Trad and Tartanry?

katon

Super Member
Where can you buy tartan trousers, tam-o-shanters, wingtip brogues with kiltie tongues and tassels on the laces, stag-handled carving sets made of Scottish red deer antlers, Fair Isle sweaters, Argyll socks, hairy Harris tweeds, and multi panel tartan flat caps with a button top?

If you answered, old Brooks Brothers and L.L. Bean catalogs and the company that has a booth at the local Highland Games selling custom kilts, you'd be correct. :)

So why do you think that Trad has such a Scottish tendency? It is an Anglo-American look, but how did it become a Scottish-American look? Why did it stop where it did? I seem to recall Richard Press mentioning in a brief comment on the Ivy Style blog that too-obvious tartan was "too ethnic" for J. Press; Brooks would never have offered a true ghillie brogue, and kilts were out of the question (though I imagine if L.L. Bean had still been alive at the invention of the Utilikilt, he would have been tempted.)

Is it just historical accident, or was there something about Scottish clothes that made them more interesting than other old-fashioned national dress to the trad eye?
 

Vecchio Vespa

(aka TKI67)
My theory is that some of Trad’s deeper roots tap into Scottish thriftiness, buying or making things that are highly serviceable, using the daylights out of them, and repairing or refreshing as needed. Every beloved tweed jacket eventually got elbow patches, socks and sweaters were darned, collars were turned, shoes were re-soled, and so on. High water pants and argyles were MFEO. There are plenty of Scots to be found in New England. Oddly, Trad does not seem to embrace tartans to nearly the degree it embraces more subdued items like tweeds, Shetlands, and brogues. The one notable exception might be holiday pants, widely held to be GTH! Personally I’m rather fond of tartans as long as I have a family connection.
 
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