Sean Connery as James Bond, British government agent and legendary super spy
Istanbul, Turkey, Spring 1963
Film: From Russia With Love
Release Date: October 10, 1963
Director: Terence Young
Costume Designer: Jocelyn Rickards
Tailor: Anthony Sinclair
By this point in the film, Bond has spent one relatively non-eventful day and night in Istanbul. After a long day of traveling, he upgraded his room to the bridal suite (bad move, as we’ll eventually find out) and ostensibly got a fulfilling night of rest, even without a woman beside him.
The next morning, he wakes up and dons the second of the five excellent gray-tone suits he packed for Istanbul. When I first saw the film, likely on a low-quality VHS tape, I thought he wore two gray suits in Turkey – a light gray and a dark gray. Eventually, as I noticed the differing details and finally picked up the Blu-Ray (which you people have to thank for some of the more hi-res screencaps here), I noticed that these “two gray suits” were actually five very different suits. He even wears two different Glen Urquhart check suits!
The first of his Glen Urquhart check suits is worn here in a very minimalist fashion. A few days later, he pulls out his second one, which he outfits with several accessories.
What’d He Wear?
Bond briefly spends the second day of his investigations in Istanbul wearing a very sharp Glen Urquhart check suit, paired with his standard pale blue shirt and navy tie. For a brief refresher, the five suits worn by Bond in Istanbul are:
- A charcoal gray dupioni silk suit, as discussed a few months ago
- A black & white Glen Urquhart check twill weave suit, which you’ll read about here
- A charcoal flannel suit, worn at the gypsy camp
- A different and more lightweight black & white Glen check suit, worn while reconning with Tania, and
- A dark gray semi-solid suit, worn for the climatic sequence on the Orient Express
Glen Urquhart (or “Glen plaid”) is one of those materials that a lot of folks see and don’t know how to identify. It’s often associated with successful businessmen as the look evokes wealth, power, and confidence. This is, of course, when worn correctly. Like all fashions, tacky Glen plaid can just look tacky. (I was lucky enough once to find a vintage rusty-colored Glen plaid suit to use as a movie costume once, and it was very befitting for the character, a sleazy heroin dealer in the 1930s.)
The Glen check worn by Connery is very fashionable and classy. His suit here is a twill weave, slightly heavier than the plain weave Glen plaid suit he later wears on the Bosphorus.
At its heart, Glen Urquhart check is “a woolen fabric with a woven twill design of small and large checks” (Thanks, Wikipedia). Typically, it is black and white with muted colors providing a cross pattern of irregular checks of four light and four dark stripes intersecting.
Bond’s Glen Urquhart suit is cut much like the dupioni silk suit worn the day before, with natural shoulders and a full chest with drape. The jacket is single-breasted with the slim notch lapels rolling to the top button of the low 2-button stance. Also similar to the dupioni silk suit is the single rear vent, which is considerably longer than many single vents were during the decade.
Although they were all made by Anthony Sinclair in the “Conduit Cut” developed for Connery, all of the From Russia With Love suits differ in the details, whether this means different fabric or different vents. For example, Connery wears ventless (on the Orient Express), single-vented (in the office, at the airport, in Venice, and here), and double-vented (at the gypsy camp and meeting with Tania) suits. The fabrics vary with various weaves, silk, and flannel all making their way into the film.
Additional suit jacket details for this Glen Urquhart suit are 4-button cuffs, flapped hip pockets, and a narrowly welted breast pocket for Bond’s neatly-folded white linen handkerchief.
Connery’s trousers with this Glen Urquhart suit have double forward pleats, “Daks top”-style side adjusters, and plain-hemmed bottoms. This marks another variant in the suits, as the dupioni silk suit – as you may recall – had turn-ups. These trousers do, however, have a similarly short break over his shoes. Connery’s Bond preferred pleated trousers with his suits, but began wearing flat front trousers casually in Goldfinger, beginning with a pair of twill slacks with his hacking jacket.
The trousers break over a pair of the black leather 3-eyelet derbies that get plenty of use in From Russia With Love, paired with a set of dark, likely black or charcoal gray, dress socks.
Bond keeps his shirt and tie consistent, wearing a pale blue poplin Turnbull & Asser long-sleeve dress shirts with the unique and oft-desired 2-button turnback, or “cocktail”, cuff. The shirt buttons down a front placket and has a spread collar at the top, through which Bond wears a navy blue grenadine tie, worn with a tight four-in-hand knot. Grenadine is a woven material, with Bond’s ties specifically using a “garza grossa” leno weave.
Again, Bond appears to have abandoned his wristwatch, not wearing it until the next few sequences at the gypsy camp and the Russian embassy. Thus, Bond is totally accessory-free, wearing only his suit, shirt, and tie with his shoes, socks, and smirk. We don’t even see his trusty Walther PPK holstered under the jacket! As he is also free of his overcoat and hat, this is the most minimalist early Bond suit I’ve covered yet.
Go Big or Go Home
Bond really doesn’t have a whole lot to do in this sequence. He visits Kerim’s office, makes a wisecrack about the destruction, then follows Kerim down into the flooded catacombs to spy on the Russian consulate. He checks out his eventual bedmate through a periscope – which can be creepy or badass, depending on your perspective – then makes a plan to meet him at the gypsy camp for dinner.
For Bond, that’s “not a whole lot to do”; for me, that’s more activity than I get in a month. Either I need to get out more, or I need to make more friends who have periscopes and gyspy acquaintances.
How to Get the Look
This is no-frills Bond. No cuff links, no watch, no gun rig… just a great-looking suit.
- Black & white Glen Urquhart check twill weave suit, consisting of:
- Single-breasted suit jacket with a low 2-button stance, slim notch lapels, welted breast pocket, flapped hip pockets, 4-button cuffs, and a long single rear vent
- Double forward-pleated trousers with 3-button tab “Daks top” side adjusters, straight on-seam side pockets, button-through jetted right back pocket, and plain-hemmed bottoms
- Pale blue poplin long-sleeve Turnbull & Asser dress shirt with spread collar, front placket, and 2-button turnback/”cocktail” cuffs
- Navy blue grenadine woven silk necktie, worn with a four-in-hand knot
- Black leather 3-eyelet plain-toe derby shoes
- Black dress socks
Do Yourself a Favor and…
Check out the movie.
Found your technique too violent?
For fans of good writing and Bond’s suits, check out Matt Spaiser’s blog entry about this particular suit. If you haven’t read his blog – The Suits of James Bond – I don’t know what you’re waiting for.