Timeless Plaid

Timeless Plaid

Plaid is probably the most recognizable fabric pattern. Maybe it’s the rich history that keeps this iconic print popular. Plaid stretches across decades and integrates many different groups of people. This in turn makes plaid a classic staple in most wardrobes.
Let’s take a look back at this historical pattern!

Tartan Is A Plaid But Not All Plaids Are Tartan

This print dates back to the 1500s. Tartans are the unique cloth patterns which were used to identify different Scottish clans. Each clan had their own tartan design. The word “plaid” is actually the part of the traditional Scottish costume that is draped over the left shoulder. Today both words are used interchangeably to refer to a crisscrossed pattern cloth. Tartan patterns are considered to be plaids, but there are many different other types of plaid, so not all plaids are Tartans. Confusing, huh?

ℝ𝕖𝕕𝕤𝕙𝕒𝕟𝕜 𝔻𝕣𝕖𝕤𝕤 𝕚𝕟 𝕥𝕙𝕖 𝟙𝟝𝟘𝟘𝕤 𝕒𝕟𝕕 𝔼𝕒𝕣𝕝𝕪 𝟙𝟞𝟘𝟘𝕤. 𝕄𝕒𝕣𝕜 ℍ𝕒𝕟𝕟𝕒 (𝕚𝕟 𝕡𝕙𝕠𝕥𝕠) 𝕚𝕤 𝕒𝕟 𝕒 𝕙𝕚𝕤𝕥𝕠𝕣𝕚𝕔𝕒𝕝 𝕣𝕖𝕖𝕟𝕒𝕔𝕥𝕠𝕣.

Plaid Goes Formal

It wasn’t until the 1700s that the plaid print began its popularity. Plaid had a close association to the Scottish Rebellion against Britain in 1745. Therefore its use was banned by Britain when they were victorious. Eventually the ban was lifted by King George IV in the early 1800s and plaid became very popular.

𝟙𝟠𝟛𝟘𝕤 𝕡𝕝𝕒𝕚𝕕 𝕘𝕠𝕨𝕟 𝕗𝕣𝕠𝕞 𝕥𝕙𝕖 𝕄𝕖𝕥𝕣𝕠𝕡𝕠𝕝𝕚𝕥𝕒𝕟 𝕄𝕦𝕤𝕖𝕦𝕞 𝕠𝕗 𝔸𝕣𝕥.

Popularity in America

During the 19 th century plaid became popular in the United States. Woolrich Woolen Mills designed Buffalo plaid in the 1850s, making it a popular print for blue collar professionals. Another company, Pendleton, also got its start by manufacturing men’s plaid shirts. In 1936, the plaid pattern made its way to men’s flannel shirts. In 1949, Pendleton also released a women’s version.

𝕍𝕚𝕟𝕥𝕒𝕘𝕖 𝟙𝟡𝟜𝟘𝕤/𝟝𝟘𝕤 𝕎𝕠𝕠𝕝𝕣𝕚𝕔𝕙 𝕄𝕖𝕟’𝕤 𝔹𝕦𝕗𝕗𝕒𝕝𝕠 ℙ𝕝𝕒𝕚𝕕 𝕎𝕠𝕠𝕝 𝕁𝕒𝕔𝕜𝕖𝕥

1960s/1970s: A Surge in Plaid Again

In the 60s, many different types of plaid adorned women’s clothing. Madras plaid became popular in the early 60s. In the mid 60s we began to see many dresses, skirts and coats in gingham and checked patterns.Men’s plaid Pendleton shirts became popular with the surf rockers because The Beach Boys often wore them. As plaid moved into the 1970s, suits for men and women became a trend that was seen everywhere. In the late 70s, Vivienne Westwood helped spread the plaid pattern to the punk rock community. There were also many interior design components that utilized this on-going pattern.

