We can’t really call wearing Tartan a trend, if Tartan has been ‘back’ for the past few seasons… Maybe it’s because any pattern with stripes that meet at a 90-degree angle are being lumped together as Tartan. If you factor in the number of colours, width of the stripes and spaces between the stripes – that makes ALOT of variations all similarly called Tartan.
This raises the question: What is the difference between Tartan, Plaid, Gingham, Checkered AND Flannel?!
We’ve done the research for you:
- In the US, Plaid (left pic) is usually two colours and the width of the stripes can be the same or not.
- Tartan (right pic) is usually more than two colours on a solid background. The widths of the stripes change. It is most commonly associated with Scottish kilts. All tartans are plaid, but, not all plaids are tartan.
In the UK, Plaid is not a design but a garment. Plaide in Gaelic in roughly translated to mean a large wrap or blanket, also known as ‘The Belted Plaid’. In short, Plaid is a blanket that has been gathered and belted around your waist, while Tartan is the actual pattern of cloth the garment is made from.
Liam Neeson with a Plaid in Rob Roy (1995)
Gerald Butler in a Kilt
- Gingham is two colours of stripes, usually the same width. One colour is usually white. Dorothy Gale wore a blue gingham dress in the Wizard of Oz book and film.
- Checkered is a pattern made up of squares. Gingham usually comes in a checkered pattern
- Shepherd’s check is a twill-weave of small white & coloured checks of the same size. Its visible twill weave is what differentiates it from gingham. The hounds tooth pattern originated from the Shepherd’s check.
- Tattersall is a check pattern of thin, evenly spaced stripes in alternating colours. The stripes are often in two different colours and are usually darker than the background colour.
Taylor Swift (left) is wearing Tattersall, Karlie Kloss (right) is wearing Tartan
- Flannel is a fabric. Any fabric can be plaid printed, but Flannel is often printed on with plaid (which gives off that back-to-basics vibes to me)
While the story of Tartan goes all the way back to the 18th century with connections to Scottish and Gaelic Culture and to the 19th century when Queen Victoria’s made Tartan dresses popular, Tartan is also a fashion chameleon that was popular through the era of 70s punk and 90s grunge. Till today, Tartan is often seen to suit both preppy and rebellious looks.
The mother of punk, Vivienne Westwood (right)
Clueless (1995) created many memorable looks including this matching blazer and mini skirt set, recently replicated in Iggy Azalea’s music video Fancy
As we can see, its unique history shows that it is more than just a trend. For folks that don’t really care to much about history or fashion, it is not difficult to have an undying love affair for Tartan too, seeing as it is one of the easiest way to add pattern and colour to your outfit without thinking too much.
(images sourced from http://jenontheedge.com/2011/12/12/good-plaid/, http://thedaintydollshouse.blogspot.co.uk, Teen Vogue, MGM, style.mtv.com)
How are today’s fashionistas wearing Tartan? Check out our Pinterest board below for style inspiration!
Follow Tea For Three’s board Clash of the tartans on Pinterest.