Some trends never really fall out of favour. Tartan is once again gracing the runways this season, with everyone from Gucci to Alexander McQueen sporting checked shirts, plaid coats and tartan trousers.
Tartan’s checkered history has seen it used in an official capacity for Victorian ball gowns, military regalia and school uniforms, but this preppy pattern’s past has a distinct rebellious streak too. After the Scottish Jacobite rebellion of 1745, England banned the wearing of tartan for over half a century, and its revival in the 1800s cemented its place in Scotland’s cultural identity when different clan tartans were devised. Again in the 1970s, the fabric became synonymous with anti-establishment punk, used by creatives such as the Sex Pistols, Andy Warhol and Vivienne Westwood as the antithesis of conservative mainstream fashion. Also a key part of the short-lived but highly influential grunge movement of the 1990s, tartan has held an irresistible draw for designers who love the conflict of conventional and controversial.
The fashion cycle has churned out tartan in a hundred different forms, and although there’s nothing wrong with a traditional tartan mini skirt or a classic checked shirt, this season’s catwalks are offering up a multitude of exciting new ways to wear our favourite fabric. From enviable embellishments to quirky accessories to abstract modern interpretations, we’ve found fifteen fashion must-haves for any tartan fanatic.
Alexander McQueen's Scottish family heritage has fuelled an obsession with all things tartan. The McQueen collections are always full of checks and plaid, and this dogtooth checked monochrome coat is a quirky modern take a favourite theme.
The sharp lines and contrasting black, white and blue made a bold statement on these Xu Zhi culottes.
This fit-and-flare skater dress from Cynthia & Xiao juxtaposes different materials to create an edgy tartan print that's flat and futuristic.
Tod's mohair sweater is blocky and bold with classic colours for a rocking retro look.
Mixing check and solid navy, this Jacquemus coat takes a unique approach to the tartan trend.
Tiny Tartan Tribute
Wearing tartan doesn't have to be a big commitment. Franco Ferrari's black and ivory plaid wool scarf is a simple way to include tartan in your day-to-day look.
Channel tartan's punk past with this Maison Michel blue and yellow twisted headband, which could be worn as an alternative choker.
It's always summer somewhere, and we can't wait to hit the beach in this gorgeous Lisa Marie Fernandez rainbow tartan bandeau bikini.
Keep your tootsies toasty in a pair of Marni's tartan cotton-blend socks.
Pyjamas have never been this luxe. Rosamosario's silk checked top is trimmed with lace for the ultimate stylish sleepwear (which we might just wear on the streets, too).
Put a twist on the traditional tartan skirt with Paskal's polka-dot tulle over-skirt.
We love the rich plum colour of this pussy-bow shirt from Marc Jacobs, and the embroidered collar is an elegant touch.
The rock-stud detailing of the pockets, cuff and collar of this Gucci shirt are a throwback to 90s London grunge.
Contrasting traditional tweed with contemporary geometrics, this monochrome skirt from Alexander Wang is luxuriously embellished with metal rings and triangles to create a barely-there hem.