“Oxfords, Not Brogues?” Men’s Style Review of “Kingsman: The Secret Service”

When it comes to the topic of men’s style on film, the spy genre seems to have something of a corner on the market (as evidenced by the James Bond franchise). In recent years, the new kid on the block has been the Kingsman series–and today, we’ll analyze what its first film, Kingsman: The Secret Service (from 2014) gets right and wrong about classic men’s style.

Based on Mark Millar and Dave Gibbons’ comic book series of the same name, and directed by Matthew Vaughn, the Kingsman series has had two films released so far. A prequel is coming up next and a third film in the main series also in development. On the surface, these films seem to be right up the alley of a classic menswear enthusiast, with sharp suits, black-tie ensembles, and more. The cover for the Kingsman organization is even a tailor shop on Savile Row! But how close do these movies actually hew to the tenets of classic men’s style?

The Kingsman HQ, fronting as a tailor shop on Savile Row

The Kingsman HQ, fronting as a tailor shop on Savile Row

A Style Review of Kingsman: The Secret Service

Let’s begin our analysis by breaking down the individual styles of the film’s key characters.

Harry Hart/Galahad

Colin Firth’s character, Harry Hart, is also known by his Kingsman codename “Galahad.” He typically wears traditionally English-styled suits in terms of their cut and structure. They’re double-breasted in a six-on-two style, in traditional colors and patterns. His signature suit seems to be navy with white pinstripes though we also see Glen checks at other points in the film. His shirts are almost always plain white and they usually have a semi-spread collar and French cuffs, into which oval-shaped gold cufflinks with the Kingsman insignia are inserted.

Harry Hart in a navy suit with white pinstripes

Harry Hart in a navy suit with white pinstripes

Like many of the Kingsman agents, he favors repp-striped ties; usually, these are in blue with accents in pink and brown. Going by the related clothing collection from the film that was released by Mr. Porter, his ties are in a cotton silk-blend and a faille weave. When not wearing a repp tie, he usually favors a pin-dot pattern.

Harry's signature attire

Harry’s signature attire, as realized by the clothing line from Mr. Porter

His other accessories include a plain white pocket square (presumably in linen) in a straight TV fold, a gold watch with a brown leather band, and a gold signet ring. His rectangular framed glasses are standard-issue for Kingsman agents, as are the watch and the ring, along with other gadgets including a pen, umbrella, and cigarette lighter. His shoes of choice which, again, are standard for most Kingsman agents, are black cap-toe oxfords–but we’ll revisit the concept of shoes in a little while.

Harry wearing a cream-colored cardigan sweater and gray flannel trousers

Harry wearing a cream-colored cardigan sweater and gray flannel trousers

Other outfits seen in the first film from Harry Hart include a blue velvet dinner jacket with black satin lapels, a white silk pocket square, and black velvet bow tie, tartan trousers, and black patent oxfords with a white plain front tuxedo shirt. We also see a red dressing gown with a curious almost ulster-like collar, white pajamas with edge-stitching, and velvet slippers with the Kingsman crest. Another outfit includes a white shirt, cream-colored cardigan sweater, and gray flannel trousers.

Overall, Harry’s style is generally well done. There are a few details that are less commendable, however. His jacket sleeves are long enough that he often shows little-to-no shirt cuff, he pairs a brown watch band with black shoes, and when in his black-tie ensemble, he appears to have skipped a waist covering.

Cummerbund in Black Silk Satin

Don’t forget the waist covering! Check out this Cummerbund in Black Silk Satin by Fort Belvedere

Gary “Eggsy” Unwin

Next, we’ll discuss the new recruit and second main character of the film, Gary Unwin, called “Eggsy,” played by Taron Egerton. Through most of the film, Eggsy is seen in a variety of street-style ensembles, with things like striped polo shirts, bomber jackets, ball caps, jeans, sneakers, and bracelets. Even when going on a training mission with the Kingsman in a slightly more formal environment, he still keeps with this casual mode of dressing. Seen in a hoodie with a loud graphical motif, a white cap, black-and-gold polo, high-top shoes, and a gold necklace.

Eggsy looking casual in his hoodie jacket and baseball cap

Eggsy looking casual in his hoodie and baseball cap

In the final scenes of the film, though, when Eggsy has fully embraced his role as a Kingsman, he adopts Galahad’s signature suit style: navy with white pinstripes and repp tie, though tied at first in a looser full Windsor knot that’s larger and bolder than what Colin Firth’s character typically wore throughout the film.

Eggsy in a full Kingsman ensemble towards the end of the film

Eggsy in a full Kingsman ensemble towards the end of the film

Eggsy does, then, show a progression from casual to formal ensembles in this movie–but we’ll discuss this in greater depth when we cover the sequel, so stay tuned for another post coming soon!

The Remaining Kingsman Agents

On top of the main characters, though, there are other important characters or particularly stylish outfits seen in the first film, which we’ll cover next.

Arthur

Michael Caine’s Arthur also wears a double-breasted suit in a slightly softer flannel with an orange overcheck and an edged pocket square, and is shown wearing a grey scarf at another point in the film. His favorite tie throughout the film is a pink one with a black stripe for an accent. Another outfit consists of a pink shirt, mid-grey suit with a tan-and-black overcheck, blue pocket square edged in white, and some simple gold cufflinks.

