Breaking Down the Glen Urquhart Check

Glen-Urquhart-Check

The Glen Urquhart check is something we’ve seen a few times in the James Bond films. The true Glen Urquhart check is a black and white check in an even twill weave, and the closest example to this is the one Sean Connery wears in his second meeting with Kerim Bay in From Russia With Love. I’ll explain later how it differs from an authentic Glen Urquhart check. George Lazenby wears a variation on the Glen Urquhart check with a little extra white in the pattern and a blue overcheck in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, Pierce Brosnan wears a coloured variation in GoldenEye, and Daniel Craig wears a darker variation in Skyfall. On four occasions Sean Connery wears finer patterna similar to the Glen Urquhart check, at half the scale and woven in either a plain weave or a hopsack weave. These are for another article.

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Sean Connery wearing a Glen Urquhart check suit in From Russia With Love

The Glen Urquhart check is sometimes also called Glen Urquhart plaid, glen check or glen plaid. Glen check and glen plaid are good terms to use to describe all variations of the Glen Urquhart check, whether it’s a different colour or a different weave. Often the Glen Urquhart check is incorrectly called the “Prince of Wales” check. The authentic “Prince of Wales” check is actually in red-brown and white with navy separating the different sections of the check. Sometimes “Prince of Wales” is used to describe a glen check with any overcheck, which is like a windowpane over the plaid. Such an example would be George Lazenby’s modified glen plaid suit with a blue overcheck. Pierce Brosnan wears a suit made from a classic Glen Urquhart check with a red overcheck in many episodes of Remington Steele.

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The houndstooth section of the Glen Urquhart check

The Glen Urquhart check is made up of four sections. The largest section is a houndstooth check, and it’s made up of alternating four light yarns and four dark yarns in both the warp and the filling (weft). That means in both directions the yarns alternate four and four. George Lazenby’s glen plaid suit is darker horizontally than it is vertically, meaning whilst there are four light and four dark filling yarns, there are probably five light and three dark warp yarns.

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The two and two check section of the Glen Urquhart check

The section opposite the houndstooth section of the check is a two and two check, made up of alternating two light yarns and two dark yarns in both the warp and the filling. There is a subtle stripe effect in the two and two pattern, and depending on the layout of the pattern in relation to the twill weave the stripe can be in either direction. In the illustrations here the stripe is crosswise, but in From Russia With Love the stripe is lengthwise. In On Her Majesty’s Secret Service the stripe is crosswise, and tt’s also a more defined stripe because this section of the plaid is not actually a two and two. Whilst there are two light and two dark filling yarns, there are probably three light warp yarns and one dark warp yarn in George Lazenby’s plaid.

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The striped sections of the Glen Urquhart check

The other two sections have alternating four light yarns and four dark yarns in one direction with alternating two light yarns and two dark yarns in the other direction. This creates a stripe effect that leads from one houndstooth section to the next. On Sean Connery’s Glen Urquhart check in From Russia with Love, the houndstooth check eases into the striped section with a strip of three dark yarns. They are bordered with four white yarns on the houndstooth check side and two white yarns on the other, which starts the striped section. This strip of three black yarns means this is actually not a true Glen Urquhart check, but it’s a more symmetrical check and a creative variation. Daniel Craig’s glen plaid suit in Skyfall is actually the closest to an authentic Glen Urquhart check are far as the pattern goes, but being black and grey instead of black and white is where it differs.

There's no excuse for the jacket's collar standing away from the neck.

Daniel Craig wearing a glen plaid suit in Skyfall

Brogues

Church-Chetwynd

The Church’s Chetwynd brogue, the shoe Pierce Brosnan wears in GoldenEye. Brosnan’s shoe is a darker brown than this.

The full brogue is a versatile shoe that can be worn from casual wear to business wear. The full brogue is set apart from lesser brogues by the wing tip. It has perforations—called “broguing”—along every seam, a medallion on the toe and a heel counter. Though the classic full brogue is an oxford—a shoe with closed lacing, called a balmoral to the Americans—they can just as often be found in a derby—blucher to the Americans. There are even monk, boot and slip-on brogues. Pierce Brosnan wears the Chruch’s Chetwynd model, a full-brogue oxford, in brown. In GoldenEye he wears them with his double-breasted navy blazer and beige trousers, but he also dresses them down with a navy jumper and tan moleskin trousers. A pair of these was sold at Christies on 19 December 2007 for £1,080. A pair of black full-brogue oxfords in the Church’s Douglas model from The World is Not Enough was sold at Christie’s on 12 February 2001 for £1,528. The complex style of the full brogue works best with rustic, heavier clothes and less so with city business dress, but the latter can still be done. In Diamonds Are Forever, Sean Connery wears black full-brouge derby shoes with his black, light grey and navy pinstripe suits.

