Introducing: Permanent Style Plaid

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Two years ago, when we visited the Joshua Ellis mill near Batley, Yorkshire, I spent a happy couple of hours browsing their archive. 

As you might expect, the vast majority were classics: plain or textured cashmeres, houndstooths and herringbones. This is the majority of the market, and what most people expect. 

But now and again, there were little collections of really wonderful checks. Unusual - with real personality - but subtle with it. 

It was these I spent the longest time poring over, and which resulted in us bringing one of the most beautiful out of obscurity - the dark purple and green cashmere you can see pictured.

It’s available on the Joshua Ellis website, from today, in the same way the Escorial has been previously (rather than on the PS site). 

I've always had a soft spot for checks, but in the past I’ve tended to go for strong ones, or have them made into suits rather than jackets - which makes them stand out rather more.

The key thing I loved about this pattern was how much was going on, yet how subdued the overall impact was. When you say you’re going to wear a purple-and-green check, this is not what people expect. 

The base of the pattern is a dark green and very dark brown/purple. The latter, in fact, is so dark and mixed in that it’s hard to say exactly what shade it is. 

The suggestion of purple, though, is reinforced by a faint additional purple stripe (alternating with white in the twill) running horizontally, and a thinner, uniform purple line vertically. These are surrounded by straw-yellow stripes of varying widths. Then there’s a white stripe, a couple of faint blues and an orange. 

I know from experience how hard something like this is to design, how easy to get the shades or balance of the colours completely wrong, and I bow to the expertise of the Joshua Ellis design team. It’s a rich and beautiful pattern. 

I decided to call it the Permanent Style ‘plaid’ only partly for the alliteration. 

The pattern also has something Ralph Lauren about it - unsurprising perhaps, given Joshua Ellis have worked for Ralph for years - and I think to that extent something American too. 

English mills don’t usually produce designs like this, and the Italians rarely do either. The English would make it up in tweed, and the colours would be brighter. The Italians would happily make it in cashmere, but the cloth would be light and the colours less rich. 

This luxurious take on tartan has more of an uptown American feel, and hence we’ve used American terminology. It is the PS Plaid. 

I think it would suit a jacket worn more in the evening too, for these reasons. 

I’ve pictured here during the day, with some of my favourite things - a denim shirt, flannel trousers, suede tassels. Looking at that outfit now, an old red bandana might have looked nice as a pocket square. 

Or a purple spot. The fun thing about checks like these is picking up little aspects of the pattern and using them elsewhere. I might not use green in a hank or tie, but certainly a brown or yellow.

However, I do think I’ll wear the jacket often in the evening. It would look excellent with a charcoal rollneck, or a cream shirt. Even black. I have tried it with a cream knit, charcoal trousers and black Sagans and it works wonderfully. 

Something this luxurious - which must come from the depth of the colours as well as the cashmere - seems to suit dressing up.

We were keen to produce a fabric that felt as sensuous as the design implied, and to that end decide to use the finest cashmere Joshua Ellis has to offer, with slightly brushed finish.

The finish raises the fibres and gives both more ‘cover’ to the pattern (fluffiness makes any pattern less pronounced) and a more tactile feel. 

This is very understated - we're not talking anything like the milled finish of a flannel - but it does make the cashmere both more indulgent in feel and more subtle in tone, so accentuating both of the things that already drew me to the cloth. 

If anything, it reminds me most of this jacket in a vintage cashmere I had a few years ago. Not as heavy, but with the same old-school feel. 

The weight is a versatile 350g. So not for warmer months, but I'd certainly wear it nine months of the year in the UK - perhaps with a grey crewneck underneath when it was my outermost layer. 

For anyone looking at other Joshua Ellis jacketings, this weight and finish mean the PS Plaid is a unique quality, so not comparable to anything else in the range and not available elsewhere. 

The jacket itself was made by Whitcomb & Shaftesbury, in a softer style they are now doing with an inset shoulder, plus a more generous fit than what I’ve had from them before. 

There are many other things to comment on there though, so I'll do so in a separate post. 

The shirt is my old Al Bazar denim, the flannels are from Cerrato and the shoes are my Belgravia tassels from Edward Green. The red handkerchief that would have made a nice addition is here

Thinking as I write, I reckon a black or navy knit-silk tie would like good with this too. Unlike a regular checked-tweed, there would be nothing old-mannish about the combination. 

