Know Your Terms: Tattersall

Because dropping the lingo is half the fun of dressing well.

British sartorial history is an interesting beast. On one side, you’ve everything from fops and dandies to a whole heap of natty gents strolling along Jermyn Street in bespoke suits and shoes. On the other side, you’ve got a bunch of equestrian types that love their steeds so deeply they’d introduce a new type of pocket to their blazers just to make finding money on horseback a more convenient enterprise, and who (apparently) didn’t blink at the prospect of going so far as to actually dress like their favorite means of conveyance.

Obviously, that’s a wildly oversimplified—and overstated—interpretation of things. But in addition to the aforementioned ticket pocket, you can put tattersall in the column of English clothing innovations that point to a distinctly equine-obsessed culture. The pattern is a simple one: A relatively small, evenly spaced plaid generally consisting of dark lines of two to four colors on a lighter background. It dresses up and down nicely, and has become something of a staple for shirts and waistcoats nowadays. But before it migrated to human torsos the world over, it was used for horse blankets at (wait for it) Tattersall’s horse market, which dates back to London in 1766. The pattern was so popular at that particular market that it eventually took on the selfsame name, and so handsome that it eventually made the leap from animal to man. Next time you see a thoroughbred, be sure to thank it accordingly.

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