Roger Moore as James Bond, British government agent
Udaipur, India, Spring 1983
Release Date: June 6, 1983
Director: John Glen
Costume Designer: Emma Porteous
Tailor: Douglas Hayward
WARNING! Spoilers ahead!
The 00-7th of June feels appropriate for celebrating Roger Moore’s penultimate James Bond adventure Octopussy, which premiered 40 years ago this week—June 6, 1983 in the United Kingdom, followed by its American premiere four days later.
As would result from a man dressed in keeping with the fashions of his era, Sir Roger’s sartorial legacy in the Bond franchise has included some divisive reference to him as the “leisure suit” Bond. While he did sport a few examples of leisure suits in his inaugural 007 film, Live and Let Die, he more frequently—and only when appropriate—wore more function-oriented safari suits and jackets. Bond Suits founder Matt Spaiser has written extensively about the contextual purpose that Moore’s safari-inspired clothing served in the Bond franchise, an effort that has hopefully reversed some of these negative attitudes.
Four years after he sported his first true safari suit in Moonraker, Octopussy reaffirmed Moore’s reputation as the safari-sporting Bond when he appropriately donned a khaki two-piece safari suit to escape from the Monsoon Palace. When his captor, the suave exiled Afghan prince Kamal Khan (Louis Jourdan), realizes Bond is gone, Khan changes out of his dinner suit into his own olive safari suit to track Bond through the Indian forest in a “most dangerous game”-style hunt, where agent 007 must contend with snakes, spiders, and tigers in addition to the rifle-toting Kamal Khan.
What’d He Wear?
Safari suits originated in the early 20th century to serve the purpose implied by their name: to be worn on safaris in the African bush. The style’s ongoing association with British colonialism emerged from its evolution from the light-colored, lightweight uniforms worn by European soldiers and officers serving in warm climates. The breathable comfort was embraced and adopted by sportsmen like Ernest Hemingway, who designed a “bush jacket” for Willis & Geiger Outfitters in 1936, a year after the term “safari suit” first appeared in an American newspaper, according to The Oxford English Dictionary.
Safari clothing was traditionally made of tropical fabrics like cotton, linen, or lighter-weight wool in shades of khaki ranging from beige and tan to brown and olive. These colors provided a degree of camouflage in desert or jungle conditions and were also consistent with military uniforms. Safari jackets featured military-inspired details such as epaulets (shoulder straps) and functional additions like ample pockets, occasionally accompanied by a waist belt to cinch the fit.
For decades, safari clothing was primarily worn for its intended purpose until it was introduced to the fashion mainstream by designers like Yves Saint Laurent in the late 1960s. This inspired a decade-long wave of safari-inspired fashion, seen on screen worn by everyone from James Bond to Bob Newhart.
The light khaki safari shirt-jacket and matching trousers seen in Octopussy represent the final time we see Moore’s Bond dressed in safari clothing, and it may be his definitive execution of a safari suit.
In his excellent analysis of the outfit at Bond Suits, Matt Spaiser confirms that “Moore’s London shirtmaker Frank Foster made the shirt-jacket of a plain-weave worsted wool suiting,” a durable cloth that would be comfortably light-wearing in the warm Indian climate without wrinkling like cotton or linen. In the book From Tailors With Love, Spaiser and Pete Brooker include Foster’s recollection that “It was a nice bush shirt, made from a nice cloth, a worsted cloth. It was a basket weave, sandy colour… A bush jacket like that could never be made in cotton.”
The shirt-jacket features a large shirt-style point collar and a front placket with four tan buttons running from Moore’s natural waist to mid-chest, leaving the top naturally open at the neck. The large tan plastic four-hole buttons on the placket match those on the single-button squared cuffs, epaulets, and pockets. There are four patch pockets, all box-pleated with pointed flaps that each close with a single button—the two chest pockets are smaller than the large hip pockets. The back of the shirt-jacket has a pointed Western yoke, and the two long side vents extend up to Moore’s waistline, aligned with the lowest button on the placket and the top of each hip pocket.
