The Persuaders: A High-Buttoning Green Suit

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For his character Lord Brett Sinclair to wear in The Persuaders, Roger Moore designed some very unique and innovative pieces of tailoring that went beyond the fashion of the day. One of these pieces is a high-buttoning green suit tailored by Cyril Castle with an equestrian and military heritage, featured only in the 1971 episode “Take Seven”. Rather than try to be creative with an unflattering fit or awkward proportions, like most fashion designers have done over the past half century, this suit is creative through its unconventional colour, historical cut and unusual details. Though these elements altogether make this suit look like a piece of costume, it’s a fascinating study in creative tailoring.

The unusual colour of this suit can be described as rifle green, which comes from the uniform of rifle regiments. Rifle green is a statelier and richer colour than a lighter and warmer army green, but still it has a long military heritage. The suit’s medium-heavy cloth is woven in a herringbone weave and has wide but subtle rust-coloured stripes. Though Moore wears this suit in the heart of London, being green automatically labels this a country suit. At least Moore visits Hyde Park wearing this suit, where it harmoniously blends with the greenery. Anywhere, rifle green has the benefit of being one of the most flattering colours to Moore’s warm spring complexion.

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This suit is hanging onto the “New Edwardian” from the 1960s and has taken nothing from the trends that had emerged by the start of the 1970s. Rather than take on the flamboyance of the 1970s, this suit has a flamboyance all of its own. The lapels are a balanced width and wider than lapels on a 1960s suit would have been. Though it’s inspirations are clear, this suit is ultimately too peculiar to look dated to any time. The suit jacket takes its high buttoning from the Edwardian era, when lounge coats usually had three or four buttons down the front in a higher stance than in more modern times. This button three suit jacket places the bottom button just below the natural waist, and the foreparts are cut away below that button. Because the foreparts are only cutaway below the high bottom button, and because the bottom button is up near the waist, all three buttons can be fastened. One a typical button three jacket, the middle button is near the waist and the bottom button is on a cutaway portion of the jacket so it not designed to fasten. Fastening the bottom button on an ordinary button three jacket (or button two jacket, for that matter) pulls the jacket out of shape and restricts the legs. The cut of this jacket has much in common with the button two “paddock” style jackets that the Duke of Windsor was known for wearing, where either both buttons or only the bottom button would be fastened.

Moore’s suit jacket is almost like a short version of the high-buttoning Edwardian morning coat—a garment that was originally designed for riding a horse—and the cutaway in the front of this jacket would spread apart nicely on horseback. If the colour of this suit didn’t already place it in the country, the equestrian cut would. The structure follows the traditional British equestrian and military cut. The jacket has straight shoulders, a clean and full chest for a strong polished-marble look, a nipped waist and a flared skirt. This cut has a sporty look, but the structure gives it a rather formal and martial look too.

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This jacket also has many sporty and equestrian details, such as swelled edges, steeply slanted hacking pockets and a flapped breast pocket, which is slanted down towards the side of the jacket instead of up towards the shoulder. The jacket’s most important equestrian detail is the long single vent, which balances the cutaway in front. This is Moore’s second jacket in The Persuaders, and in any of his appearances, with the flared link-button cuffs he would go on to wear on his jackets throughout his first two James Bond films. This detail was supposedly his idea that he pitched to tailor Cyril Castle. The jacket’s buttons are smoke mother of pearl, which give a more urbane look to this country suit. The excellent fit gives credence to this unusual suit, though the sleeves are noticeably an inch too short.

The suit trousers, cut by Cyril Castle’s and Anthony Sinclair’s apprentice Richard W. Paine, have jetted cross pocket on the front, and a dart centred on either side of the front cuts through each front pocket. The trousers have narrow straight legs, an elegant look from later 1960s fashion.

