Live and Let Die: Bond’s Beige Tropical Suit

Roger Moore as James Bond in Live and Let Die (1973). Promotional photo by Ian Vaughan.


Roger Moore as James Bond, British secret agent

“San Monique” (actually Jamaica), Spring 1973

Film: Live and Let Die
Release Date: June 27, 1973
Director: Guy Hamilton
Costume Designer: Julie Harris
Tailor: Cyril Castle


Released 50 years ago today, Live and Let Die officially began Roger Moore’s 12-year, seven-film tenure as James Bond. Eon Productions’ first attempt recast Sean Connery in the iconic role resulted in the excellent On Her Majesty’s Secret Service (1969), though some audiences—as well as George Lazenby himself—had trouble accepting the inexperienced Aussie as agent 007.

With credits like MaverickThe Saint, and The Persuaders! to his name, Roger Moore brought considerably more experience to the role when he was recruited after Connery’s brief return in Diamonds are Forever (1971). Eon learned from the Lazenby episode to reimagine Moore’s Bond as a totally separate “other fella” from his predecessor… which [initially] meant no tuxedo, no martinis, no Q, and no cool car.

Roger Moore as James Bond in Live and Let Die (1973)

Sure, he didn’t need another Aston Martin, but the Bond series may have swung a little too far in the opposing direction for 007’s transport of choice in Live and Let Die.

Then of course in Live and Let Die I took it to another extreme when I drove an AEC Regent RT-type double-decker bus. I remember that day well: it was 7 December 1972, on location in Montego Bay, Jamaica, and I had to drive it under a low bridge, sheering off the top deck. Maurice Patchett from London Transport’s Chiswick depot spent three months preparing for the stunt, including taking me on a crash course—forgive the pun—on the Chiswick skid pad. Maurice took over the driving as the bus headed for the bridge; the top deck had been carefully removed and replaced only on rollers, to ensure a relatively clean detachment as it hit precisely 30 mph

Maurice said that if the film game didn’t work out for me, I’d make a good London bus man. That would have pleased my mum, who still lived in hope I might one day get a proper job.

— Roger Moore, Bond on Bond

Adapted from Ian Fleming’s second novel set between Harlem and Jamaica, Live and Let Die capitalized on the blaxploitation cinematic trends of the early ’70s, as exemplified by movies like Shaft (1971), Black Caesar (1973), Cleopatra Jones (1973), Coffy (1973), and Foxy Brown (1974). The novel villain’s scheme to sell 17th century gold coins from Sir Henry Morgan’s buried treasure to finance Soviet spy operations was updated for the screen to a drug monopoly, with some of the novel’s unused elements later recycled for later Bond films, specifically For Your Eyes Only (1981) and Licence to Kill (1989).

“This all combined for an exciting plot in which Jimmy Bond tackled the drug barons head on, or at least Harlem drug lord Mr. Big, whose plan was to distribute the world’s largest cache of heroin, free of charge, on the open market. It would drive other drug cartels out of business, increase the number of addicts, and give Mr. Big and his alter ego, poppy-farming Dr. Kananga, a monopoly,” recalls Bond himself, Sir Roger Moore, in his memoir Bond on Bond.

What’d He Wear?

In their book From Tailors With Love, Peter Brooker and Matt Spaiser described the process that went into costuming Roger Moore as the new James Bond for Live and Let Die, including the collaboration of esteemed costume designer Julie Harris and Moore’s then-tailor Cyril Castle. “Julie Harris decided that Moore’s wardrobe of flashy clothes from previous projects would not have been suitable for Bond, so she went to Castle to more ‘conventional’ clothes made for him,” Brooker and Spaiser explained.

A notable costume-related moment of Live and Let Die appears as Moore’s Montecristo-smoking Bond glides onto Mr. Big’s San Monique estate for his intended rendezvous with Solitaire (Jane Seymour). 007 initially wears a dark navy leisure suit and neckerchief, perhaps to provide a degree of covert camouflage against the night sky… though one might then question the logic of the hang-glider’s bright green wings. Upon reaching the ground, he rather inexplicably tears away the trousers and reverses his jacket to reveal a beige tropical-weight suit that better fits the warm climate.