Arthur in a double-breasted suit and his favorite pink tie with black stripe accent.

Merlin

Over the course of the film, Mark Strong’s Merlin character is usually seen in understated and slightly less formal neutral colors. He’ll wear things like v-neck sweaters and cardigans, solid ties, and of course, clubmaster glasses. Toward the end of the film, he’s also seen in a blazer, but this, of course, is part of a more traditional pilot’s uniform.

Merlin in his usual attire

Merlin in his usual attire

Lancelot

The first Kingsman we see to bear the codename Lancelot, played by Jack Davenport, shows up early in the film wearing a particularly stylish outfit of a tattersall shirt, green solid tie, olive three-piece suit with an overcheck, a red pocket square, and some brown shoes.

Lancelot with a very stylish ensemble.

Lancelot with a very stylish ensemble.

Potential Kingsman Recruits

When we first see the other potential recruits for the Kingsman program, they’re all wearing slightly different outfits, but we thought we’d give a brief mention of them here. Most of them consist of looks that generally fall within the Prep, Ivy, and Trad schools featuring things like repp ties, blazers, and sport coats with odd trousers, chukka boots, quarter-zip sweaters, some jeans, and also horse-bit loafers.

The Kingsman potential recruits.

The Kingsman potential recruits.

To give a nod to the female characters in the film: Amelia wears a bit more of a modern style, whereas Roxy’s first outfit is contemporary, though it does also seem to draw a bit from the tradition of British riding attire

The two women from the potential recruits: Amelia, (left) in a more modern style, and Roxy, (right) in a contemporary outfit.

The two women from the potential recruits: Amelia, (left) in a more modern style, and Roxy, (right) in a contemporary outfit.

Once the recruits are out of their normal clothes, they’re all put into jumpsuits that do have traditional menswear patterns worn over white oxford cloth button-down shirts.

Eggsy looking stylish even in a jumpsuit.

Eggsy looking stylish even in a jumpsuit.

The character of Charlie, something of an antagonist for Eggsy, is shown to be a bit flashier in his style, wearing the aforementioned horse-bit loafers as well as an Hermes belt when we first see him. Later elements for Charlie throughout the film include things like a red velvet dinner jacket with a contrasting lapel, and white shirt red socks, and an ensemble with a navy blazer and loud yellow trousers.

Charlie wearing a red velvet dinner jacket on one of their "missions."

Charlie wearing a red velvet dinner jacket on a recruitment mission

Looks of Other Characters: Valentine & More

Richmond Valentine

Turning more to casual wear, let’s discuss the style of the first film’s villain: Richmond Valentine, played by Samuel L. Jackson. Throughout most of the film, he wears a variety of outfits consisting of matching polos and baseball caps layered with shirts and other outerwear, high tops, lots of leather, and suede. Two outfits we can single out:a shirt and hat in plum color, a brown corduroy suit, brown and gray cardigan sweater, and a necklace, pictured here.

Valentine in a plum shirt and hat, and a brown corduroy suit

Valentine in a plum shirt and hat, and a brown corduroy suit

Another would be his first in the film, consisting of what appears to be a yellow oxford cloth button-down shirt, yellow v-neck sweater, parka white Yankees cap, chinos, snow boots, and his signature clear-framed eyeglasses. A notable departure from this character’s standard looks is when we see him in the Kingsman tailoring shop at which point, he’s put on a morning-dress ensemble. This outfit features a slipped waistcoat in buff color, a blue tie, and a Winchester shirt and a black top hat from Lock & Co., as well as black oxford shoes.

We also see Valentine in a morning dress ensemble towards the end of the film

We also see Valentine in a morning dress ensemble towards the end of the film

Professor Arnold

Mark Hamill’s Professor Arnold is seen in what would be considered more typical country wear, with a greater emphasis on textures and earthier colors. The first of his two outfits in the film consists of a brown corduroy jacket, micro pattern bow tie, corduroys, a Prince of Wales pattern shirt, herringbone cardigan, and some boots. The second outfit features a darker brown corduroy jacket, Fair Isle vest, white shirt, chinos, and brown shoes.

Professor Arnold sporting a brown corduroy jacket, Fair Isle vest, white shirt, and chinos.

Professor Arnold sporting a brown corduroy jacket, Fair Isle vest, white shirt, and chinos.

Swedish Prime Minister

Another character to cover here is Bjørn Floberg’s Swedish Prime Minister, who dresses more like a typical politician or government figure might be expected to. Outfits he’s seen in throughout the film include a solid navy blue suit, white shirt, and light blue solid tie; a black suit and grey tie; and a charcoal suit with a red tie and blue shirt. Meanwhile, his guards also wear fairly typical ensembles of black suits, white shirts, and striped ties.

Swedish Prime Minister from Kingsman

Swedish Prime Minister from the film sporting a solid navy blue suit, white shirt, and a light blue solid tie.

