Kingsman: The Secret Service -- Colin Firth's Suits in Detail (UPDATED)

Based on a graphic novel, Kingsman: The Secret Service got a lot of well-deserved press upon release for its quintessentially English menswear and just being a pretty fun movie. But sadly what has been published isn't a complete picture. A few friends of mine asked if I could write up an article about the suits of the movie, even those who normally aren't into menswear. I went looking for an article, any article, that described them in detail. Sadly most gloss over everything besides that they are double breasted. Because Harry Hart (Colin Firth) is the most prominently tailored character in the movie, I've decided to focus on his suits.

Martin Nicholls London, a Savile Row bespoke firm, made the suits for all the movie's principals. His other film work includes Dark Shadows and Hugo. The suits sold in Mr Porter's off the peg Kingsman collection are produced by Crewe Tailored Clothing, until recently known as Cheshire Bespoke. They are better equipped for the demands of mass production and copy Nicholls' style well.

The look of the "Kingsman Tailors" shop was inspired by H. Huntsman & Sons Ltd but their services were ultimately not used for the film. Though director Matthew Vaughn has been a customer since 18 years old, they may not have been able to meet the needs for an action film production. Typically a few copies of each costume are made or purchased for stunts, such as wearing a wire work harness and in case they get damaged during filming. Stunt performers will also need a different size than the actors they are doubling for.

Arianne Phillips designed the costumes for the movie and intentionally selected heritage English brands to fill out the wardrobe.

Warning: Minor spoilers of the movie may follow.


"The first thing a gentleman needs is a good suit."
Harry Hart -- codename Galahad -- wears five suits throughout the movie, all cut and styled identically. Kingsman suits are said to be bulletproof. The first suit, seen in the prologue, is navy worsted twill with white chalk stripes. The one seen most often in promotions for the film is charcoal heavyweight worsted with a unique chalk stripe; white and rust side by side. His most briefly seen suit is solid, medium grey whipcord which is an appropriate defense against cold London winds. Another suit that gets pretty short shrift is a charcoal plaid in woolen flannel, used in a lunch scene with his superior. The next suit looks light grey at first glance, yet is actually black and white Glen Urquhart Check in worsted flannel. The navy chalk stripe suit is reused for a climactic scene despite taking place at least 17 years later. It's either a testament to the durability of Kingsman suits or the timelessness of good bespoke tailoring. Possibly both.


Navy chalk stripe as seen in the opening of the movie.

The coat is double breasted with six buttons, two to close. The top two nonfunctional buttons are spaced further apart to emphasize the chest and present a more masculine appearance. Harry leaves the bottom button undone. One can use both buttons if they wish, unlike on a single breasted suit, but the former choice makes sense if you'll find yourself thrashing goons. There are side vents in back, which are the only appropriate choice for double breasted jackets. The peak lapels are traditional in width and have a tasteful amount of "belly", or outward curve, to the underside. They are not as narrow as current fashions yet avoid the excesses of '70s tailoring. Double breasted suits sold today mostly have a lapel hole on the left side but Nicholls puts them on both sides, cutting them straight per Savile Row custom. Not only does it recall the so-called golden age of menswear, it provides visual balance to all the buttons and overlapping fabric.


Galahad wearing his charcoal chalk stripe suit in a promotional image. This is a pretty good shot of most of the details.

The sleeves have functional four button "surgeon's cuffs". This was once reserved for bespoke, but recently many off the peg retailers copy it straight from the factory. It's best to avoid those (which unfortunately include the $2500 Mr Porter Kingsman suits) unless the sleeves fit you precisely; any length alteration past a half inch will be difficult or costly. Harry occasionally leaves the last button undone on his sleeves. Clothing traditionalists mostly advise against this practice, decrying it as gauche or even outright vulgar. But is it really that distasteful when one will never use the feature otherwise?


Harry may just be thumbing his nose at the establishment. After all, he makes his dislike of classism known early on.

The front jacket pockets are gently slanted and flapped, wider than average in proportion to the lapels. There is subtle pick stitching on the lapels, collar, and pockets. It is easy to miss if you are not looking for it, but pick stitching should not be too visible since its purpose is to keep the edges neat. The buttons are polished horn with recessed domes for the thread, something often seen on English bespoke suits.