Castle’s undercutter Stephen Kent relayed to the authors of From Tailors With Love that he first met Moore when the actor was discussing with Castle how to create the tear-away trousers for the navy leisure suit: “they agreed upon the use of Velcro, a relatively innovative product at the time, down the leg line.”

Other than being a fun, quintessentially Bond moment—recalling Sean Connery unzipping his nylon wetsuit to reveal a white dinner jacket and bow-tie in Goldfinger (1964)—I’d argue that there isn’t much purpose to this segment, as Bond could have easily found a happy medium (not the same kind of “happy medium” that Solitaire would be a few hours later)… not to forget that it’s sartorially insulting to suggest that the reverse of a four-button leisure suit jacket could resemble a tailored two-button lounge suit jacket. (The series would commit a similar sartorial error with Moore a decade later during the Octopussy pre-credits sequence.)

Roger Moore as James Bond in Live and Let Die (1973)

Bond must have realized that, even in 1973, leisure suits would not be ideal for seduction. Luckily, his magically reversible leisure-to-lounge jacket and tear-away trousers solves that problem!

I shouldn’t complain too much, as Moore’s briefly seen beige suit through the following sequence is one of my favorites of his tenure. The cloth is likely a tropical wool, perhaps blended with linen for an even lighter-weight construction. The suit was tailored by Cyril Castle, who maintained the basics of traditional English tailoring while also incorporating contemporary trends. In the early 1970s, the predominant fashion trend was flare, as Castle employed for Moore in his jacket cuffs and trouser bottoms. You can read more about the suit in expert detail in Matt Spaiser’s post for his blog Bond Suits.

The single-breasted two-button jacket has notch lapels, a welted breast pocket, flapped hip pockets that slant rearward, and single-button flared cuffs. The silhouette follows Castle’s then-usual profile for Moore, with straight and gently padded shoulders, roped at the sleeveheads, a full chest and suppressed waist shaped by front darts, and the double vents that we later hear Moore’s Bond specifically request from his on-screen tailor.

Roger Moore as James Bond in Live and Let Die (1973)

Bond takes dressing up for a date to a new level in Live and Let Die.

For his initial landing and seducing Solitaire, Bond dresses up the suit with a wide brown satin silk tie that he evidently discards before the pair make their escape from Mr. Big’s property.

Bond maintains the color palette established by his beige suit and brown tie by wearing a light brown-and-white bengal-striped cotton shirt. The shirt has a semi-spread two-button collar, front placket, and two-button barrel cuffs, rather than the cocktail cuffs found on many of his other shirts across Live and Let Die. The shirt’s distinguishing characteristics—specifically the placket—led Matt Spaiser to conclude that it is one of the few that Moore wears in Live and Let Die that was not made by his then-usual shirtmaker, Frank Foster.

Roger Moore and Roy Stewart in Live and Let Die (1973)

Note the two buttons under the right side of Bond’s collar as he chats topside with Quarrel Jr. (Roy Stewart).

The suit’s matching trousers are also cut and styled consistently with the other trousers Castle would tailor for Moore in Live and Let Die, aside from the three-button “Daks top” side-adjusters that would be replaced with belt loops in The Man with the Golden Gun. The trousers rise to Moore’s natural waist, with long darts (rather than pleats or a traditional flat front) over the hips. The waistband has an extended tab over the front, closing through a hidden hook-and-eye.

The two button-through jetted back pockets are conventional, but the usual front or side pockets are replaced with less conspicuous coin pockets set-in below the trouser waistband on each side of the front, resulting in what Brooker and Spaiser describe as “a sublime androgyny” without the pockets gaping open and disrupting the lines of his trousers as Moore moves. In keeping with Castle’s eye for contemporary trends, the plain-hemmed bottoms are flared.

Roger Moore as James Bond in Live and Let Die (1973)

Bond’s black leather tassel loafers were likely made by Gucci, as this was before Moore switched to Ferragamo leather on screen at the urging of his neighbor (who was related to the Ferragamo family) as he recalls in his memoir Bond on Bond.

The black shoes and matching black socks harmonized better with his navy leisure suit and provide a jarring contrast against the lighter beige suit; I would have recommended shoes with brown leather uppers, or even the dark russet crocodile loafers he would later wear when Mr. Big’s henchmen sentence him to serve as croc bait.

