By Caitlin Rattray
From a very young age, I have had a slightly bizarre obsession with tartan. At the age of seven or eight I was asked how I might like my new bedroom to be decorated. To my parents horror, I requested tartan. Preferably tartan paint but since that seemed beyond the realm of possibility, tartan wallpaper had to do.
After much discussion, compromises were made and we settled for plain green walls with a green tartan border, matching bed spread and lamp shades. Hardly conventional taste for a child of that age, especially considering most of my friends had opted for pink and purple paradises. Nevertheless, I stand by my choice and years later, tartan still occupies my life. Rather than plastered to my walls, however, tartan has set up camp in my wardrobe.
Once again, tartans (or plaids as the Americans refer to them) have emerged as one of the key trends for autumn/winter 2010. Christian Dior, Louis Vuitton and Marc By Marc Jacobs (among many others) sent tartan clad models down their runways. This time around, tartans aren’t limited to kilts, with this traditional fabric adorning everything from elegant, full fifties style skirts to sharp sixties style mini-dresses.
Heavy wool coats and subtle tailoring are also on the menu but if you can get your hands on one, a tartan blazer trumps the lot. Wear with chunky knits, sturdy riding boots and thick wool tights or knee-high socks for the transition through autumn. Now that I think about it, some of my most memorable outfits were based on our national dress. From a little red tartan party dress that I have etched in my memory to the mini kilts of my teenage years. And what about those navy hooded rain coats with green tartan lining that M&S must have produced by lorry load and made you feel a wee bit like Little Red Riding Hood? The thrill of wearing tartan hasn’t seemed to fade as I have grown older either. Perhaps my love of tartan isn’t simply down to fashion but a little bit of pride in our country’s heritage and traditions. A bit like when you hear the clatter of the bagpipes at a wedding or the familiar tones of a Scottish accent in a foreign country. Or is that just me? Whatever your reasons, rest assured that next season, tartan = cool. If only they made those raincoats in adult sizes.