Diamonds-Are-Forever-Derby-Brogues

Sean Connery’s full-brogue derby shoes

Pierce Brosnan also wears a dressier variation called the semi-brogue in GoldenEye with his navy birdseye suit. The semi-brogue is the same as the as the full brogue with one big exception: it has a regular cap toe instead of a wing tip. Otherwise the shoe has broguing along all the seams, a heel counter and a toe medallion. This shoe is better for business suits than the full brogue, but the complex detailing on the shoes means they are still not ideal for dressier occasions. Brosnan’s semi-brogue oxford is the Church’s Diplomat model.

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The Church’s semi-brogue Diplomat model in GoldenEye

The simplest brogue is the quarter brogue, also called a punch-cap-toe. In Quantum of Solace, Daniel Craig wears the Church’s Philip quarter brogue oxfords with his suits. This shoe is almost as dressy as the stitched cap-toe oxford and can be worn in the most formal, and least formal, of suit-wearing occasions.

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Daniel Craig’s Church’s Philiip quarter-brogue oxfords in Quantum of Solace

There are other brogue styles that Bond does not wear. The austerity brogue is a wing-tip shoe without any perforations. There is also the longwing brogue, in which the wings extend around the entire shoe. The longwing, which is popular in American, has derby-style lacing and is the most casual of all brogues. Finally, I can’t leave out the ghillie brogue, which is mostly worn with Scottish highland dress and has no tongue.

Woman of Straw: The Blue Suit from Goldfinger

WOS-Blue-Suit

The cloth of Sean Connery’s blue suit in Q’s lab in Goldfinger is quite mysterious. It is a heavy weight, has a mottled colouring and has a woollen texture. That means it’s most likely tweed. We get another look at the same Anthony Sinclair suit in Woman of Straw, and in this film—the suit’s original appearance—the suit is a three-piece. There’s no question it’s the same suit. The cut is the same button two with natural shoulders and a draped chest. It has swelled edges, cloth-covered buttons and jetted pockets. The vents are still a mystery. The poor lighting in this film makes the vent style difficult to make out, but I believe I see double vents. See the enhanced screenshot below.

Click image to enlarge

The trousers have double forward pleats. The waistcoat is the same style as the waistcoats in Goldfinger: six buttons with five to button. Connery, however, fastens the bottom button, which is meant to be left open. This disrupts the otherwise clean lines of the waistcoat. The covered buttons down the waistcoat make a big impact, since without the waistcoat the covered buttons almost go unnoticed. Covered buttons aren’t ordinarily seen outside of formalwear, but they were popular in the 1960s on lounge suits as well. The Avengers’ John Steed also wore suits with covered buttons.

WOS-Blue-Suit-2

This is a town and country suit, meaning it can effectively transition between relaxed country wear and business. The cloth has a country texture in a city colour, and the jetted pockets are a more formal city touch. Even though this suit is appropriate in both the city and country, it fits in better here than it does in Q’s lab. The houndstooth suit that Bond wears in M’s office also seems more appropriate in this film.

Connery wears this suit a few times throughout Women of Straw. Early in the film he wears a solid light blue tie, tied in a four-in-hand knot just like he does in Goldfinger. The white or off-white shirt has a moderate spread collar, a placket and double cuffs. Later in the film he wears a solid black tie, also tied in a four-in-hand knot, and the white or off-white shirt has a wider spread collar like in Goldfinger. He wears a white pocket handkerchief with both outfits.

WOS-Blue-Suit-4

All Blue

FRWL-Navy-Suit

No, I’m not talking about the Miles Davis tune “All Blues.” Usually when Sean Connery wears a blue suit in the Bond films, everything else he wears is blue. Well, everything but the black shoes and white pocket handkerchief. The first time we see the monochrome blue outfit is in M’s office in From Russia With Love (above). He wears a solid navy suit with a matching solid navy tie and light blue shirt. A light blue shirt is very important since it provides contrast from all the dark blue in the suit and tie. Though both the suit and tie are navy, the tie is a little lighter than the suit. To some, this mismatch is not desirable, and it’s practically unavoidable when pairing two items that are very close in colour. Those people would say to avoid wearing things close in colour to avoid the mismatch. But it’s an integral part of the classic Bond look.

