Origin Stories: Plaid

After the previous heat spell about a week ago, I was personally thrilled to finally get autumn weather this week, and to break out the plaid skirts and scarves.

But as I was happily wearing my plaid, I realized I didn’t know anything about the origin of the word or the pattern itself. So, if you’re curious about this fall fashion like I was, here are some fun facts:

The pattern that we refer to as plaid was actually called tartan. Plaid referred to any woolen blanket – whether it had a tartan pattern or not. However, since most plaids in areas like Scotland had a tartan pattern, the two words eventually became interchangeable.

After the English army quashed a Scottish rebellion in 1746, they decided to ban all tartan in the Disarming Act of 1746. The punishment for the first transgression was imprisonment. The second was deportation. However, this ban did not apply to those in the army and women, and wearing plaid became popular among those that could. The ban eventually got lifted in 1782, and the pattern became even more popular.

So go forth and wear your plaid proudly! And be thankful you won’t be imprisoned over your tartan this autumn season.

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Kaitlyn Dietlin
FAST Blogger

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