Tartan and plaid are everywhere this season. I know I like it, but it had me wondering, "What's the difference? Is there one?"
"Plaid" derives from the Gaelic word for blanket - plaide. Historically, these large "blankets" were draped across the shoulders as a wrap, and then were either left unbelted or gathered and belted at the waist. Therefore, the original usage of "plaid" referred to a piece of clothing, regardless of the pattern.
"Tartan" is a pattern consisting of criss-crossed horizontal and vertical bands in multiple colors. Though it originated in woven wool, tartan is now common in a range of fabrics. And, because the movie Braveheart is obviously a reliable historical reference guide, everyone knows that tartan is associated with Scottish culture. (Nerd Alert: The Dress Act of 1746 outright banned tartan, among other aspects of Gaelic culture, as part of efforts to bring warrior clans under government control.)
So, though plaid is historically a large piece of fabric worn as clothing and tartan is technically a pattern, the words are interchangeable within (American) fashion and style context.
Whatever you call it, I'm a fan. And I can't get enough. For this look, I doubled up on the plaids, with the shirt and the scarf. It's kind of hard to screw up double plaid, but to avoid clashing, I kept my look a bit more understated by selecting plaids from the same color family - both pieces are primarily navy and red, but each have different accent colors.
A bit of sparkle by way of a necklace, and a touch of gold from a bold stag ring and accent details on the boots and sunglasses add a bit of bright glamour that balances the strength of the combination of leather and dark plaids.
all images by Melissa Glynn Photography