It’s been quite the week for the royals, with news of a third baby for the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, Prince George starting school and his parents having to decide what surname he will use on his report card.
So what better way to celebrate all these royal happenings than by looking at the trend that pays homage to the unborn baby’s grandpa, the Prince of Wales.
A pattern fit for a (future) queen … the Duchess of Cambridge wears Prince of Wales check on a trip to Singapore in 2014. Photo: AP
Glen plaid, AKA Prince of Wales check, is hot in 2017, as seen on the February runways for Balenciaga and Raf Simons at Calvin Klein, whose plastic-coated raincoat was a thoroughly modern take on a very conservative pattern.
In his debut collection, Simons managed to do what Saville Row tailors have been avoiding for centuries – he made Prince of Wales check sexy.
Casual cool … model Bella Hadid gives Prince of Wales check the sport luxe treatment. Photo: AP
Meanwhile, Balenciaga’s Demna Gvasalia injected Prince of Wales into a cape coat that at once both subverted and accentuated the shoulder.
So how has this all played out in the Australian market?
Model and actress Cara Delevingne does oversized Prince of Wales check. Photo: AP
First, it’s important to go back, way back to the 19th century, when the New Zealand-born Countess of Seafield used the check pattern to outfit her gamekeepers.
So, like pavlova and Crowded House, we can thank our cousins across the ditch for the pattern that’s one of the defining prints of the upcoming season.
Sinners are winners … Jessica Biel in Self Portrait at the Tribeca Film Festival. Photo: Andy Kropa
The reason it’s commonly known as Prince of Wales check is the Duke of Windsor, Edward VIII, was a fan when he was serving in that capacity. But for the sake of today’s royals, let’s ascribe its status to Prince Charles.
Former US president Ronald Regan was also a fan, although he copped some stick in 1982 for wearing a checked suit on a trip to Europe.
Iconic … Cary Grant in North by Northwest in a Prince of Wales suit that has been named as one of the most iconic on screen.
But possibly its most famous incarnation in popular culture is when Cary Grant wore a Glen plaid suit in the 1959 film North by Northwest. The suit even earned the title of the most iconic on screen by Esquire magazine in 2015, beating Sean Connery’s three-piece suit in the Bond classic, Goldfinger.
It’s unclear when plaid became a popular print for women but at Melbourne Fashion Week last week it was a favourite among the street style stars and also popped up on several runways.
Victoria Beckham doing her best magician’s impersonation in New York. Photo: Tanya Kesey/STAR MAX/IPx
Eva Galambos, owner of Parlour X boutique, said Prince of Wales check gives instant French-girl cred to any look.
“Oozing with cool-girl Parisian spirit are Chloé and Isabel Marant’s feminine adaptations, as well as the ever experimental Junya Watanabe who has unconventionally re-worked the check with a modern spin,” she says.
And therein lies the rub. It may have its origins in 19th-century Scotland but designers are giving fresh takes on the pattern by using it just on sleeves (Balenciaga), adding ruffles and shots of colour (MSGM, Sara Battaglia) or playing with proportion and sleeves (Bianca Spender).
To help dress the trend for summer, try pairing a Prince of Wales blazer back with a summer dress in red and a pair of white trainers, or, for evening, throw one over your shoulders with a strapless black jumpsuit.
Make the trend work well into the new year, and the arrival of Kate and Wills’ little one, by opting for fine wools or long-line vests, and steering clear of heavy coats or jackets.
Get the look
MSGM at Parlour X, $945.
Tibi at Stylebop.com, $1612 (approx).
The Daily Edited, $130.
William Fan at Stylebop.com, $1388 (approx).
Bianca Spender, $925.
Tony Bianco, $170.
Need more inspiration? Shop our editor’s picks