Dark-Blue-Suit-2

Once again in You Only Live Twice (above) we see the same all blue outfit. This time the suit and tie are reversed: the suit is light navy and the tie is dark navy tie. Do you think it’s better for the tie to be slightly lighter or slightly darker than the suit? Ideally, it’s best to get them as close as possible, in not only the value (lightness or darkness of a colour) but also the hue (gradation of colour). A warm blue tie will not go well with a cool blue suit, even if they are similar in value. Connery brings back the all-blue look in Diamonds Are Forever (below), this time with blue pinstripes added. This time is Connery’s closest suit and tie match, and the tie is only a little lighter. I also can’t leave out the navy grenadine ties that Connery wears with his navy blazers—to which he always gets a close match with the tie—but with grey trousers there’s no longer a monochrome look.

Navy-Blue-Pinstripe-SuitRoger Moore starts out as Bond in Live and Let Die (below) wearing a blue suit, blue overcoat, blue shirt and blue tie (below). But does this outfit qualify as monochrome? Even though the tie is primarily navy, the red stripes technically disqualify this outfit from the all blue category, but for the purposes of pairing a blue tie with a blue suit, it’s all blue. The tie is the darkest navy of the outfit, followed by the overcoat and then the suit. They are all very similar.

Navy-ChesterfieldWe don’t see Bond wearing a blue monochrome outfit again until Daniel Craig becomes Bond. I’m not going to count the navy linen suit and light blue shirt worn in the black and white pre-title sequence, since the scene is black and white, and a large brown belt breaks up the blue. But the first suit in Quantum of Solace (below) is very similar to Connery’s pinstripe suit in Diamonds Are Forever. The suit is navy with light blue stripes, the shirt is pale blue and the tie is a pattern of mid blue and black squares. The blue and black of the tie combine to make it look navy overall. The tie does not to completely disqualify the outfit from being all blue, but it doesn’t have the 100% monochrome look of Connery’s classic outfits either. The patterned tie is much easier to pair with the suit than a solid navy tie is.

Quantum-Pinstripe-Suit

The navy-on-navy look is something Bond has inspired many to copy, but it’s not easy to get right. And whether Bond gets it right or not is up to you. If you attempt this look, it helps to have multiple solid navy ties in your collection and good lighting to figure out which one works best with the outfit.

Darted Trousers

Darts on the front of Roger Moore's trousers, in-line with the crease

Darts on the front of Roger Moore’s Cyril Castle trousers in The Man with the Golden Gun, in-line with the crease. Click the image for a closer look.

The one style of trousers that people never talk about is the darted front. We always hear about pleats versus no pleats, but darts are left out. A dart is essentially a pleat that is sewn shut, but it’s not very noticeable. All trousers have darts in the rear, one or two on each side over the pocket—or over where the pocket would be if there is none. For medium to high rise trousers, a dart in the front is better than a plain front so the trousers can better curve over the hips. Only high-end ready-to-wear brands and bespoke tailors seem to appreciate the effectiveness of darts in the front of trousers

Darts on the front side of Daniel Craig's Brioni trousers

Darts on the front side of Daniel Craig’s Brioni trousers in Casino Royale. Click the image for a closer look.

Trouser darts in front are not as deep as trouser pleats are, and there is only one on each side instead of two. Though darts don’t provide extra cloth for the trousers to expand when sitting like pleats do, they help curve the trousers over the hips. They also can help the problem of side pockets that flare out on flat front trousers. Some tailors place the dart where the main pleat would be on pleated trousers, and some place it less noticeably off to the side. I cannot say in which place the dart is more effective. Can you still call trousers with a dart in front “flat front”? Maybe. With a dart the front is no longer flat, it is curved.

Darts on the front side of Pierce Brosnan's trousers in Die Another Day. Click the image for a closer look.

Darts on the front side of Pierce Brosnan’s trousers in Die Another Day. Click the image for a closer look.

I have most certainly labelled some darted trousers as flat front because it’s difficult to see darts on screen. Now that I have the series on Blu-ray, I can better see those kinds of details. but not in every example. It appears that Lazenby’s dinner suit trousers have darts, but those are the only suit trousers we see without a jacket. All of Roger Moore’s Cyril Castle—the tailor who made Roger Moore’s suits in Live and Let Die and The Man with the Golden Gun—trousers have darts, which are in-line with the trouser crease. Castle gives Moore’s trousers very long front darts, which most likely help the fit at the expense of a clean look. Pierce Brosnan’s and Daniel Craig’s Brioni trousers that don’t have pleats have darts, and Brioni places them closer to the side pocket. Anthony Sinclair made his darts the same way for Sean Connery in Diamonds Are Forever.

