From Russia With Love – Bond’s Istanbul Suits, Pt. 2: Glen Urquhart

Sean Connery as James Bond in From Russia With Love.

Sean Connery as James Bond in From Russia With Love (1963).

Tomorrow is the 007th of December…

Vitals

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

Background

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:

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.

See? He's wearing a Glen Urquhart check. That's why he gets to use the periscope.

See? He’s wearing a Glen Urquhart check. That’s why he gets to use the periscope.

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.

Note the muted blue overcheck. Are you noting it? Good.

Note the muted blue overcheck. Are you noting it? Good. Now, Bond’s suit doesn’t have any muted color overcheck, so pretend you never saw it.

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.

Connery's knack for wearing his hand in his pocket would have been much more uncomfortable in a ventless jacket.

Connery’s knack for wearing his hand in his pocket would have been much more uncomfortable in a ventless jacket.

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.

We get a brief look at Bond's feet before he heads down into the flooded catacombs. I imagine that Bond is wishing he had opted for a pair of duck shoes.

We get a brief look at Bond’s feet before he heads down into the flooded catacombs. I imagine that Bond is wishing he had opted for a pair of duck shoes.

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.

Cocktail cuffs are nice because they don't get in the way of your periscope hobby.

Cocktail cuffs are nice because they don’t get in the way of your periscope hobby.

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.

It might look solid gray from further away, but trust me - you want to wear Glen Urquhart check.

It might look solid gray from further away, but trust me – you want to wear Glen Urquhart check.

  • 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/bluchers
  • Black dress socks

Do Yourself a Favor and…

Buy the movie.

The Quote

Found your technique too violent?

Footnotes

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.

11 comments

  1. teeritz

    Good God, I don’t think I’ve ever noticed the check pattern! “Call yourself a Bond fan, Teeritz!?” I’ll have to watch the film again, but I just re-read the book and the story’s too fresh in my mind right now.
    Great write-up, LS, and check your emails in a few days.

    Like

    • luckystrike721

      Haha! To be fair to you, he only briefly wears this suit and the check is best seen on Blu-Ray or DVD close-ups during the periscope scene. When I filmed my own short version in high school (look out, here comes another LS anecdote!), I outfitted myself in a gray herringbone suit and a dark gray silk tie with threads of blue in it. The shirt was pale blue, but it didn’t have the cocktail cuffs because I was in 11th grade.
      Every time I read a book that has had a good film adaptation, I find myself resisting the urge to watch it immediately afterward. I’ve been on a noir/pulp kick lately, with plenty of Chandler and Hammett on the nightstand. Thus, Humphrey Bogart has taken up temporary residence on my TV screen lately.

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      • Teeritz

        Hammett was the better writer, but Chandler “made words dance”, as has been said. I wrote my own little Marlowe story “Apologies to Raymond Chandler” over on my blog (shameless plug). Once you’re done with Hammett and Chandler, check out James M. Cain (if you haven’t already), then William P. McGivern and David Goodis. It’s noir or never.

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        • luckystrike721

          Wonderful analysis of the two writers; Succinct, lyrical, and incontrovertibly true. I do love Hammett’s stories, but it is always after reading Chandler that I get in the mood to write. I just finished reading The Big Sleep, Farewell, My Lovely, and The Little Sister, and am halfway through The Long Goodbye. I probably read these all once a year, trying to time everything to read Hammett’s The Thin Man around Christmas. I’m working on my own noir as well, set in Pittsburgh (lots of love for my hometown) with a pre-war steel industry backdrop. As the plot unfolded, I realized just how influenced I must have subconsciously been by The Little Sister. Not sure why your piece is called “Apologies to Raymond Chandler”, I think he’d be honored by it! You have a great gift for making an author’s style your own. I was going to try and write bits that stood out as particularly Chandleresque, but that would be the whole thing. Excellently done! The “one-eyed stare” does seem especially Chandler, though. (Plus, can’t you just picture Chandler on a 1946 Royal, cigarette smoking lazily in the ashtray next to it?)

          I’ve read the major Cains (Double Indemnity, Postman, etc.), but I need to really delve into his works. Had I but world enough and time, you know? I know he did some work on a pre-Code film, Hot Saturday, that was Cary Grant’s first starring role. I’d be curious about watching it because:
          1) Cain co-wrote it.
          2) I wonder if Grant in his ’20s still had that sophisticated air he had later in life.
          3) I love pre-Code films.

          Next on the reading list – McGivern and Goodis!

          Like

  2. Teeritz

    Thanks, LS. I thought I’d approach Marlowe from a late 1960s angle when he’s pretty much reached retirement age, but can still handle some junked-up longhair if required. The trick (for me, anyway) is to ensure that the writing doesn’t stray into parody. I was apologising in advance if it did, hence the title. And the whole time I was writing, I was hearing it read back to me by Robert Mitchum, since he played Marlowe in that great version of “Farewell My Lovely” (even though he was perhaps too old for the role in 1974) and that dreadful version of “The Big Sleep” a few years later. Powers Boothe had a perfect Marlowe voice as well.
    If you read any David Goodis, start with “Street of No Return”. Imagine Sinatra meeting a dangerous dame and getting on the wrong side of a crime boss.

    Like

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