When I say the word “plaid” or “tartan” what are you envisioning? I see a gentleman with a walrus-like moustache playing a round of golf in woollen red-checkered breeches with long socks, matching jumper and a pom-pom atop his flame-like mane. How stereotypical and narrow is that interpretation of a pattern that goes back centuries and has been reinterpreted over and over again into wearable and even fashionable attire! Over the course of history the pattern has checkered Scottish clans, fashionable English royals, Westwood punks and even, as noticed by New York Times photographer, Bill Cunningham, women on the days following 9/11. It seems the ordered grids gives the wearer a sense of regularity and security. Plaid’s universal appeal is most recognised in contemporary menswear as its one of the few patterns men will wear.
This week’s Fashionisto shows us the right way to wear plaid. He’s debonair and dashing, smartly teaming his buttoned up shirt with neatly cuffed jeans and a pair of beautiful braided leather loafers. The pattern is simple with only a few intersecting lines of white and purple. The pinky red of the shirt updates the look giving a fresh, modern feel to an age-old pattern. For a smart preppy look like our Fashionisto, try a vibrant plaid shirt with a slim coloured chino or do the switch and wear a pair of patterned pants with a simple shirt and perhaps top it off with a bow tie. If you prefer the lumberjack “lets rustle some cattle” look try a traditional tartan shirt with a distressed jean. For the girls go anglomanic in this Vivienne Westwood concoction or be one of the boys in a flannel shirt tucked neatly into your high-waisted jeans.
Hint: Beware plaid can be both high fashion and low humour as advised by plaid mad Jeffery Banks, “That’s what a classic is. A little black dress if its too short it’s vulgar. And tartan is the same way.”