Roger Moore as James Bond in Live and Let Die (1973)

Roger Moore on the set of Live and Let Die. Photo sourced from

Though Live and Let Die sought to differentiate Roger Moore’s characterization of James Bond as much as possible from his predecessors, he continues wearing the same type of watch that had been established more than a decade earlier on Sean Connery’s wrist in Dr. No.

Moore’s stainless Rolex Submariner ref. 5513 diver doesn’t just tell time, however, as the unseen Q has equipped his watch with a rotating buzz-saw. The Submariner otherwise follows the expected design of the non-chronometer ref. 5513—introduced in 1962, the same year the world met the cinematic Bond—with its stainless 39mm case, black aluminum bezel and matching black dial, and stainless Oyster-style three-piece link bracelet. (For what it’s worth, the Connery-worn Rolex seen in Dr. No was the slightly older ref. 6538 Submariner.)

Roger Moore and Jane Seymour in Live and Let Die (1973)

This would be no time to activate the Rolex’s buzz-saw bezel, James.


Go Big or Go Home

The cards say we will be lovers.

Like its source novel, which was the subject of some controversial sensitivity updates earlier this year, the movie Live and Let Die includes several moments that haven’t aged so well in the half-century since its release, including one of the arguably cringier moments of the series—resulting not from an ill-attempted commentary on race relations but rather one of Mr. Bond’s more manipulative “seductions”. Whether a continuation of the late ’60s hippie counterculture or merely a reaction to trying to make sense of a post-Watergate, post-Vietnam world, astrology was having a cultural moment in the ’70s, and thus fit neatly into Live and Let Die with its voodoo themes and the inclusion of Mr. Big’s fortune-telling girlfriend, Solitaire, the OG astrology girlie.

Unfortunately, Bond uses a deck of tarot cards stacked with “The Lovers” to manipulate the vulnerable virgin Solitaire into tearfully sleeping with him… not a great moment for our protagonist, which he compounds by attempting to reassure her with:

Cheer up, darling. There’s to be a first time for everyone.

Live and Let Die (1973)

Not fair, James!

Whether you’re into tarot reading or just want to pad your collection of Bond-adjacent memorabilia, Bond Lifestyle identified the deck as the “Tarot of the Witches” cards designed by Fergus Hall. A set of the screen-used cards were auctioned by Christie’s in 2012 in conjunction with their “50 Years of James Bond” celebration, fetching £24,000.

You can occasionally find reissued versions of these decks on Amazon… and at much affordable prices than the deck used on screen!

How to Get the Look

Roger Moore as James Bond in Live and Let Die (1973). Photo sourced from

Bond’s beige suit, brown tie, and coordinated stripe shirt is one of my favorite looks to channel for the start of summer… as long as I swap out his curiously chosen black shoes for literally any other brown shoe, from penny loafers to suede brogues.

  • Beige lightweight tropical wool (or wool/linen blend) tailored suit:
    • Single-breasted 2-button jacket with notch lapels, welted breast pocket, slanted flapped hip pockets, flared 1-button cuffs, and double vents
    • Darted-front trousers with squared extended waistband with hidden double hook-and-eye closure, three-button “Daks top” side-adjusters, two front set-in coin pockets, two button-through back pockets, and flared plain-hemmed bottoms
  • White-and-brown bengal-striped cotton shirt with semi-spread collar, front placket, 2-button barrel cuffs
  • Brown satin silk tie
  • Black leather tassel loafers
  • Black cotton lisle socks
  • Rolex Submariner ref. 5513 stainless steel dive watch with black aluminum bezel and black dial on stainless Oyster-style link bracelet

Do Yourself a Favor and…

Check out the movie.

The Quote

There’s no sense in going off half-cocked.


  1. Teeritz

    Submariner 5513 bezel insert was aluminium. Yes, that’s how we spell it here in Oz. Rolex used aluminium inserts in their Subs and GMT Master II models until around 2010, when they introduced the six-digit references, which were equipped with ceramic bezel inserts.
    Moore isn’t my favourite Bond, but he’s the one I grew up with, so I’ll always have a soft-spot for him.

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