20+ Differences between Tartan And Plaid (Explained)

Despite their similarities, “plaid” and “tartan” have important variances, notably in the US and UK. “Tartan” refers to fabric with checkboxes and intersecting lines and is related to a clan. It’s composed of 100% worsted wool and used to produce kilts and other highland wear.

In the UK, “plaid” refers to the long, rectangular tartan piece placed over the shoulder of a kilt attire by grooms during weddings. MacGregor and MacDuff sell “a” plaid. Not some plaid.

Comparison between Tartan and Plaid

MeaningThis area has a chequered pattern laid out as a rectangular grid.It is a homonym, which means that based on the words and phrases that come before and after, it may be understood to mean various things depending on the context.
OriginThe practice was not recorded until the 16th century, which was also the first time it was mentioned in a written format for the first time.The phrase was not documented in written form for the first time until the 17th century when it was recorded in that era.
KnownSince the user has been granted Scotland’s official authorization, it is permissible to continue with it now that it has been obtained. Again, this is because the use of it has been given permission.No matter what official function it fulfills, Scotland does not acknowledge it in any form, including the fact that it even exists. This implies that Scotland does not accept it in any way, shape, or form.
ImportanceThe importance of this occurrence, when seen through the lens of history, cannot be exaggerated to a sufficient degree.There isn’t even the tiniest scrap of evidence to suggest that this idea is connected to it in any way, shape, or form, and that’s saying a lot.
UsageThis fabric is used to make kilts, an essential part of the traditional clothing in Scotland. Kilts are only seen on males when worn. Kilts are a kind of traditional clothing that is common in Scotland, and both men and women wear them.This component may not be omitted throughout the whole method of fabricating highland clothes since it is such an essential part of the procedure.

Major Differences Between Tartan And Plaid

What exactly is Tartan?

Historically, tartan was woven by crossing different colors of natural dyes. This fabric created a checkered pattern when woven using both the warp and the weft.

Tartans often took on their distinctive hues because they were dyed using products derived from local flora. This was useful in warfare for several reasons, not the least of which was identifying allies from adversaries.

Variety: Tartan

  • The Royal Stuart (or Royal Stewart) tartan, released in 1831, is among the most recognized tartans. 
  • Today, regimental pipers of the Black Watch, Scots Guards, and Royal Scots Dragoon Guards wear it. 
  • In principle, it’s Elizabeth II’s, but the public wears it as a British icon. 
  • Another Stuart/Stewart “royal” tartan. George V called it “my particular tartan,” yet it appeared 23 years before his birth. 
  • The work defined the pattern as the “clan Stewart tartan,” and it was popular so that the tartan would have been known before George’s birth in 1865. 
  • It’s worn by the Scots Guards regimental pipers and is a Stewart/Stuart clan tartan. 
  • Duke of Rothesay is a dynastic title of the British (and historically Scottish) heir-apparent, presently Prince Charles. 
  • This is used by the Black Watch (3 Scots), Black Watch (Royal Highland Regiment), and the old 42nd Regiment of Foot. 
  • The tartan’s subdued tones make it perfect for evening wear.

Key Differences: Tartan

  • A tartan is a specific pattern of woven fabric, and this design is the only one that may properly be referred to by this name.
  • Tartans are often associated with certain towns and clans and have played a vital role throughout history.
  • In recent years, the government of Scotland has started to acknowledge tartans and actively promote their use.
  • To make a tartan, the fabric is often patterned with a decorative pattern repeated many times.
  • Kilts in Scotland are often crafted from tartan, a traditional fabric used for the garment.

What exactly is Plaid?

The term originated about 1510 in Scots Gaelic as a derivative of the word for blanket, and it is pronounced ‘played’ in the United Kingdom. Plaid is a rectangular tartan piece traditionally worn by Scots over the left shoulder and adorned with a plaid brooch.

It’s meant to complement Highland Dress garb. It is believed that the plaid slung over one shoulder has been a part of Highland Dress since the 16th century.


  • The gingham plaid design was developed in Manchester, England, in the mid-1800s. 
  • Large lines form tiny, translucent squares. Sharp edges surround each square. 
  • Wearing gingham plaids shows a relaxed, playful demeanor. 
  • The houndstooth plaid design dates around 300 B.C. 
  • It’s popular among plaid types and easy to distinguish since it’s unique. 
  • Madras is a regular plaid with odd, asymmetrical patterns that originated in the 1800s and is called after Chennai, India. 
  • Its orange, white, and yellow hues symbolize its origin. 
  • The design is frequently featured on light, breezy cotton fabrics for summer clothing and blankets. 
  • Tattersall’s horse markets in London gave this plaid its name in the 1700s. 
  • It was popular in horse blankets, but now it’s in casual clothes. 
  • Business Men, The Beach Boys, and Fairfield Country Bros. wore plaids with this design.

Key Differences: Plaid

  • In addition to functioning as a homonym, the word “plaid” may also be used with a less specific meaning.
  • Wearing plaids at various times and places throughout history does not play a major role.
  • Wearing plaids does not provide any official position or distinction in Scotland.
  • The absence of a decorative pattern that repeats itself over the whole of a plaid fabric is one of the characteristics that sets it apart from other types of patterns.
  • Every item of clothing has a plaid pattern in some form or another.