Details on the cloth and on ordering: 

  • The PS Plaid is available through the Joshua Ellis website only. 
  • Buy the length you require in units of 1m and 10cm. 
  • In terms of length required, I need 2.1m for a single-breasted jacket, but requirements will vary a lot with your size and desired style. Check with your tailor.
  • There is a limited number of swatches available, with a small charge that is refundable if you place a full order. Again, on the Joshua Ellis site.
  • If you want to send the cloth straight to a tailor, that is possible (and saves on shipping twice). Just put them down as the delivery address - with your name included in it - and let them know it’s coming, to avoid any confusion.
  • The cloth costs £175 a metre, including VAT. For jurisdictions outside the UK, there are separate set charges that will show on checkout - but which do not include VAT or duties. Joshua Ellis does offer free shipping worldwide however.
  • The cloth is regular width, a 350g 100% cashmere twill, woven by Joshua Ellis in the UK.
  • The check repeats every 6.5 inches horizontally, and 6 inches vertically.

There are no current plans to reweave the Escorial Tweed. The PS Harris Tweed, however, is being rewoven again and should be available again later this year.

Photography: Alex Natt @adnatt

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Radicaldog

Lovely. It would also make a luxurious dressing gown. [Stops himself clicking on the link to purchase]

Mike Rowley

Or perhaps a travel rug for the back of the Rangie? Not for me as clothing though.

Kim B.

Wow! Nice idea, imo!

Matt

Really beautiful cloth. Congrats.

JTR

I’m curious: Could cloth like this be successfully turned into a full suit or is it too delicate for trousers? Really a beautiful fabric!

Alexander

Simon, do you think this might work as a safari jacket or overshirt, or is it a bit too fine and formal for such designs?

Alexander

Makes sense….well, it is an absolutely beautiful fabric. I’ve yet to get suit or jacket, half tempted to just order 2-3m for when I do find a tailor/start commissioning jackets. Stop making such damn tempting fabrics (kidding, please don’t stop).

Nick

Mr Crompton strikes again! Congratulations – it’s amazing and I am hugely tempted. Just a couple of questions because no matter how good the photos are it’s hard to assess the cloth without seeing it in person.
1) I live in London as well, so would you say this is good as an alternative to a navy blazer for eating out and going to cocktail parties?
2) How unusual is it? Does it fall into the category of your purple liverano (i.e. amazing but can’t wear too often) or is it a bit more subdued?

Nick

Order placed, can’t wait to see this in person! Also, what shoes were you waring? Would black suede work?

Mark

Took the plunge because it appears to fit the cold colour wardrobe I prefer for the winter months, the cashmere is a luxurious alternative to tweed, and I can see this being my “Christmas Dinner” jacket minus the abysmal novelty “Christmas Sweater”.

Ben

Wow. Great fabric and jacket.

Justin

Simon- a beautiful product. I’ll be ordering a length directly. I very much like the W&S soft shoulders, as well as the slightly more voluminous cut you went with here. After having a jacket made by Steven Hitchcock a few years back I’ve slowly leaned toward a more masculine, fuller cut for my jackets.
Does your reference in the article mean you’ll go over these fit details in another post on the jacket? Thanks.

Benjamin

Hi Simon, just wondering when you might publish this more detailed post? I ask in anticipation of the new order of PS Harris Tweed as I wonder whether this style from W&S would suit the cloth, perhaps with patch pockets? I ask as I am based in London so there are not really many other options that I can see with little travelling form tailors. Thanks.

Benjamin

Thanks, I look forward to it. No need to apologise, I expect you have been busy with the pop up shop.

I wouldn’t wear it with blue jeans as I have more casual jackets and cardigans for that, although perhaps it might work with cream denim like the Drake’s pair?

Otherwise it’s flannels and cords.

Rogey

The world needs more plaid and checks. This looks great, and I bet it looks terrific in person. It’s good to step out a bit, put some life into your wardrobe, wear something like this. A pattern that seems a bit bold often ends up going with lots of stuff. I think this would be like that.

Hal9k

There is a lot to like about this. Excellent choice. The second I saw it, I thought “black grenadine” for the tie. I usually only bring that out for somber events and toning down bold patterns. While this one isn’t as bold as many I’ve seen, there IS a lot going on, and it would be easy for a tie to set up a real Hatfield vs McCoy conflict with the jacket, so I’d go as stark and simple as possible if I just HAD to wear a tie with it. Black shantung (or, as you mentioned, knit) would be elegant, too. The only other thing I’d consider would be any of those weaves in a solid dark navy or a dark-enough brown.

