The Plaid Fad

If there was a clothing pattern that had to represent this past fall and winter it would be plaid. Plaid has been seen all over this season, from shirts to shoes to water bottles. But is being over used now to the point of absurdity. Plaid is now an everyday fabric, but it has a long and storied history. Plaid can trace its roots back to ancient Celtic tribes from between 100BC and 400BC. During the 17th and 18th centuries plaid or tartan became the uniform apparel of Scotland and was even outlawed by the English after a Scottish rebellion in 1746. People who were caught breaking the rule were sentenced to seven years hard labor. Since the ban , the wearing of plaid or tartan has been reserved for a select few. Plaid has been characterized as the go-to fabric of the rugged individualist. During the 70’s , plaid became a symbol of the anti-establishment punk movement , and in the 90’s it was associated with Kurt Cobain and the grunge-rock movement. Plaid has always been the fabric of those who are outcasts of common society like lumberjacks and Scottish highlanders. Until now. In the past few years, plaid has taken a turn for the popular. It’s not uncommon to see a colorful plaid shirt under a suit or untucked with a pair of jeans. Mainstream stores are carrying more plaid shirts now than any other type. GAP has 10 different plaid shirts for guys, American Eagle has 18, and Abercrombie and Fitch is carrying an astounding 34. This mass proliferation of plaid is sullying its good name. One glance down a hallway at Ames High and you will see more plaid on these hip high schoolers than ever before. Their plaids range from button up shirts to coats to backpacks and even the occasional pants. And how many of these students are rugged individualists? How many have felled a tree with an axe or worn a kilt while walking the glens and lochs of Scotland? Americans feel that they have fallen out of touch with their roots. Gone now is the family that packed up all they had and journeyed across the endless prairie in search of adventure and a better life. Gone too is the person who would travel out into the woods only to return the next summer with mountain lion pelts and wild stories of bears and wolves. Current fashion had felt this lost too and has tried to give us back our rugged heritage. But the halls of a high school are no place for the fabric of adventure. The mighty plaid has lost its meaning. Plaid is now being worn without regard for its heritage, but it’s not the students who are to blame for their misguided pattern choice. The 2000 year old pattern was never meant to be sold en mass e at the mall. These stores and those that shop at them need to leave plaid to those who have earned the right to wear it, those brave souls who would gladly give seven years of hard labor so that they could wear their plaid. Let’s give plaid back to those who have earned the right to wear it.