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Mad for Plaid Month – March 2023

Mad for Plaid Month is observed annually in March to celebrate the textile pattern of the same name. Majorly associated with Scottish culture, Tartan — or plaid, as it is called in North America — has taken the world by storm. The pattern of multicolored horizontal and vertical bands crisscrossing has made its space in the cultural iconography of the modern world. Movies like “Clueless” and their use of plaid has ensured the pattern’s place in the fashion zeitgeist. Far from its beginnings in the British Isles, plaid has become a fall and winter wardrobe staple for people across the globe.

History of Mad for Plaid Month

Some of the earliest records of tartan come, surprisingly, not from the British Isles but from the Hallstatt Culture that reigned over Western and Central Europe between the eighth and sixth centuries B.C. The earliest evidence of tartan in the British Isles came much later in the third century A.D. in the form of the ‘Falkirk’ tartan found in Scotland. By the 16th century A.D., Scottish tartans could be used to distinguish the region from which the wearer belonged.

To pacify the growing power of the Highlanders, the Dress Act of 1746 banned tartans entirely. Such was the fate of tartan, oscillating between being in and out of fashion and favor across the world. When the Dress Act was rescinded in 1782, tartan became part of the Scottish traditional dress. It was further popularized when King George IV sported a tartan kilt during his 1822 visit to Scotland. The traditional fabric soon started being replicated in America and Britain, thus completing its transition to plaid.

Plaid caught the attention of the American masses by the time the 1970s rolled around. T.V. shows like “Charlie’s Angels” frequently featured characters donning the pattern. By the late ‘80s and early ‘90s, plaid was integral to the aesthetics of countercultures like grunge. The heyday for plaid, however, came with the mid-90s cult classic “Clueless.” The iconic yellow plaid co-ord set helped etch the pattern into the fashion zeitgeist forever. Since then, plaid has been a staple in both haute couture and daily wear.

Mad for Plaid Month timeline

8th — 6th Centuries B.C.
Plaid-like Patterns in Europe

The first evidence of plaid-like patterns comes from Central and Western Europe.

3rd Century A.D.
The First Evidence of Plaid in Scotland

The earliest evidence of plaid in Scotland is found in the form of ‘Falkirk’ tartan.

1746
Dress Act of 1746 Bans Tartan

The British government bans tartan in an attempt to limit Highlander power.

1786
Dress Act is Repealed

The Dress Act is repealed and tartan becomes part of the traditional Scottish dress.

1990s
Plaid Becomes an American Staple

Movies like “Clueless” and musicians like Nirvana etch plaid into the American fashion zeitgeist.

Mad for Plaid Month FAQs

What is a plaid weave?

A plaid weave includes stripes of different colors in a warp that are repeated in the weft.

Are plaid and flannel the same thing?

Whilst the two are often paired together, they aren’t the same! Flannel is a fabric and plaid is a pattern.

What are the different types of plaid?

Plaid comes in several different types — including Gingham, Houndstooth, Madras, and Tattersall.

Mad for Plaid Month Activities

  1. Incorporate plaid into your outfit

    What better way to celebrate the pattern than to wear it? Grab your favorite plaid piece from your closet and style it with pride!

  2. Rewatch media with iconic plaid outfits

    Be it “Friends” or “Clueless,” pull up a movie or T.V. show that features an iconic plaid outfit and get watching. You never know when outfit inspiration may strike!

  3. Learn how to weave the pattern

    If you’ve been looking to pick up a new hobby, maybe begin learning how to weave. A month in front of the loom may leave you knowing the basics of how to weave a plaid fabric.

5 Interesting Facts About Plaid

  1. Plaid comes from the Gaelic word ‘Plaide’

    The latter refers to a blanket or an outer layer.

  2. A craze in 19th century America

    In mid-1800s Pennsylvania, the Woolrich Woolen Mills began producing the red-and-black Buffalo Check Plaid shirt, which became a hit with workers trying to keep warm.

  3. Plaid has been to the moon

    Astronaut Alan Bean traveled to the moon on November 19, 1969, and took half a yard of MacBean family tartan with him.

  4. 34 American states have official tartans

    34 states of the U.S. have their official tartans as a way to recognize Scottish-American citizens.

  5. ‘Plaid’ is Welsh for ‘party’

    Though the etymology of the word is Gaelic, ‘plaid,’ coincidentally, is also the Welsh word for ‘party.’

Why We Love Mad for Plaid Month

  1. It gives us a chance to celebrate an iconic pattern

    Mad for Plaid Month allows us to celebrate a closet staple. Considering how ubiquitous the pattern is, celebrating it only feels right.

  2. It gives us an excuse to wear more plaid

    Plaid is a delightful look. Any situation that gives us an excuse to wear plaid is a welcome one.

  3. It highlights the interesting history of the pattern

    Plaid has a very interesting history. Mad for Plaid Month and its emphasis on the pattern allows the opportunity to look up the pattern.

Mad for Plaid Month dates

YearDateDay
2023March 1Wednesday
2024March 1Friday
2025March 1Saturday
2026March 1Sunday
2027March 1Monday
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