There’s something about dressing and decorating for the holidays that begs for a touch of tartan plaid. Whether this festive patterned fabric is used for skirts, jumpers and dresses, men’s dress shirts, cashmere scarves, table linens, or tree skirts, it never fails to lend a classic look that signals a celebration is at hand.
Is Tartan Plaid and Plaid Tartan?
Here in the United States, we use tartan and plaid interchangeably but in Scotland tartan and plaid mean different things. Tartan is a pattern that’s made up of multiple colored yarns that are woven in crisscrossed horizontal and vertical bands. The sign of a true tartan is when the pattern of vertical stripes is exactly duplicated on the horizontal axis. Where the colors overlap, new colors in the tartan are created (think yellow yarn woven over blue yarn to create green). Plaid, which means blanket in Gaelic, refers to a large piece of tartan cloth that’s worn as a certain type of kilt or shawl that’s draped over one shoulder. It also refers to a regular blanket that’s used on a bed.
If you know anyone who’s into their Scottish heritage, then they’ve probably mentioned (or even worn) the tartan that represents their Scottish clan. The distinct designation of tartan by Scottish clans is relatively new—starting in the 19th century. Before that time, different tartan patterns and their colorations designated regions, not clans, throughout Scotland. Originally, the yarn colors were created with the natural dyes that were available in each region, usually from leaves, roots, seeds, and bark. Once modern chemical dyes became available, a wider range of plaids could be crafted, which allowed for the creation of unique tartans for each clan.
Fun fact: The first tartan fabric was created over 3,000 years ago!
Tartan at The Vermont Country Store
Tartans may have their roots in Scotland but they definitely have a home in Vermont…and in our store and product selection, too. Buffalo checks and “plaids” have long been considered to be Vermont’s unofficial state fabric—they add a pop of color without being fancy and the pattern hides a multitude of sins, including a stray drop of real Vermont maple syrup from this morning’s stack of pancakes!
Looking for the Best Selection of Tartan Plaids Around?
We’ve offered a wide array of tartan products in our stores, catalogs, and online too. From women’s apparel, to decor for the home, we’ve got a little tartan plaid for everyone. Tartan designs are especially popular around the holidays. We’ve had many a customer let us know that they come to us to find that “perfect Christmas outfit”. We’re not surprised to learn it’s usually one of our tartan items. Take a look at our tartan selection—we think you’ll find something festive for yourself or a gift…and bring the magic of tartan to the holidays!