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This suit’s fancy details and unusual equestrian cut are reminiscent of and in the spirit of suits that Patrick Macnee’s character John Steed in The Avengers wore. Some of his high-buttoning Pierre Cardin suits in the first colour series were very similar in style, and a navy high button two suit made by Hammond & Boyle from the same series came close as well. It’s certainly not the kind of suit James Bond would wear, and it’s not the kind of suit the the average man could wear either. The suit’s jacket would work as a fancy riding jacket, but few people need that. It’s too structured and buttoned-up to work as a casual piece today, but even in navy it would also be too unusual to work as a dressy suit, neither for business nor for social use. Though few people would have use for anything like this suit, there’s much to be learned from and admired about this distinctive piece.

With this suit, Moore wears a pale yellow shirt made by Frank Foster that has a spread collar and button-down cocktail cuffs that fasten with a single button. The jacket’s too-short sleeves show off the shirt’s special cuffs. The tie has wide dark blue and dark green stripes and is tied in a four-in-hand knot. This is the Inns of Court Officers Training Corps regimental tie, and the tie signifies that former army officer Lord Brett Sinclair was a part of this regiment. Moore’s shoes are black calf monk shoes with a square apron toe. He wears black socks to match his shoes.

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In later episodes of The Persuaders “The Old, the New & the Deadly” and “Read & Destroy”, Roger Moore wears an almost identical suit in a much lighter and more olive shade of green.

The Persuaders: A More Conservative Charcoal Three-Piece Suit

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Though Roger Moore often dresses flamboyantly as Lord Brett Sinclair in his early 1970s television show The Persuaders, not all of his clothes are entirely adventurous or fashion-forward. One of Moore’s more conservative pieces of clothing in The Persuaders is a charcoal track-stripe three-piece suit, which he wears in eight episodes. The track stripes are pairs of white or light grey pinstripes, spaced close together. Roger Moore designed his clothes for The Persuaders, and for this one he kept the cloth more conservative. Cyril Castle, Moore’s tailor for The Saint and his first two James Bond films, made the suit.

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This cut of this suit is similar to Roger Moore’s suits in The Saint, but the jacket has been updated from the 1960s with wider, more balanced lapels and a higher button stance that gives the suit jacket a timeless look. The jacket has a very British cut with softly padded shoulders, a full chest and a nipped waist. The front buttons three with a medium low stance that has a balanced and flattering look on Roger Moore’s figure. The jacket is detailed with three buttons on the cuffs, slanted pockets and a single vent.

The suit’s waistcoat has six buttons with five to button. The bottom of the front edge starts to curve away above the bottom button, thus the bottom button and buttonhole do not line up. The waistcoat also has notched lapels and two welt pockets.

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Moore wears a gold chain from one waistcoat pocket to the other. This should mean that Moore has a pocket watch in one waistcoat pocket and a fob in the other, but Moore is wearing a gold wristwatch. Either Moore has both a wristwatch and a pocket watch, or the waistcoat’s chain is purely decorative.

The suit’s trousers are made by Cyril Castle’s trouser maker at the time, Richard Paine. They have jetted cross pocket on the front, and a dart centred on the front of each side cuts through the pocket. There is a button-through pocket on either side in the back. The trousers have a narrow straight leg, following 1960s fashion. Though Moore often dresses flamboyantly in The Persuaders, he wouldn’t adopt the flared looks that became popular in the late 60s until Live and Let Die. The trousers also have belt loops, but Moore doesn’t wear a belt, and the waistcoat keeps the belt loops covered. The trouser waist fits well enough that a belt is not needed.

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Moore’s lilac poplin shirt, made by Frank Foster, has a spread collar, a plain front and button-down cocktail cuffs that fasten with a single button. Lilac shirts are very versatile, and the colour flatters Moore’s warm complexion. The tie is navy with sets of wide cream, champagne and gold stripes, and it is tied in a four-in-hand knot. The shoes are black monk shoes with an apron front.

