The Scottish Curse: Tartan Returns


(Spoiler alert: if you have already invested in a spanking new tartan overcoat for yourself or a tartan muff for your little poodle’s paws perhaps, then you may not wish to hear me trash-talk your gleaming purchases for the next few paragraphs. If so, please skip said paragraphs and read something else less offending to your wee bonnie ears…)

Like the friend you made last September in a panic and finally managed to shirk off by Christmas, tartan has unfortunately returned once again.

‘Bright blanket weaves and laundry-bag squares have a witty, modern charm’ says Vogue. If we take a minute to analyse the diction of quoted journo, it is clear that even from behind the fumes of her skinny latte and the delirium caused by carb-desire, she can neither be bothered to convince herself, nor her readers that tartan is a viable trend. I need only reference her allusion to the apparent charm of blankets and laundry bags to confirm my point.

The story goes that, finding yourself thrust out of a sepia-toned summer, cut-off Levis suddenly ripped from tan pins, the closest thing to hand in River Island to cover your shameful nakedness were some studded plaid-print jeans.  Like every moment of sheer fashion terror, (the wind has a certain nippiness to it yet all you can find are tiny Aztec crop tops???) the best thing to do is wait and see what the benevolent catwalks will bring.


But already, models swathed like babes have scowled down the runway and everyone applauded. But those interns in the back rows not yet jaded by the inevitable ebb and flow of fashion were niggled by that implacable feeling of deja vu. Are these not the warming lap blankets of yesteryear, crumbed and sullied, yet brought out to warm cockles anew?

There is of course a certain comfort in the trend that never dies, the itchy throw that Granny never throws away because it has ‘history’. Praise where praise is due: these sullen checks and moody colour pallates have seen, weathered, and bolstered many a fashion revolution. Firstly it clothed the savage assailants of Hadrian’s wall, then that battalion of loud youths held together with safety pins in the 80s, then the indifferent, unwashed grungers of the 90s.

But once assimilated into mainstream fashion, bedecking the iconic Chanel boucle jacket and even our beloved Kate Middleton, what does this signifier of the indignant desire not to conform, actually mean?

Mostly, it means a whole load of celebrity fashion faux pas:


As far I am concerned, we will simply have to weather the tartan storm and wait for less-chequered and clearer skies ahead. I fear, however, that this is not the last time that this frustrating print will rear its head on our catwalks.



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