The look of plaid has a lot of faces from regal to rebel. Plaid is a line design that crisscrosses over each other with two or more colours. Like plaids, check are simple and regular plaids that also crisscross over each other with two or more colours. The name tartan refers to a plaid that identifies a community like a clan.
The history of the use dates back to the 1700s in Scotland. The word plaid comes from Scottish Gaelic meaning blanket. Tartan is a symbol of family lineage. The “Great Clan Tartan myth” was when wearing of the tartan kilt was outlawed with Gaelic around 1746 Scotland. Each pattern of a tartan is named after each family who invented it.
This is a short list of very recognizable patterns in modern life.
Royal Stewart Tartan is the most recognizable plaid around. It is recognized as the preferred plaid for Queen Elizabeth II. It’s the plaid worn by pipers of a few British armies from the 18th century, University pipers and the Winnipeg police. The plaid comes from the Royal House of Stewart. This was first published on the book, The Scottish Gael, by James Logan in 1831. Since the Queen owns the copyrights to this plaid it can not be used without her permission. Variations with slight difference exist around the world; for example, punk rockers use a similar style in clothing and accessories.
The Burberry Check was first used in the 1920s. Now seen as a trademark for their products. The plaid is a beige base with red, white and black lines. It is used on multiple products produced by them like raincoats, purses, luggage, oxford shirts, shoes and scarves. This plaid was originally used for their jacket lining by accident. It was first used on trenchcoats in a window display to add some colour with the hem facing out but became very popular among the customers and is now known as the “House Check.”
Clan Wallace also known as Wallace Red is now closely associated with the company 3M packaging and branding. It is used for their scotch tapes. It’s been around since 1846.
Western plaid came from Texas, USA in the 1820s. Western plaid was influenced by Spanish and Mexican ranchers. Classic plaid is commonly associated with the Wild West.
Gingham was originally shipped from Holland to the mills of Manchester, England. Gingham help to communicate homemade in many outlets. Gingham uses small dashes for the halftone effect in the pattern while Vichy (which derives from Gingham) uses diagonal lines instead. White and blue gingham is the trademark pattern used for Bath and Body Works. It’s on parcels, knickknacks and it’s own body care line.
Buffalo plaid is connected to Christmas decor, lumberjacks and Canadian loggers. The origins of western plaid name come from Woolrich mills workers. Canadian loggers wore Buffalo plaid jackets for their rigorous outdoor job. It is known has a strong and warm flannel. It is one of the most popular types of checkered patterns around. The pattern is a derivative of the Scottish “Rob Roy” pattern. The name of the buffalo check plaid came from Clan MacGregor member Jock McCluskey who used heavily woven blankets as currency between him and the Indigenous Americans in 1800s Montana. It is also known as the “MacGregor Red and Black Tartan.”
Gun Club Check comes from the Scottish but was used in their coats since 1854 in American Gun Clubs and other Anglophiles that used the plaid in sport. It’s one of the most recognizable camouflage patterns still around. The green, red, black and brown blend in with the countryside from a far. The design is originally called the Coigach developed as a district check in Scotland just to show off the region where someone is from.
The one of the yellow plaids from 1995’s Clueless worn by Cher was inspired from Clan Barclay. The all-yellow plaid jacket and mini skirt outfit scream so 90s and was a fashion phenomenon. The character’s dress was a combination of grunge influences and being in a colour that pops out on screen. The fad look was popular after the film was released in theatres with everyday products having the cool plaid on everything. The plaid seen in the film is called the Dress Barclay Plaid. It was first published in 1842 in Vestiarium Scotivum, a controversial costume book with a problematic chapter about “official” tartan plaids. But the plaid comes from a branch of Anglo-Norman families from a small village of Berkley in Somerset around 1086. The clan notably fought in several wars like in the Seven Year War and the Napoleonic Wars.
Tattertall commonly associated with horses and equestrian. It’s used on horse blankets. The name comes from the popular Tattersall horse market around 1766 London. At the time, the horse market was making blankets for their racing horses.
Madras plaid is a bold plaid that comes from a small fishing town of Madraspatnam, India initially sold through the English East India Company. The fabric was prone to bleeding because of the dyes being from vegetable and sesame oils. To be truly Madras plaid it has to come from the town of origin also it is seen has a luxury plaid seen in high end shops like Brooks Brothers since the early 20th century.