The Scottish kilt, Princess Diana’s coat and Vivienne Westwood’s trouser suit – all these things are united by tartan. Today, many people associate the checkered pattern with a cozy Christmas evening by the fireplace with a mug of cocoa. But there is quite a bit of rebellion in his history. Designers included it in the trends for fall 2023 and winter 2024. Let’s see what makes tartan beautiful.
Tartan is a tartan pattern typically woven with horizontal and vertical stripes, as well as rectangular areas filled with diagonal stripes. It is believed that the word comes from the Old French tiretaine – “coarse woolen cloth”. Initially, tartan was actually woven from wool threads. But today, tartan clothing comes in a variety of materials and weaves.
Tartan is considered the national symbol of Scotland, although the print has appeared in the history of different cultures. But it is tartan that is applied to the kilt – the men’s clothing of the Scottish highlanders. By the way, many people believe that a kilt is a skirt. In fact, this is a piece of woolen fabric that the highlanders wrapped around the waist and fastened with a belt.
Tartan colors have their own names. For example, the most popular red tartan with green and blue rectangles and yellow stripes is Royal Stewart. He was named after the Scottish royal house of Stuart. This tartan was worn by Queen Elizabeth II, and today it is considered a symbol of the British royal family. Although King Charles III, Elizabeth II’s successor, preferred the Balmoral tartan, approved by Queen Victoria’s husband Albert after acquiring the Balmoral estate.
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When Does Tartan Become Popular?
In the 70s, designer Vivienne Westwood made tartan part of British punk culture. The British associated tartan with power and aristocrats. Westwood added it to the rebellious subculture deliberately to invert the meaning and challenge conservative society. Over the years, tartan has become the hallmark of the fashion house. And Westwood’s stunt, conceived as a fashion revolution, turned into a symbol of the country. In 2012, Vivienne Westwood’s tartan outfit was featured on a commemorative postage stamp issued by Royal Mail.
Luxury Loves Tartan
After Vivienne Westwood, other couturiers paid attention to the checkered pattern. Ralph Lauren, Jean-Paul Gaultier, Alexander McQueen, and Christian Lacroix included him in their collections. Tartan moved from subcultures to boutiques for the rich and back again. While Yves Saint Laurent was coming up with sophisticated tartan suits for sophisticated fashionistas, in the United States workers, hip-hoppers and grunge followers wore plaid flannel shirts.
One way or another, tartan began to periodically return to trends, either with grunge shabby shirts, or with punk corsets, or with preppy-style skirts. In 2023, designers included tartan in the fall-winter 2023/2024 collections. In addition to Vivienne Westwood, checkered clothing was spotted at the fashion houses Dior, Burberry, and Saint Laurent. Despite the popularity of grunge, fashion analysts have noticed that tartan is moving away from subcultures in favor of everyday wear. You can buy a kilt skirt and pair it with a classic white shirt, or dress in tartan from head to toe.