The Prince of Wales Plaid
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Nicknamed after the Prince of Wales (later known as Edward VII) who famously popularized the check, The Prince of Wales check is also known as glen check, glen plaid (in the US) and Glen Urquhart check. Although nowadays the terms are used interchangeably, it takes a trained eye and a true tailoring aficionado to know the subtle differences and understand the complex, yet fascinating history behind the two. Allow us to give you the 101…
Dating back to the early 19th century, the glen check was first developed by the Countess of Seafield in the valley of Glenurquhart in Invernesshire, Scotland as the Seafield estate’s signature tweed. It was here that The Prince of Wales, who often went shooting at the estate, discovered and borrowed the check to make his own variation. It was then further popularized stateside by his stylish grandson, the Duke of Windsor (formerly known as Edward VIII, of abdication fame.)
The pattern is made up of two dark and two light stripes alternating with four dark and four light stripes to create a crossing pattern of irregular checks. The Seafield estate’s original glen check featured a woven twill in a repeated pattern of large broken checks in shades of black and grey and was considered highly inventive at the time. The Prince of Wales first adapted the check by simply changing the colors to brown and cream. As he continued to adjust the check, he later went on to shrink it down to the smaller size that is better known today. The Duke of Windsor followed in the footsteps of his well-dressed grandfather and made his own modifications by boldly adding overchecks in red and blue.
There is no doubt that the Duke of Windsor was quickly established as a style icon thanks to his daring tailoring instincts, his avant-garde pattern play, and, of course, his unquestionably dapper Prince of Wales suits. Yet while the fabric has royal origins, it continues to make a splash in pop culture to this day. It has been regularly featured in the James Bond films, from Sean Connery to Daniel Craig, and stars from Ronald Reagan and to Pee-Wee Herman have made bold statements on camera decked out in the Prince of Wales check. As an everlasting favorite among the best on Savile Row and thanks to contemporary designs from renowned menswear designers such a Ralph Lauren and Tom Ford, glen check and Prince of Wales checks still make an impactful appearance in fashion editorials and on red carpets worldwide.