Similarly recessed dome buttons as seen on a Kingsman Mr Porter suit.


The coat has straight, lightly padded shoulders with roping at the sleeve head. Not exactly "natural", but also not as built up as some other tailors on the Row. It has a nipped waist and flared skirt. The sleeves are also slightly flared at the end. Naturally, the armholes are cut high for more movement which probably helps in Harry's profession. Most off the peg suits have rather large/low armholes, but a smaller armhole is superior both aesthetically and comfort-wise. Overall, Nicholls' house cut looks like what many would associate with Savile Row, even if there is a lot of variation between its tailors in reality.

Medium grey whipcord suit and black pindot tie.

Harry's trousers are perhaps the most modern aspect of his suits. They have a medium-low rise, flat front, and are hemmed to a moderate break. There may be darts in front, but they are difficult to discern if so. Many bespoke tailors prefer to do this instead of a true flat front since they better curve over the hips. The legs are straight cut and trim but not fashionably skinny. In front there is an extended waistband with hook and eye closure which makes for a cleaner look than the typical button type. They are held up with slide buckle tabs instead of a belt. In back there are two welted button-through pockets and a split waistband. The latter expands when sitting, keeping the trousers more comfortable to wear.

A good view of trouser fit from the 1997 prologue. Most men were actually wearing full cut double pleated trousers at this time, whether or not they were made bespoke.

Harry wears a white poplin double (french) cuff Turnbull & Asser shirt with all his suits. Though the collar resembles their "Classic" semi-spread at first glance it lacks the signature under curve. T&A creates personalized collar shapes specifically for the wearer on their bespoke shirts including all their film work. The cuff's link holes are closer to the fold than on American or Italian shirts. This makes cuff links easier to see and reduces how much the cuff edges flare out from the jacket sleeve. The fit is close and darts shape the waist even further in back. Unlike most off the peg slim fit shirts there are shoulder pleats, which certainly ease in aiming a gun.

Behind the scenes with costume designer Arianne Phillips. You can just barely make out the shoulder pleats and darts.

A straight folded, white linen pocket square is worn in the breast pocket of every suit. Some may assume it was chosen to coordinate with the white shirts, but it's a wardrobe staple one can wear with a variety of shirt and suit colours. It is probably made by Drake's and has hand rolled edges just like the Mr Porter Kingsman pocket squares.

Surprisingly there are only two ties worn in the movie, both made by Drake's and knotted in a half-Windsor and "full" Windsor at one point. The most prominent is the club stripe tie of Kingsman Tailors which features two pale pink stripes framing a burgundy stripe on a dark blue ground. Mr Porter offered a silk grenadine version of this tie but the actual film version is silk cavalry twill with satin stripes. Magnoli Clothiers sells a more accurate version for those interested, though the quality won't be as nice at $60 (average department store) compared to Drake's $195 (quite luxurious). The stripes go in the British direction, from left shoulder to right hip. The other tie is black satin with white pindots. I originally thought it was dark navy, but behind the scenes documentaries reveal it is indeed black. The Mr Porter Kingsman ties measure three inches wide at the bottom, but the film versions look wider in proportion with the suit lapels.


Glen Urquhart Check suit. His tie knot appears to be a Windsor in this scene.

The cufflinks are rose gold plated ovals embossed with a crest of unknown origin and connected by a short chain. They are made by Deakin & Francis. Double sided cufflinks like these dress both sides of the cuff and thus appear higher class. Despite being harder to put on than the common hinge back design, the advantage is that they come out less easily.

Unknown if this is specifically a Kingsman crest or one pertaining to Hart's family.


"Oxfords, not brogues."
The shoes are black cap toe oxfords (balmorals to Americans) made by George Cleverley. Like most English shoes they have a sleeker shape, or last, and smaller sole profile compared to American brands such as Allen Edmonds or Alden. The toes have an elegant, rounded chisel shape. This looks more timeless than the very angular or pointy chisel toes that have been fashionable for the last decade. The writers unfortunately make a gaffe in the script when Harry refers to oxfords as having "open lacing". Oxfords actually have closed lacing at the the throat, whereas derbies (bluchers) have it open. The right shoe contains a hidden blade coated with neurotoxin, activated by clicking one's heels together. This is obviously inspired by many spy movies and television shows with a similar gadget. According to Taron Egerton the shoes were made bespoke for him, so they likely were for Colin Firth as well.