I think some dark-ish tan corduroy pants would be a nice match, given the weight of the material. Or perhaps cavalry twill. Brown full brogue and an ecru OBDC. That would be my go-to, methinks.

Again, you have exquisite taste in patterns, sir.

Hal9k

I’m flattered! I’ve picked up “a few” sartorial tricks from you to add to my arsenal, so I’m glad I could help find a combo idea or two for your lovely new suiting. I’d probably lean towards a narrow wale on the cords, and maybe fina for the grenadine.

I’d also think this pattern would be slick for a Norfolk or hacking jacket, and I agree with some of the others that a DB would be sublime.

Now if I can just make room in the budgie…

Dr Peter

Brilliant jacket! Well, subdued, actually, but you know what I mean. And it does look quite American to me too, I have lived on this side of that famous pond for close to two-thirds of my life, so I should know.
In addition to the other items you have combined this jacket with, I think one could be a tad more adventurous in going a bit farther afield: The right shade of khaki, perhaps a slightly darker British khaki, would be great for a pair of trousers to go with this plaid jacket. Rust cordurouys, likewise, might echo that bit of orange in the jacket. This is definitely a jacket that one can experiment with, in terms of colours and pairings. And definitely brown pebble-grain shoes.

Anonymous

Simon, I hope you keep on producing these lovely fabrics. Under normal circumstances I would have put in an order. But right now, the tailor I’ve used in the past is not coming to the US due to an interminable travel ban on foreign nationals coming into the U.S. In fact, I still have the Escorial fabric I ordered last year waiting to be used! I naively thought things would be back to normal in 2021… If only!
So it’s a weird situation. Notwithstanding the Delta variant, I’m fortunate to be living in an area that has a high vaccination rate, low community spread, and all the restaurants are operating as usual. I’ve also started working at the office once or twice a week. So I’d be happy to have something made, but it’s impossible impractical right now. Alas, first world problems…

Chancellor

Apologies for this being a little bit of a tangent.
I love the silhouette of a double breasted jacket, but find it hard to judge when a double-breasted odd jacket would work (worsted suits and blazers are easy to do double breasted). Their greater formality and being more noticeable (and therefore harder to wear frequently) are key challenges.
I was wondering about this cloth as a double breasted odd jacket? Would the strong pattern ensue it doesn’t seem too formal, and that pattern makes it somewhat striking again so it wouldn’t be worn often anyway.
In general, do you have advise on when a double breasted cut will work in an odd jacket?

Chancellor

Thanks, very helpful.
I think this pattern is noticeable enough (if not necessarily striking) that the double-breasted cut can’t make it stand out too much more. This may be my sense, though, because I rarely wear strong patterns, so I feel it would be relatively striking within my wardrobe.

Noel

Hi Simon,
For deliveries to the EU the price is the same. Is it sent duties and taxes paid? Or would we be charged VAT ? If so, shouldn’t they remove the UK VAT?

Tamaki

Hi Simon,
Another lovely cloth, and one that fits my taste for checks. I find hard to find cloths in which offer a subdued and mute checks, while still being “fun” (which for me is important, given I have 0 need for anything formal) but not dandy

Just one question. Regarding VAT it is not clear to me what you mean for outside UK that there will be “separates charges (…) don’t include VAT and duties”. In a simple way, my question is: for those outside UK (me in Europe) will I need to pay VAT + duties or just the duties and the VAT will get discounted in the checkout?

Thank you for the attention,
Tamaki

Tamaki

Thanks, Simon, for the follow-up. My question came from the same reason as the previous reader

Tamaki

Hi Simon,

Thanks for the answer. I noticed that almost immediately after I sent the message the bug was fixed. I purchased the cloth and it arrived last week, and I am really pleased with it. The checks are strong and the cloth colorful, but not dandy (or too dandy) so fitting well in what I enjoy in some jacket cloths: some muted but “fun” colorfulness and check

Also, wanted to emphasise that the colors are exactly as you described: a very distinct palette to usual English and Italian cloths (I probably spend 1h/day just looking at online swatches of cloths from différent Mills). It is something quite unusual yet useful.

Cavalrycut

I really like this. I tend to find strong checks too busy. I guess the overall fairly dark colour scheme helps making it calmer. The plaid also has an almost camouflage-y quality to it. Well done!

