Contemporary opinion on plaid appears to lie in one of two camps: those who perceive it as a plain, stylish fundamental and those who denounce it as a sartorial emblem of that shudder-inducing neologism, the ‘hipster.’ But dismissing plaid as yet another familiar pattern is doing it a disservice, as its past and durability otherwise indicate. Whether in the form of a classic flannel jacket, a preppy button-down shirt or in a suit, we are firmly planting our flag in the pro-plaid campsite. So what is it that makes the plaid shirt so durable? How do you put it on, and wear it well? Let this be an easy-to – follow example of just how useful this staple wardrobe can be if you’re unconvinced.
Now we talk about how to wear plaid tops. From its outdoor roots at Woolrich to contemporary high-fashion proponents like Hedi Slimane at Saint Laurent – who makes a perfect living-in plaid if you’re willing to pay for the privilege – the versatility of plaid has been used as a starting point for modification, creativity and invention, finding itself positioned through shirts, coats, jackets, pants and even underwear.
Aesthetically speaking, plaid shirts are low-risk in most color schemes, sitting effortlessly on top of a pair of chinos or jeans, and equally at home under macs or industrial jackets or worn unbuttoned over a classic white T-shirt. The trick to embedding plaid in your outfit, as with most patterns, is to keep the rest of it pared back; plaid is a bold, vibrant pattern so let it do most of the work and look to match it with neutral colors that suit the palette of your shirt.