The pattern is made up of criss-crossed horizontal lines and vertical brands of different colours. It was once made from woven wool but is now produced from a range of other materials. The look was first used on Scottish kilts which were worn by warrior clans of the same region. In 1746 an act was brought about to stop the wearing of the garment along with other characteristics of the Gaelic community. This however was revoked and the item of clothing is now a symbolic national way of dressing in Scotland. Those who wear the apparel choose to do so to show they are associated with the nation.
There are many different types of tartan correlating to each individual division of Scotland. Each has their own plaid pattern or a ‘sett’ that corresponds to the area of the country they live in or the institute to which they belong. There is a different pattern for each clan, family, district and regiment. There is also a regal sett which can only be worn by members of the royal family. Universal is also a certain type of tartan that can be worn by anyone in the Scottish regions. Records of earlier years inform us that it was worn by soldiers of the country, in the form of kilts and throws as well as hats, which are also known as tam o’ shanters. Interestingly the world’s first ever colour photograph was of a tartan ribbon which was taken by Scottish scientist James Clerk Maxwell in 1861.
In later years it was seen on the Victorians as a dignified way to dress because of its association with aristocracy. It then came up again in the punk era of the 70’s, where youths would use the garment to show their protest against the classing system.