Benjamin

Interesting to see the different style of jacket from W&S. Would that style suit the PS Harris Tweed I wonder as you say you are bringing that back soon? Thanks.

Larry Wilcox

The jacket looks great! However, I really like my button higher up.

Chancellor

Simon, you’ve often written about how you generally favour Neapolitan tailors for sport jackets given their casual cut better suits the more casual garment. I’ve noticed though that you have a handful of jackets you’ve done through English drape tailors, including this one. Can you elaborate why you opt for some jackets cut in the English drape style, and what are the merits of having a jacket in that cut. Thanks!

JTR

FWIW. I think an article or perhaps articles detailing your personal aesthetic tastes for various cuts could be interesting!

Jonathan

Hi Simon, do you think this fabric might suit a chore jacket, similar to the one you had made at William Crabtree?

Kim B.

Hi Simon,
Beautiful fabric, beautiful jacket. In looking at the photo of the back, my eyes are drawn to the wider groups of vertical white stripes, and the symmetry seems off. I see what was done, with the inside white stripes equidistant from the seam, but I have to look harder to see that. How do you think it would have looked had the wider groups of stripes been placed equidistant from the seam?

Anonymous

Any idea what the duty is when shipping to America? From what I remember you mentioning in another list, it only kicks in if the price is greater than $700 or $800 or somewhere along that range.

Winot

Dear Simon – quick question on the cloth – can I assume that as it’s 100% cashmere it won’t crease too much i.e. would be suitable for travel?
Thanks, Winot

Chancellor

Do you think a jacket made in this cloth could fit the same niche as your Solito green lightweight wool? https://www.permanentstyle.com/2017/06/wearing-black-in-a-sports-jacket.html
Or is this cloth a bit smarter as cashmere, and a bit stronger in pattern, so not quite as versatile?

Matthew

Simon, my PS Plaid has arrived. Fabulous! I was thinking of getting Solito to make me up a SB jacket in this. Do you think this would work well? – I am thinking about the informality of the Neapolitan tailoring vs. the apparent formality of the cloth?

jmehpg

Hi Simon,

How would you compare the cut of the jacket compared to your navy cashmere sports jacket by Stephen Hitchcock?

Ravi Singh

Thank you Simon. It would be interesting to understand this. I have long admired both tailors and have taken the plunge in purchasing the cloth.
I really like how this jacket looks on you, it seems to frame you very nicely from what I can see. I particularly like the shoulders but I’m not sure if that is just down to the way that the cloth tailors.
Being of similar size I hope that it will help me look at least half as good as you.

Mark

My fabric just arrived and the colours are very subtle, exactly what I was hoping for, and the cloth has a very nice hand. Well done, Simon.

Chancellor

I wasn’t sure about the cloth given I don’t like strong patterns, but I like green and purple combinations, so I bought a swatch. I was pleasantly surprised at how subtle the pattern is and it seems much more wearable and muted than the photos here lead one to believe.
I’m still hesitating about the checked pattern and whether to buy a length, but I do think the photos unfortunately don’t fully capture the cloth’s attributes.

Ali

Hi Simon. Just a suggestion. Since now you are covering how some PS readers actually dress, then perhaps it is interesting to cover the various – and different ways – PS readers (and customers) actually wear the products they purchased from PS shop (e.g. how they wore the trench, how they ended up tailoring the tweeds and the shirt fabrics, etc). Could be interesting to read about, and see. Good day!

The Iron Dandy

This could be the fabric that gets me wearing green…

Seriously though, considering having a jacket made out of this, but I do have one question: I normally have my jackets made with a very light canvas, and that’s worked really well for tweeds and heavier flanells. I’m wondering if the relatively light, delicate cashmere would be too soft for this kind of construction?

R Abbott

Are you still planning on doing a review of the jacket itself? Very much looking forward to that.

Tamaki

Hi Simon,

Thanks again for the article and the cloth!
I’m having a bit of trouble pairing this jacket/cloth with trousers other than tailored wool grey trousers, maybe because the cloths feels so dressy and elegant.

Could you help me out with recommendations for trousers cloth that would match well?
Thanks a lot!

Tamaki

Tamaki

Thanks Simon

So I guess mostly on the darker side, right? I regard to material, would you say cotton works or it would have to be flannel/worsted trousers?
For example, khakis (trouser type not color) I find that don’t match well enough the jacket. Or do you think there is one that would work well?

Thanks again in advancs
Tamaki