There is no daubt that checks and tartans are also one of this season's fashion trends. From time to time chekered fabrics are back in vogue during autumn and winter as they fit into the season's landscape.
They are related to the warmth and coziness...and yes, we see them also this year...
That's why I wanted to find out more about why during the earlier times tartans were so popular among travellers or those who were busy with daily routines...Why do they are so related to autumnal feelings or rebellious attitude?
So to say... the better, however, is to know what we are wearing today!
But how it all started?
What's in the name?
Tartan is a closely woven woolen cloth which originated in Scotland, where the different patterns are used to identify individual clans. The fabric is cross-banded with coloured stripes which create designs of various checked widths.
In the 1840s Queen Victoria's frequent visits to her estate at Balmoral in Scotland stimulated a fashion for tartan garments (see pictures below).
Tartan's history is closely linked to the history of a plaid and the kilt, and also, - it has deep roots in the history of Scotland.
In early times the kilt was a long, toga-like garment, woven of vegetable-dyed yarns, which was gathered at the shoulders. It served as both clothing and a blanket. From the Middle Ages it was made from a plaid - a piece of fabric, usually 16 foot by 5 foot, which was wrapped around the lower torso to make a calf-length skirt, with the other end draped across the chest and over the shoulder. By the 17th century the kilt had become identified with Scotland. It consisted of a skirt of seven and a half yards of tartan cloth, most of which was pleated, except for the last half yard at each end which was left unpleated. The unpleated ends were crossed over each other in the front and held in place by buckles or a large pin. By this time the plaid was a separate piece, worn over the shoulder.
The Royal association with tartan really began with the 1822 visit of King George IV to Scotland - the first visit of a reigning monarch to Scotland in nearly two centuries. The famous writer Sir Walter Scott organised the visit, and convinced the King to wear a tartan kilt, which had until recently been banned under the Dress Act of 1746 as a symbol of Scottish rebellion. [2.]
Queen Victoria's husband, Prince Albert, helped to design the Balmoral tartan, which is still regularly worn by the Royals to this day. By convention, no one outside the Royal Family (other than the Queen's personal piper) may wear the Balmoral tartan. So DC Dalgliesh is one of the few weavers ever to have produced the plaid. [2.]
Evolution Of Scottish Tartan
The evolution of traditional Scottish or Highland dress is quite obscure. Many historians agree that the popular image of the Highlander is largely a product of 19th-century romanticism.
The skill of Celtic weavers was aknowledged even in Roman times, and visitors to the Highlands of Scotland in the early 18th century commented on the quality of the fabric that the inhabitants produced. Their woollen cloth had a distinctive checked pattern that, by the 17th century at least, was commonly referred to as tartan. Tartan patterns, or 'setts', are created by using two colours of thread, which results in three colour combinations. All patterns are structured as a series of stripes around a central 'pivot'stripe, which are then repeated as regular blocks of pattern. Typically, early tartans would have been relatively muted in colour and created from natural dyes, but a trend for more colourful patterns emerged as brighter dyes became available.
From 1815 there was a move to register all tartans, and many patterns were created and linked with surnames for the first time. It is likely that what started as geographically based patterns, resulting from the local availability of dyes, - then became linked with clans in a particular area, and, in turn, with surnames alone.
Tartan cloth has been a symbol of Scottish, or at least Highland, identity for many centuries. The 18th century was a tumultuous time in Scottish history and, acccordingly, the period witnessed the most significant attack on Highland dress, as well as the start of its greatest popularity. Support for the Jacobite campaign to restore a Stuart monarch grew in Scotland after the Union of Pariaments in 1707, which joined the kingdoms of Scotland and England. Tartan became the uniform of the Jacobite rebels. The Disclosing Act of 1746 banned the wearing of tartan, kilts and shoulder plaid, but tartan's rebellious associations made it popular among a wider audience. After the Disclosing Act, the wealthy in Scotland were more inclined to be depicted wearing tartan in their portraits.
The second half of the 18th century witnessed a growing concern to protect and promote Scottish traditions and culture. In addition to the impact of the Disclothing Act, traditional Highland ways of life were being radically altered by land clearances and other modernizing influences. A literature was emerging that portrayed early Gaelic culture as virtuous and dignified, as exemplified by the collection of Ossian narrative verse published in 1760.
The end of the 18th century came with revival, or reinvention, of traditional Scottish culture, and it was from this point that the fashion of tartan and Highland dress began to extend well beyond the borders of Scotland.
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My name is Edīte Parute and I am a fashion historian and researcher from Latvia, association member at "The Association of Dress Historians" (UK) and author of the book "Stila un modes enciklopēdija"/"Encyclopedia of Style and Fashion" (2010) as well as author of many publications.
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