Tuesday, May 27, 2014

'Know Your Patterns' - Glen Plaid

So I took some time over the long weekend to lay out the publishing schedule for the next few months, and am happy to announce that we will be introducing two ongoing series this summer: 'Know Your Patterns' and 'Know Your Fabrics.' Obviously, these are pretty self-explanatory - here at Wide Eyes, Tight Wallets, we firmly believe that knowledge is power. By being well informed, you can make stylish purchases, avoid regrettable ones, and make sure your hard-earned money is well-spent.

This week, we're kicking off the 'Know Your Patterns' series. First, let me point out that we've previously covered seersucker, madras plaid and gingham checks, and while we may revisit these later, for the sake of freeing up some space on the blog calendar, we'll just refer you back to those original posts. 

Which brings us to today's featured pattern: Glen Plaid. Obviously, this is a plaid pattern, and therefore incorporates bi-directional stripes and lines to create alternating checks and blocks. Where other plaids (like tartan or blackwatch) use stripes of different colors, which overlap to create even more tones, glen plain is more of a series of tonal lines, usually of one or more muted colors on a neutral background. Even more distinctive, the lines come together to create houndstooth checks, rather than plain right angles and boxes. It's honestly a bit hard to describe by word, but once you see it in action you'll know exactly what we're talking about:

A typical glen plaid pattern.
The pattern gets its name from the Glenurquhart region of Scotland where the textile was first produced. Interesting tidbit - during the Duke of Windsor's time as the Prince of Wales, he became such a big fan of the pattern that Prince of Wales Check became synonymous with the pattern as well. Since then, it's been rocked by everyone from Pee Wee Herman to James Bond to Ronald Reagan:

Surprisingly, of the celebrities mentioned here,
Pee Wee's suit bears the most conservative glen plaid pattern.
Roger Moore, as James Bond, rocks his glen plaid with an injection of color.
Reagan, on the other hand, goes all out with a deep aquamarine
glen plaid suit that deemed him 'unpresidential' to many.
Honestly, I usually associate glen plaid patterned pieces with fall and winter - something about the pattern looks fantastic on a heavy tweed jacket or a toothy wool tie. However, I've been seeing it pop up on some summer pieces and have been loving the way it comes out. Where winter glen plaid tends to feature a grey background, with some small color occasionally being injected through the plaid lines, these warm-weather pieces do the opposite, with a bright background and more muted plaid lines.

Take this shirt by J.Crew for example - the berry red is a perfect punch of seasonal color. If used in a more standard, multi-color plaid, it might be too bold, but by using a monochromatic glen plaid pattern instead, the look is grounded and business-acceptable while maintaining it's brightness:

Ludlow Spread Collar Shirt in Glen Plaid | J.Crew

Similarly, these chinos from Club Monaco - featured in last week's Deals and Steals - display a bright blue hue that could easily become garish with an inadequate pattern, yet the glen plaid, instead of amping up the boldness, serves instead as a stylish accent that will be surprisingly versatile: 

Plaid Davis Chino | Club Monaco

Who else is rocking Glen Plaid this summer? How do you incorporate into your daily wardrobe?

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