The Man from U.N.C.L.E. (2015): Glen Urquhart Check Suit

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Henry Cavill stars as Napoleaon Solo in the 2015 film The Man from U.N.C.L.E., which is a remake of the 1960s television series of the same name that starred Robert Vaughn. London tailor Timothy Everest, who tailored Ralph Fiennes for Skyfall and Spectre and Christoph Waltz and Dave Bautista for Spectre, tailored Henry Cavill’s suits. Whilst the character in the original television series is dressed in a wholly American 1960s Hollywood style, the film’s costume designer Joanna Johnston wanted to give Solo a British look. Solo’s suits are inspired by the experimental fashion of mid 1960s England, which isn’t right for the film’s 1963 setting or for the traditionally minded character, but Solo nevertheless dresses very stylishly.

The television character often wears checked suits, and a number of checked suits were brought back for the film. One of these is a three piece suit in a black and white Glen Urquhart check with a blue windowpane overcheck. George Lazenby wears a suit in a similar cloth in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service. The jacket has buttons covered in the Glen Urquhart check cloth, and the buttons alternate between the large and small parts of the Glen Urquhart check.

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Everest tailored the suit with a three buttons down the front (instead of the single button that Solo often wore in the television series), straight shoulders with roped sleeve heads, a clean chest, and a close-fitting but straight waist. The squared-off foreparts combined with Cavill buttoning both the middle and the top buttons give the jacket a rather boxy look, but it has a dynamically shaped silhouette that fits Cavill’s athletic physique very well. The jacket is detailed with narrow lapels, straight flapped pockets, a ticket pocket, four cuff buttons and a single vent. The jacket’s length is about an inch shorter than the traditional length. The squared-off foreparts make the jacket look longer in front, though the short length is noticeable from behind.

The trousers have a flat front and narrow, tapered legs with plain hems. The waistcoat has five buttons and a straight bottom, which complements the straight bottom of the suit jacket. There are two welt pockets on the front of the waistcoat.

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The ecru shirt’s point collar contrasts with the button-down collars that Solo typically wore in the television series. The point collar is fashionably short for the 1960s trends—too short for the points to stay anchored to the chest—and has no tie space. The shirt also has double cuffs.

Solo’s tie is dark grey with a black and white pattern, most likely printed. The scale of the pattern is larger than the houndstooth section of the Glen Urquhart check but smaller than the repeat of the whole check, so it is able to pair well with the checked suit. Solo ties it in a four-in-hand knot. The ecru silk pocket square with black polka dots is casually stuffed into the out-breast pocket with one point up. This is rather flashy for the 1960s, when people usually wore folded white linen handkerchiefs in their breast pockets. In the television series, Solo did not wear pocket squares. Cavill’s shoes are dark brown oxfords.

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Overall, the suit is interesting and unique, and the outfit is stylishly put together. The suit, however, does not reflect the American character from the television show nor does it reflect the year when the film takes place. This was all done on purpose for the sake of dressing the character in the costume designer’s taste with a blatant disregard for what the character should authentically be wearing.

You can read more about Timothy Everest’s work on the film at TimothyEverest.co.uk

37 COMMENTS

  1. Overall a fine suit – although I myself would prefer the 2 1/2 roll instead of buttoning the upper two buttons and a little more waist suppression. You are right about it thus looking boxy. And for my taste the sleeves are a bit too wide which is not in harmony with the narrow lapels and the rather tight-cut trousers. Connery’s Sinclair suits from the 60s were better constructed.

  2. Matt,

    Neither is the suits in the film especially “mod” in their character, nor was the second part of the 60’s the mod heyday.

    The original mod movement started dwindling around 1964, just when it started to get noticed by the press and media. After that it was more of a rockstar thing clothes-wise, with exceedingly short jackets (“bum freezers”) with four-button fronts, trousers worns very low on the hip etc.

