A Brief History Of Fall’s Trendiest Print

3 min read

When it comes to fall fashion, there is one print that continues to dominate the runways and the streets year after year. From the iconic Burberry check to the timeless tartan, plaid has become synonymous with autumn style. This classic print has a rich history that dates back centuries and has evolved over time to become one of the most versatile and sought-after patterns in the fashion industry. In this article, we will take a closer look at the history of plaid, its cultural significance, and how it has remained relevant in the ever-changing world of fashion.

The Origins of Plaid

The origins of plaid can be traced back to the Scottish Highlands, where it was originally worn as a symbol of clan identity. The word “plaid” itself comes from the Gaelic word “plaide,” which means blanket or cloak. In ancient times, plaids were made of wool and served as both a garment and a blanket, providing warmth and protection in the harsh Scottish climate.

Traditionally, each clan had its own unique tartan, which was created using natural dyes from plants and berries found in the local area. The colors and patterns of the tartan were specific to each clan and served as a visual representation of their heritage and identity. The weaving of tartan fabrics was a highly skilled craft, and the patterns were often passed down from generation to generation.

Rise in Popularity

In the 18th and 19th centuries, plaid began to gain popularity outside of Scotland. The British Royal Family played a significant role in popularizing the print, particularly through the influence of Queen Victoria. Queen Victoria’s love for Scotland and her frequent visits to Balmoral Castle brought attention to Scottish fashion, including the iconic tartan patterns. The royal endorsement of plaid helped to elevate its status and make it more fashionable.

During the Victorian era, plaid became a symbol of highland romance and was often associated with the Scottish countryside. It was embraced by the upper classes as a way to connect with nature and evoke a sense of rustic elegance. Tartan shawls, kilts, and accessories became fashionable items that were worn by both men and women.

Pop Culture Influence

In the 20th century, plaid continued to be a popular print, with various subcultures adopting it as a symbol of rebellion and individuality. In the 1970s, the punk movement embraced plaid as a way to subvert traditional fashion norms. Punk musicians and fans wore torn plaid shirts and tartan trousers as a form of anti-establishment expression.

In the 1990s, plaid experienced a resurgence in popularity thanks to the grunge movement. Bands like Nirvana and Pearl Jam popularized the “lumberjack” look, which featured flannel shirts in plaid prints. This laid-back and effortlessly cool style quickly became a fashion staple for both men and women.

Modern Interpretations

Today, plaid is no longer confined to traditional tartan patterns. Designers have taken the print and reimagined it in countless ways, incorporating different colors, scales, and textures. Plaid can be seen on everything from coats and dresses to accessories like scarves and handbags.

One of the most notable modern interpretations of plaid is the Burberry check. Created in the 1920s, the iconic beige, black, and red plaid has become synonymous with the luxury British brand. The Burberry check is often seen on their signature trench coats, scarves, and handbags, and has become a status symbol in the fashion world.

In addition to Burberry, many other high-end designers have embraced plaid in their collections. Alexander McQueen, Stella McCartney, and Vivienne Westwood are just a few of the notable names that have incorporated this classic print into their designs. Plaid has also been a recurring trend on the runways of fashion capitals like New York, Paris, and Milan, proving its enduring appeal.


From its humble beginnings as a practical garment in the Scottish Highlands to its status as a global fashion statement, plaid has come a long way. Its rich history and cultural significance have made it a timeless print that continues to captivate designers and fashion enthusiasts alike. Whether it’s a classic tartan or a modern interpretation, plaid remains a fall staple that will never go out of style.


  • 1. How can I incorporate plaid into my fall wardrobe?
  • There are countless ways to incorporate plaid into your fall wardrobe. You can start with small accessories like scarves or handbags in plaid prints. For a bolder look, opt for a plaid coat or dress.

  • 2. Can men wear plaid?
  • Absolutely! Plaid is a versatile print that can be worn by both men and women. Men can incorporate plaid into their wardrobe through shirts, jackets, or accessories like ties or pocket squares.

  • 3. What are some popular color combinations for plaid?
  • Classic plaid color combinations include red and black, green and navy, and beige and black. However, designers have experimented with a wide range of color combinations, so there is something for everyone.

  • 4. Can I mix different plaid prints?
  • Mixing different plaid prints can be a bold and fashion-forward choice. To make sure the prints work well together, try to keep the color palette cohesive and vary the scale of the patterns.

  • 5. Is plaid only suitable for casual occasions?
  • Plaid can be dressed up or down depending on how you style it. While it is often associated with casual looks, you can also find plaid dresses or suits that are suitable for more formal occasions.


Plaid has a long and fascinating history that dates back to the Scottish Highlands. From its origins as a symbol of clan identity, it has evolved into a global fashion trend that continues to captivate designers and consumers. Plaid has been embraced by various subcultures and has experienced multiple revivals throughout history, solidifying its status as a timeless print. Today, plaid can be seen on runways, in high-end designer collections, and on the streets, proving that it is here to stay. Incorporating plaid into your fall wardrobe is a surefire way to add a touch of style and sophistication to any outfit.

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