Smaller Glen Checks

The plain-weave glen check suit in From Russia with Love

The plain-weave glen check suit in From Russia with Love

As a follow up to the Glen Urquhart check article, this article looks at the common smaller variations of the glen check in a plain weave and a hopsack weave. The plain weave glen check is woven in a the simplest of weaves, in which the threads interlace alternately. Sean Connery wears this check in Dr. No and in Hagia Sophia in From Russia With Love. It’s usually the type of glen check found on warm-weather suits, since the simple plain weave is usually lighter in weight and more open than other weaves. The glen hopsack check is woven in a two-and-two hopsack weave, in which two adjacent warp yarns are interlaced with two interlaced filling yarns. Sean Connery’s famous three-piece suit in Goldfinger has this check as does his suit in Amsterdam in Diamonds Are Forever. This check can easily be found in the traditional black and white—like in Sean Connery’s suits—but also often in dark tone-on-tone colours for City business dress.

The plain-weave glen plaid as worn in From Russia with Love

The plain-weave glen plaid as worn in From Russia with Love

Whilst the Glen Urquhart check has sections of alternating yarns four light and four dark and sections of alternating yarns two light and two dark, the glen checks in both a plain weave and a hopsack weave have sections of alternating yarns two light and two dark and sections of alternating yarns one light and one dark. In the two weaves sometimes the resulting smaller patterns are the same and sometimes they are different. In both weaves the section of alternating yarn colours two and two in both directions creates a four-pointed star check. It somewhat resembles a miniature houndstooth check, and thus it is sometimes called a “puppytooth” check.

Opposite the two-and-two section is a section of yarns simply alternating one light and one dark in both directions. In the plain weave glen check this creates a hairline stripe, and the stripe is typically lengthwise. In the glen hopsack check it makes a pick-and-pick—or sharkskin—pattern. An all over pick-and-pick cloth is typically woven with similarly alternating light and dark yarns in both directions in a twill weave, but in a hopsack weave the visual effect is exactly the same.

The glen hopsack check as worn in Diamonds Are Forever

The glen hopsack check as worn in Diamonds Are Forever

The other sections of the cloth have alternating yarns two light and two dark in one direction interlacing with alternating yarns one light and one dark in the other direction. On the plain weave glen check it looks dark and light interlocking combs, but on the glen hopsack check this section looks like jagged stripes.

These glen checks are more discreet than the traditional larger Glen Urquhart check, making them great patterns for an stylish business suit in settings where a larger check can be too much of a statement. In the fine scale of the glen hopsack check that Sean Connery wears in Goldfinger and Diamonds Are Forever, the check is like a semi-solid and just slightly more informal than an all-over pick-and-pick.

Glen hopsack check suit trousers in Diamonds Are Forever

Glen hopsack check suit trousers in Diamonds Are Forever 

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.

Glen-Urquhart-Check-Suit

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.

Glen-Urquhart-Check-Houndstooth

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.

Glen-Urquhart-Check-Two-and-Two

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.

Glen-Urquhart-Check-Stripe

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

Danger Man: A Fine Glen Plaid Suit

Danger-Man-Glen-Plaid-Suit

The 1960′s spy television show Danger Man has a lot in common with the Bond films. Danger Man was produced by Lew Grade’s ITC Entertainment, which also produced Roger Moore’s series The Saint and The Persuaders. Many of the guest stars in Danger Man have also appeared in the Bond films, including Anthony Dawson, Eunice Gayson, Walter Gotell, Charles Grey, Geoffrey Keen, Burt Kwouk, Bernard Lee, Desmond Llewelyn, Zena Marshall, Lois Maxwell, George Pastell, Donald Pleasence, Shane Rimmer, Robert Shaw and Paul Stassino. But the common ground between the Bond films and Danger Man continues. Patrick McGoohan, the star of Danger Man, had the same tailor as Sean Connery did, Anthony Sinclair. I think this plaid suit could be one of the suits Anthony Sinclair made for McGoohan, but it has more drape than Connery’s suits do.

Danger-Man-Glen-Plaid-Suit-2

McGoohan’s suits have a similar cut to Sean Connery’s suits, with natural shoulders, roped sleeveheads, a draped chest and a gently suppressed waist. Since the show began in 1960 the lapels are a little wider than on Connery’s suits, but the shape of the lapels is similar to the shape of the lapels on the Dr. No suits. This glen plaid suit, seen in the two images about in its first appearance from the fifth episode title “The Lovers”, has a button two jacket with flap pockets, four buttons on the cuffs and a single vent. The fine plaid is similar to plaid in Goldfinger, but this one has an overcheck that I would guess is light blue. If the plaid suit is the same one I’ve seen in colour publicity stills, the plaid is the traditional black and white.