The matching trousers have a flat front with belt loops that go unused and are cut straight through the legs—as opposed to the flared cut on his safari trousers four years earlier in Moonraker—down to their plain-hemmed bottoms. I would have assumed that both pieces of the outfit were crafted by the same party, but the estimable Mr. Spaiser confirms on his blog that the trousers were made by Moore’s then-regular tailor Douglas Hayward.
The trousers don’t have back pockets, but they may have curved, frogmouth-style front pockets. It’s difficult to tell since the skirts of his untucked shirt-jacket cover them for most of their screen-time, aside from Bond’s dramatic escape through the forest.
By this point, Moore’s Bond was almost exclusively wearing Ferragamo shoes and belts, provided for the actor after his neighbor—married to Salvatore Ferragamo’s eldest son—was horrified to watch Moore wearing Gucci leather in his first two Bond films. Thus, the brown leather loafers that Bond incongruously wears with his safari suit are likely Ferragamo. These low-slung slip-on shoes are styled with an apron-toe and a swelled strap across each vamp.
Bond would be understandably unconcerned with fashionability while dressed solely to make his escape, but his beige ribbed socks handsomely continue the leg-line of his light khaki trousers into his shoes. The light-colored, lightweight socks would also keep his feet cooler and more comfortable than darker socks.
The venerable Q (Desmond Llewelyn) had earlier shown Bond how to use the “standard-issue radio directional finder” in his digital Seiko G757 Sports 100 watch to track down the Fabergé egg, leading 007 to discover Khan’s meeting with the renegade Soviet general Orlov (Steven Berkoff).
This quartz-powered watch has a stainless steel case inset by a black polyurethane mitred-corner “bezel”, shaped like an inverted horseshoe with four retaining screws and “SPORTS 100” printed across the top. The large octagonal LCD display under the crystal consists of an “analog” clock in the upper left corner while the monochromatic digital time display extends across the bottom, complete with day/date functionality. As listed in the upper right corner, the other functions include a timer, alarm, dual timer, and stopwatch. The stainless steel link bracelet closes through a black-finished butterfly-style clasp.
How to Remove a Leech
Bond’s Tarzan moment lands him in a pool of water that he quickly pulls himself out from, though not without a leech attaching itself to his chest… not far from where 007 had attached his own superfluous papilla nearly a decade earlier. Not one to panic, he coolly flicks his gold Dunhill lighter and burns the leech away.
While it looks cool on screen, experts have advised against burning off leeches as this could lead to infection. If you’re understandably unwilling to wait the 30-45 minutes for the leech to fall off naturally, Healthline advises the alternative method of gently pulling your skin under the leech until it’s taut, sliding a fingernail (or a flat foreign object like a credit card) under the leech’s mouth to separate it from your skin, and then flicking it away. Once the leech is far enough from your skin that it isn’t likely to reattach, clean the wound with rubbing alcohol and bandage it to stop the inevitable bleeding.
How to Get the Look
Look, if you don’t like safari suits, no one is forcing you to wear one. But, if you’re journeying through a warm jungle—possibly either hunting or being hunted—you may be glad you took a few safari-inspired style cues from the late, great Sir Roger Moore… though you may want to be a little more intentional about your footwear.
- Khaki plain-woven tropical worsted wool safari suit:
- Four-button shirt-jacket with large point collar, epaulets, front placket, four box-pleated patch pockets (with button-down pointed flaps), single-button cuffs, and long double vents
- Flat-front trousers with belt loops and plain-hemmed bottoms
- Brown leather apron-toe loafers
- Beige ribbed socks
- Seiko G757 Sports 100 stainless steel digital watch with LCD display, timer/alarm/stopwatch functions, and stainless link bracelet with black-finished butterfly-style clasp
Do Yourself a Favor and…
Check out the movie.