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

The Plaid Ski Jacket

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In On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, Bond finds a plaid wool ski jacket—or maybe it’s a ski lodge jacket—to wear over his blue ski suit. He wears it both for warmth and to hide from Irma Bunt and Blofeld’s henchmen. A bold plaid isn’t the ideal find for someone who is trying to keep unnoticed. Unlike the clothes Bond finds in Quantum of Solace, this jacket is not a perfect fit. It’s a size too large. The plaid wool is in black, white purple and orange. The jacket appears to have three grey leather-covered buttons on the front, from the top down to the waist. I would have guessed a coat like this would have a fourth button below the waist, but another button could limit movement when skiing since there isn’t a vent. There are also buttoned straps on the sleeves, slash pockets that are good for hand-warming, and a belt in the back. For additional warmth the jacket has a beige quilted lining.

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Equestrian Pursuits

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Bond’s second hacking jacket of the series is a bit more bold than the first one, but it’s just as traditional. Goldfinger features Bond’s first hacking jacket, a subtle barleycorn tweed. On Her Majesty’s Secret Service features Bond’s second hacking jacket, a bolder houndstooth tweed. But it’s a rather simple check, in black, brown and cream with a red overcheck. The jacket is made by Dimi Major, with lightly padded shoulders, a swelled chest, a nipped waist and a flared skirt. It’s a button three with one button on the cuffs and the hacking jacket features of slanted pockets and a deep single vent. Slanted pockets are easier to access on horseback whilst the deep vent helps the jacket to split in back over the horse.

Click the image for a close-up of the weave.

Click the image for a close-up of the weave.

Bond almost never fastens the top button on his button three jackets. On most of Bond’s button three jackets the lapels gently roll at the top button. Here, Lazenby interrupts the roll by fastening the top button. Dimi Major cuts his button three jackets to look great either with both to the top and middle buttons closed or just the middle button closed. Unlike ordinary sports coats, riding jackets are longer and have three buttons placed higher on the chest, with all three meant to fasten. Lazenby’s hacking jacket is cut like a typical sports coat, meaning the bottom button isn’t meant to fasten. Closing the top button puts this jacket more in the spirit of riding jackets. But fastening the top button is also necessary to hold in the day cravat.

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The beige shirt has a stock collar, which extends around to close at the left side of the neck instead of the front. It looks unbroken across the front and is meant to be worn with a stock tie or a day cravat, of which Bond wears the latter. Bond’s cravat is also beige and is worn with a pin. The beige jodhpurs—likely made of cavalry twill wool due to its elastic properties—are worn with a belt and fit into Bond’s tall, black riding boots. Since I’m not involved in the equestrian world, I cannot judge the appropriateness of the outfit. The only part of this outfit that may be worn outside of equestrian activity is the hacking jacket, and the rest of the outfit should be limited to equestrian pursuits.

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In A View to a Kill, Roger Moore wears another equestrian outfit, but with a conventional shirt and knitted tie.

George Lazenby in Anthony Sinclair

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The most well-known photos of George Lazenby as Bond come from a shoot of him leaning against a lamppost in front of the clock tower—now called the Elizabeth Tower—at the Palace of Westminster. This photo shoot took place at Lazenby’s casting, and he’s wearing what’s supposedly an Anthony Sinclair suit. Lazenby claimed to have gone to Sean Connery’s tailor, Anthony Sinclair, to look more like Connery for a better at the role. If the story is true than this is the Anthony Sinclair suit.

This suit has the same natural shoulders with roped sleeveheads as Sinclair’s suits. It has a full chest and gently suppressed waist, which also resembles Sinclair’s cut. Like the suits Connery wears as Bond, this suit has two buttons on the front and four buttons on the cuffs. The pockets are slanted with flaps. The suit trousers have a tapered leg and plain bottoms. The cloth is a large, but faint, plaid. The suit isn’t as rakish as Lazenby’s suits in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service are, but it certainly makes Lazenby look the part of Bond. The only problem with the suit is that the collar doesn’t hug the neck as it should, but that’s most likely due to the poses causing the suit to not sit evenly across the shoulders.

The shirt has a small spread collar with no tie space, and it definitely doesn’t resemble a shirt from Frank Foster, who made Lazenby’s shirts in On Her Majesty’s Secret Serivce. The double cuffs have the link holes close to the fold, a characteristic of English double cuffs. In the traditional Bond manner, Lazenby wears a dark knitted tie. His shoes are an elegant style of low-vamp slip-on, with the inner quarter extending as strap over the vamp like a monk shoe would.

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.

Anatomy of a Frank Foster Shirt

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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.

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The Navy Car Coat

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George Lazenby’s car coat in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service is a hybrid of different overcoat styles. It’s a navy three-quarter length, double-breasted coat with elements from the British Warm and the pea coat. Like a British Warm it has six buttons on the front with three to button and suit-like pockets. Like a pea coat it has a large collar and broad lapels, which allow the coat to button at the top. It has a deeper single vent than most overcoats, one button on the cuffs and slanted hacking pockets with flaps. The mix of styles on this coat works well together. Though Lazenby wears the coat in a city setting over a chalkstripe suit and, later, a navy blazer, the coat can also be worn almost as casually as a pea coat can be. Lazenby wears the coat with a navy trilby and black leather driving gloves.

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Lazenby’s Felt Hats

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“007 never had any respect for government property,” says Q in regards to Bond’s trilby, implying that he supplies Bond’s hats as well as his gadgets. Bond wears two felt trilby hats in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service. The black trilby in the opening scene is the same hat that Bond wears later at his wedding (above), and both of these scenes are in Portugal. The trilby has a narrow grosgrain ribbon and a C-crown with a front pinch.

Bond wears another trilby (below) with business wear in London. This one has a wide grosgrain ribbon and a taller, less tapered crown with a centre dent and front pinch. It’s very dark, but it’s probably navy. Both trilby hats have a narrow snap brim, and that’s what defines the trilby. Following 1960′s fashion trends the brims are extra short, but they suit Lazenby very well. Though Lazenby’s wardrobe is more fashionable and modern compared to Sean Connery’s rather traditional tailoring, he doesn’t forego the trilby the Connery has thus far worn or carried in all his Bond films.

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Here the brim is snapped up in front, but it’s down when he visits the College of Arms.