Not sure why he has brogues on display if he advises against them, or shoes that just happen to fit Eggsy, or why only the cap toes have a hidden blade... ah, never mind.


"A bespoke suit always fits."
Since Eggsy's two suits are nearly identical to Harry's, they are worth a brief mention. The most noticeable difference is that they fit closer to the body to accentuate his youthfulness and chiseled physique. The lapels are straighter, with less belly, for a more modern look. They also fasten higher, creating a smaller "V" of shirt and tie. Egerton is four inches shorter than Firth at five foot ten, so this was probably considered more flattering by Martin Nicholls. It disproves the myth that only men over six foot can wear double breasted suits. With proper fit pretty much anyone can wear them.

"Looking good, Eggsy."
"Feeling good, Merlin."

His first suit is of the same navy chalk stripe as Harry's. The fabric dimples slightly below the sleeve head, indicating that the shoulder width or upper sleeves are a bit tight for him. For whatever reason, the next suit is superior in fit since it does not do this. It is the same charcoal chalk stripe fabric as the suit Harry introduces himself in. Egerton may have gained more muscle mass after fitting for the first suit, explaining the problems. And despite Merlin's line, bespoke clothing actually requires multiple fittings and certainly much more lead time than the movie implies! These suits are worn with the same accoutrements as Harry's, the only difference being that his eyeglasses have black instead of tortoise frames.

The second and final suit donned by Eggsy. Note that the shirt collar is smaller spread to better frame Egerton's features.

The other briefly-seen agents wear the same style of suit but in plain navy worsted. Their suits do not appear as well made or fitting, but this is because they are not seen very much. Percival (Roxy's sponsor) is noteworthy in that his suit has a ticket pocket. This could be a vestige of an early costume sketch for Harry which includes very slanted hacking pockets and a ticket pocket.

Promotional photo that captures the differences between their suits well.
Note that "Jack" refers to Jack London, Harry Hart's equivalent in The Secret Service graphic novel.

Please let me know if you have any questions about the movie's costumes. If there is demand for it, I will write a bit more about the other characters' tailored clothing. A big thanks goes out to Matt Spaiser of The Suits of James Bond for inspiring this post and helping out a great deal.

Screencaps taken by kissthemgoodbye.net.

Comments

  1. Good article. Do you know what socks are being worn? Thanks!

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    1. I can't see the socks in enough detail so I didn't feel it worth commenting on. Probably ordinary cotton lisle, though they could certainly be wearing wool ribbed socks in the winter. I know that the socks at Kingsman x Mr Porter are made by Corgi, so they may very well be the same people who supplied them for the film. The colour looks black in the few shots I can see of Harry and Eggsy's, but I hope that is not the case as it would be a poor choice.

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    2. Thank you for the quick reply. Why is black a poor choice? Just wondering.

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    3. Black is uninspired. Most people, if they own only one pair of dress socks, own black. Worse yet, they might own several pairs of black thinking it's the only choice for black dress shoes. At work I advise my customers to choose socks that coordinate with their suit or trousers. So, charcoal suit with charcoal socks. The reason most are given is that it continues the leg visually when seated or walking, but I think the real reason is one of je ne sais quoi. Simply looks a lot better.

      You can get creative with socks if you're not in a conservative work environment, but they should coordinate to another part of your outfit like the tie or shirt. Failing that, at least a neutral that echoes something else. Cary Grant used to wear off-white dress socks which echoed his white shirts and avoided looking like white gym socks.

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  2. Just to make sure. Roping is that little bit where the shoulder raises up at the end?

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    1. Yes. A roped sleevehead. I'll link to a better description of the shoulder style for those confused by the terminology.

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  3. The buttons don't look any different from the usual. What am I missing? Thanks for all the info btw.

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    1. Most suit buttons come like this, flat with a lip on the edge.

      http://www.mistershop.com/noname.html

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  4. anything else that t&a shirts have thats different from american shirts

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    1. This is a more complete description of how Turnbull & Asser, indeed many Jermyn Street shirts, differ from American shirts: http://thesuitsofjamesbond.com/anatomy-of-a-turnbull-asser-shirt/

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  5. Great post Jovan ! This movie needs to be the seen, at least for the classic British cloths. I am glad you covered it, since I it looked like Matt wasn't interested !
    Still, the tweed 3-piece of the beginning, the velvet smoking jacket and the full morning dress outfit deserve some pictures too, don't you think ?
    One note though : you mention the double vents to be the only correct choice for a double breasted suit. What about a ventless rear, my friend ?! The standard for double breasted from the 1930s to 1950s, and a personal favorite of mine...