The Persuaders: The Tweed Norfolk Suit

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In the 1971 episode of The Persuaders titled “A Home of One’s Own”, Roger Moore wears an old-fashioned Norfolk suit. The brown herringbone tweed sporting suit is made up of a Norfolk jacket and matching tweed trousers. The tweed in a light brown and dark brown herringbone is a classic cloth for the country, whilst also flattering Moore’s warm complexion. Though elements of the Norfolk jacket were popular in 1970s fashion, Moore’s is a very traditional model apart from the late 1960’s trouser cut. For background on the Norfolk jacket, I refer to some of the best menswear writers:

Alan Flusser writes in Dressing the Man that the Norfolk jacket is “considered the first sport jacket.”

Riccardo Villarosa and Giuliano Angeli describe the Norfolk jacket in The Elegant Man as “one of the first garments created especially for sporting activities”. They write about the origins of the jackets name: “It appears as if its name derives from the fact that it was cut for some of the guests at the Duke of Nofolk’s hunting party”.

Bernhard Roetzel writes about the Norfolk jacket in Gentleman: A Timeless Guide to Fashion: “It was especially made for shooting, and was therefore a real ‘designer jacket’ in the sense of being designed for a particular purpose, according to the principle that ‘form follows function'”.

Roger Moore’s character Lord Brett Sinclair appropriately wears his norfolk suit in the English country, and it is practical at keeping him warm. However, he does not wear the Norfolk jacket for it’s intended hunting purposes.

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Cyril Castle made Roger Moore’s Norfolk suit jacket in the same cut as the other suits in The Persuaders, with straight shoulders on the natural shoulder line, roped sleeveheads and full, but clean chest. This jacket follows the traditional button four front of the Norfolk jacket, as opposed to the standard three buttons on a regular tweed jacket, and all four buttons are meant to fasten. Though Norfolk jackets most often have a straight front, it’s an acceptable variation for the quarters to the slightly cutaway and curved like on Moore’s jacket. Moore usually has all the buttons fastened on his Norfolk jacket, but sometimes the top or the bottom button is left open in a continuity error. Whilst traditionally the Norfolk jacket has a deep single vent to the belt, Moore’s has deep double vents. It is detailed with swelled edges and two buttons on the cuffs, and the jacket’s buttons are made of dark brown horn.

Though bellows pockets are the most traditional style of hip pocket on a Norfolk jacket, Moore’s jacket has the less sporting but equally casual style of flapped, rounded patch pockets. Compared to standard patch pockets, these have a little extra fullness sewn into bottom of the pocket to make it more useful if Moore wanted to use them.

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The Norfolk jacket ultimately has two defining features: the belt and the sewn-down braces. The belt buttons through the jacket’s middle button and secures to the right of it with another button. Traditionally the belt is removable, but on Moore’s jacket the belt is sewn down to the back and sides. The braces-like straps are attached from the top of the front hip pockets, up over the shoulder and down to the belt at the waist in the rear. According to Villarosa and Angeli in The Elegant Man, the stitched braces are “designed to support the weight of cartridges in the pockets”. Since the braces go over the chest, the Norfolk jacket does not take a breast pocket.

The suit trousers with the Norfolk jacket match the style of the other trousers in The Persuaders and are made by Cyril Castle’s trouser maker at the time, Richard Paine. They have a dart on each side of the front, and an offset jetted frogmouth pocket cuts through the dart. The trousers legs are tapered to the knee and straight from the knee down in the style popular in the late 1960s. Fashions had already moved to wider and flared legs by the time of this show.

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With the Norfolk suit, Moore wears a beige poplin shirt made by Frank Foster with a spread collar, a front placket and button-down one-button cocktail cuffs. He first wears the collar open with a yellow, gold and brown floral silk day cravat, which keeps the outfit looking casual whilst guarding his neck from the cold. Later in the afternoon for drinks and cards at a local Inn where he is staying, Moore switches the day cravat for a buttoned collar with a gold tie that has a faint self-stripe pattern. He ties it in a four-in-hand knot. His shoes are brown side-zip boots with a square toe.

