Q’s Glen Urquhart Check Suit in The Living Daylights

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Q has a long tradition of wearing glen check suits, starting with Desmond Llewelyn’s first appearance as Q in From Russia with Love. Most of the time the suits have a button three jacket, and the suits are often three-piece suits. The suit Q wears in his lab in The Living Daylights is very similar to the suit he wears in From Russia with Love in that it’s a three-piece black-and-white glen check suit with a button-three jacket, cut in a very classic and very English style.

This suit is a black-and-white Glen Urquhart check with a light blue overcheck. The suit jacket has natural shoulders with slightly roped sleeveheads, and it is cut with a little drape in the chest and a gently suppressed waist. The jacket’s natural shoulders go against the trend in the late 1980s for large, extended, padded shoulders, yet Q has very large shoulders himself and more than a little padding would look completely unnatural on him. His natural shoulder line is almost horizontal! The jacket has slanted flap pockets with a ticket pocket, but Q wears the flaps tucked in. However, in a continuity error sometimes the left pocket flap is untucked. Like most classic English tailoring in the 1980s, the suit jacket has double vents. The jacket is detailed with four buttons on the cuffs, and the suit’s buttons are black plastic.

The suit’s waistcoat has six buttons, and Q follows tradition by leaving the bottom button open. The suit trousers are full-cut without pleats or turn-ups. Non-pleated trousers were not very popular in the late 1980s and make Q look outdated to those who followed fashion trends at the time. It’s quite the opposite of what most people think today about trouser pleats, however, the full cut of Q’s trousers through the thigh would still make him look old-fashioned today. Q’s trousers don’t necessarily look outdated so much as they look sloppy.

Q-Glen-Urquhart-Check-Suit-The-Living-Daylights-Tie-2With the suit, Q wears a sky blue shirt with a spread collar, front placket and double cuffs. His regimental tie is black with a double gold stripe. The tie has a motif of silver Prince of Wales’s feathers badges. The Prince of Wales’s feathers is a symbol of Wales that consists of three ostrich feathers emerging from a coronet. The tie also has a motif of red and green roses. Though I don’t know exactly what this tie represents, I suspect it represents a Welsh regiment of the British Army, going by the badge and welsh actor Desmond Llewelyn’s service in the British Army during World War II. If anyone knows what this tie represents, please leave a comment below. Q also wears an identification tag pinned to his lapel.

Q-Glen-Urquhart-Check-Suit-The-Living-Daylights-3Q’s tobacco suede two-eyelet derbys are an interesting choice of footwear for a Glen Urquhart check suit worn in London. The English are known for wearing black shoes with their suits in town, so wearing light-coloured suede shoes with his suit is a dandyish, but stylish, choice. The contrast between the shoes and the suit is unfortunately accentuated by Q’s unstylish choice of black socks. Grey or coloured socks would be a better choice to link the shoes with the rest of the outfit. Q is not intended to be a fashionable or particularly stylish character, though he is well aware of the way he is dressed and there is always plenty of charm in his outfits.

Marnie: A Glen Check Suit Appropriate For Bond

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In honour of Sean Connery’s 84th birthday earlier this week, let’s look at a glen check suit he wears in Alfred Hitchcock’s Marnie that’s quite befitting for James Bond. The lightweight black and white glen check cloth is in a hopsack weave, and it’s very similar to the cloth of the glen check suit that Connery wears in Goldfinger. However, the two-and-two—or puppytooth—section of the glen check has a smaller repeat. The cloth is approximated in the diagram below.

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The button three suit jacket has narrow lapels that roll through the top button but not down to the middle button. The jacket is cut with a full chest, natural shoulders and roped sleeveheads, and it has no vent, three buttons on the cuffs and pockets with very narrow flaps. The buttons are grey horn, as opposed to the grey plastic buttons that are on Sean Connery’s worsted Anthony Sinclair suits for Bond. Not much of the trousers can be seen, but they most likely follow the other suit trousers in the film and have double forward pleats, turn-ups and button-tab side-adjusters.

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The white shirt—it looks cream, but I suspect that’s due to the way the film is treated because all of the colours have been warmed—has a spread collar, rounded single-button cuffs and a placket stitched close to the centre like on Frank Foster’s shirts. The narrow black repp tie—which isn’t as interesting as the textured dark grenadine ties Sean Connery often wears as Bond—anchors the overall light-coloured outfit by giving the outfit the necessary contrast to flatter Connery’s cool, high-contrast complexion. Because the tie is so narrow, it’s difficult to tell if the symmetrical knot he is using a Windsor or Half Windsor knot. Connery secures his tie with a tie bar that is mostly obscured by his jacket, slightly angled downward and placed about an inch below the jacket’s top button.

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The Man from U.N.C.L.E.: The Black and White Check Suit

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James Bond isn’t the only spy Ian Fleming created. Fleming also created Napoleon Solo, the main character in American television series The Man from U.N.C.L.E. played by Robert Vaughan. Though Solo, like Bond, is a well-dressed spy, his clothes have decidedly American characteristics. His suits are in an updated version of the classic American sack style, updated both for the 1960s and for a more international look. The second series episode of The Man from U.N.C.L.E. titled “Alexander the Greater Affair”, which was later turned into the feature film One Spy Too Many, features Napoleon Solo wearing a black and white glen check suit in a hopsack weave with a large repeat. The cloth is very similar to what James Bond’s three-piece checked suit in Goldfinger is made from, but this suit’s cloth is not as fine.

