Rebels, "preppy", bourgeois: how the checkered print won the hearts of representatives of different social strata



The checkered print has already become a classic, but at the same time, despite its long history, it seems that no one has bothered yet. Every fall, the cell becomes one of the main trends. SPLETNIK.RU offers to know more about the origin and fashionable biography of this pattern.

In the eighteenth century, kilts of tartan were an important part of Scottish culture (which is why material in our language has taken root under the name Scotch). We all know kilts, but fabric cuts were most widely used. For example, large pieces were called plaids and they were used as raincoats for travel in the cold season, since they perfectly retained body heat.

At the same time, the cage becomes a symbol of Scotland, and following the results of the Jacobite uprising and a symbol of anti-British sentiment – after the rebels were defeated, the kilt was even banned!

18th century Scottish lord18th century Scottish lord

It is noteworthy that tartan as a material is permeated with meanings and history. Many weavers at that time had limited resources: for example, color palettes were determined by what plants were available in the form for the production of dyes. Because of this, styles varied geographically throughout Scotland, and tartans were often used in clothing as decals of various clans and regions.

David Morier The Battle of Calloden (1746)David Morier The Battle of Calloden (1746)

However, by the time Carl Edward Stewart was trying to seize the throne of the kingdom of Scotland, the tartan already had a rather long history. So, for example, there are records of similar Celtic fabrics that date back to the VIII century BC! The material was also valued in the 16th century – King James V even presented several rolls of tartan to his wife as a gift.

Scots, however, centuries later became popularizers of this fabric and overseas. Many of the Scots who emigrated to the United States worked as lumberjacks and enjoyed wearing plaid shirts. The image was so strengthened that it even entered folklore: for example, the mythical Paul Banyan, a giant lumberjack, is often depicted in a red-black plaid shirt. The print was also picked up by such casual clothing manufacturers as Woolrich and Pendleton, increasing the popularity of tartan as a uniform for working class men.

In Europe, at the beginning of the 20th century, another color combination took root – the famous Burberry cage from shades of beige, black and a thin red strip. The fabric was used as a lining in popular trench coats, and soon the brand became popular also across the ocean, because the American nouveau riche eagerly clung to the latest European fashion trends, which, as it seemed to them, would give them status.

Vintage Burberry AdvertisementVintage Burberry Advertisement

At the same time, all this time tartan remained a very expensive fabric, because the material was woven from woolen threads. By the 1940s, manufacturers were finding cheaper fabrics for making clothes in general, including ways to create a familiar pattern from thinner and cheaper materials than natural wool, which made the cage more common in fashion.

The availability of checkered tissue has made it popular for mass production. Soon, the cell begins to be associated with the school uniform in everyone – it was especially popular in Catholic schools. Private preparatory institutions also adopted fashion.

By the end of the 1960s, a young girl attending such a preparatory school could be immediately distinguished by a plaid skirt – the preppy style was born from here (the English name of such institutions is preparatory schools – abbreviated prep schools).

TwiggyTwiggyAdvertising Mary Quant x JC Penny, 1966

Privilege and piety (the image of "preppy" correlated with these concepts, which, of course, did not always correspond to reality) remained the main associations for long – already in the 1970s punks won their cage. At the time when decent girls from wealthy families and the bourgeois in their suburban estates wore the cage, street rioters put on plaid skirts, trousers and ties to express their mocking attitude and create a kind of parody of high society.

By the 1990s (the punk subculture was already dropping back then, having experienced a peak of popularity in the 70s and 80s), American teenagers again seized the initiative, returning some bourgeoisness to the cage, and thanks to the films “Deadly Attraction” (Heathers) and “Stupid "(Clueless) managed to revive the preppy style.

Movie frame Shot from the movie "Stupid"

Designers also took advantage of this, giving this wave of popularity a new acceleration. Checked outfits appeared in the Fall / Winter collection in 1989 at Lanvin, and in 1991 Linda Evangelista appeared on the catwalk at Oscar de la Renta in a checkered coat. The print was also popularized by Princess Diana – after the print in peas, the cage was clearly her favorite pattern.

Christy Turlington at the 1992 Christian Lacroix Fashion ShowChristy Turlington at the 1992 Christian Lacroix Fashion ShowLinda Evangelista at the Oscar de la Renta show, 1991Linda Evangelista at the Oscar de la Renta show, 1991

Princess DianaPrincess Diana

However, subcultures didn’t owe a debt either – grunge representatives took the place of punks, and a checkered flannel shirt became part of Kurt Cobain's corporate identity. More muted shades of this material and slight negligence became a kind of protest against brighter and more accurate school uniform suits.

Kurt CobainKurt CobainJared Leto in the series Jared Leto in the series My So-Called Life

Nevertheless, the connection of the cell with the form itself was inextricable and almost fetishized in pop culture: the image of the early Tatu, schoolgirl costumes for Halloween, miniskirt Britney Spears in the debut video Baby One More Time (albeit not in a cage, but with a style exactly referring to a school uniform).

Teen movies are also not without this image – just remember Serena van der Woodsen from "Gossip Girl" (Gossip Girl) or Lindsey Lohan from Mean Girls, where her character wore plaid skirts, trying to match the popular girls from school.

Blake Lively in the series Blake Lively in the series "Gossip Girl"

This cell duality in fashion – on the one hand, bourgeois, on the other hand street culture – is still relevant. This is noticeable even for the current fall-winter collections: Chloé and Celine made references rather to “preppy,” while the luxury Dior, on the contrary, revived the punk style on the catwalk.

Celine showCeline showDior showDior show

So, although the origins of the cell were rather rebellious (recall the Jacobite rebellion), as a result, the print reached the most diverse social strata, becoming a symbol of a wide variety of styles: from “golden youth” to punks, from bourgeois to grunge.

Do you like checkered things?


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