On a recent glamping trip, I was sitting around the campfire enjoying time with my girlfriends and watching “the boys” play Corn Hole at twilight. I happily realize, “Yes, fall is finally here”. Not because a cool breeze is tickling my neck and making the flames do a little dance, but because every last one of us; men, women and children have on our plaid flannel shirts. There is something soothing and comforting about plaid. Whether it’s a flannel shirt, a tartan lap blanket or buffalo checked table cloth. There is a classic homey warmth that radiates from those patterns. Why, I wonder?
Is it the versatility of the pattern and knowing whatever the material is used for, it’s always classic and stylish, yet dependable and steady? The table cloth you grab and use as an everyday cover versus the damask. The go to plaid shirt you can dress up with a pearl choker and earrings or lose the pearls and wear the shirt with leggings and boots. The jacket you can throw over a plain tee with jeans and tennis shoes that just the night before you wore over a silk blouse, slacks and heels. Oh… and those beautiful Christmas memories all wrapped up and delivered with a big plaid bow! Christmas reds and greens with threads of shiny gold running through ribbons and bows. Or little ones all dressed up for the holidays. Their cherub faces grinning in tiny velvet and tartan dresses. Little boys in their plaid jackets and bow ties. Oh be still my heart!
The pedigree is there too. Could that be it? Plaid (Tartan to our friends across the pond) has been around for a couple thousand years and was used to distinguish Clans back in Scotland. Their kilts were all made by the same weaver in their area, so every area had their own colors and design to distinguish from another. The kilts with their various tartan colors went on to become military uniforms for the Scottish Highlanders and were even outlawed for awhile by the King of England, after he squashed the Jacobite uprising of 1747. (There was an exception to this law, the Black Watch Regiment. If you want to know more, grab an old history book or watch Outlander. At least in Outlander, you get kilt candy). But, after the repeal of that law in 1782, Tartan made the biggest comeback in textile history. It’s still going strong today. Paisley can’t say that!
You see it everywhere and it has become such a fixture you almost don’t see it and take it for granted. It is known to be tried and true; happy to be the backdrop for a showier piece. Or, it can stand on its own as the star of the show. Plaid is just versatile that way.
Maybe it’s a combination of all the above. This beloved pattern has so much history and meaning. As time marched on plaid marched with it. It is our “go to” the same way it was our mothers and grandmothers, always reliable but adaptable. There is something in our psyche that associates plaid with a sense of home, security, belonging and comfort. The only way I can think to describe it would be…”It’s like a fresh baked cinnamon roll, still warm but not hot, with a shiny sweet glaze that’s dripping as you take a bite.” In other words…It’s just yummy!