Danger-Man-Glen-Plaid-Suit-3

In subsequent appearances, McGoohan occasionally wears this suit with a matching waistcoat. This can be seen in the images above and below, taken from the episode “The Sisters”. “The Sisters” briefly features Anthony Dawson, who went on to play Professor Dent in Dr. No. The waistcoat has six buttons with five to button, and when McGoohan wears the waistcoat he leaves the suit jacket unbuttoned. The suit trousers have double forward pleats and turn-ups, just like Connery’s suit trousers have.

Danger-Man-Glen-Plaid-Suit-4

In both appearances featured here, McGoohan wears the suit with a dark satin tie, tied in a four-in-hand knot, and a white shirt with a spread collar and double cuffs. The shoes are light brown two-eyelet, split-toe derbies. The character John Drake is supposed to be American in the first series, which would explain such light-coloured shoes with a suit. They at least look very nice with the suit on black-and-white film. Connery’s black shoes were typical for an Englishman.

Warm-Weather Glen Plaid Suit

Fine-Glen-Plaid-Suit

Sean Connery’s second black and white plaid suit in From Russia With Love is almost identical to the glen plaid suit in Dr. No. The cloth is woven in a plain weave, making it better suited for warmer weather than the more traditional twill-weave Glen Urquhart check suit Connery wears earlier in From Russia With Love. The scale of the pattern on this suit isn’t as fine as the similar check in Dr. No, but all the details are the same except for pocket flaps being present on this suit. The button-two suit jacket has natural shoulders with roped sleeveheads, a draped chest and a nipped waist. It has double vents and four-button cuffs. The suit trousers have double forward pleats and turn ups.

Fine-Glen-Plaid-Suit-2

Connery’s pale blue shirt is from Turnbull & Asser and has a spread collar, front placket and two-button cocktail cuffs. He wears a navy grenadine tie, tied in a four-in-hand knot. He wears a white linen folded pocket handkerchief, black socks and black derby shoes. His hat is a brown felt trilby.

Fine-Glen-Plaid-Suit-3

The Skyfall Glen Plaid Suit

Skyfall-Glen-Urquhart-Suit

For Skyfall, costume designer Jany Temime chose classic cloths that respect James Bond’s sartorial history, even if the fashionable cut of the suits does not. One of these cloths is a glen plaid in mid grey and black. Connery’s Bond wore a number of glen plaid suits in his Bond films, usually in a finer pattern. This one is most similar to the classic black and white Glen Urquhart check Bond wore in From Russia With Love. Tom Ford calls this a Prince of Wales check, however the original Prince of Wales check was much larger design in rust-brown and white with a navy box of six ends around the four and four (large houndstooth) section. However, the term is very often used to refer to any check based on the Glen Urquhart check, and whether the usage is correct or not is up to you.

Skyfall-Glen-Plaid

The cut and style of this suit is exactly the same as the other Tom Ford suits in the film. The fit is skin-tight, with narrow, straight shoulders. The jacket buttons three and the narrow lapels roll at the top button, though the suit is so tight that the front pulls open at the top button. The flapped hip pockets are on a shallow slant, to hint at the classic English style but not to draw attention to it. The cuffs have three buttons and the last one is left open. There is a single vent at the rear, and the vent is cut with extra overlap as to prevent Bond’s rear from showing. The suit trousers have a flat front and are cut with a low rise and narrow leg. They have side adjusters and an extended waistband with hook closure.

Skyfall-Glen-Urquhart-Suit-2

Bond’s sky blue poplin shirt—also made by Tom Ford—has a soft tab collar, a placket down the front and double cuffs. A sky blue cotton handkerchief folded in the pocket matches the shirt. The tie is a square check in blue and alternating black and light grey. The black and light grey in the tie complement the black and grey in the suit. The shoes are the black Crockett & Jones Highbury model, a 3-eyelet derby with Dainite rubber studded soles. Dainite soles are not quite as elegant as the classic leather soles—and they can also feel very stiff in my experience—but they do provide Bond with the extra traction he needs. As far as rubber soles go on dress shoes, Dainite studded soles are amongst the best.

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

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

Q’s Introduction

Q Prince of Wales Suit

Skyfall is released today in the UK, and a new quartermaster is introduced. But let’s take a look back 49 years ago. From Russia With Love introduced Desmond Llyewlyn’s famous Q character, and he went on to appear in 16 more Bond films. He’s first seen in M’s office wearing a 3-piece Prince of Wales check suit and looking the best-dressed he ever was in the series. It’s his own suit—the budget didn’t allow for minor characters’ wardrobes—made in a Savile Row style and probably bespoke. The Prince of Wales check cloth is black and white with red lines framing the pattern. The jacket is a very traditional button three with padded shoulders, a full chest and a nipped waist. It has flapped pockets, three buttons on the cuffs and a single vent. Q wears the jacket unbuttoned except for in a close-up shot, a continuity error. When he has it buttoned, only the middle is fastened.

