Captain Nash’s English Clothing

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Though we only see Captain Nash for a few seconds in From Russia with Love, he is a familiar character because his name is taken on by henchman Red Grant. Captain Nash is a British agent from Station Y in Yugoslavia sent by M to assist James Bond, but only moments after we meet him, Red Grant kills him in the toilet at the Zagreb train station and then pretends to be him. Like James Bond, Nash is a well-dressed agent, but Nash dresses more classically British than Bond does.

The Book Nash

Captain Norman Nash in Ian Fleming’s novel is a name made up by Grant rather than taken from an actual British agent. Fleming gives a detailed description of the clothes Grant wears as Nash, including Bond’s famous opinion about his tie knot:

The light flashed briefly on golden hair under a cap, and on a young golden moustache. There was plenty of time to catch the train. The man walked unhurriedly. It crossed Bond’s mind that he was an Englishman. Perhaps it was the familiar shape of the dark green Kangol cap, or the beige, rather well-used macintosh, that badge of the English tourist, or it may have been the grey-flannelled legs, or the scuffed brown shoes. But Bond’s eyes were drawn to him, as if it was someone he knew, as the man approached up the platform…

He walked past, the crêpe-soled shoes making no sound…

The man had taken off his macintosh. He was wearing an old reddish-brown tweed coat with his flannel trousers, a pale yellow Viyella summer shirt, and the dark blue and maroon zig-zagged tie of the Royal Artillery. It was tied with a Windsor knot. Bond mistrusted anyone who tied his tie with a Windsor knot. It showed too much vanity. It was often the mark of a cad. Bond decided to forget his prejudice. A gold signet ring, with an indecipherable crest, glinted on the little finger of the right hand that gripped the guard rail. The corner of a red bandana handkerchief flopped out of the breast pocket of the man’s coat. On his left wrist there was a battered silver wrist watch with an old leather strap.

So to break down the outfit, Red Grant poses as ‘Nash’ wearing a reddish-brown tweed jacket, grey flannel trousers, pale yellow Viyella summer shirt, a Royal Artillery tie, a red bandana pocket square and brown shoes with crepe soles. His outerwear consists of a beige Mackintosh coat (a raincoat of rubberised fabric) and dark green Kangol cap (a one-piece cap). Bond immediately recognises this man as an Englishman abroad because of the way he is dressed.

The Film Nash

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The real Captain Nash in the film From Russia With Love, played by the film’s production manager William Hill, dresses differently from Red Grant’s Nash of the novel. He immediately looks like an Englishman, not only by his clothes but because he stands taller and prouder than the local men, and he’s one of the few men who is clean-shaven. He’s certainly the proper English gentleman who drinks tea, unlike Bond who prefers coffee.

Nash’s suit is semi-solid medium grey, but since there are no close-ups of the suit it’s impossible to determine any specifics about the cloth. The button two suit jacket has a Savile Row military cut, with straight shoulders, a clean chest, a suppressed waist and a little flare to the skirt. The jacket has a stiff look compared to the softer and more relaxed look of Bond’s suit jackets. It is detailed with a single vent at the rear, three buttons on each cuff and slanted pockets with flaps. The trousers have neat, gently tapered legs and likely forward pleats.

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Nash’s pale blue shirt is the quintessential English shirt with a cutaway collar and double cuffs. His tie, tied in the trustworthy four-in-hand knot, is likely either the Old Exonian tie or the Old Felstedian tie. The Old Felstedian tie of Felsted School is Oxford blue with narrow saffron stripes bordered by narrow guardsman red stripes. The Old Exonian tie of Exeter School is navy with narrow butter yellow stripes bordered by narrow guardsman red stripes. With the poor lighting and no close-up shots, it’s impossible to conclusively determine what the tie is. Nash wears derby shoes—probably suede—in light brown, a shoe colour James Bond never wears with a grey suit of any shade. Light brown shoes with a medium grey suit draw too much attention down to the shoes, and darker shoes are needed to anchor the outfit.

