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Tartan Guide — Gentleman’s Gazette

Tartan Tweed

Given its heritage, tartan is a perfect selection for autumn and winter put on, in addition to for the enterprise informal gown code. Learn on to study all it’s essential to find out about how one can put on tartan the sensible and dapper approach.

Tartan Outlined

In probably the most basic phrases, tartan is a kind of checked sample. As a reminder, a verify is a sample of horizontal and vertical strains that create small squares and that may incorporate a number of colours although it doesn’t essentially should. It can be additional enhanced by an overcheck in a unique shade.

Extra particularly, tartan is a sample of intersecting horizontal and vertical bands in differing widths and colours and in its most conventional weave, can be thought-about a serge twill. Tartans alternating weave varieties seen diagonal strains the place totally different colours cross and can even give the looks of making new colours the place these strains intersect. Tartans originated virtually solely in woven wool however in the present day, you’ll find them in quite a lot of different supplies. And whereas the definition of a tartan was initially one which was made solely from a woven materials, you can even discover tartans at the moment which might be printed as an alternative of woven.

In conventional Scottish Gaelic, tartan is called breacan which suggests a number of colours. As late because the 1830s, a tartan didn’t truly should be made up of any sample in any respect, simply a number of colours however since then, the meanings of tartan and breacan merged over time to turn out to be generally known as a sure sample in a sure sort of weave.

Tartan Tweed

The place Does The Time period “Plaid” Come Into Play?

Particularly in the USA, tartans are usually referred to by the extra generic time period plaid. In Scotland, a plaid is a garment, not a sample. Particularly, it refers to an extended rectangular strip of fabric worn over the shoulder often the left and that may be folded or unfolded for use as a blanket. Additionally, these cloths might be hand pleated and worn with a belt during which case, they’d be known as belted plaids and are worn instead of a standard kilt which has pleats sewn in. Since these kinds of clothes virtually all the time sport totally different tartan patterns, the confusion between the phrases tartan and plaid doubtless has its supply right here.

The Rob Roy

The Rob Roy

Additionally, plaid cloths in a specific tartan sample often known as the Rob Roy turned generally traded within the American West within the 1880s. This sample which got here to be generally related to cowboys, in addition to Lumberjacks, got here to be generally known as buffalo plaid in america additional cementing the confusion between the 2 phrases. Outdoors of Scotland, the time period plaid can now additionally check with any sort of checked sample in two or extra colours.

Additionally, right here’s an essential definition that we’ll be using afterward, the precise sample on any given tartan is known as a set. The shades of shade in any given tartan set can be assorted to supply totally different variations on the identical common tartan.

tartan origins

tartan origins

Tartan Origins

The earliest documented tartan present in Scotland known as the Falkirk tartan dates from the third century CE and encompasses a quite simple verify sample of alternating darkish and lightweight pure wool. Tartan, as we all know it at the moment, isn’t thought to have existed in Scotland previous to the 16th century. The gown act of 1746 tried to convey the warring Scottish clans beneath British authorities management by banning tartan totally in addition to different parts of Gaelic tradition. When this Act was repealed in 1782, tartan was not simply an on a regular basis material however was then determined that it must be made the nationwide gown of Scotland.

In 1842, Queen Victoria and her husband Prince Albert traveled to Scotland themselves and bought Balmoral Fort there. Prince Albert personally took care of the inside design of the citadel himself and he included a lot of tartan into it. Queen Victoria designed the Victoria tartan and Prince Albert designed the Balmoral tartan and each of those nonetheless see broad use at the moment by the Royals and by commoners. Due to its affiliation with British royalty and aristocracy round this era, tartan, generally, began creating an air of dignity and exclusivity to it.

Tartan from 1866 - Harris Museum

Tartan from 1866 – Harris Museum

This trope has sometimes been subverted, nevertheless, for instance, the punk rock scene of the 1970s in Britain noticed widespread use of tartan as a sort of mocking anti-establishment image. Additionally, the grunge music scene of the 1990s, notably in america, noticed plenty of tartan patterns used as nicely. All this being stated, Scotland is the place tartan actually took root to the extent that totally different Scottish clans adopted clan tartans over time.

The naming and registration of particular clan tartans started in 1815 upon a decision from the Highland Society of London. At this time, nevertheless, virtually all Scottish clans have a number of forms of tartans related to their identify and a number of other plans even have official tartans as documented by numerous official societies.

How To Put on & Pair Tartan

Given its heritage, tartan is a perfect selection for autumn and winter put on, in addition to for the enterprise informal gown code. Conversely, it’s somewhat too rustic to be worn in a standard white-collar enterprise surroundings and whereas it’s too loud to be worn with white tie ensembles, conservative tartans akin to black watch have had a historical past in Black Tie gown codes since a minimum of the center of the 20th century.

flannel tartan shirt

flannel tartan shirt


Within the realm of informal put on, particularly within the cooler months, it’s arduous to beat a flannel button-up in tartan or in a extra basic plaid sample. It may be worn with denim, corduroy, or khakis and even layered underneath a sport coat maybe in a cloth like a muted wool tweed.

