ample snow for skiing in Cortina and summerlike warmth in Corfu – set this scene sometime in late spring, a time when a flannel suit would still be comfortable in London but warm colors like mid-gray and cream would be seasonally appropriate.
The suit jacket is single-breasted with standard notch lapels that roll down Moore’s torso to the low 2-button stance. This low stance is the most dated part of the outfit, although it is more forgivable than the distractingly low stance on his double-breasted garments later in the film like the otherwise dashing navy blazer in Corfu. The low stance of this single-breasted jacket is very much a hallmark of ’80s fashion, but Moore’s considerable height works in its favor to keep the look luxurious rather than boxy. The jacket itself is also relatively long, allowing the low stance more than the shorter jackets of today would.
Bond’s suit jacket has all of the other Hayward trademarks found on the film’s suits including natural shoulders with roped sleeveheads, welted breast pocket, flapped hip pockets, and three-button cuffs. Hayward also avoids the boxy, overly-draped ’80s look by giving Moore a clean chest. While a draped chest allows more space for a shoulder holster, Bond is unarmed in these scenes and has no need for the extra space a darted jacket would provide.
The jacket also has long double rear vents that extend up to the slightly pulled-in waist. It is lined in a mid-gray silk that nicely matches the outer color.
Bond’s suit trousers correspond with the jacket’s low stance by rising lower on his waist. The trousers are flat front with belt loops and a straight cut down to the plain-hemmed bottoms. The front pockets, returning after a long absence on Moore’s trousers, are frogmouth-styled with a straight – rather than curved – slant. The trousers also have two jetted rear pockets.
The black leather belt has a brass buckle, and it is a simpler belt than the more flamboyant Gucci belts that Moore wore earlier in his tenure.
Moore’s long-time collaboration with Gucci shoes had also ended by the time of For Your Eyes Only, and the horsebit loafers of previous films have been replaced by simpler black leather apron-front strapped loafers that are more reminiscent of the “moccasin casuals” featured in Ian Fleming’s books. The shoes are hardly glimpsed in these scenes, but they can be seen better in other places throughout the film, especially the opening helicopter sequence.
Many men abide by the old, easy rule of wearing gray suits with white shirts and ties to the office, but Moore shows that a tint of color can be very welcome with shirting without looking too flamboyant. Once again wearing a shirt from his old pal Frank Foster, Moore’s cream poplin shirt keeps his look refreshingly chromatic. The shirt has a large spread collar that rises high on his neck. It buttons down a front placket and has 2-button mitred cuffs.
During his long session in Q’s lab, Bond removes his jacket and allows more of the shirt to breathe. It has an ample fit, despite the double rear darts, and it drapes slightly over the waistline.
Bond’s gray grenadine tie, much like the film’s more serious plot and tone, also recalls earlier films from Connery’s tenure. The tie’s length is perfect when worn with the jacket, but removing the jacket reveals that the narrower rear blade extends slightly past both the front blade and the waistband. While the front blade is worn correctly at his waist, Moore would have been better served with a shorter tie especially given the scene requiring him to take off his jacket.
Some may also take issue with the perfect matching of the suit and the tie. While this has been part of Bond’s repertoire since Dr. No when Connery sported both a navy grenadine tie and navy blazer, this look can be disconcerting with lighter colors. I personally think that Moore pulls it off, but this may not be the case for all men.
Moore’s standard above-water watch throughout the film is a SEIKO H357-5040 duo-display alarm chronograph with a black square face on a stainless bracelet. The watch has a narrow LED screen for red text at the top used primarily by Bond’s superiors (“Come in 007”), but it marks a nice change from Moonraker when he wore a digital SEIKO with all of his suits.
Go Big or Go Home
Other than the SEIKO, which really doesn’t count since it just has a messaging device that causes Bond to promptly discard it, gadgets are very few and far between in For Your Eyes Only. Very much the spiritual successor to my all-time favorite, From Russia With Love, the film features only one major tool at Bond’s disposal. It won’t fit into his pocket, and it doesn’t save the world, but the “Identigraph” – a large computer in Q’s office – is basically an automated sketch artist that allows Q to input a person’s features to create an identical drawing used to identify a man known only by sight.
It’s a smart, practical device that one would expect to see in an MI6 lab, far more practical than an exploding watch, a cigarette case safe cracker, a wrist-dart gun (what if you’re wearing short sleeves), a miniature camera with your secret code number emblazoned on it, or any of the other stupid shit featured in Moonraker.
James Bond Lifestyle, in its infinite wisdom, identified the Identigraph itself as a Philips P430 computer with an integrated hard disk, a 12″ monitor, and a dot-matrix printer from which the photo of Locque is printed. Technology has changed plenty in the last thirty-odd years, but if you’re into a true recreation of Q’s lab, keep your eyes peeled for a P430.
Plus, the Identigraph indirectly leads to the finest moment in Moore’s era as Bond.* Though it happens much later in the film, Bond has finally cornered Locque on an Albanian cliff. A bullet from Bond’s PPK sent Locque – and his Mercedes – spinning until crashing onto the edge of the cliff. The car sits – teetering – as Locque nervously reaches for the door. Bond coldly struts over and tosses in a dove pin that Locque left at the murder scene of Bond’s Italian associate Ferrara. “You left this with Ferrara, I believe,” is all Bond says before delivering a swift kick to the side of Locque’s Benz, sending him helplessly falling down the cliff to his death.
