How to wear… festive tartan

With less than a week to go to Christmas, December dressing has taken a festive turn. It helps that fashion is having a very tartan season, and the high street is filled with stylish red and green plaids.

Tartan is always popular this time of year, but for 2019, designers have seized on the print’s rebellious spirit. Punk has gone decidedly posh, with some very polished plaids appearing on the catwalks and in the shops.

Up-and-coming French brand Marine Serre mixed in acid plaid with signature crescent moon prints, splicing vibrant green and pink checks into coats, trousers and skirt suits with cinched hourglass silhouettes, while fringed red tartan scarves were reshaped into a strapless mini wrap-dress and an ankle-skimming poncho.

There was lots of tartan at Lanvin – asymmetric scarf skirts, deconstructed outerwear and a standout tan cape – and Vivienne Westwood revived her classic tartan tailoring for the modern day.

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Chloe offered up characteristic Parisian insouciance with a wool tartan puffer atop a flowing midi skirt and glossy calf boots, and a funnel-neck tartan coat over navy wrap trousers and white boots.

Dior, meanwhile, blanketed its catwalk with bold red and green plaids, showcasing a collection based on creative director Maria Grazia Chiuri’s reading of the English Teddy Boy styles of the 1950s.

The French house’s iconic Bar jacket was beautifully rendered in red plaid and, elsewhere, there were tartan trousers worn with chunky waist belts and kitten heels, a tweed tartan midi skirt with a slogan T-shirt and patent pumps, and a strapless tartan top paired with a quilted black evening skirt. There was also heaps of buffalo check – as seen on Laura Dern at the Venice Film Festival. The fringed hem and tea length give it a breezy ease, making for gorgeous party dressing inspiration.

Tartan is a winter favourite of Kate Middleton’s too, and her Black Watch tartan coat dress by Alexander McQueen was a typically diplomatic choice for a visit to Dundee, Scotland. Even though she’s had the piece since 2012, it still looks fabulously smart and current seven years later, illustrating how a good tartan coat can become a mainstay in your wardrobe for years to come.

Or, if you really want to go all out, take your cue from Emily Blunt, making the case for audacious pattern mixing in a Michael Kors ensemble. The effect is terrifically festive, but even without a clashing Argyll knit, a pair of tartan trousers will serve you well. Mustard and red tartans may catch the eye in stores, but a dark-toned plaid is much more versatile.

Jigsaw’s popular tapered Paris trousers are available in a deep green tartan, like Emily’s, or mulberry, which may prove more wearable year-round. They’d make a compelling alternative to classic black trousers, and the slim cut and mid-rise waist delivers a flattering fit. You can dress them up with a tailored blazer, blouse and courts, or throw them on with trainers and a slouchy jumper for daytime.

Given its rich wintry feel, tartan pairs very nicely with knitwear. An elegant tartan midi and neat cashmere cardigan would make a particularly stylish Christmas Day outfit, as would a sleek tartan dress over a fine-knit polo neck and knee-high boots.

If you want to take your tartan up a notch, add a pair of sharp courts, blazer and dazzling jewels, or try a fitted knit tank top tucked into a midi skirt or trousers with heeled sandals. A narrow belt with gleaming gold hardware will add a refined finish – though you might want to leave that off when it’s time for Christmas dinner.

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