Mad for Plaid: Do You Know Your Tartan from Your Tattersall?
The world of prints and patterns is wide. For instance, what you think is simply “plaid” is far more intricate. All tartans are plaids, but not all plaids are tartans, in fact. There are madras plaids, houndstooth plaids, windowpane plaids, and many, many more. So we beg the question: Do you know one from the other? With fall—the high season of plaid—just around the bend, it might be a good time to polish up on your terminology. As always, we’re here to help!
Buffalo Check Plaid
Best known for being donned by lumberjacks, buffalo check plaid is essentially an oversized gingham print (more on that later) formed by colored horizontal and vertical lines intersecting over white to create even-sized checks.
The tattersall check consists of evenly spaced thin stripes in alternating colors (usually just two) that, when repeated, create perfect squares. Typically, the background is lighter than the stripes themselves.
Think of this as a monochrome Tattersall. The thin intersecting lines that create the windowpane-like squares are always one solid color.
When you think of “plaid,” this is probably what comes to mind, right? Tartan is the traditional print of the Scots, and consists of vertical and horizontal or diagonal stripes and lines of different colors (usually deep and rich hues) that cross each other to form different sized checks.
Also known as Prince of Wales check, glen plaid is a classic menswear pattern traditionally used for suits (and heavily by Ralph Lauren.) The pattern comes together when a web of broken checks in alternating dark and light stripes cross each other to create irregular small and large checks.
Technically, the pillow above is a patchwork madras, but the takeaway is the plaid’s use of bright, summery colors in uneven checks. Originating in the 1800s in an East Indian city formerly named Madras , it’s now a favorite of prepsters (only paired with Sperry Topsiders and popped collars, of course.)
Typically found in black and white, this plaid probably gets its name from the pointy shaped broken checks that resemble, well, a hound’s tooth.
See “buffalo check” above, but just on a much smaller scale.
- Buffalo Check: Alfonso Plaid Pillow Black White at The Pillow Collection, $55 for 18″ x 18″
- Tattersall Plaid: Chatham Tattersall Brick/Brown Indoor/Outdoor Pillow at Fresh American, $73 for 22″ x 22″
- Windowpane Plaid: Berry Windowpane Pillow at Caitlin Wilson, $45 for 20″ x 20″
- Tartan Plaid: Classic Isle Tartan Pillow Cover at Williams-Sonoma, $59 for 18″ x 18″
- Glen Plaid: Blue Glen Plaid Prince of Wales Check Throw Pillow at Overstock, $39.99 for 18″ x 18″
- Madras Plaid: Madras Quilted Euro Sham at Pottery Barn Kids, $36.50
- Houndstooth Plaid: Ceres Houndstooth Black White Feather Filled Throw Pillow at Overstock, $44.09
- Gingham Plaid Pillow: Gray Blue Gingham Checkered Pillow at Zazzle, $44.95 for 20″ x 20″