Classic Scottish Tartans

October 17, 2021

Classic Scottish Tartans

Tartan has been an integral part of Scotland’s history for hundreds of years. More than just a stylish pattern, different tartans also historically represent different Scottish clans and aspects of Scottish history.

No matter where you live, when fall arrives you start seeing tartans everywhere. Often called plaid in the United States, tartan is a popular pattern often seen in clothing and winter accessories. When you see tartans start to appear in stores you often see the same selection of tartans over and over again. 

The most popular tartans aren’t just attractive combinations of color, they also have deep historical significance and names of their own. 

Here are a few of the most popular and widely seen tartans and a little about their history…


Royal Stewart Tartan

The most famous tartan, especially around Christmas time in the United States, is Royal Stewart Tartan. The Royal Stewart Tartan print dates back to at least the 17th century and represents the Scottish House of Stewart. The tartan is also the personal tartan of Queen Elizabeth II, theoretically requiring her permission for anyone to wear it -- a tradition that has been essentially abandoned because of its popularity. 

In the 1970s Royal Stewart Tartan took a big cultural turn when it became a huge part of the punk movement and punk fashion.

Shop Royal Stewart Tartan



Black Watch Tartan

If you love tartan there is a good chance you own a piece that features Black Watch Tartan. This darker tartan is the official tartan of the Black Watch, an infantry battalion of the Royal Regiment of Scotland and has been around since at least 1725. Of the first six companies of the Black Watch three were first established by Clan Campell, which is why it is often described as the tartan of Clan Campell. 

The tartan is also referred to as Government Tartan as it is used in a variety of official uniforms.

Shop Black Watch Tartan

Dress Stewart Tartan

Another one of the most popular tartans is also representative of the House of Stewart. Dress Stewart Tartan is the dress version of the classic Royal Stewart Tartan. This print takes the bright red squares of Royal Stewart and replaces them with white making the entire print more subdued.

This tartan is not as iconic as Royal Stewart but it is much easier to use in textiles and interiors.

Shop Dress Stewart Tartan

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