What Tartan can I Wear?

Choosing your Tartan

What tartanScottish tartans come in a wide array of differing patterns and styles. There are clan or family tartans, district tartans, regimental tartans, sports club tartans, corporate and universal versions.

The key element when choosing a tartan relates to which version is most suitable for the individual. We must make it clear that there are no laws regarding the wearing of a tartan. Anyone can wear any tartan they choose.

For those who have Scottish heritage, the clan or family tartan may well be the version chosen. Most clans or large Scottish families have their own tartans, which originated around the early 19th century. When reviewing the family heritage if your surname is Scottish and there is a clan tartan available for this surname then you can choose this. If your mother's surname is Scottish then you may also use this. Most people like to have some sort of genuine clan connection as that is what tartan is all about but as we said above you can wear anything that takes your fancy.

Visit the Tartan Finder on our Main Website >

If there is no family heritage or tartan version available, the next choice may well be one of the district tartans. These are tartans designed and linked to a specific area of Scotland. Some of these tartans existed prior to family or clan tartans, and are usually specific to districts or cities. Others district tartans are still being developed today. These are a good choice should a family or clan version of the tartan not the available. In North America many states have had tartans designed for them. This is a list of US state tartans on Wikipedia and these are the corresponding Canadian regional tartans.

The military and regimental tartans are traditionally worn by Scottish regiments and are usually worn by those who have some kind of affiliation or connection to a particular regiment. The most well-known of these is the Black Watch, which is worn by the 42nd Black Watch regiment.

If no other alternative exists a universal tartan can be a good choice. Universal tartans include the Hunting Stewart, Caledonian and the Jacobite styles, in addition to the more modern versions such as the Braveheart Warrior, Flower of Scotland and Pride of Scotland. Some of the more modern universal versions have been designed with the wedding market in mind as at some Scottish weddings the groom, best man and ushers may all choose to hire a common tartan.

There are additional versions of tartans which have restrictions, including Royal tartans such as the Balmoral which is only worn by members of the British royal family but this is observed more out of respect than adherence to the law. In addition to the aforementioned options, corporate tartans have recently come to the fore, these are generally designed for large companies or organisations such as the bank of Scotland. Corporate tartans should generally only be worn by representatives or employees of the particular company.

The bottom line is that if you have no clan connections just choose the tartan that you find most attractive.

Visit the Tartan Finder on our Main Website >