Marnie: A Black, White and Red Houndstooth Jacket

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Marnie-Houndstooth-Jacket

Previously I wrote about the black and grey herringbone tweed sports coat that Sean Connery wears as Mark Rutland in the 1964 Alfred Hitchcock film Marnie. The houndstooth check sports coat that Connery also wears in Marnie is made in the same style as the herringbone sports coat, and he wears it in a very similar manner. The jacket’s houndstooth check is in black and white (or rather slightly off white), and it has a windowpane that replaces the black in the check with red. The colours of this jacket look great on Connery’s cool complexion and allow it to work in informal settings outside the country. The cloth of this jacket is very similar to the cloth of George Lazenby’s hacking jacket in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service.

The jacket is likely made by an English tailor and is cut with straight shoulders on the natural shoulder line, roped sleeve heads, a full chest and a full waist. Though the shoulders look English, the jacket has a fuller cut since Americans often like to wear their sports coats fuller than their suit coats. The men’s costume designer on Marnie, James Linn, was likely American, and Rutland is supposed to be either American or English-American in the film. Nevertheless, the jacket still has some shape, which would show better if Connery buttoned the jacket. The jacket buttons three, but the lapel gently rolls over the top button. The jacket is detailed with flap pockets, three buttons on the cuffs and no vent. It’s an odd style choice to make a sports coat without a vent, especially one in a sporty tweed, but when worn for social occasions and not riding, the lack of vent does not matter. Non-vented jackets are very popular amongst the men in Hitchcock’s films since they have a cleaner look than a vented jacket.

Marnie-Houndstooth-Jacket-2

The medium grey flannel trousers are made in an English style. They have double forward pleats, a tapered leg with turn-ups, button side tabs to adjust the waist and an extended waistband closure. The choice of medium grey for the trousers isn’t the best since they have little contrast with the jacket. However, there is a bit of contrast in texture: woollen tweed for the jacket versus woollen flannel for the trousers. Flannel trousers are the perfect match for a tweed jacket. From a distance, however, the jacket’s pattern looks like solid medium grey, and because the trousers have a cooler tone than the jacket, the outfit, unfortunately, looks like a mismatched grey suit. The scale of the jacket’s check isn’t large enough to work with similarly-toned trousers.

Marnie-Houndstooth-Jacket-4
The jacket and trousers look like a mismatched suit from a distance.

In comparison to the English-style trousers, the shirt is an American classic that Connery never wears as James Bond: a button-down shirt. The key to a successful button-down collar is in the roll. The buttons are placed a bit higher up than where the collar points fall to assist the roll. The button-down collar is a rather casual collar, and thus Connery only wears it with sports coats in Marnie. Most people in England today would never wear a tie with a button-down collar, and button-down collars aren’t as popular in America as they used to be either. Connery’s white button-down shirt has a front placket and most likely single-button cuffs. Connery’s narrow tie is plain black, and he clips it to his shirt with a tie bar, something he never wears as James Bond. The tie bar, however, comes loose and leaves the tie dangling. There’s nothing wrong with a dangling tie, but it should not be dangling with a tie bar. Because the tie is so narrow, it is difficult to tell if he knotted the tie in a windsor or a half windsor knot. The lace-up shoes are black, and whilst they look rather serious in the informal country setting they match the black in both the jacket’s check and the tie.

Marnie-Houndstooth-Jacket-3

26 COMMENTS

  1. Thanks Matt!

    I like the jacket, too and I think you are absolutely right as to to the shoe’s and the trouser’s colour. For a leisure outfit (which it is) black shoes and a black tie are perhaps a bit too formal and stiff. Later in the film Connery wears some brown brogues (with a light brown suit which I find atrocious – there we are again 🙂 ). I am not sure but perhaps a blue shirt would look better (but then without the black tie). IMO tie bars are something superfluous since today every well-made tie should have a strap on the back in which the loose end can be tucked into. Furthermore such a shiny piece of metal irritates the viewer’s eye (same can be said about collar pins such as Craig’s in SPECTRE).

    The mismatch of the trouser’s colour is obvious. Is there a general rule that could be applied when it comes to matching odd jackets with odd trousers? Should the trouser’s colour be darker than the jacket’s one (only as a rule of thumb of course – in case of a navy blazer their colour should be lighter)? What do you think?

    Thanks,
    Renard

  2. A lovely jacket IMO, and I agree that the trouser colour doesn’t work well with it. As I hope to buy a similar colour houndstooth jacket in the future, what colour trousers are recommended?

  3. Nice jacket, even though it’s hard to judge the fit seeing it unbuttoned. Mediocre shirt collar, and the super-skinny tie doesn’t do Connery’s broad chest any favors.

    • Matt, could you perhaps cover some other odd jacket / trouser combinations? I know that you’ ve already done that but I think there are still quite a few to find throughout the series. I would be particularly interested in Mr White’s combination in CR and QoS – a comparison would be interesting.

      Many thanks in advance!

