Lost, intimidated, hesitant...or maybe even a tad intrigued? Let's face it, these are the common emotions most men shuffle through when it comes to adopting pattern into their respective wardrobes.
But, that needn't be so…
For after all, 'tis the season for putting your best foot (literally) forward, to making a sophisticatingly stylish statement of forthright intent to friends, colleagues, and casual bystanders alike.
And here to guide you along said journey is your new patterned wingman: the genteel Scottish tartan known as Black Watch.
From its duplicitously versatile hued palette (smart & casual) to its streamlined, sleek design, it is without question one of (if not) the most elegant and formally appropriate of all patterned wears. Suffice it to say, any article of clothing bearing its definitive design — be it a dashing tuxedo, a simple OCBD shirt or even a pair of rakishly charming trousers — is instantly elevated to statement piece status, being characteristically woven with the historically imbued militaristic virtues of loyalty, courage, and sacrifice echoing throughout every single thread.
And that is why it — unlike its more casually inclined tartan brethren (Buffalo check for example) — stands upon a much heralded pedestal unto itself, being a modern bastion of married refined subtlety and contrasted charm, successfully bonding heritage design and military formality with credible contemporary sensibilities and versatility.
Point being, it's equally at home in its (historically) classic formal environment as it is accentuating the looks of those casually chasing an event filled night out on the town.
And that is why Black Watch is a diligent jack-of-all-trades pattern that should once again be called to active (social not militaristic) duty. It's truly a versatile (easy-wearing entry point) pattern fit for any social or seasonal occasion.
Consequently, I've ventured to curating a look (photographically illustrated below) that exemplifies what the holiday season would look like if I could capture its essence in one single ensemble: formally classic and subtly understated whilst being casually sophisticated and resoundingly upbeat.
SPORT IT WELL: What's particularity fitting and forgiving about this ensemble is that it exudes confidence without gaudily overplaying it. From the mindfully hemmed (cuffed) Black Watch trousers —which scream holiday soiree — to the formally refined DB blazer and smart-casual cable-knit crewneck sweater, the only parameter to wearing this charmingly subtle look is a little confidence – and a tailored fit.
Tartan trousers aside, what uniquely sets this look apart is the inclusion of the (mid-weight) cable-knit sweater. The reason being that it carries with it a respectable amount of prerequisite holiday sophistication while also adding a much needed casual dimension to the look that consequently earns it that slyly elusive nonchalant distinction of "just right". A moniker that just so happens to imply that it brings to the table a touch of personable substance that contrasts well with the otherwise formal aesthetics dominating the ensemble.
And speaking of substance, its important to note that when wearing a bold plaid you should opt for keeping every other component simple and plain. Which, as this look demonstrates, means adopting a tonally neutral outfit that relies on varying tones of formally apropos blue. This look is all about modernly evolved tonal layering at its finest.
As such, this is an ensemble in which each single component is well studied and classically dependable, whether it be the DB blazer, the Black Watch trousers, the mindful cable-knit sweater, or the debonair oxblood double monk-strapped oxfords themselves. And collectively speaking, this ensemble thereby symbolizes what formal comfort and seasonal practicality look like when all wrapped up in one easy-wearing festive sartorial package.
Nevertheless, and if you want to switch it up a notch, then team your tartan trousers with a black blazer and a crisp white button down shirt finished off with polished black dress oxfords, which will all serve your formal needs equally well. Casually speaking, a complimentary team up with a grey herringbone cropped trench and solid black lightweight turtleneck sweater will lend you the perennial touch of progressively casual nonchalance that is so often sought after by one-and-all as well.
Initially my mind went to Scottish Indie-Pop kingpins CHVRCHES, but after some deliberation I settled upon this absolutely catchy anthem-like dance-pop debut jam by French group Basic Tape.
Infectiously captivating just like the Black Watch pattern, this song captures the essence of the bold tartan itself. So take a stylishly revised queue from these up-and-coming hitmakers and don't be afraid of tartan or pattern itself…or love for that matter (as they belt out over the chorus).
Because a simple drop in temperature so often coincides with the rising temptation to cast aside elegance and formality for perceived practicality — lets just say for warmth.
But, I’m here to tell you that this need not be so. For you see, it is indeed possible to stay warm and look your best at all times, irrespective of mother natures definitive fickleness or of any personal will-powered misgivings.
Yet, let's face it, most men are reluctant to experiment with their choice wardrobe, being slaves to their own comfort zone or general lack of imagination. And so it is to them that I declare that a world of pattern outside of their neutral basics awaits discovery — plaid, stripes, dots, et al — so don't be afraid to creatively experiment for you may just unearth a new favourite. Nevertheless, and after the comparative dusts settle, few patterns can match the refined and sophisticated nature of Black Watch tartan.
To that tune, Black Watch is equal parts classic and modern, providing the perfect touch of subtle boldness without appearing uncomfortably overcooked — or too stereotypically (plaid wise) overwhelming. Which suitably renders it stylishly able to placate any wanderlust you may have or any event specific wardrobe parameters that you could chance upon.
With that said, it fully embodies the holiday spirit — to yours truly anyhow — and instantly puts me into a celebratory state of mind.
Black Watch tartan owes its existence to its practical militaristic roots — commissioned at the behest of regimented formality — being originally conceived as a practical means to a very specific end: as the signifying uniform of the 16th century Scottish Highland "Watch", a group of six (clan-like) independent companies that were assembled and authorized by King George I (of England) to disarm and apprehend any invading rebel (Scottish) Highlanders.
Initially fashioned as being a ruggedly minimalistic camouflage plaid for singular militaristic intent, its popularity over time evolved as it became more politically (and stylishly) engulfed in the Royal societal affairs of the English monarchy, eventually earning the official distinction of Government Tartan in 1739. Thereafter, and as consequence of Royal decree (King's Warrant), the original six members became ten, which in turn collectively became a single entity known as the 43rd Highland Regiment. Which thereafter, and as history would have it, was forevermore immortalized as "The Black Watch".
From traditional Scottish kilts to fully lined wool trousers, the Black Watch tartan pattern has since fashionably adorned nearly every single type of menswear garment to have seen the light of day and can still be found to this day properly decorating certain regiments (soldiers) during festive celebrations.
Be that as it may, what most excites me about the season is the magic that accompanies it. I'm speaking of that omnipresent aura that demands that the sartorial gent within every one of us be drawn out, calling into action all our stylishly refined sensibilities.
And at the beck-and-call of ones purportedly stylish Dr. Jekyll to his otherwise indifferent Mr. Hyde (so to speak) is your newly discovered secret seasonally refined wardrobe weapon: the aforementioned militaristic Black Watch tartan.
It is a timeless plaid thats both sophisticatedly rugged and masculinely bold yet still formally appropriate with the innate ability to resuscitate even the most mundane and plain of ensembles with ease and nonchalant panache.
A pattern that — which brings me full circle to conclude — can completely reinvigorate your seasonal wardrobe, one that couldn't come more highly recommended for its festive appropriateness and surprising versatility. It really is your duplicitously patterned gateway to elevated and refined casual and work style nirvana.
And at the end of the day it — alongside its dashing cohorts outlined above — help demonstrate that being both dapper and seasonally practical are not mutually exclusive concepts but are rather quite productive bedfellows.
So here's to rejoicing in the holiday spirit and everything it entails: its distinctive style, it's ceaseless bounty of festive parties, and it's all-inclusive nature. And here's to the pattern that can carry you through it all: the renowned Black-Watch tartan.
And to that I will simply wish one-and-all a happy holiday season and a joyous new year.
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