Plaid is Rad: A Trend Report

Blue Bird Dress in our new  Holiday Lookbook

By ModCloth writer, Molly Prosser

Each year, the seasons change, the leaves fall, the snow piles up, and plaid re-enters our wardrobe. It is a timeless trend, always in fashion for the wintry months, and this season is no exception. At ModCloth, we are so excited for the return of plaid.

Everyone from Ralph Lauren to House of Holland has been sending plaid and tartan down the runway this fall. Dolce and Gabbana even did an entire show dedicated to plaid. Hollywood has embraced tartan, and celebs like Rihanna and Christina Ricci can’t seem to leave the house this year without wearing the patterned fabric.

So, why are we all obsessed with plaid? On these cold Pittsburgh mornings, we can’t resist the warmth of a plaid skirt or overcoat. There’s something so comforting about wrapping up in a scarf like the Autumn Picnic Plaid Scarf, the Tartan Scarf, or the Highland Tartan Scarf to face the chilly winds.

Autumn Picnic Plaid Scarf, Tartan Scarf, and Highland Tartan Scarf

In fact, tartan fabric originated in Scotland as a way to keep warm in the freezing Highland weather. (Remember Braveheart?) The word ‘tartan’ in Scottish actually means ‘blanket.’ Additionally, each tartan pattern represented a different clan or region of Scotland, so wearing plaid was a way to display your family or home. Maybe when we wear plaid, we’re thinking warm thoughts of our homes, too!

Plaid also dazzles us with its variety of bold colors. Deep blues and purples, vivid reds and yellows, and all shades of green are represented in tartan fabric. Scottish scientist James Clerk Maxwell was so impressed with plaid, that in 1861, he took the world’s first color photograph of a tartan ribbon. (Wouldn’t that look great with a cozy cable knit sweater?)

William Wallace and the first color photograph

Maybe the reason we love plaid so much is because of the staying power. It has been around since the 1600’s and shows no sign of fading away. Everyone from the Victorians to school girls to lumberjacks to punks have donned tartan, and its versatility continues to impress. It’s everywhere, including ModCloth! You can easily work plaid into your winter wardrobe with these staples: the Love Story in Plaid, Plaid Tidings Jacket, and Little Plaid Riding Coat:

Love Story in Plaid, Plaid Tidings Jacket, and Little Plaid Riding Coat

Or have some flirty fun with plaid by wearing one of these adorable dresses and pairing with a cardigan and tights: The Secret Keeper Dress, Plaid Poise Dress, and Plaid All Over Dress.

The Secret Keeper Dress, Plaid Poise Dress, and Plaid All Over Dress

The one thing we know for sure about plaid is that its not going away anytime soon. It’s a classic look and it lends itself to interpretation. What’s yours? Do you have a favorite plaid item? How do you accessorize your plaid? We’d love to hear your plaid inspirations.

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  1. Sannah 12/08/2008 at 11:38 pm #

    I actually don’t own any tartan plaid, but I own many items with the plaid pattern. One of my favorites is my multicolor plaid button up. I like to roll the sleeves up and wear it with solid colored dresses when I feel like giving my look a laid-back touch.

  2. robbie Clay 12/09/2008 at 8:46 am #

    How exciting to see my plaid scarf (country picnic) on your site. I found mine at Gordman’s laast season and love love love it! I live in Wisconsin (Madison area) so the need for a groovy scarf is high on my list!

    Love the site!

  3. Angela 12/10/2008 at 9:52 am #

    I never thought that much about plaid except when I was a teenager and did the plaid-skirt-with-combat-boots thing because I was just that cool. Now my mind is open to more plaid, plaid, and plaid…

  4. Shannon 12/10/2008 at 1:24 pm #

    I love plaid. I’m a HUGE fan of Burberry (although I can only afford the perfume and scarfs right now) so I’m always wearing a Burberry signature scarf where ever I go. I love your scarfs too and can’t wait to pick one up!

    My heritage is really mixed but I have Irish and English in there (who knows, some of it might be Scottish!) so I love showing that in the way I dress.


  1. ModLife » Blog Archive » Vasil’s Guide to Style: Mixing Patterns - 12/19/2008

    […] adventurous spirit, we still get a little nervous about taking certain fashion leaps. This season, plaid is rad and we have a hankering for trying new patterns and styles; the problem is that mixing patterns […]

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