Despite being a five year old film, The Man From UNCLE’s fashion and style is still looked at, referenced, and admired to this day.
In fact, I remember going to see it in the cinema when I was 14, and have strong recollections of being dazzled by the style and swagger of the picture.
With the suave Napoeleon Solo, played by Henry Cavill, and the rugged and manly Illya kuryakin, played by Armie Hammer, the film maintains an awesome balance of casual and sophisticated looks.
I was instantly inspired by the classic and slightly bolder 1960’s fashion in this film, which has firmly found its way into my personal style.
This article will cover the signature early 60s The Man From UNCLE style, and how you can emulate it in the modern day.
The Man From Uncle Outfits Fast Track
- The Man From Uncle Suits
- Napoleon Solo’s Suits
- Illya’s Suits
- Shoes From The Film
- The Man From Uncle Jackets
- Napoleon Solo’s Style (Shirt, Ties, Watch, Signet Ring)
- Illia Kuryakin’s Style (Hat, Watch)
The Man From Uncle Fashion
Though the film is set in 1963, the outfits were curated by looking at the 1966-1968 window; none the less, the fashion and style of the film is a standout feature.
The clothing reflects the 1963 European setting, frequently featuring lighter colours, a slim fit, British patterns, and 60’s associated clothing items, such as turtlenecks and Harrington jackets. Napoleon Solo’s and Illya Kuryakin’s outfits are era appropriate, but are classic enough to bring into your wardrobe in the modern day.
The costume designer told vogue “I started in the loose sixties, and then used my interpretation to see what would fall in well today, in contemporary fashion . . . I have a sort of consciousness, but I didn’t study it too heavily.” This is great news, as The Man From Uncle wardrobe will still ‘fall in well today’.
The suits, especially those worn by Napoleon Solo, are one of the main aspects that has kept the film’s style relevant. Apart from a few minor details, most of the suits worn wouldn’t look out of place in today’s age.
A large theme in the film is ‘Russia vs America’, which is reflected in the suiting choices of the two leading men.
Napoleon Solo’s suits portray him as a Western sophisticate, with lighter colours, and more formal features, such as waistcoats and turn back cuffs. On the other hand, Illya shies away from tailoring, but when required, prefers darker and more practical colours.
This next section will go over the suits worn in The Man From Uncle, and how you can emulate them.
Despite being American, the suave ex military conman Napoleon Solo, played by Henry Cavill, has a pension for English tailoring, and, according to this article by Bloomberg, wears the London tailor’s Timothy Everest suits throughout the film.
Most of Napoleon Solo’s suits feature strong, structured shoulders, notched lapels, straight flapped pockets, a ticket pocket, and a thee buttoned jacket with a single vent and a squared off front edge.
His waistcoats are all five buttons, and, like his suit jackets, are cut straight at the bottom.
“We were referencing the latter part of the 1960s rather than the early years, with details including covered buttons and squared off front edge,” – Timothy Everest
Personally, with a man as built up as Henry Cavill, I would have forgone the heavy shoulder padding to help balance his shoulder to hip ratio. I feel the shoulders on Cavill’s suits almost comically accentuate his broadness. This may have been done to emphasise his place as the main ‘heroic’ and ‘strong’ character – however, it is likely just a blunder.
It is evident that Napoleon Solo enjoys wearing suits, as, compared to his Russian counterpart, he is seen more frequently in them in situations that require manoeuvrability, such as in the opening sequence. On top of this, they feature more specialist and sartorial nuances that indicate interest.
The Grey Berlin Suit
In the opening sequence in Berlin, Napoleon Solo wears this twill grey wool three piece suit.
This outfit features all of the typical Napoleon Solo suit traits, such a strong shoulders, and three buttons. With it, he wears accessories consisting of a navy tie with a subtle pattern, and a snazzy white and navy polka dotted pocket square.
Oh, and, the modern Evian water bottle is not an accessory or secret spy gadget in the film, for your information.
The tapered trousers of this suit feature what looks to be a half to a quarter break, and drape well to create a nice line. In the outfit, they are paired with a classic pair of black half brogues.
Interestingly, his jacket sleeves are turned back, which is a feature I have only seen on dinner jackets. To add to this, the cuff only features one button, which is made from the same fabric as the suit.
From these details on cuff alone, we can see that the suit is clearly bespoke, though this would be appropriate for the time period.
The Blue Double-Breasted Windowpane Check Suit
Though we don’t get a good look at it, during his mission briefing with US and Russian intelligence, Solo wears what looks to be navy-green double breasted suit with a subtle windowpane.
With this, he wears a navy tie with a repeating pattern of white diamonds (which makes a few appearances later), and a pocket square of the same colour as the suit.
