Plaids, tartan, checkered? All are similar fashion material patterns, but each print a bit different with its own unique look, blend and posh pizzazz.

In the realm of plaid, the popular design never goes out of style. Plaid is a pattern consisting of criss-crossed horizontal and vertical bands in multiple colors. Plaid originated in woven wool, but now plaids are made in many different materials.

Plaid is made with alternating bands of colored (pre-dyed) threads woven as both warp and weft at right angles to each other. The weft is woven in a simple twill, two over – two under the warp, advancing one thread at each pass. This forms visible diagonal lines where different colors cross, which gives the appearance of new colors blended from the original ones. The resulting blocks of color repeat vertically and horizontally in a distinctive pattern of squares and lines known as “sett.”

On your mark, get ‘sett’…plaid clothing stands out, you bet!



Plaid Fun Fact: The pattern of plaid is called sett. The sett is made up of a series of woven threads which cross at right angles. The word ‘plaid’ is derived from the Scottish Gaelic ‘plaide’, meaning blanket. The word plaid was first used to describe any rectangular garment, sometimes made up of tartan, which preceded the modern Scottish kilt. In time, plaid was used to describe blankets themselves. In Scotland, a plaid is a tartan cloth slung over the shoulder as a kilt accessory, or a plain ordinary blanket such as one would have on a bed.

To create the popular plaid pattern, each thread on the warp crosses each thread on the weft at right angles. Where a thread in the warp crosses a thread of the same color in the weft, they produce a solid color on the plaid, while a thread crossing another of a different color produces an equal mixture of the two colors. Thus, a set of two base colors produces three different colors, including one mixture. The sequence of threads, known as the sett, starts at an edge and either repeats or reverses on what are called pivot points.

Point me toward the pizzazz filled pattern called plaid!

Plaid Fun Fact: The shades of color in plaid can be altered to produce variations of the same plaid. The resulting variations are termed:

  1. Modern Plaid: A plaid that is colored using chemical dye, as opposed to natural dye.
  2. Ancient Plaid: Refers to a lighter shade of plaid. These shades are meant to represent the colors that would result from fabric aging over time.
  3. Muted Plaid: Plaid which is a shade between modern and ancient. This type of plaid developed in the early 1970s, and the shade is said to be the closest match to the shades attained by natural dyes used before the mid-19th century.



Plaid Fun Fact: The idea that various colors used in plaid have a specific meaning or symbolism is a modern myth:

  1. Red Plaids: Battle Plaids
  2. Green Plaids: Prairies and Forests
  3. Blue Plaids: Lakes and Rivers
  4. Yellow Plaids: Various Crops

No matter the colors, no matter the clothes, when dressed in pretty plaids you’ll stand out at fashion shows!

Plaid pandemonium: a tartan passion for fashion!

Plaid In Fashion: In the Victorian and Edwardian eras, plaid garments featured in fashion catalogues. By then, plaid had shifted from mainly being a component of men’s clothing to becoming an important fabric in women’s fashion. Due to plaid’s association with the British aristocracy and the military, plaid patterns developed an air of dignity and exclusivity. Because of this, plaid has made reappearances in the world of fashion several times.

In the 1970s, plaid patterns made a resurgence in the use of punk fashion. The unorthodox use of plaid, which had long been associated with authority and gentility, was then seen as the expression of discontent against modern society. In this way, plaid, worn unconventionally, became an anti-establishment symbol.

Whether you beat to your own unique style drum, or dress to fit into a crowd, when donned in pleasing plaid you’ll look dazzling, dapper and fashion proud!



Depending upon how different plaids are defined, it has been estimated that there are about 3,500 to 7,000 different plaid patterns, with around 150 new designs created every year. With four distinct ways of presenting colors in plaid patterns, there are approximately 14,000 recognized variations of plaid to choose from.

Run, don’t walk, to your nearest store and stock your closet with plaid garments galore. Plaid to adore!


Plaid Fun Fact: Since the Victorian era, authorities on plaid have stated that there is an etiquette to wearing plaid, specifically plaid attributed to clans or families. This concept of entitlement to certain plaids has led to the term of ‘universal plaid’, or ‘free plaid’, which describes plaid which can be worn by anyone. Traditional examples of such are Black Watch, Caledonian, Hunting Stewart and Jacobite plaids. In the same line of opinion, some plaid patterns attributed to the British Royal Family are claimed to be off limits to non-royalty.

Strut like royalty and feel like a million dollars when dressed in plaid skirts, dresses, pants, blouses, shorts, jackets and collars!




Plaid Fun Fact: The most popular color combination in plaid patterns? Red and black…imagine that!

“I love the colorful pattern and criss-cross lines going across your coat.”

“You adore my wool plaid jacket do you? I wear it well, but I’m not one to gloat.”

“Will plaid work for all types of garments? If so, perhaps I’ll get me some plaid too.”

“You can find darling plaid purses, pants, dresses, skirts and plaid high heels for you.”

“The plaid pattern is bold, bright, playful, youthful, chic and fun.”

“That it is my fashion queen. If I dress head to toe plaid, the fashion prize I have won!”

Take in the chic, elegant, noble, splendid look of plaid! Wow, you wear it well…not half bad!


Watch for Nancy’s next book in her award winning murder mystery series, Deadly Decisions – A Natalie North Novel, coming to bookstores and online bookstores in February  2017.

Nancy Mangano is an American fashion journalist and author of the Natalie North murder mystery book series, A Passion for Prying and Murder Can Be Messy. Visit Nancy on her author website, Twitter @, her fashion magazine Strutting in Style! at, and her Facebook fan page Nancy Mangano








About authornancymangano

Nancy Mangano resides in Orange County, CA. She has blended her love of detective work and style in her novels, A Passion for Prying and Murder Can Be Messy.
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