Monday, October 25, 2010

Boring Basics

What makes  plaid  plaid?

In North America a true plaid is a very structured woven fabric which consists of at least three colors.  The fabric can be turned 90 degrees and will look the same as when held upright.  In the image above you can see how the stripes repeat both side to side and up and down.  But it all depends on who you ask.  A true Scotsman will tell you that regardless of it's color(s) and weave plaid means a garment worn over the shoulder and belted at the waist.  In this case the pattern of the fabric is referred to as the tartan.

  Today most people consider any number of weaves to be 'plaids'.

Technically speaking neither of these shirts are plaid.  Each shirt contains only two colors.  These could probably be termed as gingham?  Though when the 'G' word comes up we usually get this sort of image in our heads:
Or maybe that's just me.  

So, when does plaid become tartan?

Well, some say that as soon as a traditional plaid is named it becomes a tartan.  The naming and claiming of tartans is a pretty involved history lesson that I will not delve into in this post, but if you are curious just check out tartan history here. Many families have their own tartans, as do groups, institutions and areas of the world.   Like the Henderson tartan above.  Or the PEI tartan below:

The Island tartan was created in 1960 by Mrs. Jean Reid of Covehead.  The reddish-brown signifies the redness of the soil, the green represents the grass and trees, the white is for the caps on the waves, the yellow for the sun.

Now you know.

My award for best use of plaid in a season would have to go to Dolce and Gabbana for  Fall/Winter 2008.

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