Nash drapes over his left shoulder a beige Mackintosh, the only piece of clothing taken from Nash in the novel. He carries a black leather attache case like Bond’s and a dark grey trilby with a C-crown (also called teardrop crown), a narrow brim with a raw edge and narrow grey grosgrain ribbon around the base of the crown. After Grant kills Nash, he takes Nash’s attache case and trilby. And when Bond kills Grant, he takes the trilby.

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17 COMMENTS

  1. Thanks Matt!

    I prefer Connery’s look to Nash’s. The thing I most dislike about the latter’s outfit is the tie. Although it’s undeniably a quintessentially English clothing item it makes him look a bit stiff (and even square) which is due to the stripe pattern (and its colour). I am also not sure about his suede shoes – I know that it’s a classic, especially in combination with a flannel suit but I don’t like it. IMO it only works with suede shoes in a dark shade of brown.
    In comparison Connery’s outfit (and Red Grant’s as well) is much more on the cool and timeless side.

    • Striped ties may be currently out of fashion, but I fail to see what is “stiff and square” about them. If anything, a striped tie chisels away a little softness from the jawline, something most non-action heroes/common mortals can benefit from!

  2. I’ll have to double check when I get home, but I’m pretty sure when Bond opens up Grant’s (presumably the real Nash’s) briefcase, you see some blue Turnbull & Asser shirts inside.

  3. Quite. Benson & Clegg is one among others. What is nice about them is that they would only sell to the ones who were truly part of a specific regiment.
    David Hober (samhober.com) proposes the regimental patterns, in both English and American versions, which is quite evolutive

  4. Great article! I had never really noticed how well-dressed Nash actually is. I watched FRWL yesterday and it truly is a film where almost every character dresses really well (have Q or M ever looked better?), mabey that has something to do with it being my second favorite Bond film after OHMSS. I love theese articles where you break down the clothes of smaller supporting characters in the Bond films!

  5. Ironically, movie Nash would benefit from a Windsor knot, considering how much tie space there is in his shirt collar!

    • Contrary to popular opinion, there’s no need to fill up the space. But if one is inclined to do so, I prefer the Duke of Windsor’s approach tying a four-in-hand knot with a tie that has a heavier interlining, versus tying a Windsor knot. The double-four-in-hand can also do, but that knot is even more asymmetrical than an ordinary four-in-hand.

    • I wear a half-Windsor knot most days, not by choice, but out of necessity. I have a short torso, so almost all modern ties are too long for me to wear a four-in-hand. Although I prefer a four-in-hand, I think a half-Windsor can still look quite elegant.

    • I have the same issue as FS, I am a little over 6 feet tall with a short torso and long legs. Too further complicate the issue I prefer wearing trousers with a higher rise thus a standard tie is too long for me. Nonetheless, I still use a four in hand knot. Usually the back blade ends up longer so what I do is tuck the back blade into my trouser and you can’t tell the difference. If my front blade is too long, I either re-tie the tie or just tuck the front blade into my trousers as well. I would never in my life use the Windsor knot. The knot is too large for my tall skinny neck.

    • Suraj, I can relate. I am 5’7, and I prefer a mid-rise trouser (my torso simply disappears with a high-rise). Ive tried tucking the skinny end into my trouser, but it does t work as well without a jacket (my jackets spend most days hanging on the back of my office door as I work at a desk). In any event, a tight-half Windsor often looks similar to a four-in-hand, depending on the tie.

    • I understand your issue FS. When I take my jacket off some people give the weirdest look because my tie is tucked into my waist band. However, I like the fact that I tuck my tie into my waist band. It is those small nuances that give give me a style flair and it sets me apart from everyone else. The English would call it Sartorial and the Italians would call it Sprezzatura.

  6. Speaking of minor characters with striped ties, I would love to see a posting about Pleydell-Smith from Dr. No.

    Great website!

  7. Long ties are a confounded problem. I fold the thin end back on itself and tuck it up into the keeper on the back of the thick end. I put a stitch in the keeper to narrow it, to hold the thin end firmly in place.

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