I have always been fond of the Prince of Wales pattern. Especially in terms of suits and jackets. Lately as I ordered my most recent suit, a made-to-measure piece by Scabal, I decided that it is time to add the first Prince of Wales patterned suit to my personal rotation.
As mentioned earlier, I commissioned this suit from Vaatturiliike Sauma before heading to Pitti Uomo 93. As they just had got a Belgian brand Scabal as their new mtm-supplier, I decided to give it a try.
And this time I also decided to go for something a bit different than my usual preferences. A suit with a bit more structure to make it appropriate especially for work and business purposes. The result was a dark blue Prince of Wales checked two piece suit made of 240g Scabal wool fabric.
Prince of Wales check in a nutshell
The Prince of Wales check is also known as Glen check, Glen plaid or Glen Urquhart check. Although nowadays these terms are used interchangeably, there are subtle differences between the versions. Still it takes a trained eye to notice differences. And to understand the complex history behind the names and patterns.
To put is shortly, the Glen (Urquhart) check is a woolen fabric with a woven twill design of small and large checks. Usually two dark and two light stripes alternate with four dark and four light stripes. And this creates a crossing pattern of irregular checks. This large, open form of check pattern is one of the most common and versatile of all checks. And Prince of Wales check is a Glen Urquhart check often with an overcheck in color.
The pattern was named for Edward VII and made fashionable and popular by his grandson, The Duke of Windsor. In general the history of the pattern dates 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. And there The Prince of Wales, who often went shooting at the estate, discovered and borrowed the check to make his own variation. Which was then named as "Prince of Wales".
There are a few things you should keep in mind when you choose to go for a Prince of Wales pattern. First of all, with such a generous pattern such the Prince of Wales, you should not have a skinny fit. A large scale pattern on for example a skinny lapel looks wrong. Secondly, bigger pattern and wider lapel also call for a fuller chest and wider trouser. So skip the most slim-fitted suits, if you go for this pattern.
Scabal - heritage and quality fabrics
The suit here is made by Scabal. The Belgian company is especially known for their high-quality fabrics. According to their own words you can today find Scabal fabrics from tailor's workshops in over 65 countries worldwide. Originally the name is an acronym for Société Commerciale Anglo Belgo Allemande Luxembourgeoise.
Scabal was founded in 1938. During the years Scabal has maintained, and improved the prestige of its heritage. Today the majority of their 5000 fabrics are manufactured in Huddersfield, England. In addition some of the fabrics are produced in Italy and Germany. If you want to take a look at Scabal fabrics, you can do it here.
Through the years the company expanded its offerings considerably and today in addition to fabrics they offer also ready-to-wear suits and made-to-measure garment services.
There is also one detail regarding Scabal's history that is worth mentioning. When they started the trade, the founder of company Otto Hertz, conceived of a new way of making business. Hertz's idea was that Scabal's representatives would mobilize on a short notice to visit reputable tailors and suit makers. And of course to sell Scabal's fabrics to them. In order to do that and to travel lightly, Scabal invented an indispensable tool that revolutionized the business. That tool was a small leather booklet in which each salesman carried their fabric samples. And today you can find these bunches of fabrics from every tailoring house and retailers who sell made-to-measure garments.
Dark blue Prince of Wales check suit - restrained and subtle choice for business
After the short introduction to the pattern and to Scabal, a few words about the suit. Before Sauma took Scabal as a part of their mtm-range I hadn't actually ever seen their suits in action. Although naturally I was familiar with the fabrics. But when I was thinking about my next commission in November, Tuomo suggested that I would give Scabal a try. And if I'm not mistaken this suit is probably one of if not the first Scabal suits ordered from Sauma.
A suit for work - The process
The process was pretty much similar to most made-to-measure proceedings. We started with a trial suit and Tuomo marked the necessary alterations. And then we went through the whole set of possible choices of details. Usually this part is easy as I only refer to my earlier commissions and stick with my default choices. This time however I gave it more thoughts for a couple of reasons.
First of all the house style of Scabal is a bit different than the ones Sauma uses for their private label mtm-suits. One example of this is the shoulder structure and look of the jacket. I am usually a fan of very soft shoulder structure. I want it to be natural, sometimes almost like a shirt shoulder. But Scabal does not do that. Even if you tried, you would not find that soft shoulder option from their range of possibilities. Another reason was that I wanted to try something different with the trousers. Although some people could say that going from double pleats to single pleats is not that big of a change.
I have quite a wide range of suits nowadays. Not nearly complete but still quite wide. Therefore when I decide to go for a new suit I don't necessarily need to think first about the versatility. Even though I talk about it a lot. This time, due to the house style of Scabal and my personal needs I decided to go for a suit that would be an option for me to wear mostly at work. And especially a suit that would be appropriate for those a little bit more formal work occasions.
In my opinion Prince of Wales pattern is a great choice for a business suit. It is not as formal as plain fabrics or not as fully business-oriented as stripes but it is still appropriate for business. The pattern is restrained and subtle, especially if you choose a dark ground color as I did for this suit. And as I only had one check patterned blue suit in my rotation before, it felt like an optimal choice.
Regarding the suit, the shoulder structure was the first choice. The one I ended up with features light padding but as you can see it forms a very clean and subtle line from the shoulder to the sleeve. In fact I like the result a lot even though it took me a while to get used to it. The other difference compared to many of my other suits is that the chest is bit fuller thanks to the bit heavier structure of the jacket.
In terms of the pockets, I am a fan of patch pockets. This time however I went for the most conservative option and chose flap pockets. The only detail that actually that I kept from my usual choices was the buttoning. Even for this suit I went for the three-roll-two buttoning.
The trousers - from double to single pleatsAnd for the trousers, as said, this time time I chose to go for single pleats. And as you can see, I wanted the trousers to feature quite a high waist, as I usually do. But there was also another reason for this choice than just to get some variation compared to my normal choices. And that was the use of the suit as the single pleats namely are more subtle and attract less attention than double pleats. So in the end it is all about the purpose for which the suit is intended.
Scabal mtm suit by Vaatturiliike Sauma - sum-up
To put it shortly, so far I have been very pleased with the suit. Although there were a couple of mistakes on the suit as it arrived. First, instead of buttons the trousers featured a fly zip. And the trousers featured jetted pockets even though I ordered them with normal side pockets. The first one does not really make a difference so I can live with that. And in fact the jetted are quite nice to use and easy to keep your hands in. Something I've never tried before. And to be honest, did not even considered as an option. Tuomo from Sauma naturally offered to order a new pair of trousers to replace the first ones but so far I have decided to keep them as they are.
Otherwise the result was a decent one. Minor alterations to the length of jacket sleeves and trousers were needed. But for a first mtm-suit from a new manufacturer the outcome is commendable. To sum-up, a summary of choices I made for the suit:
- Scabal 240g dark blue Prince of Wales cloth (Scabal silverstone bunch)
- Full lining
- Lightly padded shoulders
- Single-breasted jacket with 3-roll-2 buttoning
- Flap pockets (no ticket pocket)
- Single-pleated trousers with 5,5cm cuffs (hem width 18,5cm)
Pictures by Juha Kortesalo.