    From the material I’ve seen over the years (lots and lots efter two papers on the original mod movement and british subcultures) I’d say that the original mod suit looked most like the suits that George Lazenby wears in OHMSS, if I was to draw a Bond parallel.

    This is of course not true for all early mod suits, but I can think of some characteristics:
    • Three button front.
    • Lean chest.
    • Tight fitting.
    • Classic length or a bit on the short side.
    • Almost no waist suppression.
    • Trousers medium-low rise.
    • Narrow legs.
    • Trousers hemmed very short.
    • Ties very narrow.
    • Absolutely no pockets squares worn.

    • If it takes inspiration from the mod suits (which it partly does, yes) it actually suit (hehe) the setting in 1963 quite well.

      If it’s inspired (which it partly is) by the “Swinging London”-suits of the mid-60’s it’s wrong for the setting. But then it’s no longer the mod connection that makes it an anachronism.

      Sorry for being a nuisance.

      • The costume design said the suit was inspired by the latter part of the 60s, though as we’ve seen in the last two Bond films, costume designers can be very wrong. The mod inspiration is quite clear in the straight foreparts, high buttoning, lean chest, straighter waist, shorter length and narrow trousers. But I though these came in around 1964-1965? Solo wouldn’t have been wearing something influenced by the mods until it hit mainstream.

    • My point is that the suits known as “mod” are in fact not very mod at all but more of a 60’s fashion thing. I think The Beatles are more responsible for the look known as “mod” than the mods ever were.

      Though narrow lapels was common among the jackets/suits worn by mods, the short length jackets (bum freezers) came in rather late. I’d say 1964 by which time the original mod movement had already started to fade away. The same goes with the exceedingly high buttoning, which was influenced more by the slightly Edwardian “dandy” style of 1965-66.

      Mod was always more about details and experimentation than anything else. Very long or very short vents, an extra button on the sleeve, two ticket pockets instead of one. Mods tried out new things, breaking the “rules” of classic menswear established by the British upper classes. It was a also a very continentally influenced style (mostly Italian), mixed with Ivy League I might add (mods almost exclusively wore Brooks Brothers button downs for instance). Everything British was sneered upon and seen as old fashioned and dreary.

  3. I loved the suits in this movie. I’m not usually a fan of regular 3-button suits, but these suits looked fantastic. Great fit and overall classic looking suit IMO.

    Also, I think Solo is trying to project a certain European elegance in his style. He doesn’t dress like an American because he was a poor American kid who went to Europe as a GI and stayed after the war. He learned to dress well in Europe, not America.

    Hammer’s casual clothing in the movie is great as well, rather evocative of Steve McQueen.

  4. I do like your regular deviations form the core subject of Bond, Matt. Even though I’m 39, I really love 60s & early 70s TV programmes – The Man from U.N.C.L.E, The Saint, The Persuaders!. Which were all made before I was born.

    Anyway, onto the suit. It’s not to totally to my taste for various reasons. Nor does it fit my idea of what Napoleon Solo should wear. I don’t have anything bad to say about it though. It’s much more pleasing to the eye than certain 3-piece worn in Rome.

    I’m not saying that this is suitable for Bond, but I do think the Bond producers should take note. Here we have an example of a well put together stylish suit. It fits a muscular person without him bursting out of it. It strikes an acceptable balance between classic tailoring and current fashion. It doesn’t look like a caricatured joke.

  5. Two points about this outfit: (1) The squared off foreparts are very unattractive, and (2) The contrast with Lazenby’s Glen Urquhart check suit is instructive on two fronts: (a) Lazenby’s suit is stylish and hip but it is very handsome without being outlandish, and (b) Lazenby was a normally athletic man and the suit hung beautifully on him, while Cavill’s steroidal, pumped-up Superman physique strains the suit with his every move. Too much of a good thing….