  4. Very interesting.
    The Connery’s wardrobe in “Marnie” is a good exemple of “middle Atlantic style” (Ivy League meet Savile Row).
    Are sack coats with natural shoulders,but darted and can be a bit of light padding too.
    Often these mid Atlantic coats can have two side vents or none,the buttons on shoulder can be three instead two.
    Trousers can have or not have pleats; but the air of the set is American,not British.
    The only thing really ugly of the Connery’s clothes in “Marnie” are the ties,all too much skinny and solid black (or navy).
    This fad for black skinny tie was especially an American thing.
    For exemple,in Italy in 60s the ties were about 7 or 7-1/2 cm and were with tiny patterns.
    The Bond’s grenadine ties were not so skinny as in “Marnie”,that are really horribles.

  5. Would you consider covering the brown suit at the end of the film? I think it was a herringbone, but I’ve not seen the film for a while. I’ve been looking for one similar to purchase as I have a warmer complexion than Connery but haven’t had any luck!

  6. Very nice. Edith Head and James Linn did a terrific job outfitting Connery for Hitchcock’s last great costume design. I agree that the ties are a bit too skinny compared to ideal, but that was the style of 1964 and let’s not make the perfect the enemy of the good. I personally prefer these ties to the wider ties of the next decade. A nice different look for Connery, well in character for Rutledge, and a contrast to his look in another of the great suit movies next, for Goldfinger….

    • I have to respectfully disagree on the ties. Skinny ties look puny, and sometimes almost get lost in the folds of the shirt. Wider ties look much more luxurious, and tie a much more attractive (dimpled) knot. Having said that, by the end of the ’70’s some ties looked like bibs….

  7. “by the end of the ’70’s some ties looked like bibs….”

    -Very much so – Prince Michael of Kent is a big fan. Horrible look IMO.

  8. That’s the first time I’ve noticed Sean Connery wearing a tie bar. It does look very good. I wear them as well, and from experience, they do occasionally come undone, leaving the tie dangling freely. What’s above the trousers looks great, but unfortunately, they look too close to the color of the jacket, so as to cause the effect of making a lookalike suit.

    The tie knot looks like it can still be a four-in-hand, as vintage narrow ties could create a knot very close to the one seen in these pictures. They were most often 4 or more inches shorter than today’s narrow ties, so were even more capable of having small knots. It’s also not difficult to make the four-in-hand knot of these older, shorter ties have a more symmetrical look, much as if one were to use a Windsor or half-Windsor knot. Connery’s knot does look very neat, so it also could well have been one of the latter two knots I mentioned.

    • The four-in-hand knot has an asymmetrical shape that makes the front blade lean to one side or the other, which is irrelevant to the length and width of the tie. Connery’s tie hangs straight down. Since the knot is very wide, and ties in the 1960s had very light interlinings, this knot is probably a Windsor knot.

  9. You very well could be right about that, and good point about the linings. I have a large collection of 1950s-1960s era ties that are mostly thinner than 3 inches wide, but I rarely have tied them with the Windsor knot. There is often enough length however, to tie such a knot, even though they are on average between 4 to 6 inches shorter than modern ties.

  10. I love houndstooth but I don’t know how to wear it. From a complexion point-of-view everyone in my family can get away with it. We’re mostly red-heads but we’re all winters and can wear anything that our more darkly, Conneryesque brothers/parents can pull off. My grandfather (and grandmother, too, actually) I have fond memories of wearing houndstooth well. I know it works amazingly with my dad’s salt & pepper hair and beard.

    I just don’t know how to wear it in a modern sense. A cool weather fabric suits me fine, upstate New York is nearly arctic five months out of twelve and rains endlessly in spring. But it’s so heavy and I’ve a bit of a gangly frame, and I fear heavy fabrics artificially padding out my silhouette in unflattering ways. Related to that, the weave is lovely but it’s also a heavy, chunky weave, and as much a fan of them as I am, I suppose I’m less gutsy about actually wearing them. Like the literary Bond, I prefer to keep it simple.

    I suspect that anyone being of similar height and shape and complexion to Connery can’t look too far off the mark, but is houndstooth limited to how and wear you should wear it? Or would it presumably be a nearly always appropriate staple for someone who actually lives in a rustic country setting?

    • It’s a very versatile cloth and one of the most basic patterns. If you ever wear sports coats, houndstooth is always appropriate. I always recommend wearing the heaviest clothes you’re comfortable wearing, since they drape the nicest and hold up the best. Such a cloth as this would be great in upstate NY. Heavy cloths really don’t pad out your frame. It’s the construction that is more likely to do that.

    • You know, that seems obvious as I read it. I get caught up in some weird hang-up about a classic fabric and whether it’s too old-fashioned or not and forget the basics. I’d say I should know better having read nearly all your articles, but I can’t imagine I’m the only man for whom detail-oriented only applies when I don’t have to summon the info from memory.

      Have you done an article about the construction of a jacket? I can remember loads of reference to canvasing and shoulders and the rest but feel like (not to add to the workload) an article full of diagrams could be totally helpful for those of us who need to see something disassembled to get a better understanding and therefore hold it to memory better.

      • I don’t know enough about the construction of a jacket to be the right person to right an article on it. You’ll need to hear that from a real tailor.

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