Know Your Tartan Type

Dress Gordon Tartan

Tartan shirts are great for casual Fridays and weekends like Saturday Style), but do you know your tartan type? Now I am not suggesting that you spend hours and hours researching what tartan that you can possibly link to your heritage. I probably wouldn’t have much luck there, and if I did I probably wouldn’t like the tartan that was assigned to me.
Dress Gordon ShirtWhat I am talking about is finding a tartan that works for you. For example, I primarily wear one tartan. That tartan is Dress Gordon. I do this because I have found that it works well with my look and it looks pretty good on me (in my humble opinion).
Dress Gordon 1Once you find the tartan that you like best the next consideration is scale. I know that I mention scale a lot and there is a good reason for that. It is extremely important. In my case, I have found that smaller scales look best on me. Knowing this keeps me from purchasing shirts that I think I want, but know won’t work.
Dress gordon 2This post is another example of the type of simplicity that I promote. I limit myself to one or two tartans, because it helps me to create a cohesive look while allowing for a certain amount of variety as there are so many variations of each tartan. The same goes for scale. Keeping things similar reduces peoples ability to notice change. This in my opinion is a good thing.

oxford cloth button down
Jerrod Swanton is a simple man interested in simple, classic, and traditional style.

14 Comments on "Know Your Tartan Type"

  1. jonas says:

    Good tip, Jerrod, but have you got any suggestions for places to compare tartans?

  2. Joe says:

    Hi Jerrod-
    You know much more about clothing that I do, of course! (it is your hobby I think.)
    Just a hunch–try a deep burgundy dress belt with that tartan and your Bills. (look like Bills) Let me know what you think-no clue what shoes you have on in the photo of course. If burgundy/cordovan either belt works of course, but the burgundy would “pop” a contrast very well with the shirt & Bills. (in my humble opinion or course.) Joe

  3. Mostlytrad says:

    Nice look. I enjoyed perusing this year’s Scotch Plaid flannel shirt offerings at L.L. Bean over the weekend. Grey Stewart is nice, Hunting MacLeod and Black Watch are always favorites, but I ended up ordering the Navy Tartan which appears to be Dress Gordon. The trees are turning, time to break out and enjoy the plaids.

  4. Old School says:

    ” Keeping things similar reduces people’s ability to notice change.”
    A sensible piece of advice from a sensible gentleman!

  5. oxford cloth button down says:

    Jonas – Unfortunately I don’t have a great Tartan resource for you that I have reviewed. However, I spotted a few on Amazon that caught my eye such as “The Clans and Tartans of Scotland” and “The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Tartan: A Complete History and Visual Guide to Over 400 Famous Tartans.” Also, as Mostly Trad pointed out currently LL Bean is offering their beloved Scotch Plaid Flannels.

    Old School – Thank you kindly.

    Joe – I will give it a try and let you know!

  6. Lennart says:

    Joe & others interested, check this out to compare and get educated concerning different tartans,

  7. Fred Johnson says:

    Great post, I love tartans with my Cords and Shetlands and I also favor the smaller scale ones. I don’t mind most patterns but I do stay away from any with a major blue dominance as it does not work for me.

  8. Lin says:

    What do you think of tartan ties or other accessories? Too much pattern? I am a fan of Black Watch although it is probably the most over-used tartan

  9. SFSteve says:

    If you want to see more tartans than you ever thought existed check out the website. No shirts, unfortunately, but scarves, blankets, and women’s wear in a surfeit of patterns. Who knew there were so many?

  10. Roger C. Russell II says:

    Now come on ! I thought all of you Trad cats would know lots about Tartans. L.L. bean does have some nice looking Tartans from a distance. They have ruined the shape of the collar. Also, their Tartans never had button down collars. I personally think the Bean product should not be button down because the hand of the fabric is nice but very casual.
    For the button down look get ready to open your pocket books. Viyella is what people from your tribe wear. The colors in the patterns are very clear or vivid. Also, there are some really nice fabrics of a cotton wool blend that are soft, beautiful and warm. Again this is a pricey thing to own. Collect one a year and build up the collection.
    Also, check out Pendleton. Specifically look at the Sir Pendleton, and the Lodge Shirt. These both come in Tartan patterns. These shirts are 100 percent wool, but you get used to it and they will last a life time. Not all of Pendletons products are Tartan they do have a Western heritage but the are equally traditional in many ways. I love Pendleton and it is what you parents wore. That lady so many Preppy/Trad types regard so highly, Muffy something or another, says pendleton patterns are “muddy”. However, I only do not agree. The more casual shirts like The Lodge Shirt are nice with jeans, where as Sir Pendleton is very crisp and would work well with khakis.

  11. oxford cloth button down says:

    Roger – Thanks for thoughtful comment. When it comes to viyella I have a tendency to lean towards tattersall, but I get the drift of what you are saying.

    Lin – I think Tartans make for great accessories. They can add a nice pop of color much like regimental stripes.

    SFSteve – Thanks for the link.

  12. Steve says:

    @RCR: Pendleton is very good for shirts and sweaters. Some of their coats/jackets are rather loud and to be avoided. Luckily, there is a Pendleton outlet near me (there are only a few, it’s not like PRL with a “factory outlet” on every American street corner), so I can get the shirts at roughly half off retail. Yes, they are “last year’s model”, but how many males care about that anyway. O’connell’s is the best source for Viyella shirts I have found–yes, they are QUITE expensive.
    Pendleton outlet store is near Williamsburg, Va.

  13. Roger C. Russell II says:

    Hopefully I have not beat the Tartan thing to death and been an annoyance. If you guys are looking for Tartans or really anything Trad, Preppy, or just great quality products check out Dann Clothing. They have a huge selection of items and do a good job of displaying the items online. I do have a bit of a problem following they way they show the price of the items, but you figure it out as you go. I thought of them because they carry the Viyella Tartans already discussed.

  14. Steve says:

    I know the Dann Online site has lots of great stuff, but gosh it’s a poorly designed website.

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