How to wear tartan with style

Posted On: Tuesday, May 31st, 2016 0 comments
Tartan fabric swatches

If there’s one pattern that never seems to age it’s tartan. Suited to all age groups, tartan shirting can be dressed up and down and worn to more formal events or punk rock concerts; it’s no wonder it’s a staple in many men’s wardrobes. While fashionable, getting the look just right can be a little difficult. Often, all you need is just a hint of the Highlands to carry off tartan in style.

Tartan: Its origins and history

Tartan has ties with its Scottish heritage and has been worn by the Celts for years. In fact, early Romans even talked of the Celtic tribes wearing bright striped clothing – thought to be tartan. Starting off simple, tartan was born as a two-coloured check made up of colours determined by local plants that were used for dyes.

Today’s tartans are often much brighter in colour and typically make more of a statement. Designs can differ though, dependent on the colour used and width of stripes, which can create quite a different finish.

To create its chequered appearance, colours are woven to create squares intersected by stripes with the pattern repeated over and over again. The colours used are sometimes specific to a clan, family, or district – making it ideal for those that like to personalise their attire.

tartan fabric kilt with sporran


Three ways to wear tartan

Absolutely anyone can wear tartan and pull it off – it’s not just for the Scots. It’s best to opt for a tartan shirt rather than a kilt or trousers though – which look a little OTT for everyday wear.


  1. Team your tartan with complimentary colours

Once you’ve chosen your tartan shirt, style the rest of your outfit accordingly. You’ll want to repeat colours used in the tartan fabric and pick matching coloured accessories to match.

For example, a dark blue tie would go well with our Tartan Black Watch fabric, which combines royal and dark blues with green.  On the other hand, Tartan Mc Lean shirting fabric would look great with a black, dark blue, or green tie and complimentary blue jeans.

red tartan fabric


  1. Opt for subtle tartans for the office

Even though tartan will always make some kind of statement, subtler patterns can be appropriate for the office – especially on dress down Fridays. Opt for dark palettes in black, grey, and navy like such as our classic Tartan Brodie. You could also dress your shirt up with a textured tie and three-piece suit in a complimentary colour like grey.

blue checked tartan fabric


  1. Layer your tartan

The layered look is great for autumn and winter and works particularly well with tartan fabrics. Opt for a heavier shirting in an oversized fit and use it as an overshirt. Throw it over a vintage or rock-inspired t-shirt for a laid-back look or team it with a classic white tee for something a little more practical and stylish. Tartan Hunting Stewart is one of our most versatile fabrics and ideal for this look.

green tartan fabric

Feeling all inspired? Head over to our tartan fabrics page to shop these looks today.

How do you wear your tartan? Share your top style tips with us in the comments below or tweet us @AcornFabrics

Stay In Touch