  6. Im not very fond of this suit, to be honest. The cut does the already bulky Cavill no favors and a jacket with more shape would have worked better. Having said that, Timothy Everest makes some wonderful suits. I bought one off ebay not long ago and it is the most comfortable suit I have ever owned, not to mention the quality and construction is of great quality. It also has a very nice siluette, slim but not tight. Some Pictures:

    http://i1041.photobucket.com/albums/b419/AkwenESC/vlcsnap-2015-11-25-10h23m50s74.png
    http://i1041.photobucket.com/albums/b419/AkwenESC/vlcsnap-2015-12-03-11h11m07s253.png
    http://i1041.photobucket.com/albums/b419/AkwenESC/vlcsnap-2015-12-03-11h11m37s48.png
    http://i1041.photobucket.com/albums/b419/AkwenESC/vlcsnap-2015-11-25-10h22m49s231.png
    http://i1041.photobucket.com/albums/b419/AkwenESC/vlcsnap-2015-12-03-11h12m32s65.png
    http://s1041.photobucket.com/user/AkwenESC/media/vlcsnap-2015-11-25-10h21m37s17.png.html?sort=3&o=5

  7. I was a customer of Tim’s in the mid nineties. This suit is exactly the sort of thing he was producing for more adventurous customers back then.

    I also think you’re wrong with the mod influence – Tim worked for Tommy Nutter, and I think the suit owes more to his influence.

    • The shoulders here are very much in Nutter’s style, but I don’t see much else of Nutter’s influence in this suit. Nevertheless, I’ve removed the mod reference from the article and replaced it with “experimental fashion”.

  8. Slightly off topic, but seeing this post has me very excited about the Oliver Wicks glen-check suit which should be arriving in the mail within the next few days. I must say that the cut of that suit is far more to my taste than Napoleon Solo’s; though I always appreciate some experiments this one experiments with just one or two too many things.

    But I suppose that was the point, wasn’t it!

    • I have gathered some additional information about Solo’s shoes. According to Crockett & Jones’ website, five models where provided for the film. The Courtenay (dark brown) is worn by Solo with the striped blue suit and is clearly seen when he lies down on the sofa. The other C&J worn by Solo is the black Selbourne shown with the grey birdseye suit, when he winds down the car window. I believe the third model, Connaught, is worn by Kuryakin due to the Chestnut colour and the ladies Barnwell boot is worn by Teller when first introduced in the garage. The final confirmed C&J is the Tetbury chukka boot in black suede.

      G.J. Cleverley is less specific in their information but the website does say that Solo, Kuryakin and Waverly wears Cleverley shoes and accessories. Oddly, they also claim the single black pair of shoes worn by Solo (with exception from his tactical gear), their picture showing a plain toe cap Oxford. I suppose it is possible both where used for the scene and the Selbourne chosen for the close-up due to the distinctive medallion, or perhaps the costume designer made a last-minute change of wardrobe.

      Apart from all that, my favourite pair of shoes in the movie is the slip on side gusset shoe worn by Solo with the blue check suit in the scene when choosing fashions for Ms. Teller. I am fairly certain this is the Jack model from G.J. Cleverley, it is a perfect match for appearance and in the Blu-ray bonus features what appears to be the Cleverley gold script is visible on the sole.

      As always, great work on the blog! I for one really like the Napoleon Solo style of the movie, even though it is technically inaccurate to the original character.

  9. Matt, I have an idea for some future posts. Since you have started to include characters outside of the Bond franchise that still have some connection to the franchise, please consider writing about actor Eric Braeden’s suits in Colossus: The Forbin Project (1970), after wich he was approached about the role of Bond to replace George Lazenby but never got it due to him being from germany originally. He also stars in Escape from the planet of the apes (1971) and in both theese films, especially the latter, he dresses in great-looking suits that all appear to be made by the same tailor and are very Bondian. One can certainly see why he was approached by Cubby Broccoli, he has that natural elegance combined with a lot of strenght and intensity.