    Keep on the great work !

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    1. Hey, Le Chiffre, good to see you here. I didn't cover those outfits because it would add a lot of length to an already wordy and terminology-filled post. For which my friends and casual readers are probably already Googling like crazy. I may at a future date if there's enough demand.

      Ventless is not ideal except for on dinner jackets (and even then standards have relaxed a bit) because with a double breasted you generally keep it closed all day. Having no vents will restrict your movement more when sitting down and driving a car, also putting stress on the buttons and wrinkling your coat faster. And unlike on a single breasted jacket there isn't a single pivot point in the form of a top or middle button. You're fastening at least two buttons, one outside and one inside. (6x2 or six button, two to button refers to just the outside buttons, not the inner "jigger".) A single vent is inappropriate with double breasted coats since it looks out of place with the two rows of buttons in front. The standard for Savile Row used to be that you put double vents on double breasted, single vents on single breasted. It's only in the last half century or so that they've put double vents on single breasted jackets, perhaps caving to customer demands. Yet now it is the English standard for suits, go figure! I realize ventless was the fashion of the time period you like, but bespoke tailors were still putting vents on coats. The 1930s got a lot of things right, clothing wise, but a lot of other things I now feel are dated for a reason.

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    2. Jovan,

      Nice, complete reply. I agree with you that on a practical point of view, a ventless rear will wear out faster and isn't really practical for lots of everyday things. However, I think its formality is appropriate with a double-breasted suit, which is more formal than a single breasted one -because, as you wisely pointed it out, you have to keep the jacket closed at all time. After all, it is admitted that the ventless rear is the more formal option, thus it's now often only available on ready-to-wear dinner suits or strollers.

      You said : ' bespoke tailors were still putting vents on coats' on the period I mention, ie from the 1930s to the 1950s. I presume you were talking of single-breasted coats only. Being a big cinema enthusiast of movies of that time, when very often people wore their own clothes onscreen, I can assure you that the single vent made, well, rare apparitions on single breasted coats (often for hacking jackets and sport coats, more than the common suit jackets) in these decades, but really that wasn't the norm. Double vents, never. And double breasted suit jackets started to have double vents more in the 1960s. I have never seen a DB suit with double vents in a movie (or in photographs stills) of that period, only ventless ones. But I am very interested if you have some link, movie or any example to prove me wrong ! ;)

      It's very nice to chat with you, as usual !

      Cheers from France,

      Le Chiffre

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    3. Well I don't think double breasted jackets are more formal, just different. In fact, double breasted dinner jackets were considered less so when they first debuted and still are by many authorities.

      As for their appearance in movies, I don't think it's an entirely reliable resource since a lot of actors were also having their clothes bought or made with the fashions of the day in mind. Some things never really change.

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  6. Replies
    1. It is. A great little homage to spy films. Seeing the clothes in motion is worth watching at least once, however.

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  7. Hi Jovan!

    Very nice article. I didn't realize you've written it until about a few days ago. I enjoyed the movie very much and as you say, it is a great homage to spy films.
    I really like the shoulders on these suits. Lightly padded with some roping, which is my preference as well. It looks neat and can easily look good on most men.
    The lapels are also of classic width, rather than the skinny lapels we are seeing these days. Jovan, can you elaborate a little bit more about the lapel. What do you mean by the lapel's "belly"?

    My favorite suit in this film is actually the tweed suit worn by Lancelot in the opening sequence. I think it's a three piece with a checked shirt (tattersall?) and green knit tie. Do you think you'll be covering that suit as well?

    By the way, I just saw The Man from UNCLE a few days ago in the theaters here. Have you seen it? The plot is so-so but I think the outfits are great. I think it shows how a well fitting suit can enhance a very muscular man.

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    1. Thank you! Belly is the curve on the lapel. I might cover some more tailored clothing in the movie later. Haven't seen that movie, but heard it is fun.

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