Where did Callan get his suit in But He’s a Lord, Mr Callan?

Caroline and Callan in the gun room as he hands her the negatives from grey box file

In the missing episode But He’s a Lord, Mr Callan, Callan hands over a portion of gambling winnings to his ex-colleague, who says there should be more. Callan tells him, “Fifty quid expenses. I’ve got to look smart when I stay with a lord, haven’t I?” Later, Lonely comes to collect Callan’s things for their weekend with Lord Lindale. Lonely clocks the suit, commenting, “Cor! You don’t half have some lovely gear, Mr Callan.” He’s evidently gone to feel the cloth as Callan tells him, “Take your dirty hands off it.”

So what’s the usually shabby Callan wearing and where he might he have bought it?

We have a photo from later in the episode at Bootwood Hall. Callan is wearing a dark, single-breasted herringbone suit, blue shirt and grey tie. Let’s take this, what we know about Callan, and his £50 budget (£1,202 approx. in 2024) to explore his options in 1967.

Caroline and Callan in the gun room

1967’s high street

If we look at high street stores, we get an idea of what most people were paying for their suits. In 1967 John Collier had Terylene/Worsted suits from £10.19.6, while Burton offered wool and Terylene from a little more at £12.19.6 and up to 19 guineas in other cloths with Terylene. Neville Reed were using Patrick Macnee as The Avengers‘ John Steed to advertise the “hidden toughness” of their “impeccable” wool worsted suits at £17.19.6.

This is probably what Callan was usually paying for his suits (and he’d make use of Neville Reed’s “hidden toughness”. It’s worth highlighting that even these high street suits would have been tailored: Burton were the biggest chain in the country and in 1963 said that 90% of their suits were made-to-measure. It was still the preferred choice and ready-to-wear options weren’t as varied or widespread. Burton did promote a ready-to-wear Burton Director suit in the mid-60s, but this was even more expensive than their tailored suits, ranging from 21 to 29 guineas.

This means that even the cheapest high street suits were relatively expensive compared to the ready-to-wear ones available today – an M&S suit can cost under £100 and, while now online-only, Burton’s suits start at around £200. In 2024 currency, the tailored 1967 suits range from £264 to £480, so it’s easy to understand why Callan and other working class men would often own few suits, even if they were worn regularly.

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High-priced and ready-to-wear suits

At the other end of the spectrum, a Saville Row suit would set you back at least £80 (£1,924 in 2024). Away from there, by the mid-1960s tailors like Blades wanted to offer something that combined the elegance of Saville Row with the snappier style of Carnaby Street. When they moved to new premises in Burlington Gardens in early 1967, Blades’ prices ranged from £75 to £120 (£1,803 to £2,885 in 2024).

Later in 1967 Blades would introduce a ready-to-wear range from 50 guineas, but this episode is recorded in May, so we’re going to presume that’s not an option for Callan yet. If he was pushed for time, Harrods was selling ready-to-wear suits by Savile Row tailor Chester Barrie. They were available earlier, but the closest price I can find is from November 1967 when a three-piece suit was £52 (£1,250 in 2024). Admittedly though, it’s a little out of Callan’s budget – would he really go out of pocket?

Harrods advert for Chester Barrie suits

Dedicated followers of fashion

1967 is an exciting time for men’s fashion, although we know from the rest of the series that Callan is never going to fully embrace it (Edward Woodward himself is another story). He isn’t wearing a colourful suit from Carnaby Street. In fact, even if they were offering something a little less loud, the now-famous Soho street had become more of a tourist trap and was getting a reputation for cheap, poor quality clothes (probably fine if you were a young hip person happy to change them every few months). Yet over in Chelsea on the increasingly fashionable King’s Road you could get an entire suit from the boutique Granny Takes a Trip or even tailors Allsopp, Brindle & Boyle for less than £40 (£962 in 2024).

Upmarket West End stores

Helping to bridge the gap between all of the above were various West End stores, including Austin Reed and Simpson of Piccadilly. In 1965 both stores had launched sub-brands, respectively Cue and Trend. They were targetted at young men aged 25-35, those who had a bit more money but were too old for mod and hippie fashion. Even if Callan was a little outside that, these stores had their other ranges too, which could cater to more conservative tastes.

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Austin Reed advertised both Cue and its main range of suits at £30-32 (£721-£769 in 2024). Simpson leaned a tad pricier, with some Trend suits around £27 (£650 in 2024), although sometimes that would only cover the jacket, while Simpson’s main DAKS range started from around £36 (£866 in 2024).

These seem the most likely choice for Callan’s suit. They offer the price range and quality for Callan’s “lovely gear”, and a couple of new shirts at £3-4 each (£72-£96 in 2024) and a tie at £2 (£48 in 2024) would leave him with change from his £50. I’m inclined towards Simpson in particular because James Mitchell’s earlier creation, John Craig, heads there to hurriedly buy himself a suit in The Man Who Sold Death (1964). There are plenty of similarities between the two characters and their espionage worlds, so I reckon James Mitchell could well have imagined sending them both to the same clothing store.

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