Click the image for a close-up of the glen check cloth and ribbed tie

Click the image for a close-up of the glen check cloth and ribbed tie

Like the classic American sack jacket, this suit’s jacket has no darts in the front. Instead, the jacket is shaped through the underarm dart and side seam. The shape of an English jacket is not possible without the front darts, but Solo’s jacket still has waist suppression and doesn’t look like a box. The lack of front darts has a clear benefit on this suit: it allows the large check to be uninterrupted on the front of the jacket. Solo’s jacket is updated from the ordinary sack with only two buttons on the front instead of three rolled to two, and the traditional natural shoulders are replaced with padded shoulders that have a slight concave—or pagoda—shape. The jacket has the popular 60s trends of narrow lapels and short, four-inch double vents. The jacket also follows the American tradition of two buttons spaced apart on the cuff, and it also has jetted hip pockets. Black buttons on the jacket match the black in the check but contrast with and complement the cloth as a whole.

The suit trousers follow the American tradition with a flat front, but the trousers are updated with a more tapered leg. The hems are finished without turn-ups, which goes against the traditional method of finishing sack suit trousers. Yes, the American tradition is for flat-front trousers with turn-ups. The lack of turn-ups of Solo’s trousers allows the hem to be slanted, which helps the narrow trouser opening cover more of the shoes.

Man-From-UNCLE-Check-Suit-3Solo’s cream shirt, which is likely pinpoint oxford, has a mismatch of styles. It mixes an informal button-down collar, which was a popular collar in the 1960s in America, with dressy double cuffs. Cary Grant was known to wear this incongruous combination, and it can be seen in Notorious. Solo’s narrow, solid black ribbed tie—which is in the spirit of James Bond’s dark textured ties—is tied in a four-in-hand knot. His shoes are black short ankle boots with elastic, similar to the boots Sean Connery wears in Goldfinger and Thunderball. A black leather belt holds up Solo’s trousers.

Apart from The Man from U.N.C.L.E.’s obvious similarities to the James Bond series, this episode has another connection to the Bond series. Teru Shimada, who would go on to play Mr. Osato in You Only Live Twice, plays the president of a small country who the villain of the story attempts to kill.

Remington Steele: The Brown Multi-Check Suit

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In honour of Pierce Brosnan’s 61st birthday we look at one of his many Remington Steele suits. By Remington Steele‘s third season, Pierce Brosnan had, for the most part, traded classic elegance for the fashions of the day. The majority of his suits by that time were low-buttoning double-breasted suits with large shoulders and full-cut trousers, but these suits actually flattered Brosnan’s skinny frame despite them looking very dated now. However, not all of Brosnan’s suits fit the fashionable mould. One of the few relatively classic suits that was still around on the show in 1985 is this dark, cool brown suit in a very subtle glen check, pictured here in the episode “Gourmet Steele”. There are multiple windowpanes over the glen plaid, which are difficult to make out the exact colours of due to the DVD quality. From what I can tell, there are windowpanes in red, tan and blue, but they are very faint. Multi-stripes and multi-windowpanes on top of a pattern like nailhead or herringbone were very popular in the 1980s, but they were usually understated like on Brosnan’s suit. The multiple windowpanes surely aren’t to everyone’s tastes, but on Brosnan’s suit they are done in a tasteful way. Take away two of the three windowpane colours and the suit immediately becomes more relevant to today’s fashions.

The suit is well-cut with high armholes to allow freedom of movement

The suit is cut with high armholes to allow freedom of movement

In brown with multiple windowpanes, this suit is more of a social suit than a traditional business suit. Since Steele is a private investigator he can wear more adventurous suits on the job than the average man can wear to work, but here he appropriately wears this suit to dinner at a fine restaurant. It’s not a particularly dressy suit, but Brosnan dresses it up for the evening with a white shirt, black shoes and understated accessories. The button two suit jacket is trim-cut with narrow, slightly-pagoda shoulders, roped sleeveheads, a clean chest and a closely nipped waist. It has flapped pockets, three buttons on the cuffs and deep double vents. The lapels have a steeper gorge (the lapel’s notch) than what is typical today, but it’s not too steep or too low. The button stance is in a classic, balanced position. The majority of the suits Brosnan was wearing at the time had a lower gorge and lower button stance, which looks very dated now. The trousers have double reverse pleats and a medium-wide straight leg, and they are worn with a belt.

Remington-Steele-Brown-Check-Suit-4Brosnan downplays the suit’s coloured windowpanes by wearing a white shirt and unassuming brown accessories. The white shirt has a moderate spread collar, placket and double cuffs. The tie has dark brown and medium brown stripes, which may or may not be the effect of a herringbone weave. The overflowing pocket handkerchief is also dark brown, and even the flamboyant way he wears the handkerchief doesn’t make it stand out. Brosnan could have chosen a blue shirt and red tie to make the windowpanes in the suit pop, but keeping everything toned down makes the outfit look more elegant. The predominantly monochromatic look is reminiscent of Connery’s brown suit and tie in Thunderball, though Connery’s outfit has a simple elegance that is absent from Brosnan’s.

Remington-Steele-Brown-Check-SuitThough brown shoes are typically the first choice with brown suits, Brosnan wears black cap-toe oxfords and a brass-buckled black belt with this suit. One could argue that brown leather would still go better with this suit, but because the suit is cool-toned the black leather doesn’t clash. The suit’s cool tone is flattering to Brosnan’s cool complexion, whilst most warmer and richer browns wouldn’t look so good on him. Connery’s brown suit in Thunderball similarly has a cool tone, and he too wears his brown suit with black shoes.

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

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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

Danger Man: A Fine Glen Plaid Suit

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

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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.

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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.

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