Teal-Blue Windowpane Checked Suit
During the shopping scenes in Berlin, and then the gang’s arrival in Italy, Solo can be seen in this light blue three-piece wool suit with a windowpane and over check.
He wears a burgundy tie with a light blue paisley repeating pattern, and a navy pocket square.
I believe that this is also the same suit that he wears in the closing sequence.. To add to this, as you can see from this rather awkward image below (I had to, it’s the only shot in the film you can see them), Solo’s suit trousers forgo belt loops, and feature side adjusters, allowing the trousers to stay up without a belt. The trousers also feature a right-back jetted pocket.
Out of all of the suit patterns in The Man From Uncle, I would say that this is the least modern, and for some reason (probably the overcheck), looks slightly dated. However, that said, I’m sure you could still pull it off if you knew what you were doing.
Light Grey Prince of Wales Check Suit
Solo wears this handsome three piece suit when investigating the main villain, Victoria, at a race track.
The suit features a Glen Plaid with a classic light blue over check (making it a Prince of Wales Check), similar to the one that George Lazenby wears in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service.
Again, the main difference here is that the suit jacket features three buttons, strong shoulders, and has a squared bottom.
Topping it off with a silver tie that features something close to a houndstooth pattern, and an ecru polka dot pocket square, this is easily my favourite outfit from the Man From Uncle.
Royal Blue Striped Suit
Towards the end of the film, Napoleon Solo changes into this royal blue subtly pinstriped suit, which again follows most of the tropes we’ve seen before.
However, this suit jacket features a medium width peaked lapel, which again furthers the problem of overly accentuating Henry Cavill’s chest. On top of this, I feel that his jacket sleeves are about an inch too short, as in my opinion there is too much shirt cuff showing.
He pairs this suit with brown oxfords (as discussed later), a sky blue shirt, and the same brown paisley tie that he wore earlier in the film.
What To Take From Napoleon Solo’s Man From Uncle Suits
As mentioned, Solo’s suits all follow similar fashions and styling.
To dress like Napoleon Solo in tailoring, you’ll want to:
- Wear a three buttoned suit jacket with strong shoulders, a ticket pocket, and a squared off bottom.
- Make the suit a three piece by wearing a straight cut waistcoat, if you have the option.
- Have a quarter break, gentle taper, and side adjusters on your trousers.
- Bring in fabric patterns such as windowpane.
It’s hard to verbalise a reason why, but, in my opinion, Illya’s suits solidify his Russian-ness. With a fondness of dark ensembles and nontraditional styling choices such as green pin stripes, Kuryakin stands out without sticking out.
The Italy Suit
Illya wears this very dark and practical, presumably wool, suit when the crew arrive to Italy. He pairs what looks to be a novelty tie with it, and forgoes a pocket square.
The Pinstriped Suit
The day after, he is again seen in tailoring, but this time in a dark brown suit with an interesting faint green pinstripe.
He pairs it with a medium green shirt, a navy tie, and a green pocket square.
As is the case in most films, we don’t get a good look at the footwear, as the action is… well, away from their feet.
However, we get a close up of Napoleon Solo’s black semi-brogue (my favourite type of brogue) toe capped shoes in the opening sequence.
These epic shoes, supposedly from George Cleverly, perfectly bridge the gap between a full brogue and a non-patterned dress shoe.
Throughout the rest of the film, Solo can be seen in brown Crockett & Jones “Courtenay” oxfords, which features 5 eyelets and a rounded toe.
For Illya, in the opening scenes and worn with his suede jacket, he can be seen wearing what looks to be toe capped oxblood chukka boots, though it’s hard to tell from the dimly lit shot. In any case, these boots are killer, and really add to the masculine aesthetic started by the suede jacket.
Also, during the nighttime facility raid, Illya wears black trainers, instead of boots.
The Man From Uncle also features some really great jackets, many of which are casual.
Napoleon Solo Jackets
The ‘Toilet’ Stone Rain Coat
Solo wears this stone cotton rain coat the first time he comes face to face with Illia after the opening sequence.
Though it doesn’t get a lot of screen time, something like this is really appropriate for both smart and casual looks.
Napoleon Solo’s ‘Break in’ Harrington Jacket
During a covert break in sequence, Solo wears this dark navy Harrington jacket, with silver zip wear and a turn down collar.
Like other items, such as some of Illya’s jackets, this look is influenced by 60s style icon Steve McQueen, especially when taking into account the smooth combination it creates with the turtleneck.
Though this specific Harrington isn’t the one McQueen wore, something like this can be picked up rather inexpensively, but will really provide a cool classic aesthetic.
The original style worn in by Steve McQueen is the Baracuta G9, which retails for around £300 (not rather inexpensive, in my opinion).
