Fashion: Tartan trends

Tartan trends. Picture: Phil Wilkinson
Tartan trends. Picture: Phil Wilkinson
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Many nations might have claims on the pattern, but Scots gave it the world renown it enjoys.

Power of Scotland: how Tartan is setting the pace this autumn and winter

Blazer, £485; skirt, £165; shirt, £195; all Moschino from House of Fraser; Boots, £170, Carvela at John Lewis.

Model, Morgan at Colours. Make-up, Frankie at Space NK, Harvey Nichols. Styled by Lynne McCrossan.


ASSOCIATED with clans, tartan can be found at the heart of several civilisations. Luckily for us, we Scots were the most stylish with it and now it has stuck in the psyche of the world that this is its spiritual home.

The first depiction of Scots wearing tartan dates back to the 1600s. However, textile historians have tracked tartan back to the sixth century, as far afield as Austria.

It has also shown up in western China on a 3000-year-old mummy.

Dos and Donts

THIS boils down to traditional wear, formal wear and casual wear – confuse them at your peril.

Each look has its own set of guidelines that traditionalists strive to adhere to.

The easiest and most simplistic way of staying on the right side of the rules is that traditional wear is appropriate for wedding outfits. Formal goes into suits and black tie events, while casual can be ticked off for rambling in the hills.

To wear tartan in a fashion capacity anything goes, in particular teaming jarring tartans.


BACK on home soil, the resurgence of tartan has been great news for artisan mills.

Scotland’s last artisan tartan weavers, DC Dalgliesh based in Selkirk, merged with a company called Scotweb to secure their future. They are just about to undergo a re-branding and their exclusive hand knotted scarves have been seen on the Duchess of Cambridge.

This comes after Chanel bought over Barrie mill in Hawick, saving it from closure last year. It looks like we could be turning a corner in manufacturing in Scotland.


THERE isn’t a single material that has been used as extensively as tartan in terms of a trend-based movement.

From grunge in the 1990s, to punk in the 70s and 80s, plus the much milder mannered looks of the 50s, every decade is peppered with a tartan movement.

Of late, it has certainly been the fashionistas’ uniform of choice, with designer Henry Holland being the poster child of it all.

Designer fans

THIS season, Moschino, Tommy Hilfiger and Paco Rabanne went for a swinging 60s vibe in their collections.

In particular, Moschino tapped into the pomp and pageantry of Great British style, bringing back the two-piece in slightly differing tartan widths to edge it out.

Alexander McQueen transported everyone back to the Elizabethan era with their regal offerings.


THE use of tartan in a fashion sense dates back to the 1800s, when the switch from solely being seen on men to women then wearing it happened.

Every decade since it has been used in one setting or another from clothing to interiors. From classic twin set dressing to the dangerous days of football casuals, this checkered fabric has been adopted by several sections of society with each generation expressing itself through it.

It is time to tap into our nation’s heritage and embrace tartan.

Autumn/winter is awash with this woven wonder, and there was not a designer worth their salt that didn’t feature it one way or another on the catwalks.

It all began last Christmas when Chanel hosted their Métiers D’Art show at Linlithgow Palace. As the great and good of fashion descended on the venue, a tartan tone was set sending shockwaves around the design world. A year later it has filtered to the high street, giving us clothing the clans would be proud of.