    • I wasn’t familiar with Eric Braeden in that film, but after having googled it, that would be a good fit! Braeden seems to have that rakish, young Connery look to him and his suits look great! And if we had to have an excuse to tie it back to Bond, the director of that film, Joseph Sargent, directed quite a few episodes of The Man From U.N.C.L.E, The Taking of Pelham One Two Three starring Red Grant himself (Robert Shaw), and Jaws 4 (Yikes!) with Michael Caine.

    • Also, in Escape from the planet of the apes, Braeden co-stars with Norman Burton who played Felix Leiter in DAF.

      I agree with you about Braeden having that laid-back intensity of Connery but style-wise he reminds me more of Moore and especially Lazenby. In the 1973 film “Lady ice” (starring Donald Sutherland) he wears a nice cream suit with a red bow-tie (!) and MAKES IT WORK with his natural elegance and straightforward acting. It rivals the pink tie in DAF, exept Braeden pulls it off while Connery does not. In DAF they tried to keep the clothing style established by Lazenby but it just doesn’t work with the down-to-earth and conservative way Connery played it. Breaden would indeed have been perfect to take over after Lazenby.

  10. Matt, thanks for covering this film..one of my favourites of 2015. I thought the whole project was delightfully stylish.

  11. For anyone interested in the authentic Mod look, there is a wonderful photo book by Richard Barnes called “Mods!”.

    I bought it back in the 1980s when it first came out. I think Pete Townshend of The Who first published it. It has hundreds of documentary photos of real, early 1960s UK Mods with their mates, girlfriends, and scooters. Amazing to see how young they are. Also has a good 5 or 6 page essay about the myth of the “swing 60s Mod lifestyle”.

    You can find it on Amazon.

    • For a bit more in-depth history of the mods, including the 1980’s revival, read “Mod – a very british phenomenon” by Terry Rawlings.

      For style obsessed people visiting this weblog (all visitors, maybe?) I recommend “The Soul Stylists” by Paolo Hewitt. He covers the connection between British youth culture and American black music, including modernists, mods and skinheads.

      Hewitt is indeed an authority on the subject – he once wrote a whole essay on the supremacy of the Brutus shirt.

    • Interesting. I’ve completely missed that documentary. Though it covers the later, popularised phase of mod and get some facts wrong, it’s always nice to hear testimonies from people who where actually there at the time. Not many of them left now, I presume.

  12. It seems I’m a little late to the party..
    Thanks for covering this suit Matt as I like it very much. The plot is so-so but I’ve seen the movie twice just on account of the costumes alone. And this glen check suit is one of my favorite from the movie. I agree that the cut looks a little boxy but I think it does a good job of masking Henry Cavill’s extremely athletic shape. Personally, I think the suit should soften a man’s curves so he doesn’t look like a bodybuilder. Ideally, Cavill should slim down for the role but of course he’s due to reprise his role as Superman so that’s probably not an option.
    Overall, the outfit looks very flamboyant and flashy. But if we remove the cloth covered buttons, replace the pocket square with a plain white one, I think Bond would look very good in this cut of suit.
    Do you think you would do more posts from this movie, Matt? There are a lot of interesting outfits in it, a few more suits from Solo, the turtleneck and suede jacket from Kuryakin, etc.

    • “Remove the cloth covered buttons, replace the pocket square with a plain white one, I think Bond would look very good in this cut of suit.” I think the outfit would look more “Bondian” with a darker tie and more open foreparts in the jacket.

    • Making the outfit more Bondian would require a high contrast necktie and more open foreparts on the jacket, in my opinion.

    • Dan, I agree with you. A darker tie (navy?) and open foreparts would be my preference as well. But I don’t really mind this tie and the squared foreparts here does a good job of making the jacket look longer so I didn’t mention those two points.
      My point was actually that rather than a tight fit, this cut of suit would be better for someone with an athletic figure like Cavill (or Craig for that matter). Not too loose but it softens his large drop and makes a manlier silhouette. Just my two cents of course..

  13. Since you’re now broadening your posts to beyond Bond, will you ever write about Kingsman, considering how important of a role men’s formal wear played in it?

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