How to wear... tartan
Embrace the festive spirit and cosy winter days in seasonal checks, writes Meadhbh McGrath
For most of us, the sight of tartan is likely to bring back unwelcome memories of secondary-school uniforms - namely, those itchy, heavy pleated skirts that didn't lend themselves to being rolled up and tended to swamp over the legs.
But around this time of year, tartan seems exactly right. Few pieces evoke the holiday spirit quite like a jolly crimson checked coat or scarf. Packed with rustic country charm, it's just the thing for cosy winter days.
It helps, then, that tartan is making an especially loud, vibrant comeback this season. Irish designer Simone Rocha's red ruffles were particularly festive, complete with glittering trim and oversized bows.
Henry Holland took his tartan outdoors, in puffa jackets and suiting belted with climbing rope, all paired with sturdy hiker boots.
At Michael Kors, red and yellow plaids were mashed up with leopard print and grungy florals, while Donatella Versace offered a festival of punk tartans: chopped and spliced, in mini kilts, slim trousers and super-sized blazers, and topped off with berets and bags to match.
The palette was acid-bright (Topshop's vivid yellow coat should give any outfit a joyful burst of colour), but there are subdued options that will work just as well.
Meghan Markle's Burberry coat on a visit to Edinburgh earlier this year (left) was a particular hit, and the Black Watch tartan does all the hard work for her, allowing her to take it easy with all-black in the rest of her outfit.
The Kooples' green blazer will amplify a simple t-shirt and dark jeans, or wear it alone with a slim gold pendant and black tailored trousers for elegant eveningwear.
Elsewhere, Zara's navy co-ordinating top and trousers set is a stunner, and the hint of peach amidst all that blue really makes it sing. Wear with a pair of strappy sandals and some delicate rings and you'll be set for any festive occasion.
If you want to go a little bit more glam, look to the Marc Jacobs autumn collection, where asymmetric shoulder detailing and taffeta blouses elevated a tartan dress and trousers.
Contrasting checks, like those on Topshop's midi dress, will ramp up your party season wardrobe, styled with glittering heels and a holographic chain mail clutch.
Your school days may have made you swear off kilts for life, but the new iterations are very modern and very stylish, too. Kate Middleton (right) certainly looked the part at a Christmas party for children of military families in Kensington Palace on Tuesday. Her Emilia Wickstead skirt, paired with a cropped cardigan from Scottish cashmere brand Brora and suede boots, was suitably cheerful yet refined.
Le Kilt is the cult brand to know, but on the high street, everywhere from M&S to Warehouse can provide affordable options for trialling the trend. The black and white version from Warehouse is a notably straightforward entry route: style with a black crew-neck knit or a slogan t-shirt and boots for an edgy yet accessible off-duty look.
If you're not tempted by pleats, try a bell-shaped skirt like H&M's lively red belted midi. The slightly flared cut will flatter the figure as it doesn't cling to the hips, thighs or bum, and if you have a bigger bust or legs, it can help to balance out your curves.
A creamy roll-neck and knee boots will add polish, or take your cue from Versace and complement the trad-punk print with coin drop earrings.