George Lazenby as James Bond, intrepid British secret agent
London, October 1969
Film: On Her Majesty’s Secret Service
Release Date: December 18, 1969
Director: Peter R. Hunt
Costume Designer: Marjory Cornelius
For the 007th of December, I’ll be focusing on a very holiday appropriate look from one of best-dressed (if not best-acted) Bonds, George Lazenby.
While this scene doesn’t exactly take place at Christmas, later scenes establish this film as “the Christmas Bond” and Lazenby’s attire when visiting M at Quarterdeck would be fine for a fashionable holiday outfit. Plus, the book On Her Majesty’s Secret Service features Bond sharing a Christmas dinner with M at the latter’s home.
(Since Bond receives two weeks leave sometime around September 15 and he’s still “on leave” when visiting M, this scene is likely set in late September or early October.)
What’d He Wear?
For very in-depth breakdowns of this blazer in the film, read Matt Spaiser’s analysis on his blog, The Suits of James Bond. Matt also wrote a great post comparing this to the double-breasted blazer that Roger Moore would later wear in The Man with the Golden Gun.
When Bond arrives at M’s house, both men are dressed less formally than a typical day at the office. M, who was in the middle of his butterfly analyses, is sporting a green smoking jacket and cravat; Bond, still on leave, wears a sharp navy double-breasted blazer and slacks.
Although Sean Connery had worn navy blazers before (in both Dr. No and Thunderball), this was the first appearance of a double-breasted blazer in the series.
The double-breasted blazer was very popular in the late 1930s and followed the cyclical nature of fashion by coming back en vogue in the late 1960s just in time for Lazenby to take over the Bond mantle. This “newer generation” of blazers adapted the classic look with then-contemporary elements like a higher-fastening front, slanted pockets, and slimmer lapels. Mad Men has also paid tribute to this resurgence in its more recent seasons with Roger Sterling (John Slattery) sporting a navy double-breasted blazer around the office.
Lazenby’s wool blazer in particular has a 6×3 front stance of silver-toned buttons with 3-button cuffs. It has natural shoulders, sharp peak lapels, and double rear vents. The welted breast pocket is left unembellished and the flapped hip pockets fall back on a slant, as does the right side ticket pocket. Edge stitching is present throughout on the pockets and lapels.
Bond wears a pair of light gray flannel flat front trousers that are styled like his other trousers in the film with button-tab side adjusters and slanted side pockets.
The blazer’s primary appearance, in M’s house, is paired with a light blue poplin shirt with a point collar, front placket, and 1-button rounded cuffs. According to Matt’s blog, this shirt was made by Frank Foster, who would continue to make shirts for James Bond well into the Roger Moore era. Lazenby pairs the blue blazer and shirt with a red knit tie, which adds an extra Christmassy punch to the outfit without the intrusiveness as a set of reindeer antlers.
A few earlier montage vignettes show Bond and Tracy exploring their love among the sights and scenery of Portugal. Bond escorts Tracy through a garden wearing this same blazer and slacks, now paired with a light pink shirt and navy blue knit tie, both similarly styled to the later shirt and tie.
Bond’s shoes are seen to be black in the film, but production photos reveal a pair of black leather plain-toe bluchers. The most appropriate sock given the trousers would be light gray, but that can only be speculated upon given the lack of information available to me in that department.
Bond definitely wears the same Rolex Submariner 5513 he wears throughout the film. This watch, an Oyster Perpetual, is stainless with a black dial and bezel as well as a stainless bracelet. Bond wears it in most scenes unless he is posing as Sir Hilary Bray; as Sir Hilary, he dons a Rolex Chronograph 6238.
Bond also wears an overcoat for his arrival that M’s manservant takes from him upon his entry. Like his blazer, this coat is navy blue with a 6×3-button double-breasted front. It has a large pea coat-style collar, slanted flapped pockets, single-button cuffs, and a long single vent. It is a car coat, which means exactly what it sounds like; it extends no further than the hip to make it comfortable and functional when behind the wheel of a car. The stylings of both the car coat and the blazer are very reflective of Bond’s naval background.
While I would love to impress everyone by saying such details could be discerned by only a quick distance shot in front of M’s house, Bond later wears the car coat with a dark navy flannel chalkstripe suit when visiting the College of Arms, and it receives much more screen time then.
When the cast of the new Bond film was introduced in October 1968, Lazenby appeared in a series of photographs posing with Diana Rigg. In these, he wore a dark double-breasted blazer and light flannel slacks. It’s possible that these were the same garments that he wore in the film, although some shots appear to show a 4×2 button jacket rather than the 6×3 one. Lazenby wears black socks in these photos, but that’s no indication that he wore black socks in the actual movie.
