I love spring in the Lowcountry and the return of the RBC Heritage PGA Tour golf tournament. Considering the festivities, what better time than for the Heritage’s 50th tournament to dress for the occasion by donning plaid?
If anything, take a cue from the recent Harbour Town Lighthouse décor and succumb to tartan’s sway.
Thinking about this traditional design, I questioned “Why plaid? What’s the history of tartan and why is it in use today?”
My answer came in the form of a rich and complex history lesson that I never expected, about a pattern I thought primarily was consigned to Scottish kilts and the shrill of bagpipes.
First, plaid, or tartan, is a pattern formed of setts, or squares, created by variable colored threads woven at right angles, forming a diagonal appearance.
For centuries, tracing from the height of the Roman Empire to the 1700s, tartan was considered a common, everyday fabric, woven and worn by Scottish highlanders. However, in 1782, after years of nationwide strife, during a period when the pattern was associated with rebellion, plaid became officially adopted as the symbolic national dress of Scotland.
Then in the mid-1800s, plaid became fashionable in England under the influence of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert, who’d fallen in love with the Scottish highlander culture and countryside.
The monarchs, who had purchased and built Balmoral Castle in Scotland, brought the tradition of tartan dress back to London, commissioning several regal threads, including Royal Stewart tartan, which is the official plaid of Queen Elizabeth II today.
Currently, there are upwards of 7,000 official, registered tartans.
Our own “Heritage Plaid” was commissioned in 1970 and was modeled after the Queen’s signature design.
So repeating my earlier exhortation, if there’s ever been a time to wear plaid, it’s now! Plaid is actually in vogue again this spring, and was a hot style on runways from New York to Paris to Milan.
Trending as a throwback to the 1980s, it can be worn in a multitude of ways and has been reprised in a rainbow palette of colors. Glamour magazine detailed many great finds, such as jackets, skirts, shoes and more from familiar retailers such as J. Crew, H&M and Forever 21.
Locally, Everett plaid, a new design you’ll find at Tanger Outlet, has been described by its creator, Alexis Scales, art director for Spartina 449, as, “Classic and preppy; its navy, pink and lime color palette puts a fresh spin on a more traditional pattern.”
So, from one fellow Lowcountry “lowlander” to another, my recommendation is to go searching for some “highlands” inspired attire and regally adorn yourself in tartan this spring.
Jessica Maples is the marketing and communications manager for Spartina 449.