Interrogator

The character known as the “Interrogator,” played by Richard Brake, is seen in two different ensembles in the film. The first consists of a white shawl-collared dinner jacket with pick stitching, a white shirt, and a black silk tie, and the second shows a black Nehru jacket.

The interrogator

The interrogator in a white shawl-collared dinner jacket.

Eggsy’s Stepfather

Eggsy’s stepfather, Dean Baker (played by Geoff Bell) typically dresses fairly informally, but one outfit we see him in toward the end of the film is a bit more stylish. It consists of a navy Harrington jacket, red pin-dot day ascot, a patterned panel cap, and some leather boots.

Eggsy's stepfather dean wearing a navy Harington jacket.

Eggsy’s stepfather dean wearing a navy Harington jacket.

Other Characters

Working-class characters are also depicted fairly realistically in the film. Examples of this would include Ralph Ineson’s policeman character, who wears a gray sharkskin suit with a 1990s style shirt-and-tie combo and an overall baggy fit. He does have a slightly more modern overcoat, however.

The policeman in a gray sharkskin suit.

The policeman from the film in a gray sharkskin suit.

Finally, we’ll mention Corey Johnson’s pastor character, who wears an ensemble of a poorly fitting gray suit, mustard yellow shirt, and a fairly ugly paisley tie.

The pastor from the film in a hideous ensemble.

The pastor from the film in a hideous ensemble.

Our Thoughts On The Film’s Menswear Styles

In general, costume designer Ariane Phillips seems to have had fun designing the various looks for each of the characters. There are many interesting outfits for menswear enthusiasts to look at in this film. However, the devil is in the details, and for those with a truly exacting eye, some of these smaller points will seem a bit more sloppy.

Ariane Phillips

Ariane Phillips, costume designer of the Kingsman film.

As a case in point here, we’ll look at one of the first film’s most well-known quotes: “Oxfords, not brogues.” When giving Eggsy a tour of the various Kingsman gadgets, Galahad tells him that oxfords are “any formal shoe with open lacing.” However, this is actually incorrect, as oxfords have closed lacing, which defines them as such. Meanwhile, derby shoes have an open lacing style. If you’d like to learn more about the difference between oxfords, derbies, and bluchers, our guide has you covered!

oxfords not brogues

Oxfords, not Brogues?

Galahad makes a further error by classifying brogues as being mutually exclusive from oxfords. In fact, broguing is just any decorative detail of hole punching on a shoe, and it can be found on any shoe style, be that oxfords, derbies, or bluchers.

A cognac wingtip derby shoe with broguing versus a simple black captoe oxford, both from Acemarks

A cognac wingtip derby shoe with broguing versus a simple black cap toe oxford, both from Ace Marks

So overall, the style of the first Kingsman film isn’t bad, but it’s not quite as perfect as its well-tailored spy characters would like you to believe.

Is Kingsman: The Secret Service a Good Watch, Overall?

Setting aside the specific issue of the wardrobe choices for a moment, what do we think about the film itself? Speaking personally, I can say that I did find it enjoyable to watch, not only for the wardrobe but also for the plot itself. Of course, the film does have an R rating for its gratuitous action, violence, gore, and occasional crude humor and subject matter.

Harry Hart in a gray suit, white shirt, and navy tie with white polka dots and Eggsy, wearing a polo shirt, baseball cap, and a hoodie jacket with dollar bill pattern

Harry Hart in a gray suit, white shirt, and navy tie with white polka dots and Eggsy, wearing a polo shirt, baseball cap, and a hoodie jacket with a graphical pattern

In other words, it’s not necessarily gentlemanly on all fronts, should that impact your desire to see it. Still, it does approach the world of menswear and the gentleman’s lifestyle overall with what could be characterized as an aspirational or appreciative tone. For that, we can give it praise. There are several worthwhile quotes from the film that exemplify this, including:

  • “Manners maketh man.”
  • “The suit is a modern gentleman’s armor.”
  • “Being a gentleman has nothing to do with the circumstances of one’s birth. Being a gentleman is something one learns.”
  • “Being a gentleman has nothing to do with one’s accent, it’s about being at ease in one’s own skin.”
One of the famous scenes in the film where Harry and later, Eggsy, taught the thugs a lesson: "manners maketh man."

One of the famous scenes in the film where Harry and later, Eggsy, taught the thugs a lesson: “manners maketh man.”

They also feature a quote from the author Ernest Hemingway: “There is nothing noble in being superior to your fellow man, true nobility is being superior to your former self.” These are certainly sentiments that, in the broad strokes, we can get behind. They dovetail nicely with guides we’ve produced in the past about What It Means To Be A Gentleman Today, as well as Lies That Men Are Sold by modern society. They also touch on other gentlemanly topics, like proper table manners and how to mix cocktails

Proper table manners were also discussed in the film.

Proper table manners were also discussed in the film.

Overall, then, if the Kingsman films serve as an entry point into the world of classic menswear for young men, action film fans, or anyone else, we see this as a good thing. Just remember that their menswear advice shouldn’t be followed as strictly as the mission briefing of a super spy!

What do you think of the menswear styles in Kingsman: The Secret Service? Share with us in the comments!

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