Tricky trends: Tartan, friend or foe?


When it comes to tartan, Alicia Silverstone a la Clueless dominates pattern potential, although I am aware that not everyone wants to prep-up in pleats and checks. I have tried repeatedly, but the looks I got this weekend in Mint have definitely reassured me that I’ve failed. So if you want to rock this trend with the best of them, this is how to actually do it.
In terms of trousers, if you prefer the more tailored look, let the tailoring be the focus and go for a more muted print. Zara feature more subtle hues of purples and greens. These are much more versatile to co-ordinate. Wear them with this season’s navy blue tee, a cream wool knit jumper, or little camisole top for an evening. Or if you want to look more grungey, then go for the amazing bold tartan prints seen on a whole host of Topshop leggings. These look great with oversized grey t-shirts, roll up the sleeves and accessorise with a knuckle duster of silver rings.
As for skirts, there are two styles: pencil and short, school-girl (reminiscent of Britney Spears ‘Hit Me Baby One More Time’).

The debate in the changing room as I tried to navigate the tartan pencil skirt was how to make it more casual. I think I have kind-of succeeded – I’ve teamed my Topshop tartan print pencil skirt with an oversized grey knit. For the bolder pencil skirts, grey and black pieces keep the outfit on the right side of granny chic. You can, however, get a variety of different materials like denim and more structured styles than jersey if you want to breathe out as some point during the day. This skirt can easily be dressed up as well, I plan on wearing mine with a v-neck body from American Apparel and some strappy sandals.

The shorter styles are a bit more difficult to wear seeing as many are a little similar to Matalan’s ‘back to school’ range. Try layering softer garments, like white chiffon shirts under navy jumpers to soften the print, add some loafers to finish the look.

If you’re looking for something to really top of the style and keep you warm, without swamping your tartan ensemble in a duffel coat, a blazer is probably the best way to go.

My favourite style of blazer at the moment are the tweed heritage long-line beauties with suede elbow patches. In my blazer, I go all-out heritage style with white silk shirt, high waisted jeans, brown belt and long brown riding style boots. Try to go for more fitted clothing underneath you blazer like jeans or a pencil skirt to avoid looking like a farmer’s wife. If in doubt, buy burgundy, a colour which looks great with tweed and is different from the traditional heritage style.

All in all, I would recommend that you keep your tartan simple. Flashes of tartan can be a subtle nod to the trend. Layer a tartan shirt under a white mohair knit jumper and black skinny jeans. A check scarf goes with anything, leather, trenches, denim, and low-key outfits that don’t have a bold print to them. My tip? Find the best scarves on eBay, or scour the local garden centre for a good quality cashmere!

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