The difference between tartan and plaid
Scottish culture has popularized two amazing costume culture. The men, there wear skirts as the part of their traditional culture. It is though, actually not a skirt. It is a kilt- a woolen cloth with pleats on behind. It has a tartan pattern. It is knee-length and worn with a cloak which ends at upper half. This cloak like garment is known as plaid. It is wrapped over one shoulder. Nowadays, both terms- tartan and plaid are patterned crisscrossing horizontal and have multiple colors’ vertical bands.
Tartan however is the cloth and not the pattern. The French word- tiretain is the base of this word which indicates woven structure of the cloth. In ancient times of 1830, tartan was referred to as plain cloth minus the pattern. The Scots came up with the pleated pattern and pushed the tartan into the original state- as we see them today. Nowadays, though along with woven or plain cloth, tartan is made with paper, plastics, packaging and wall covering. It has evolved into pattern as well.
In America, plaid and tartan are interchangeable. Plaid comes from the Scottish Gaelic language and refers to blanket. It is the rectangular woolen scarf covering the left shoulder of Scottish Highlanders. Paid shorts are an accepted fashion. Schools have also adopted them and you could even see movies where plaids are worn by the shown protagonists.
So, it is clear by now that tartan is entire attire basically a patterned woolen cloth whereas plaid has become a full-fledged and a separate entity. Though, it is a part of tartan only. Tartan has extended its reach to non-woven mediums as well. The history of tartan can be dated back and is limited to Scottish culture only, however the plaid is now accepted attire in day to day use and school. Both the apparel symbolizes the Scottish tradition and culture.