It’s one of the most widespread and recognizable designs in the world. It’s designs come in almost every color and shade under the sun. Plaid isn’t the pattern’s proper name, that honor goes to the word ‘Tartan’.
Tartan is a patter consisting of cross-crossed horizontal and vertical bands in multiple colors. Tartans originated in woven wool, but now they are made in many other materials. Same old patterns in different materials changing name from “Tartans to Plaids”.
While they often came in the same colors, “plaids” were actually heavy traveling cloaks worn to ward off the bitter cold. Plaid however, replaced tartan when the patterns became popular with British and American textile manufacturers who would recreate fabrics that looks like tartans.
During the 18th century, tartan was co-opted from Scottish family symbol to military uniform under James Francis Edward Stuart’s 1714 rebellion against the English monarchy. At the time, a pattern now known as “Black Watch Plaid” became associated with the Royal Highland Regiment, a Scottish military force that remained the pride of the United Kingdom’s army until it was disbanded in 2003. Later in 1746, the multicolored tartans were banned for almost a century.
However, in recent years, plaid has had such a strong comeback that in some places you would be hard-pressed to look around and not see at least one person wearing checked plaid. Whatever the color and context, it seems like plaid is one pattern that may never go out of style.