When I think of plaid, I think: my old Catholic school uniform, designers like Alexander McQueen, Ralph Lauren, Burberry, and lumberjacks. Okay, so I don’t really think wedding inspiration. Then the episode of Sex and the City with Charlotte’s first wedding or the movie “Made of Honor” comes on E! and you see Scottish weddings celebrate their tartans. Plaid becomes a natural choice for a wedding.
What we in America call “plaid”, the Scots call “tartan”. According to Wikipedia:
Traditionally, different clans or families would have their own tartan as an identifying marker of who they were. Some families still have their tartan and use it. Alexander McQueen used the McQueen Modern Tartan to bring Scottish history and fashion to life. Today, there are over 700 tartans still being produced. While they are no longer worn by warring Scottish clans, tartan or plaid is not only used as a fabric but can be found as a quintessential design element.
Some of the most beautiful designs that have used tartan in the past twenty years has been by Alexander McQueen. Sasha took me to see the Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty exhibit at the Met when she came to NYC back in June. It was breath-taking and dark, but McQueen’s use of his family’s tartan in the “Romantic Nationalism” gallery of the exhibit was stunning and romantic.
My favorite piece of the entire exhibit was the dress you can see on the far right. It is from the Widows of Culloden collection that McQueen designed for his autumn/winter 06-07 collection. It’s intricate and light and the tartan is just stunning with the tulle and appliques. Sarah Jessica Parker wore a variation of that dress as the date of McQueen for another exhibit at the Met celebrating designers from the UK.
An ensamble from McQueens “Widows of Colluden” collection and Sarah Jessica Parkers modified version (with McQueen). All tartan is McQueen modern tartan.
The beauty of tartan and the history of its origin are warm and romantic. Just looking at McQueen’s designs sends me into a flurry of inspiration for a homey, rich feel that emulates from a rustic Scottish hunting manor and because tartans come in pretty much every color, it can go with any wedding decor at any season. If your family has a specific colored tartan, use that as part of your wedding inspiration for both color and season. If your family doesn’t have a specific colored tartan, why not adopt one?! Creating new family traditions is part of what your wedding is all about.
Most commonly found in reds (I mean, all the photos above are of red tartans), it is the perfect sophisticated accent to show the warmth and love when choosing the color red for your wedding. Due to its universal nature, red can be found throughout the year as a major trend in weddings. It’s timeless and classic and is the pure expression of love.
In the top left corner, just simple hints of tartan ribbon are accents to the red tabletop and floral. Second from the left and the photo in the middle both are options for bridesmaids to wear red tartan. The red and black tartan second from the right is a more modern twist to the classic tartan look. The tabletop farthest to the top right uses apples to balance out the multiple tartans. The chair cover directly blow is a great homage to the hunting lodge look by using a tight red tartan and pheasant feathers. The two photos in the middle both come from The Adventures of Tartanscot and his novice for tartans and decor. Lastly, in the bottom left, uses a simple tartan linen to cover the tables and draw out the richness of the tartan.
But tartan doesn’t just come in red. Pretty much any color is a tartan or can be made into one. Don’t feel like you need to stick to primary and secondary colors in order to use the tartan look for your decor. Also don’t be afraid to use the tartan on just cloth. Nowadays, tartan and plaid can be found on just about every surface. Mix and match colors and patterns until you find a combination you really love. Take tradition and step it up a notch with some of these color combos and uses below:
The charger and plate in the top left corner are a perfect example of tartan coming in something other than cloth. Use the tartan to accentuate your brightly colored floral like the second from the left and the second from the right. Let your man wear the tartan in his tie like the top right and the far left in the second row. How about a cool getaway car like this yellow convertible with red tartan interior. The plaids on the far right and far left of the third row are both examples of different colored dancing tartans. The tablescape in the center is a great weave of both traditional tartan and a shabby chic look. The bottom left hand corner is a traditional kilt in a kelly green tartan, perfect for all seasons. Even your invitations can tie in the tar tan look like the invites second from the left on the bottom and the bottom right hand corner. The thistle and tartan boutoniere in the middle of the bottom row is steeped in Scottish tradition. The hip flask second from the right on the bottom is a perfect gift for the groomsmen (hopefully matching their kilts too!).
Tartan is the perfect accent or inspiration for your events decor. Now what’s the difference between plaid and tartan? Stick around because tomorrow I’m gonna be mad about plaid!