The History of Plaid

Plaid as a major pattern is a bit of a late bloomer. Although the pattern dates back to the 1700s, it didn’t really peak in fashion and interior design until the 1970s.

Originally called tartan, it consisted of woven cloths dyed with whatever materials—such as vegetables—the local weaver could access. “This is how the different colorways of tartan evolved and eventually became associated with particular regional families and clans in the Scottish Highlands,” according to Jaime Huffman, who blogs on home decor for Charleston Blonde.

“Plaid, which comes from the word for the outer layer Scots would wear, became separated from tartan when British and American manufacturers appropriated the pattern for widespread use, without the regional significance of the original Scottish tartans,” he explained.

Brunschwig and Fils fabric - Morna in red and navy offers a classic look. Barbara Side Chair by Kravet. 

Plaid Becomes Popular

Plaid's popularity surged in the 1970s, and even when its significance diminished in the late 80s it still became a favorite of punk rock fans. It “regained momentum in the mid-1990s with the release of prepster blockbuster Clueless, and has since developed as a highly sought-after fashion and home trend,” said Jade Holroyd, SEO Executive of Land of Rugs Online.

Another traditional look: Thibaut wallpaper in Winslow plaid.  

A Versatile Pattern

There’s a reason plaid resonates. It offers versatility—you can channel that preppie or hipster vibe—or go more classical. Plaid's longtime presence creates an element of nostalgia when you use the pattern, and this gives a home a feeling of comfort and warmth. “As a design element plaid works effectively alongside a wide variation of interior design trends,” said Holroyd. “Plaid is also very flexible in terms of how it can be incorporated into a space, be it through soft furnishings, wallpaper or curtains, just to name a few.”

Plaid Adds Texture and Color to Any Room

The ubiquitousness of plaid throughout history is part of the reason it remains an important element in home decor. “With a variety of colors and styles, you can argue that there's a plaid out there for everyone,” according to Huffman.

"It's easy to coordinate and is a great way to add texture and color to a room," he added. "Personally, I prefer to use plaid as an accent in more neutral colors like gray and white for a timeless touch. You can make a bold statement by using it as a wallpaper or on an upholstered piece of furniture. And of course, you can't forget the classic red plaid throw during the Christmas season!”

Lush and beautiful plaids from Scalamandré's Damier pattern in wild rose and porcelain blue.

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