Some tartans are reserved for the exclusive use of members of the royal family or of a particular individual for whom they were designed. There is no "tartan police" but to avoid possible embarrassment one should avoid wearing one of these tartans. Most of these tartans (e.g., Balmoral) are not available for purchase by the public, but there is one that is available: the Royal Stewart.

The Royal Stewart is probably the most abused tartan there is. The red Royal Stewart is seen everywhere and on everything, particularly clothing, wrapping paper and ribbon. Many people equate this tartan with Scotland as a whole, 
but it is not. Legally it belongs to the Queen and only she can grant permission to wear it. However, this has not prevented weaving mills in Scotland from producing and selling Royal Stewart to anyone who wishes to buy it. Indeed, it has become so commercialized that it has almost totally lost its status as a royal
tartan. However, the Royal Stewart is not a Clan Stewart tartan and wearing it as such is not appropriate.  


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                   A Short Explanation of Plaids

There are three types of plaids: the piper's plaid, the evening plaid, and
the belted plaid.
   -  The piper's plaid is simply a piece of tartan cloth that is about 52 to 
56 inches wide and three and a half yards long.  It is fringed at both ends.  
Pipers wear this plaid across the chest and over the shoulder, with the bulk
of the material trailing behind.
   - The evening plaid is smaller than the piper's plaid.  It is worn directly 
over the shoulder with the long end hanging behind the wearer.
Both the piper's plaid and the evening plaid are secured at the shoulder with 
(usually) large brooches.
   - The third type is the belted plaid or breacan feile (pronounced 
"breck'n faila"), meaning "kilted tartan" in Gaelic.  This is the Great Kilt seen 
in the movie Brave Heart.
Except for female pipers, plaids are worn by males--ladies wear tartan sashes.





A Note on the Royal Stewart Tartan




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