I have always loved plaid. Perhaps it had to do with the detailed pattern that engaged my creative design oriented mind. I even felt tempted to buy various items in plaid to get into the Scottish spirit, from a lovely umbrella to a pair of daring slacks. This idea has been postponed until we actually arrive in Scotland.
The idea of seeing hundreds of variations to this iconic material in its traditional form of the tartan is very exciting. I don't know how a man in a plaid skirt can be the root of so much confidence and national pride, but somehow the kilt does carry an ancient sexiness that is rare in the states. With all that said, there is still something mysterious about the tartan and the plaid material that makes them unique. Can anyone wear any color they want or are they like gang colors where you can get jumped for wearing the wrong color in the wrong neighborhood?
In my primary research I discovered that certain colors and patterns were named after certain clans of even specific areas, such as the beautiful plaid named after the MacDonald clan from Glencoe (same as the clan massacred in the 17th century, which may be explained in another blog post). Further research showed that the 19th century, it turns out, was when the family named plaids started and these names may have nothing to do with the historic costume that became illegal to wear during the time after "Bonnie Prince Charlie" fought for Scotland's independence. This disappointment spurred more research.
In the vast history of the tartan, the plaid was used, but randomly just as each person thought looked nice or were specialized by certain makers in specific areas. In the 1700's, Scottish romantics started to celebrate their heritage by making the tartan fashionable again. The plaid manufacturers were eager to comply by creating unique patterns for each family. After a while clan chieftains were asked to provide the Highland Society of London a sample of their pattern to record for posterity. Many of them didn't have one, but decided on one at that time.
So all this is to say that it matters very little what pattern you pick if you wear the plaid for fashion or taste. In our research, we found that Texas and other states have tartans as well. So perhaps we will make Texas our clan. Then again, I may just collect any pattern I like. Does a Gregory blanket match a Campbell rug or should I have a set of MacCleod curtains with MacDonald cushions?
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