Moore also wears this Norfolk suit in the episodes “Greensleeves” and “The Time and the Place”.

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The Persuaders: A Sporty Striped Suit

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Though Roger Moore wears the flashiest clothes of his career playing Lord Brett Sinclair in The Persuaders, the suits are also amongst the best-tailored and best proportioned of any of Moore’s suits. Cyril Castle, who made Moore’s suits for The Saint and for his first two Bond films, made the suits for The Persuaders. Castle experimented with fashion trends more than most Mayfair tailors did, but at the time The Persuaders was made in 1971 the narrow styles of the 60s were out and the wide styles of the 1970s hadn’t fully taken hold yet. The suits in The Persuaders instead get their flashiness from unconventional colours and patterns along with the occasional odd detail. Roger Moore himself is responsible for all the flashiness, and he is credited with designing Lord Sinclair’s clothes.

Persuaders-Cream-Stripe-Suit-3The episode of The Persuaders titled  “Nuisance Value” features a very unique striped double-breasted suit, and the cloth is what makes it most remarkable. It has a cream base with thick light brown stripes, and medium grey pinstripes are closely spaced in-between the light brown stripes. The medium grey pinstripes also border each light brown stripe. Though striped suits are ordinarily thought of as business suits, this isn’t a typical pinstripe, rope stripe or chalk stripe suit. These stripes unquestionably have a sportier look, and such a sporty suit is appropriate for the Lord Brett Sinclair character who wears suits for fun.

Persuaders-Cream-Stripe-Suit-2The suit jacket is cut in Cyril Castle’s usual double-breasted style. It has six buttons with two to button, and the jacket is cut with an extemely narrow wrap (the overlap in front). The narrow wrap makes the buttons very close together horizontally compared to their farther vertical distance to give the jacket more vertical lines and help slim the slightly heavyish Moore. The jacket has softly-padded shoulders, roped sleeveheads, a lot of fullness in the chest and a nipped waist. The peaked lapels are made in the Tautz style, in which the top edge of the lapel points horizontally rather than angles up. The lapels are on the wider side of classic width, and, as usual for Castle, there’s only a buttonhole in the left lapel. Double-breasted jackets traditionally have a buttonhole in each lapel since both sides of the jacket fasten. Like on the jackets that Moore wears in his first two Bond films, this suit jacket has flared link-button cuffs, slanted pockets and deep double vents. The buttons are smoked dark grey mother of pearl, which add some additional flash to the suit. The suit trousers have a dart on each side of the front, and an offset jetted frogmouth pocket cuts through the dart. The trousers legs are tapered to the knee and straight from the knee down. Moore wears the trousers with a belt.

Persuaders-Cream-Stripe-Suit-4Under the suit Moore wears a peach-coloured shirt from Frank Foster. It has a spread collar, placket and button-down cocktail cuffs that fasten around the wrist with a single button. Peach isn’t a traditional colour for formal shirts, but it’s similar to the classic ecru only a little darker and with a hint of pink. The champagne-coloured tie is a couple shades darker than the shirt, and it pulls out the light brown stripes in the suit. It is tied in a four-in-hand knot. When Moore opens his jacket we can see that the tie is too short and wider than the lapels, but since most of the tie is obscured inside the jacket—and the jacket should always be kept fastened—neither of the tie’s problems actually matter.

Persuaders-BootsMoore’s zip boots are even more fashionable than the colour of his shirt or the pattern of his suit. The boots’ light brown colour fits the Spanish setting and complements the warm colours in the rest of the outfit. The height of the boots is difficult to describe, since they are taller than ankle boots but shorter than mid-calf. They have a square toe and leather soles. Like most of Moore’s shoes, these zip boots are likely Italian-made. Zip boots are ordinarily too casual to wear with a suit, but the sporty nature of this suit makes zip boots almost appropriate.