Contrast Between Tartan And Plaid

Also known as: 

  • Tartan- When the term “tartan” was originally used, it referred to a specific form of fabric that may have a pattern or none. Tartan is still used to refer to this style of fabric. The term “tartan” has its roots in the Scottish language.

    The term “tartan” is still often used to refer to fabrics of this kind, even in modern times. In many instances, the patterns of tartans are composed of solid colors. 
  • Plaid- When the term “plaid” was originally used for pieces of clothing, it referred to a rectangular cloak made of wool that was worn by hanging it over the shoulders of the wearer and slinging it over the back.


  • Tartan- This location has a checkered pattern, laid out as a rectangular grid in outline. The grid itself is ordered in this fashion for organizational purposes. You may discover this pattern here.
  • Plaid- A word is said to be homonymous if, depending on the words and phrases that follow before and after it in a sentence, it may be perceived to communicate several distinct meanings to different persons.

    In other words, homonyms are words that have the same pronunciation but multiple meanings. Homophones play a role since the questioned phrase is one that sounds similar to another.


  • Tartan- Tartan is characterized by a repeating pattern of lines that remains constant over its whole length. A “sett” describes this style of design.

    Historically, the length and color of the setts were crucial in distinguishing the tartan from those of other clans and, more significantly, in determining friend from foe.
  • Plaid- In contrast, a sett pattern is neither characteristic of plaid nor necessary for its identification as such. They may have an uneven structure since they may not represent the history of any one family.


  • Tartan- Outside of the textile industry, tartan is finding new applications, one of which is the inclusion of the pattern into the use of non-woven media.

    Among the other new applications, tartan is also finding new uses. In days gone by, tartan was only utilized for purposes related to the textile industry.
  • Plaid- The subset of the textile industry responsible for producing plaid textiles is where the phrase is used most often. This is because this subset’s major task is producing plaid textiles.


  • Tartan- The word “plaid” relates to the kind of woven patterns that are characterized by lines that cross in both the vertical and horizontal directions, and the name “plaid” itself refers to these kinds of patterns. Patterns such as this may often be seen woven into the surface of some fabrics.
  • Plaid- The word “tartan” refers to designs with a singular appearance and customarily worn by members of a certain tribe or clan.


  • Tartan- It is difficult to overestimate the importance of this event to the degree that it is suitable. When seen through the lens of history, the significance of this event is simply incomparable, and it is impossible to overstate its significance.
  • Plaid- The fact that there isn’t even the tiniest piece of evidence to suggest that this theory is related to it in any way, shape, or form should tell you a lot about how unconvincing the claim is. It should be noted that there isn’t even the slightest piece of evidence to imply that this theory is related to it in any way, shape, or form.

Who can wear: 

  • Tartan- In most cases, certain groups of individuals, such as the British Royal family, claim ownership of particular tartan designs.

    On the other hand, many tartan plaids are readily accessible, and anybody, including those without Scottish heritage, may wear them.
  • Plaid- Members of the Scotsmen military regiment wore the Black Watch plaid that the British government used to maintain order in Scotland.

    On the other hand, this black and green plaid may be seen on various items of apparel worn by the general population.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Q1. What exactly is the difference between check and tartan?

A check is a striped pattern formed by intersecting horizontal and vertical lines to create squares. Checks are also known as chevrons.

The pattern of crisscrossed horizontal and vertical bands that may be any number of colors is characteristic of tartan, which is distinguishable from plaid in several ways.

Q2. Why is it called gingham, exactly?

Answer. Cotton-blend yarn fabric is known by its brand name, gingham. The weaving process causes the solid-colored yarn to wear a striped or checkered appearance against the background yarn.

Color tones may also vary in their opacity. If you go to a restaurant called Jack’s Place, you will see that the tablecloths are made from that material.

Q3. How are houndstooth and puppy tooth distinct from one another?

The houndstooth pattern was first seen in Scotland at the turn of the 19th century, and by the 1830s, it had already gained widespread popularity among the country’s upper classes.

There are scaled-down and scaled-up versions of the houndstooth design, in addition to a form known as puppy tooth that is very scaled-down.

Q4. When and where did the houndstooth design initially make its debut in the fashion world?

Answer. The houndstooth pattern is created by weaving a certain design numerous times in a way that is quite close to the first time.

The technique of coloring the threads of the fabric before weaving is what’s referred to as “yarn dying,” and the pattern in question is called “yarn dyed.” The houndstooth design is created as a byproduct of the weaving process, which is how the pattern got its name.

Q5. Do houndstooth and herringbone patterns interchangeably?

Answer. According to GQ, herringbone is one of the simplest patterns for guys to wear. Jesus, Clark Gable, and Ronald Reagan were all devoted followers.

A houndstooth design, particularly when it is repeated in greater proportions, is more striking. Its asymmetrical form and pointy corners have been likened to a dog’s teeth or a four-pointed star.

Q6. What do the different colors in a tartan pattern signify?

In combat, scarlet tartan was worn so that blood would not show, green tartan was worn to represent the forest, blue tartan represented lakes and rivers, and yellow tartan represented crops.

In modern times, the colors are used to indicate religion; for example, red and green tartans symbolize Catholics, whereas blue tartans represent Protestants.

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