It’s Moore’s coldest moment in the series, and one that he himself – a proponent of the more family-friendly Bond – did not like. However, he plays it masterfully as any man avenging murder should.
* If you’re wondering how this scene leads to the car-kicking scene an hour later, realize that Bond couldn’t have named Locque in the first place without using the Identigraph!
How to Get the Look
Make a few bold moves the next time you’ve got a meeting at the office. Keep the white shirt in the closet and go for the cream. Don’t be afraid to match your tie to your suit. At best, everyone will think you look like James Bond and you’ll live an adventurous life of free cocktails and beautiful women. (At worst, you’ll get hit by a bus and cling to painful life for weeks before someone decides to cut the lifeline. But that could happen whether you’re dressed like Bond or not, so let’s hope for the best.)
- Gray flannel two-piece suit, tailored by Douglas Hayward, consisting of:
- Single-breasted jacket with notch lapels, low 2-button stance, welted breast pocket, flapped hip pockets, 3-button cuffs, and long double rear vents
- Flat front medium-rise trousers with belt loops, frogmouth pockets, jetted rear pockets, and plain-hemmed bottoms
- Cream poplin shirt with large spread collar, front placket, 2-button mitred cuffs, and darted rear
- Gray grenadine tie
- Black leather belt with brass buckle
- Black leather apron-front strapped loafers
- SEIKO H357-5040/WHV-005 duo-display alarm chronograph with black square face and stainless bracelet
Do Yourself a Favor and…
Check out the movie.
Stinging in the rain?
Matt Spaiser’s stunningly detailed and well-written breakdown of this suit is featured on his blog, The Suits of James Bond.
This suit has the same vibe the suit Vincent of Collateral wore – nice but unremarkable. Except for cream shirt, which I personally loathe, for, in my humble opinion, they almost never look stylish or dressy – more like old and yellowing white ones. Like Don Draper’s shirt looked like at the end of his drug-induced work marathon in “The Crash”.
I understand the point you’re making with the cream shirt, especially when placed in a Mad Men context! However, I do think that it’s a nice choice for this scene, offsetting the formality and working with Moore’s warm complexion.
Wonderful write-up on my favourite of the Moore Bonds. I loved that film when I saw it back in ’81. Got two versions of the poster (such long, long legs), the soundtrack (on vinyl), and it still remains one of my favourites. Even Bill Conti’s dreadful score hasn’t dampened my enthusiasm for this film. Although, that awful song halfway through (during the pool scene, just before the Citroen 2CV car chase) always took a little of the shine off this film.
Did the digital-analogue watch also take a little shine off the film for you? I remember from a previous comment you’re not a fan of that type of watch, hehe.
In their effort to keep Bond on the cutting edge, they put a digital watch on 007’s wrist for most of Moore’s tenure as Bond. But they didn’t dress him in off-the-rack suits, did they? I have no problem with Seiko wristwatches (I have three, one of them cost me forty bucks), but Bond should always have had a mechanical watch.
You mention that it may not be optimal to match the suit and tie for lighter colours. So, what is ideal; dark suit and light tie or light suit and dark tie? In general for any colour, should the suit be darker or lighter?
It’s nice to know that I’m not the only one who holds “From Russia With Love” in higher regard than Goldfinger (which is still an excellent film). The scene on the train with Red Grant is the standout sequence. It is amazing how unbearably tense it is without music; just the noise of the train and dialogue delivered perfectly. Unfortunately, the younger generation (read: a my generation) seem not to appreciate this. I watched From Russia With Love with some of my friends and one of them said something like “this is taking its time ” or a similar sentiment. What is the world coming to?
Finally, what do you think of You Only Live Twice? It’s one of my favourite Bonds along with From Russia With Love and Casino Royale. I know it’s considered over-the-top etc but the feel of the movie, the music, the title song and 1960s Japan evoke such feelings of nostalgia and good, innocent times. For me, sometimes the feel of a movie elevates it regardless of its flaws. Do you find this to be the case, sometimes, if at all?
Mohammed, good question! I think that – not to be overly diplomatic – both can work. Even Sean Connery makes them both work, wearing a lighter blue tie with a darker blue suit in FRWL then reversing this with a darker blue tie and lighter navy suit in YOLT. My personal preference is probably to go with a darker tie in this case.
You Only Live Twice, I apologize to say, is one of my least favorite of the early Bond flicks. I most enjoy the first half, but I think I’ve seen the volcano lair and endless uniformed henchmen parodied too much to appreciate it anymore. I do love the music, though, especially the title song (which received nice re-exposure at the closure of Mad Men’s fifth season), and both the urban and rural views of 1960s Japan are enjoyable. I use a term like “least favorite”, but I would still give it a B or B-. In addition to the over-the-top ending, I also feel Connery phoned in his performance a little more than usual as I know he was getting tired of the role. Still – I respect your opinion of the film and will try to make a post about it soon!
Ah, thanks for the info!
Re: YOLT; I have to agree, the volcano part is my least favourite part of the film but still enjoyable, nonetheless.
I do want to write about YOLT eventually, especially the blue suit he wears in Osato’s office and the following chase. As I mentioned, this is another example of how to wear a suit and tie of “matching colors”. It’s also one of the most Fleming-esque looks in the whole series.
After re-watching some clips from YOLT, yes, that Osato suit is beautiful. One to add to my clothing list for the future.
I look forward to your coverage of this one.
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Weak suit. Weak movie.