Plaid and Tartan: What’s the difference, how to wear them? Plus Cara Delevingne and Rita Ora styles!

Plaid & Tartan: What's the difference and how to wear it?


Plaid and tartan, what’s the difference? Both are historically associated with Scottish clans, particularly the Highlanders during the medieval period. While the terms “tartan” and “plaid” are interchangeable as fabric names today, tartans actually signify a Scottish family’s clan, while plaids are now considered “blankets” or “cloaks” in Scotland that are worn as kilts.

Tartan History
Tartans arose in Scotland as a way of identifying clan members of a certain family, in particular those in the Highlands.In the early 1800s, there was an effort to regain the history of Scotland through the collection of images and actual samples of tartan cloth. Tartans of a family’s clan are now available to modern families who share the same name. Scotland’s national dress became the tartan, which is worn on special days to signify traditional respect. If a family does not have a traditional tartan, new tartans can be designed.

Plaid as Kilt
In Scotland, the word “plaid” is used to describe a shawl or blanket that is made from wool and patterned with horizontal and vertical stripes. In the Middle Ages and up to the 18th century, plaids were worn across the body in northern Britain and formed both a kilt for the lower body and a cloak for the upper body.

Plaid History
The earliest recording of plaids, which are also known as kilts, occurred in 1560. In medieval times it was a blanket worn over other clothes and was taken off before any physical activity such as fighting or working. Highlanders were the first to wear plaids, and they wore them exclusively as a type of blanket that consisted of two pieces of woolen cloth that were 36 inches wide. The pieces were sewn together to make a 72-inch wide strip that was 3 to 6 yards long. In Scotland and around the world, plaids are worn as kilts to represent Scottish heritage.


So, whether you call it Tartan or Plaid, here are some tips on how to wear them!



Wear tartan heels with boyfriend jeans and a black jacket. A military style jacket or a dark blue, dark green or white jacket works as well. You can also replace your jeans with working pants if you like; black or dark blue.


Go all out with tartan pants by pairing it with studded hightops, a military style jacket, and lots of gold tone jewelry. This also works if you throw on a a white or black blazer.


How to wear Tartan at


Not feeling so brave? That’s totally fine! Try tartan as accessories like bags or scarves one at a time. Keep everything else neutral or in earth colours. Tartan prints carry a really preppy vibe so you can wear it at work and with the right items, you can look really classy.


How to wear Tartan?


Make tartan work for you at work! Wear it as a jacket or cardigan and keep everything neutral or in earth colours. Tan leathers work beautifully with tartan.

Look at these Tartan Queens! Who’s style do you like better? Rita Ora or Cara Delevingne?

Who wore it better? Rita or Cara?

Cara Delevingne wears tartan pants with a jumper.

This time Cara Delevingne wears green tartan pants with a jumper.

Rita Ora wears baggy red tartan pants, not everyone can pull this off!

Rita Ora wearing tartan pants and jacket. The black top “breaks” the busy look apart.

This look by Rita Ora is probably much easier to try.

Celebrity photos via Pinterest.