If you’ve met me, you already know that I’m not exactly a fashion “maven,” (look it up!) but I’m not a slob either. I like to think I represent somewhere in between. …
If you’ve met me, you already know that I’m not exactly a fashion “maven,” (look it up!) but I’m not a slob either. I like to think I represent somewhere in between. Fairly well groomed, clean, comfortable clothes, and while my mother always advised wearing “smart, sensible shoes,” I’ve always been a jeans and sneakers kind of guy. Oh sure, I have a nice suit, and even a tuxedo, but the need for such things is rare in the country, almost like spotting an albino deer while traipsing through the woods in my vintage Woolrich Buffalo plaid hunting jacket—just like the one your grandpa wore.
If there’s one thing I’m not, it’s “on trend,” but I hear that term thrown at me a lot lately, and it’s all because of my fondness for Buffalo plaid. When I was a young man (before on-trend was a thing) I had a black- and-red checked bathrobe. These days, I own a jacket and a shirt or two sporting the pattern, but with Narrowsburg Logging Days just around the corner I couldn’t help but notice that around my house, Buffalo plaid (or is it check?) is not just for flannel anymore.
Pausing to ask the Google about the difference between plaid and check, I peered out the window and was reminded that the picnic table set up in Camp Fox boasted the familiar red-and-black checkerboard pattern, too, with a matching coffee mug on a rock nearby.
“The difference between plaids and checks lies in these repeating patterns.” The Google informed. “Checks are two colors and have the same stripe pattern in the warp and the weft.” Making a note to look up “warp” and “weft” later, I read more. “Plaids have more than two colors and more variety in their stripe layouts.”
“That sorta makes sense,” I said to the dog, and grabbed a pen and paper. “Beanie, dog bed and table-top buck,” I chirped to Dharma, who pranced along, making a pit stop to pull a stuffed animal from her buffalo check (plaid?) toy chest. “Potholders, valance, switch plate and tree,” I scribbled, admitting to the pup that it seemed “like a lot.” I won’t bore you with the details but suffice it to say that black and red squares have crept into every room in the house, which got me thinking. Where did the name “Buffalo plaid” originate?
Back to the Google, knower (IMHO) of all things.
“In the United States, it got its name around 1850 when a designer at the Woolrich mill at Chatham’s Run, PA, copied a plaid pattern known as ‘Rob Roy’ in Scotland, named after the folk hero Rob Roy MacGregor. It’s said that it was introduced to North America by a descendant of Roy’s—one ‘Jock McCluskey,’ sometime lawman, bounty hunter, fur trapper, gold miner and eventually Indian trader.” I know that wearing buffalo check/plaid makes me feel like all of those things and more.
The Woolrich Company released a red-and-black shirt in “buffalo check” (oy) in 1850. “Legend has it,” the company says, “that the designer of this iconic fabric owned a herd of buffalo, so he named the black-and-red checkered fabric after his beloved herd.” I also learned that the Woolrich Company used the Buffalo plaid fabric to create the “first ready-made garment they offered and they have never stopped selling it.”
The wool plaid shirt was warm and durable and the red color was quite vibrant, so it quickly became a staple for the outdoor workers of the time. In addition to the fabrics and garments created by Woolrich, Pendleton began producing men’s plaid shirts in 1924. They were a huge success and became the go-to item for work and casual wear. A few decades later in 1949, women got their own version, thanks once again to Pendleton.
Meanwhile, my search for the perfect upcoming Narrowsburg Logging Days lumberjack shirt yielded four (uh-huh), both plaid and check, so I’m torn. I found them hanging in my closet, along with an assortment for the dog, including four-footed red-and-black checkered canine pajamas. Please don’t judge.
Final Note: While researching all things you-know-what, I stumbled upon a term I hadn’t heard before—“Lumbersexual.” It seems that after “metrosexual” (“a young, urban heterosexual male with an interest in fashion”) along came the Lumbersexual in 2014, described by the fine folks at www.gearjunkie.com as “men more concerned with looking like they exist in the outdoors, or the pseudo-outdoors, than meticulous grooming habits. Seen in New York, L.A., and everywhere in between,” the website informs us, “the Lumbersexual is bringing the outdoor industry’s clothing and accessories into the mainstream. Example: ‘He is bar-hopping, but he looks like he could fell a Norway Pine.’”
“That’s definitely not us,” I assured the dog. “I know how to cut down a tree. But I suppose we’ll always be forever plaid.”
See you at Logging Days, and now you know what to wear!
Fun Fact: According to um… a popular internet source, “Forever Plaid” is “one of the most popular and successful Off-Broadway musicals in recent memory. This deliciously fun revue is chock-full of classic barbershop quartet harmonies and pitch-perfect melodies!”
Since you read this all the way through, I’ll tell you. The word “maven” is a Yiddish noun and means an expert or connoisseur. #whatwouldbarbarafoxsay.
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