Tartan trend – and how to wear it

Do I look too Scottish in this tartan trend? That’s the title of a piece I wrote for the Guardian back in 2008, when tartan was ‘bang on trend’, as Gok Wan might say.

Fast forward five years, and be prepared – tartan is, well, ‘bang on trend’ again. Come autumn we will all be wearing it, trust me. But how do us Scots pull off this oh-so patriotic of fashion trend without looking like a member of the Tartan Army, or one of tartan-loving duo, Fran and Anna? (Google the latter if you haven’t heard of them, it’s worth it!)

Well, there are a few simple things to remember when embracing the tartan trend. With our handy ‘ how to do the tartan trend’ guide, you should look suitably stylish this autumn winter, and not like an extra from a Rod Stewart video from the 1970s.

WHAT TARTAN SHOULD YOU WEAR?

Firstly, let’s look at what tartan is actually on trend. The fashion industry is not really advocating that we all start parading around in Royal Stewart, the brightest of tourist tartans. Nor do we have to try and work out which clan we belong to and only wear that. The tartan trend of 2013 is really more of a plaid trend. Even a check trend. If you want to buy into this, but subtly, look for check prints that might not scream tartan, but still have a nod to the fabric.

Tartan trend how to wear it oneWHERE TO BUY (Clockwise,from top left): Plaid coat, £159, J byJasper Conran @ Debenhams, tartan umbrella, £7.99, New Look, tartan mini kilt, £35, Red Herring @ Debenhams, tartan shoes, £28, Red Herring @ Debenhams

FULL TARTAN OUTFIT OR SUBTLY ACCESSORIZED?

There’s a bit of a debate on this one – two piece suits are in this season as well – that’s two piece top and skirt, or top and trouser suits – that’s a top, not a jacket, okay? So, if you fancy this trend, then why not do it in tartan? But if not, tartan or plaid looks great in a statement coat, or a scarf and a bag. Perhaps a pair of tartan shoes is the way to buy into this? Or just an umbrella.

Tartan trend new look shirt

oversize check shirt, £14.99 – New Look

WON’T IT LOOK A BIT, WELL, CHEAP, WEARING HIGH STREET TARTAN?

In a word, maybe. Watch your fabrics. Polyester tartan is really never a good look. Try and buy cotton, wools, textured fabrics, anything that looks just that wee bit more expensive, even if it really isn’t that dear.

WHAT ABOUT KILTS?

Yes, what about kilts. Kilts on girls are never great. Try a full-midi instead if you can find one – that’s another autumn winter tend you will be buying into come September/October. Or a pleated skirt, with pleats all the way round. If you are under 25, have great legs, then approach the mini-kilt, by all means, but do it tentatively. It’s not the most forgiving of items of clothing.

new look tartan  trend mini

tartan mini, £17.99 – New Look

PREPPY PLAID OR GRUNGY CHIC?

You decide. You can go all preppy with subtle plaids – perhaps a tartan jacket and jeans, with ballet pumps, or a plaid skirt, and a simple white shirt, or a full-on tartan cape straight from The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie.  Or you can embrace the modern punk that is grunge, and mix your tartan with denim shorts and lace tights, studded jewels, tartan trousers and a biker jacket. It’s up to you which camp you prefer to be in.

Tartan trend how to wear it twoWHERE TO BUY (Clockwise, from left): Plaid coat, £tbc, Warehouse @ Debenhams, plaid full midi skirt, £3, Dorothy Perkins @ BHS, tartan bag, £37, Red Herring @ Debenhams

WHY SHOULD WE EMBRACE TARTAN?

Let’s face it, getting an outfit for this year’s Hogmanay is never going to be easier, and there’s St Andrew’s Day in November as well to dress for. Embrace your Scottish-ness, embrace the tartan trend!

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