Q Prince of Wales Suit

The suit’s waistcoat has six buttons with five to button and the trousers have forward pleats. Q wears a cream shirt with a spread collar and a Brigade of Guards regimental tie with navy and maroon stripes.  DIrector of From Russia With Love, Terence Young, directed Llewelyn in a 1950 film called They Were Not Divided. Lewellyn played a Guards Officer and Young himself was a former Guards Officer. The tie is surely a nod to the film they did together 13 years earlier.

Q Prince of Wales Suit

Whilst Bond’s suit is influenced by 1960s fashions with its two buttons and narrow lapels, Q’s suit doesn’t belong to any era.

The Saint: Relevant to Skyfall?

Roger Moore Suit-The Helpful Pirate

As Roger Moore celebrates his 85th birthday today, we look at some very relevant tailoring from his past. A blue-grey, subtle Glen Urquhart check suit first featured in the fifth series episode of The Saint “The Helpful Pirate” has quite a few similarities to the suits Daniel Craig wears in Skyfall. The similarities are the obvious ones: three buttons down the front, very narrow lapels, a shorter jacket length (though Moore’s isn’t as short as Craig’s), a single vent and flat front trousers—Moore’s are actually darted, but it’s the same idea—with a tapered leg. This suit is unique in The Saint in that it’s the only one that stylistically bridges the more traditional suits from the first four series to the more rakish suits in the fifth and sixth series.

Roger Moore Suit-The Helpful Pirate

The overall cut is where 1966 and 2012 differ. Cyril Castle’s suit jacket for Moore has natural shoulders whilst Tom Ford’s suit jacket for Craig has slightly built-up shoulders. Moore’s jacket has a full, draped chest whilst Craig’s has a cleaner, close-fitting chest, but both have a lot of waist suppression. Moore’s trousers have a higher rise than Craig’s, and the legs are narrow but not skin-tight. Moore’s jacket has the added details of single-button gauntlet cuffs and a ticket pocket.

Roger Moore Suit-The Helpful Pirate

Moore wears the suit with an ecru shirt with a spread collar and double cuffs. A grenadine tie knotted four-in-hand makes a connection to the Bond films, though Moore’s is an aubergine purple, a colour Sean Connery never wore. Moore wears black slip-on shoes and ecru socks, unusually I suppose to match the shirt.

Roger Moore Suit-The Helpful Pirate

In another connection to Bond, Vladek Sheybal, who played SPECTRE agent Kronsteen in From Russia with Love, is featured in this episode.

The Blue Overcheck

OHMSS Prince Of Wales Suit

In On Her Majesty’s Secret Service George Lazenby takes the black and white Prince of Wales check suit that Sean Connery often wore and adds a blue overcheck. The black and white check pattern part is slightly off from a typical Glen Urquhart check. The overall large check is taller than it is wide, as it typically is, but the finer horizontal lines are emphasized. The cloth is most likely woven in an even twill like the standard Prince of Wales check is. One interesting thing that tailor Dimi Major does is he rotates the cloth 180 degrees on adjacent panels. This can be seen by looking at the horizontal stripe sections in the pattern. On the lapels a white stripe in on top, on the front body panels a black stripe is on top and on the sleeves a white stripe is on top again. Some tailors match their checks this way instead of the more logical way of matching them in all the same direction.

OHMSS Prince of Wales Check Cloth

The illustration below is the closest I can come up with to figuring out the atypical check pattern. Click the image to enlarge:

OHMSS-Glen-Urquhart-Check

The button two suit jacket has natural shoulders, a clean chest and a close cut overall, with a shorter jacket length. The cut is in line with the current fashions of then and now, though unlike today’s fashionable suits this suit does not look shrunken. The jacket is detailed with three button cuffs, steeply angled hacking pockets with a ticket pocket and double vents. The double vents are deep and have an outward flare. The suit’s buttons are made of dark grey horn. The trousers have a flat front and narrow legs. This suit is full of late 60′s English flare and is the most fashionable suit Lazenby wears in the film. It’s the most fashionable we’ll see Bond until Roger Moore gets settled in the role.

OHMSS Prince Of Wales Suit

The sky blue shirt made by Frank Foster picks up the blue windowpane in the suit. The shirt has a point collar and single-button barrel cuffs. The navy knitted tie has a soft, dull look with slight pilling that would suggest wool as opposed to the standard silk. The shoes are black.

OHMSS Prince of Wales Suit