Persuaders-Grey-Stripe-SuitThis cream, brown and grey-striped suit could easily be confused for another very similar suit that Moore wears in The Persuaders. In the same episode Moore wears another suit that is in the same pattern, but it has a light grey base with thick dark grey stripes instead of a cream base with light brown stripes. Like the cream-based suit, the grey-based suit also has medium grey pinstripes. Both suits have the same cut and same details, except the grey suit has a larger wrap than the cream suit has. Moore wears the all-grey suit with an open-collar black shirt, and a black silk day cravat is tied inside the collar but hangs outside the shirt. He also wears black slip-on shoes, which echo the black shirt and go well with the greys in the suit.

The Persuaders: The Cardigan-Blazer

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One of the most unique pieces of clothing that Roger Moore wears in The Persuaders is a cardigan that’s styled like a blazer. There are a number of different blazers in The Persuaders, and I’ve already written about the striped blazer. Though this piece is worn in seven episodes of the series, the example here is from the episode “Element of Risk”. Sometimes he wears it with a white polo neck, and other times he wears it with an open-neck shirt and day cravat. But here he dresses it up with a tie. Though it has elements of a blazer, it’s no more formal than the typical cardigan. The navy cardigan is a six-button double-breasted with two to button. It has a collar and notch lapels, short side vents, open patch pockets and three buttons on the cuffs. The buttons are brass, which is what gives this cardigan the blazer look. The length of the cardigan is longer than most cardigans, but it’s shorter than the length of a blazer, though similar to what’s popular today for a jacket.

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The mid-grey trousers are made at Cyril Castle by his trouser-maker at the time, Richard Paine. The trousers have a straight leg, plain bottoms, front darts and jetted pockets angled across the front. The lilac shirt is the usual style in the series, with a large, moderate spread collar, 1-button, button-down cocktail cuffs and a plain front. The purple tie has a double-rib weave. He also wears tall brown zip boots.

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Also with this outfit, Moore wears a cream-coloured cotton trench coat. Although it is a lighter colour than the traditional tan, it still is longer than knee-length with five rows of buttons to the collar. However, it is missing many of the traditional details, like the shoulder straps, the storm flap and the belt. Instead of a belt, the coat is fitted through the body.

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Almost Never Button the Bottom Button

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Sean Connery has both buttons on his dark grey suit fastened in Dr. No.

Sean Connery’s tailoring in his Bond films is often admired for its clean, simple lines and limited colour scheme. But wearing suits didn’t come naturally to Connery, and on four occasions he makes the mistake of buttoning the bottom button on his suit jackets. The first time is on the dark grey flannel suit in Dr. No, when wearing tailored clothing was still very new to him, and presumably director Terence Young did not catch the brief mistake. It happens a second time in Dr. No when both of the buttons on Bond’s blazer are fastened when he watches the Three Blind Mice’s hearse fall off the cliff. The third time is in From Russia with Love when Bond enters his hotel room in Istanbul and suddenly the bottom button on his grey silk suit is fastened, even though it was not when he entered the lift. This is not only a style error, it’s also a continuity error. The fourth time came in Diamonds Are Forever. On none of Connery’s suit jackets is the bottom button ever meant be fastened.

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Connery fastens the bottom button on his linen suit in Diamonds Are Forever.

It’s typically advised that only the top button on a button two jacket should be fastened. This is not just an arbitrary style tip but it follows how the suit jacket is cut. This is because the foreparts are curved away below the top button, and the lower button doesn’t meet up with the buttonhole. Thus, fastening the lower button causes the jacket to pull across the hips, and it makes a mess of the jacket as seen in the screen capture from Dr. No at the top. Closing the bottom button disrupts the clean lines Connery’s suits are known for having.