Darts on the front side of Sean Connery's Anthony Sinclair trousers in Diamonds Are Forever. They are easier seen when wet. Click the image for a close look.

Darts on the front side of Sean Connery’s Anthony Sinclair trousers in Diamonds Are Forever. The darts are easier seen when wet. Click the image for a closer look.

Pleated Trousers

Connery-Trousers

Sean Connery wearing trousers with double forward pleats

Though pleated trousers may not be currently fashionable, every James Bond except Roger Moore has worn them. There are essentially two different kinds of the pleats, forward pleats and reverse pleats. Forward pleats fold in and reverse pleats fold out. Reverse pleats are the type of pleats that were most popular from the 1980s to the early 2000s. Forward pleats are associated with English style whilst reverse pleats are associated with Italian style. In America the popularity of each style was more evenly split in the 1930s-1950s, and again in the 1980s when pleats became popular again. By the 2000s, most makers switched to reverse pleats with only a handful left making the traditional forward pleats.

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Sean Connery wearing trousers with double forward pleats

Forward pleats are sometimes called “inverse pleats” or “tuc pleats” (at Paul Stuart), and I recently heard someone call them “straight pleats.” They are even sometimes called “regular pleats” even though they haven’t been the regular pleat style for some time now. Because they are the opposite of what became the standard pleat style, some people incorrectly call them reverse pleats. On forward-pleated trousers, the pattern for the trousers is extended from the crotch and inside of the leg twice the depth of the pleat, usually down to the knee. The added fullness is neatly kept to the inside of the leg. When there is a second pleat, the extra cloth is taken from the outer edge on the hips. Sean Connery wears double-forward-pleated trousers with all of his suits in the 1960s, during a time when pleats were becoming increasingly less popular. But Connery isn’t the only Bond to have worn forward pleats. George Lazenby’s tweed suit trousers have forward pleats, and some of Timothy Dalton’s suits in The Living Daylights have forward pleats.

Daniel Craig wearing trousers double reverse pleats Pierce Brosnan wearing trousers double reverse pleats

Daniel Craig wearing trousers with double reverse pleats

Reverse pleats are the standard pleats today, or at least they were a few years ago before pleats completely went out of fashion. Reverse pleats first appear on Bond in The Living Daylights. Pierce Brosnan’s suit trousers in GoldenEye and Tomorrow Never Dies all have reverse pleats, and the herringbone linen suit trousers in The World is Not Enough have them too. Daniel Craig’s dinner suit trousers in Casino Royale have double reverse pleats, which are the last pleated trousers that Bond wears. The extra cloth for reverse pleats is all taken from the outside of the leg. This gives the trousers a baggier look, which goes well with full-cut jackets. Though Bond’s pleats typically come in pairs, Timothy Dalton wears trousers with triple reverse pleats in Licence to Kill, and Pierce Brosnan wears trousers with triple reverse pleats with his blazer in GoldenEye. Whilst the second pleat on double-pleated trousers helps to keep the main pleat closed, a third pleat on the side only adds extra fullness. That fullness was very popular from the late 1980s to the mid 1990s, but in Dalton’s case it serves no practical purpose. When full-cut trousers were popular during that time, not only were triple-pleated trousers popular but other pleat styles were too. Some trousers had box pleats and inverted box pleats, usually with an additional reverse pleat towards the side.

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Timothy Dalton wearing trousers with double reverse pleats

The purpose of pleats is a practical one, both to allow the trousers to expand when seated and to better fit the curves of the hips. The second purpose doesn’t apply to the currently fashionable trousers that sit low on the hips. Forward pleats usually look trimmer than reverse pleats, though reverse pleats are easier to fit ready-to-wear. When forward pleats pull open, the crease no long hangs straight down. When reverse pleats pull open, the front crease is still straight down. Poorly-fitted trousers with reverse pleats thus look better than poorly-fitted trousers with forward pleats. But in my experience, well-fitting trousers with forward pleats are the most flattering. Forward pleats are more slimming because they draw the eye inward instead of outward.

Pierce wearing trousers double reverse pleats

Pierce Brosnan wearing trousers with double reverse pleats

Though trousers pleats are currently out of fashion, there’s no denying the advantages. The common aversion to pleats today is that people associate them with baggy trousers. But when well-fitted, trousers can be trim whilst at the same time having the practical advantage of pleats.