4x1 double breasted tartan evening suit of the Duke of Windsor

four×1 double breasted tartan night go well with of the Duke of Windsor


Whereas full fits in loud pink and inexperienced tartans can be found, most of these ensembles are actually extra at residence on the planet of excessive style than in conventional menswear. As an alternative, we advise choosing a extra delicate and largely monochromatic tartan which is to say actually extra of a basic plaid or one thing that’s darkish but colourful such because the black watch set. Layers beneath the go well with’s jacket ought to ideally be subdued and monochromatic reminiscent of a white or mild blue gown shirt or a darkish turtleneck sweater. Equally right here, your equipment also needs to be tasteful and uncomplicated in order to not conflict in focus with the tartan sample.

Tartan Plaid Sportscoat

Tartan Plaid Sportscoat

Sport Coats

Tartan sport coats is usually a little bit extra brilliant and daring than full tartan fits can. As with fits and sweaters although, it’s greatest when sporting a tartan sport coat to be sure that the opposite parts of your outfit, together with your trousers and shirt, are extra subdued.

Tartan Vest

Tartan Vest

Odd Vests

Additionally, tartan wears properly because the sample on an odd waistcoat or vest. Although for those who’re sporting one among these, it’s greatest to pair it with a plain or very subtly patterned jacket in order that the 2 patterns don’t conflict.

The Harrison Tartan Trousers by Ralph Lauren

The Harrison Tartan Trousers by Ralph Lauren


Tartan trousers worn with no matching jacket ought to usually comply with the identical rules we’ve simply outlined for solo tartan sport coats. A subdued set paired with a muted jacket, both plain or faintly patterned, might be your most versatile choice. Whereas one thing daring and loud in tartan patterns on trousers would situate them firmly inside the realm of go-to-hell pants.

Black Watch Tartan Cashmere Scarf in Green & Blue

Black Watch Tartan Cashmere Scarf in Inexperienced & Blue


A tartan necktie could be much more colourful than the jacket or trousers could be however the louder the tartan sample on an adjunct will get, the extra muted your different clothes ought to be to assist stability issues out. A plain darkish go well with or sport coat maybe in navy or charcoal will work greatest with a daring sample tartan tie. For those who’re feeling a bit extra adventurous, these clothes can even incorporate delicate patterns of their very own although keep in mind that stability is vital.

Nonetheless inside the realm of neckwear, a good way to introduce tartan into your outfits is thru an adjunct that’s primarily designed to be practical. As such, a tartan scarf is probably the poster baby for this precept. As earlier than, it’s best to go for subtler tartans with extra impartial based mostly tones.

tartan pocket square

tartan pocket sq.

Pocket Squares

For tartan pocket squares, the identical guidelines usually apply as for neckwear. Tartan pocket squares both in wool or silk can add a pop of colour to a different extra muted outfit and out of all of the varieties of clothes we’ve mentioned at this time, you’ve acquired the best liberty to be actually daring with a pocket sq. in tartan.

tartan flat cap

tartan flat cap


Relating to hats, flat caps are a standard selection that is still trendy at the moment. They’re nice for fall type they usually are available numerous supplies primarily tweed and in addition totally different sorts of sample and shade mixtures together with tartans and usually plaids.

Blackwatch Tartan Button Boots

Blackwatch Tartan Button Boots


Some extra informal males’s shoe designs may additionally function tartan patterns instantly included. Tartan footwear apart, listed here are a couple of ideas for pairing extra typical shoe types with tartan patterned clothes:

As we’ve stated prior to now, brown is probably the most versatile shoe and boot colour for outfits consisting of a mixture of sport coats and odd trousers. You will get away with an off-the-cuff shoe in black as nicely resembling maybe a horse bit idler if the tartan patterned parts in your outfit are particularly daring. Should you’re sporting extra muted tartan equipment with a charcoal go well with, nevertheless, be happy to put on a standard black oxford shoe.

white phlox boutonniere by Fort Belvedere

white phlox boutonniere by Fort Belvedere


In fact, with any sort of outfit, boutonnieres are a good way so as to add that particular contact of sprezzatura. Select a flower that isn’t too giant as tartan can already be a comparatively daring sample by itself and go for one thing in a colour that echoes one thing within the tartan or elsewhere round your outfit.


There are over 5,000 totally different particular person units of tartan obtainable so any man ought to have the ability to discover a specific tartan sample that fits his tastes in addition to the event, offered he follows the recommendation we’ve outlined on this article.

What have been you most stunned to study concerning the historical past of tartans and plaids in menswear?


Tartan Guide

Article Identify

Tartan Guide


Study tartan’s illustrious historical past and how one can incorporate them properly into your outfits.


Preston Schlueter


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