James Bond’s Suits in 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 black and cream in Dr. No and in black and light grey at the 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 plain-weave glen check as worn in From Russia with Love

The glen hopsack check, called a ‘Split Matt’ by Holland & Sherry, 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 in black, grey and white and his suit in Amsterdam in Diamonds Are Forever has it in black and white. This check can easily be found in the traditional contrasting tones—like in Sean Connery’s suits—but also often in dark tone-on-tone colours for City business dress.

The glen hopsack check as worn in Goldfinger

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 omewhat resembles a miniature houndstooth check, and thus it is sometimes called a “puppytooth” check. It is also known as a “crowsfoot” check.

The glen hopsack check as worn in Diamonds Are Forever

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 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.

In the Goldfinger suit, it appears that the crosswise two-and-two yarns are black and white yarns while the crosswise one-and-one yarns grey and white. This is visible in how the crosswise striped section has more contrast in itself than the lengthwise striped section has.

Glen hopsack check closeup in Goldfinger

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


  1. Always loved checks. A subtle way to add texture and depth to any suit without appearing too flashy and avoiding the “mafia” stereotype that is often taken with Pinstripes or the extreme fashion volatility that can come with checks.

  2. Every once in a while I see a reference to “shadow Glen check”. Does this simply refer to a more discreet or subtle difference in the colours of the yarns used?

    One of my favourite suits is a subtle Glen check in navy and charcoal. It appears to be different colours in different types of lighting – sometimes navy, sometimes charcoal, sometimes midnight blue – and the pattern is subtle enough that you don’t notice it until you’re quite close.

    Now I’m thinking I should wear it to the seminar I’m running tomorrow..!

  3. Matt, do you know if the suit cloth of Grant’s in North by Northwest also a glen hopsack check, or a plain weave glen check ?

    Thanks in advance !

  4. If a grey glen check (or another pattern I guess) looks pretty dark on a (obviously small) cloth sample, would the same cloth look as dark or lighter when used on a suit ? Is there some rule about it ?

      • Honestly, though, if you have to walk a lot, move around a lot, or are in absolute worst kind of heat and humidity, nothing works. The only compromise is half or quarter lined coats and unlined trousers, but I suspect they don’t do much.


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