Why is a suit designed for the foreparts to be cutaway below the waist? Visually, this cutaway balances the open space above the waist and gives the jacket a dynamic and more flattering look. A jacket that buttons high—such as the button four jacket of an army uniform—does not need to be cutaway to look balanced, but modern button two and button three jackets look bottom-heavy if not cut away. The cutaway also makes one look taller from the front by extending the trouser line up above the bottom of the jacket. Practically, a jacket that closes over the hips restricts restricts movement when walking and makes it difficult to sit. The skirt of a jacket would need to be unflattering wide to be comfortable if fastened shut in front. This practical aspect of the modern lounge coat’s design has its origins from horseback riding. There are, however, some button two jackets designed to have both buttons fastened.

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On a paddock-cut button two jacket, both buttons are meant to fasten. The button stance is raised, usually placing the two buttons equidistant above and below the waist. Placing both buttons higher means that the bottom button can be fastened without restricting movement. The front on a paddock cut is only cutaway below the bottom button. President John F. Kennedy, British politician Anthony Eden and the Duke of Windsor are known for wearing this cut. In his later years, the Duke of Windsor only fastened the bottom button on his paddock-cut jackets for a longer lapel line. Roger Moore wears a couple button three jackets with a high button placement in The Persuaders that are similar to the paddock cut, but they have an additional button at the top.

Cyril Castle made Roger Moore's high button three suit in The Persuaders. It has a slanted, flapped breast pocket and flared link-button cuffs.

Cyril Castle made Roger Moore’s high button three suit in The Persuaders. It has a slanted, flapped breast pocket and flared link-button cuffs.

Button-Down Cocktail Cuff

Though never seen in the Bond films, both Sean Connery and Roger Moore wore Frank Foster’s shirts with his unique button-down cocktail cuffs. Moore wears the cuff throughout The Persuaders and Connery wears it in Never Say Never Again, for which Frank Foster and Turnbull & Asser both made shirts with this cuff. The earliest appearance of this cuff is in Vendetta for the Saint, the only time Roger Moore wears the cuff in The Saint. The cuff is worn with sports coats, suits and even black tie. Unlike the regular 2-button cocktail cuff, this cuff only fastens around the wrist with a single button and pivots on the button. Two small buttons hold down the rounded corners of the cuff like a button-down collar.

Like a button-down collar, the button-down cuff should have a gentle roll. Thus, the cuff needs to be made with a soft interlining and should never be pressed with a fold. Below is what the cuff looks like unbuttoned and unfolded:

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The Persuaders: The Striped Blazer

I’m not used to handling coins—they makes holes in one’s pockets. — Lord Brett Sinclair

In the last of Roger Moore’s many television programmes, The Persuaders!, Moore took an extra role in designing the wardrobe of his character Lord Brett Sinclair. Moore was, at the time, the director of cloth merchant Pearson + Foster, which made suitings for both him and Tony Curtis in The Persuaders!. As a result, Moore wore some of the most unique and interesting fabrics of his career at this time. These bold fabrics were quite appropriate for an English lord and playboy, though too over-the-top for James Bond. Moore’s tailor from The Saint, Cyril Castle, still tailored the clothing. The example here is a double-breasted blazer in a bold, original pattern of wide maroon and green stripes with dark brown/green pinstripes. The fabric is influenced by striped boating blazers, which are usually single-breasted with more contrast in the stripes. The images here are from the second episode, “The Gold Napoleon,” though Moore wore this blazer many times throughout the series in the South of France.

The blazer in the traditional button two, show three configuration has crested silver buttons. The wrap (front overlap) is narrower than the typical double-breasted jacket, and the top vestigial buttons are also placed in closer than what is typical. It is cut with soft shoulders, a clean chest, a nipped waist and a long, flared skirt with deep double vents. The blazer has single-button gauntlet cuffs (with a rounded turnback) and slanted pockets.

In “The Gold Napoleon,” Moore wears the blazer with golden beige wool trousers with plain bottoms and frogmouth pockets. The shirt by Frank Foster is made of a pale lavender poplin with a spread collar and button-down cocktail cuffs, which will be discussed in more detail at a later date. The tie is green leaves on a silver ground, tied in a four-in-hand knot. Moore match his trousers with beige socks and wears light brown slip-ons.