Bold checks are big news this winter. Tartan is particularly popular, with its bold clan colours, but it’s the check of the 3rd Battalion Royal Regiment of Scotland – otherwise known as Black Watch – that’s taking the lead. This distinctive check, made up of navy, black and green, has always been something of a winning combination, thanks to its sombre, easy-to-wear palette. Given its Scottish roots and military heritage, it’s a fabric that lends itself especially well to more formal occasions, such as black tie dressing. However, it can also work well as a statement piece in a more day-to-day setting. Here’s my five favourite Black Watch pieces of the season, and how to wear them.
1. Shake up your black tie repertoire
Turnbull & Asser Black Watch evening shirt
The dark Black Watch check pattern has often been associated with formal black tie attire. Generally a sharp black or navy velvet jacket is teamed with a pair of slim cut wool black watch trousers. Well, thanks to some delving into their extensive archives, Jermyn Street shirtmaker Turnbull & Asser has reimagined the Black Watch fabric as a smart dress shirt. Inspired by an old bespoke order, the result is impressive and makes for a versatile but less predictable solution to black tie dressing. It’s complete with a pleated bib front, double cuffs and the timeless T&A collar. I suggest you dress it up with a black velvet tailored jacket, plain black dress trousers, and a large black velvet bow tie. A midnight blue tuxedo jacket would also work well.
£305, shop now
2. Formal doesn’t need to mean boring
New & Lingwood ‘Chicksan’ single breasted jacket
A modern twist on traditional Black Watch tartan, this ‘Chicksan’ jacket from New & Lingwood works as well on its own as it does as a full three piece suit with matching waistcoat and trousers. This three button single-breasted jacket has wide cut lapels, which help broaden the shoulders for a more contemporary appeal. The Black Watch fabric was woven in one of Yorkshire’s finest mills, and is cut in a slighter long length and narrowed through the waist. If the full three piece is statement too far for you, then team the jacket with a fine navy cashmere roll neck and a pair of black corduroy trousers.
£595, shop now
3. Reinvent your tux
Hackett tartan wool trousers
Hackett are well versed in cutting a fine tuxedo suit. But if you’re looking to switch things up a bit from classic black, then adding these pure wool Black Watch check trousers into your evening repertoire could be just the ticket. Made from tartan woven in Scotland by Robert Noble, a prestigious mill that combines traditional craftsmanship with artistry, they’re cut in a formal straight leg silhouette. Team them with a traditional black evening jacket with satin lapels, a white dress shirt and a black bow tie – if you struggle tying it, there are plenty of YouTube tutorials out there. For a more modern take on the traditional tuxedo, opt for a navy silk rollneck, worn tucked in, and a black velvet jacket.
£215, shop now
4. Take a fresh look at your outerwear
Paul Smith wool cashmere coat
A designer who always like to add his own twist to a traditional theme, with this coat Paul Smith has taken a very classic double-breasted style and turned it into something far more interesting by adding a bold Black Watch check panel. The overcoat is cut to a traditional longer length, ideal for colder temperatures, and retains traditional design details such as dark horn buttons, low notch lapels, and the tonal Melton wool undercollar. As is Paul Smith’s trademark, it’s the hidden details that are just as important and this coat carries a vibrant printed lining. Although it’d work well over your weekday suit, it can also be dressed down with slim black jeans, black leather Chelsea boots, a white shirt and a navy crew neck knit.
£1220, shop now
5. Wear it for your downtime, too
GANT Black Watch shirt
The Black Watch check has been increasingly used in more casual pieces this winter, from shirts and knitwear to accessories. This classic buttoned shirt from GANT will be reoccurring hit in your weekend wardrobe this winter. It’s super versatile, and the dark navy and green checks will work with a lot of the pieces you have already. The heavyweight cotton twill fabric is also makes for a good weight of shirt at this time of year. Layer up the shirt with a fine rollneck and a navy peacoat, or dress it up with a navy knitted tie, chunky shawl collar sweater and a pair of charcoal flannel trousers.
£90, shop now