Illya Kuryakin’s Jackets
The Congnac Suede Bomber Jacket
This bomber jacket, supposedly from Ralph Lauren and costing $2000, is simply awesome.
Of a similar style to Napoleon Solo’s Harrington, this bomber features a turn down collar and patch pockets. The suede colour works really well with the turtleneck Illia is wearing, and helps both items pop.
Illya’s Harrington Jackets
I’ve already discussed the appeal of Solo’s Harrington. Illia’s are no exception, and, unlike the previous one we saw Solo wear, looks to be an actual G9. The lighter beige colour is also a welcome addition to the Man From Uncle wardrobe, and again hearkens back to a famous Steve McQueen photo.
“He’s all about the vanity and projection of his appearance—so expensive, good-looking, and chic,”
“When I was putting together Napoleon Solo’s look, I was inspired by Steve McQueen in The Thomas Crown Affair”
– Oscar-nominated costume designer Joanna Johnston told Bloomberg & Men’s Journal in 2015.
In the film, Napoleon Solo’s style is classic, and almost bond-ish. Though, unlike the other super spy, he has more of a tending towards more experimental patterns and colours.
Napoleon Solo’s Shirts
With his suits, Solo wears standard button up dress shirts, which, according to Men’s Journal, are from James Bond’s shirt maker Turnball and Asser.
They all feature:
- A classic, pointed, collar
- French cuffs (that take cufflinks)
- A Slim-relaxed fit
Throughout the film, we see him in white, light blue and beige shirts.
Napoleon Solo Ties
As is in line with the rest of his taste, Solo tends towards classic and versatile patterns on his ties. They are never block colours, and all feature a repeating pattern that works well with the suit he is wearing.
Here, we see a mix of teal, silver and brown colours, with classic patterns such as floral, pseudo-houndstooth, and paisley. The patterns in his ties are never of the same size of the pattern of his suit, which helps ensure harmony. If you’re looking to bring patterns into your neck wear, this is now to do it.
Solo ties his ties using a ‘four in hand’ knot, which works with his chosen pointed collar type.
Napoleon Solo’s Watch (1963 Omega De Ville)
Unfortunately there’s not a close up, or any clear shot, of Napoleon Solo’s wrist watch from the film.
However, from this still we can see that it’s a golden dress watch with a white face, and a black strap. On top of this, less revealing shots show that Solo’s watch is a chronograph.
Again, according to Bloomberg, this watch is a vintage ‘Omega’ from their archives.
Using all of this information to look through Omega’s online archives, my best guess is that Napoleon Solo’s watch is the 1963 OMEGA De Ville BA 141.0009, an 18 karat solid yellow gold mechanical watch.
Yes, the strap is different, but given that this watch was made in the same year as the film is set, and has all of the other features, I think that it’s a good bet.
Napoleon Solo’s Signet Ring
Solo wears a signet ring on his left pinkie finger throughout the film.
According to the film’s costume designer:
“It’s such an English thing – Henry was very keen on it as well, so I made one for him at a local independent jeweler.”
The bespoke ring was allegedly designed by Henry Cavill himself, and features the two faces of the Greek god Janus.
In the hotel scene (after he finishes up with the receptionist), we see Solo in this navy robe with a teal stripe and shawl lapel.
Napoleon Solo’s Turtlenecks
No Man From Uncle style break down would be complete without mentioning the infamous black turtleneck.
Henry Cavill wears this at a couple of points during the film, notably in action set pieces, and looks about as suave as you’d expect.
The Illya Kuryakin Hat
As seen above, they come in a few different patterns and colours:
- Grey mini grid with a red over check
- Medium grey flannel
- Green large gingham
It’s a really great casual hat that has been even more recently re-popularised by the Peaky Blinders, and I’m sure will still be in style for the foreseeable future. However, it does take confidence and know-how to pull off well.
Illya Kuryakin Turtleneck
Like Solo, Illya pairs a dark turtleneck with many of his outfits in the Man From Uncle. This is a refined and stylish 60s throwback that you can easily implement into your style, especially in the deep navy colour that Illya wears.
Illya Kuryakin’s Watch
Unfortunately, though it’s a plot point, we don’t get a good look at the watch that Illya wears. Though, given the exposition around it, it’s likely to be a Russian watch made in the early 20th century.
The Man From Uncle Fashion Conclusion
If you check out my Instagram, you can probably see a lot of The Man From Uncle style in my pictures; I confess, this film really inspired me, and helped start me on my personal style journey.
And good thing too, as the clothing in this film is super stylish, classic and timeless.
Now that we’ve looked through the clothing, style and fashion from 2015’s ‘The Man From Uncle’, it’s time for you to seek out some turtlenecks and Prince of Wales suits, and looks awesome.