Suede Derby Shoes

Goldfinger-Suede-Shoe

The brown suede shoes that Sean Connery wears with his hacking jacket and cavalry twill trousers in Goldfinger and Thunderball are something people often ask me about. Thy are 2-eyelet derby shoes in what essentially looks like a short chukka. The soles are dark brown rubber. The suede uppers, rubber soles and thicker laces make these more casual—but also more versatile—shoes. They work well with informal country wear like in Bond’s case, but they could just as easily be at home with a pair of jeans. They have a slight edge of formality over chukka boots, which allows them to be dressed up a little more whilst at the same time they can still be relatively casual shoes.

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My best approximation of the style of this shoe.

Daniel Craig wears very similar shoes with his grey linen suit in Casino Royale.

Anatomy of a Frank Foster Shirt

Frank-Foster-Shirt

Frank Foster is mentioned a lot on here since he was Roger Moore’s shirtmaker for many years, and he also made shirts for Sean Connery, George Lazenby and others. He has played a larger role in the clothing of the Bond films more than any one other person has. I went to Frank Foster in July 2012 to order some bespoke shirts from him. So far I only have one—there are five more on the way—but it’s a beautiful shirt. The cloth is a blue and white hairline stripe. My shirt has many similarities to the ones he made for Roger Moore, but since it’s a bespoke shirt it’s make to complement my face and body.

Frank-Foster-Collar

The collar is a large spread, but not too wide. The points measure a long 3 1/8″, the back height measures 1 7/8″ and the collar band measures 1 3/8″ in front. There is 3/8″ of tie space and the collar points sit 5″ apart for a wider spread. The band is shaped with a concave curve in front of the collar leaves to prevent the band from showing above the tie knot. It’s especially smart to design the band like this when the collar is fairly tall in front, and it’s better for wearing with a tie than a 2-button collar. The collar has a lot of presence, but it’s not so large that it overwhelms the face. It’s the perfect size for my rather large head, but for a small man Foster makes a smaller collar. The collar is stitched 1/4″ from the edge, has removable collar stays, and has a non-fused but fairly stiff interlining. Though the interlining is stiff, it doesn’t feel like cardboard.

Frank-Foster-CuffMy first Frank Foster shirt has button-down cocktail cuffs. Despite getting button-down cocktail cuffs, they are not in the same style that Foster made for Roger Moore in The Persuaders. The shape of my cuff is similar to the cocktail cuffs Roger Moore wears in The Man with the Golden Gun and Moonraker, but the turned-back part is not angled out.  The buttonholes for the buttons that hold down the turned-back part point towards the middle of the curves, in the same direction that buttonholes on a button-down collar would point. The cocktail cuff is 6 1/2″ long unfolded, and it folds just short of the halfway point so the under part is sure not to be exposed. The cuffs use a slightly lighter non-fused interlining than what’s in the collar. They are firm but not stiff. Like the collar, the cuffs are stitched 1/4″ from the edge. The cuffs are attached to the sleeve with gathers, and the gauntlet has a button.

Frank-Foster-Back

Frank Foster’s placket is most easily measured in centimetres. It is 3 1/2 cm wide, which is roughly 1 3/8″. It is stitched 1 1/2 cm (which is a little more than 9/16″) from the edge, making the two lines of stitching only 1/2 cm apart. The placket has no interfacing, and because it is stitched so close to the centre the sides of the placket tend to flare out. The placket is, of course, made this way for that effect. The stitching at the sleeve attachment is 1/2″, which is close to the measurement of the placket stitching but not exact. There are seven buttons down the front of the shirt, not including the collar. Frank Foster uses some of the nicest mother-of-pearl buttons I’ve ever seen, and they have a little more shine and variegation than most have. The stitching and buttonholes are blue to match the shirt. The back of the shirt has a split yoke. There is a dart on either side of the lower back to fit the shirt to the curve of the back whilst giving fullness to the upper back. The hem has a slight curve, making it a little longer in front than at the sides, and little longer in the back than in the front. There are 4 1/2″ vents at the side. The shirt is folded over roughly 1 1/4″ at the bottom and at the vents to keep the hem neat.

Frank-Foster-Hem

The shirt is very English in its style, even though it has many differences from the equally English shirts made by Turnbull & Asser. Where the shirt differs from most English shirts is in the fit. Foster fits his shirts more closely than most English shirt makers by using back darts. Darts aren’t commonly used by English shirt makers except for an extreme drop on people like on Sean Connery.

Frank-Foster-Label