Menswear Academy

Prince of Wales fabric: how to wear glen plaid

prince of wales glen plaid blazer

Glen plaid, also known as Prince of Wales fabric, or glen urquhart check, is a distinctive wool fabric, a menswear suiting classic. What are its origins, and how can you incorporate the motif into your outfits?.

Why is glen plaid called Prince of Wales fabric?

According to one theory, the history of glen plaid runs back to the early 19th century, when king George IV asked Scottish clan members to adopt their characteristic tartans when attending hearings. English landowners living in Scotland had no such tartan, and so adopted the glen Urquhart check pattern, which was probably invented by Elizabeth Macdougall in Lewiston and later used by Lady Caroline, Countess of Seafield, for her Glen Urquhart estate, as outfits for her gamekeepers.

The Prince of Wales, later to become Edward VII, often went shooting on the Glen Urquhart estate, and here he saw this check pattern and used it for his own sports outfits in the late 19th century. His grandson Edward, Prince of Wales from 1911 to 1936, and briefly king in 1936, also loved the fabric, and possibly popularized the version with a fine red or blue overcheck in addition to the traditional black and white colors. The two princes made Prince of Wales cloth into an iconic menswear fashion motif.

prince of wales wool fabric

Prince of Wales: wool fabric for winter (and more)

You can recognize Prince of Wales wool fabric or glen plaid from its pattern, with intersecting groups of bolder lines that form a houndstooth motif at their intersection, alternating with squares of a much finer geometrical pattern. Today it has become a menswear classic, immediately recognizable and a favorite wool fabric for winter, typically as a sporty glen plaid jacket. But it is very versatile and can be used equally in summer, in the form of classic jackets and blazers, or as a pattern for a shirt or tie.


Glen plaid trouser combinations

Glen plaid is bold and eye-catching, and so it tends to become the center-piece of an outfit. An effective combination is a Prince of Wales blazer over a tan merino wool polo shirt, a white sweater and a pair of dark wash denim jeans or other men’s trousers. The colors of all three garments appear in the Prince of Wales blazer, and so the outfit is perfectly coordinated

The same principle can be applied to Prince of Wales trousers, accompanied by a black polo-neck jumper and a pair of black leather sneakers. The Prince of Wales pattern can be found in different color schemes, such as beige, brown or blue. Follow the same procedure: just one glen plaid garment, with the others in solid color referencing the hues of the Prince of Wales pattern.

glen plaid trousers by Boggi Milano

Prince of Wales suit: when to wear it

A Boggi Milano Prince of Wales suit is a spectacular outfit, classical enough for use as an office look, but expressing a jaunty creativity.

The easiest way to coordinate a Prince of Wales suit is to accompany it with a solid-color shirt in a hue recalling the lightest tone in the glen plaid pattern, with a small-pattern tie and plain sweater or vest in mid-tone colors included in the glen plaid, and sneakers approximating to the darkest tone.

prince of wales suit glen plaid Boggi Milano

While flamboyant, the glen plaid pattern also expresses business style when worn as a 2-piece or 3-piece suit. Over the years, personalities who have worn glen plaid include Sean Connery’s James Bond, Eddie Redmayne, Cary Grant and many others. Why not you? With glen plaid, you can be Prince of Wales even if your name is not Charles!