Go Big or Go Home
Chapters 19 through 21 of Ian Fleming’s 1963 book On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, the first Bond novel he completed after the film series had begun, features the only literary reference to Bond’s Christmas celebration. Granted, it’s a different celebration than usual given his recent escape from Piz Gloria, but it still offers some insight into Bond’s usual holiday traditions.
Before returning to London, Bond and Tracy share a breakfast of “plenty of scrambled eggs and coffee” at the Zurich airport. Overcome with love for Tracy (and perhaps some Christmas spirit), he thinks t himself, “I’m fed up with all these untidy, casual affairs that leave me with a bad conscience,” and declares:
Tracy, I love you. Will you marry me?
After she tearfully agrees, Bond boards Swissair Flight 110 and heads back to London. He spends most of the flight sleeping and having nightmares about his married future, waking himself up in a sweat to reassure himself that his impromptu proposal was a good decision. Once back in London, Bond finds a car waiting for him with his loyal secretary Mary Goodnight next to the driver. Here, Bond shares his belief that Christmas is no time for professional work, despite M’s insistence on “a skeleton staff in every Section, Christmas Day or not”. Bond tells her:
My God, Mary, this is a hell of a way to spend your Christmas! This is far beyond the line of duty. Anyway, get in the back and tell me why you’re not stirring the plum pudding or going to church or something.
Miss Goodnight shares a chuckle at Bond’s lack of knowledge of Christmas traditions, telling him:
You don’t seem to know much about Christmas. You make plum puddings at least two months before and let them sort of settle and mature. And church isn’t till eleven.
Although he’s familiar with the mostly-British tradition of plum pudding for Christmas, his ignorance of its preparation shows that Bond may not necessarily partake in it. Also, as he never shows much prayer even in moments of introspection, we can infer that Bond isn’t a church-going man, whether it’s Christmas or not. He may not necessarily be an atheist, but Fleming’s Bond certainly doesn’t give religion much time or thought.
Goodnight then instructs Bond to “go down to lunch with [M] at Quarterdeck.” After invigorating himself with black coffee – laced with “two jiggers of our best brandy” – Bond goes about his day. He arrives at M’s stately country home, Quarterdeck, described as a “small Regency manor-house on the edge of Windsor Forest.” When Bond is shown in by Hammond, M’s former Chief Petty Officer and now manservant, M is painting rather than examining butterflies. Still, the scene is similar to Bond’s arrival at M’s home in the film. M casually wishes Bond: “Happy Christmas and all that. Take a chair.” The two spend a few hours discussing Bond’s escape from Blofeld’s fortress before eating a late Christmas lunch a few minutes after 1:30 in the afternoon. M, like Bond, regards Christmas rather casually:
‘Fraid we’ve got to go through the turkey and plum pudding routine. Mrs. Hammond’s been brooding over her pots and pans for weeks. Damned sentimental rubbish.
And with that, the two MI6 men gather in M’s small dining room for a turkey and plum pudding dinner accompanied by “a small glass of very old Marsala and most of a bottle of very bad Algerian wine”. M refers to the latter as “Good old ‘Infuriator’. Staple drink for the fleet in the Mediterranean. Got real guts to it.” Mrs. Hammond had evidently placed “several cheap silver gewgaws” into it, with M biting into the miniature horseshoe and Bond finding the bachelor’s button, reminding him of his new betrothal. Lunch is followed by coffee and thin black cheroots in M’s study where the MI6 chief intrigues Bond with his tales of naval adventures until it is once again time for business.
NB: Do not serve crackers on your holiday table if you plan on serving the MI6 chief. He does not approve of crackers, even with company present.
How to Get the Look
Every man should (and probably does) own a navy blue blazer, but a double-breasted blazer is a nice way to set yourself apart from the crowd.
- Navy blue wool double-breasted blazer with peak lapels, 6×3 silver button front, welted breast pocket, slanted flapped hip pockets and ticket pocket, 3-button cuffs, and double rear vents
- Light gray flannel flat front trousers with slanted side pockets and button-tab side adjusters
- Light blue poplin shirt with point collar, front placket, 1-button rounded cuffs
- Red knit silk necktie
- Navy blue wool hip-length car coat with pea coat collar, 6×3-button double-breasted front, slanted flapped hip pockets, single-button cuffs, long single vent
- Black leather plain-toe bluchers
- Light gray dress socks
- Rolex Submariner 5513 Oyster Perpetual wristwatch with stainless steel case and bracelet, black dial and bezel
If you’d like a more mod look, channel Bond’s date attire by switching in a pale pink shirt and navy knit tie to match the jacket (as seen to the right).
Do Yourself a Favor and…
Buy the movie.
Unusually small for a Nymphalis polychloris.
More exciting James Bond news this month as the title, cast, and car of Spectre (aka Bond 24) was officially announced last week. What does everyone think of the new cast? I’m particularly excited to see Christoph Waltz as a cunning foe and Monica Bellucci as a stunning (and age-appropriate, though you’d never believe it to look at her!) vixen.