𝕊𝕖𝕒𝕣𝕤, 𝕊𝕦𝕞𝕞𝕖𝕣 𝟙𝟡𝟞𝟞
𝕋𝕙𝕖 𝔹𝕖𝕒𝕔𝕙 𝔹𝕠𝕪𝕤
𝕍𝕚𝕧𝕚𝕖𝕟𝕟𝕖 𝕎𝕖𝕤𝕥𝕨𝕠𝕠𝕕 𝕚𝕟 𝕃𝕠𝕟𝕕𝕠𝕟, 𝟙𝟡𝟟𝟟

1980s/1990s Grunge Plaid vs Preppy Plaid

𝕊𝕖𝕧𝕖𝕟𝕥𝕖𝕖𝕟 𝕄𝕒𝕘𝕒𝕫𝕚𝕟𝕖, 𝔸𝕦𝕘𝕦𝕤𝕥 𝟙𝟡𝟠𝟟
ℍ𝕖𝕒𝕥𝕙𝕖𝕣𝕤, 𝕄𝕠𝕧𝕚𝕖 𝟙𝟡𝟠𝟠

Plaid goes preppy as a subculture in the 1980s. Movies such as, Heathers (1988), with Winona Ryder, displayed the movement in fashion well. But in the late 80s, the Grunge movement began on the Pacific coast in America. American bands, like Pearl Jam and Nirvana, wore plaid flannel shirts which became a major fashion
trend and movement in the 90s. Grunge plaid also made it to the runway. In the Spring of 1993 Marc Jacobs used it as inspiration for his collection. Regardless of the grunge plaid popularity, the preppy plaid style was still on trend. The costumes of the character Cher and her friends in the movie Clueless (1995) are a perfect example. Although completely opposite, both plaid styles became mainstream trends.

ℙ𝕖𝕒𝕣𝕝 𝕁𝕒𝕞, 𝟙𝟡𝟡𝟘𝕤
ℕ𝕚𝕣𝕧𝕒𝕟𝕒, 𝟙𝟡𝟡𝟘𝕤
𝕄𝕒𝕣𝕔 𝕁𝕒𝕔𝕠𝕓 𝔽𝕠𝕣 ℙ𝕖𝕣𝕣𝕪 𝔼𝕝𝕝𝕚𝕤, 𝕊𝕡𝕣𝕚𝕟𝕘 𝟙𝟡𝟡𝟛

ℂ𝕝𝕦𝕖𝕝𝕖𝕤𝕤, 𝕄𝕠𝕧𝕚𝕖 𝟙𝟡𝟡𝟝

The Present Moment

Over the past 5 seasons plaid patterns have been back in full force. For Fall 2020, we see many traditional plaids on the runway, like Tartan and Windowpane. These classic plaids are reinvented with
interesting color combinations.

ℕ𝕠.𝟞, ℝ𝕖𝕒𝕕𝕪-𝕥𝕠-𝕎𝕖𝕒𝕣, 𝔽𝕒𝕝𝕝 𝟚𝟘𝟚𝟘
𝕃𝕦𝕚𝕤𝕒 𝕊𝕡𝕒𝕘𝕟𝕠𝕝𝕚, 𝕄𝕚𝕝𝕒𝕟 𝔽𝕒𝕤𝕙𝕚𝕠𝕟 𝕎𝕖𝕖𝕜, 𝔽𝕒𝕝𝕝 𝟚𝟘𝟚𝟘


Checks and Buffalo plaid styles continue their popularity in 2020.

𝕄𝕚𝕦 𝕄𝕚, ℝ𝕖𝕒𝕕𝕪-𝕥𝕠-𝕎𝕖𝕒𝕣, 𝔽𝕒𝕝𝕝 𝟚𝟘𝟚𝟘
𝕎𝕠𝕠𝕝𝕣𝕚𝕔𝕙, ℝ𝕖𝕒𝕕𝕪-𝕥𝕠-𝕎𝕖𝕒𝕣, 𝔽𝕒𝕝𝕝 𝟚𝟘𝟚𝟘
Houndstooth plaid also makes its presence known. It is enlarged and the stylization is varied to create new interesting looks.

𝔾𝕦𝕔𝕔𝕚, ℙ𝕣𝕖-𝔽𝕒𝕝𝕝 𝟚𝟘𝟚𝟘
ℝ𝕚𝕔𝕙𝕒𝕣𝕕 ℚ𝕦𝕚𝕟𝕟, ℝ𝕖𝕒𝕕𝕪-𝕥𝕠-𝕎𝕖𝕒𝕣, 𝔽𝕒𝕝𝕝/𝕎𝕚𝕟𝕥𝕖𝕣 𝟚𝟘𝟚𝟘


Gingham, the usual summer plaid, also surprisingly continues into the  fall season.

ℕ𝕠𝕣𝕞𝕒 𝕂𝕒𝕞𝕒𝕝𝕚, ℙ𝕣𝕖-𝔽𝕒𝕝𝕝 𝟚𝟘𝟚𝟘

Plaid is so versatile. It can be manipulated into new looks. It makes this historical pattern seem like new over and over again. This pattern may never go out of style!

Whether you wear a vintage Pendleton plaid jacket or a traditional retro tartan mini from the 90s, you will definitely be on trend for Fall 2020 and Spring 2021.


All Photos via Pinterest

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