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How to Wear Plaid

It's a classic look that has stood the test of time. But now it's time to upgrade the look and make it more stylish.
Tulika Nair
This story showcases 27 different ways in which both girls and guys can wear plaid.

The Checks War: Plaid vs. Tartan

Traditionally, tartan is the correct way to refer to all fabrics woven to create the pattern that we know as plaid. Historically, plaid is a blanket worn with the Highland costume. In the United States, plaid has become synonymous with the print. Gingham which is also often considered a separate print is actually just an even tartan/plaid.
Ah! Plaid! What can we say about it that hasn't been said before? It's been around for so long that you could write odes to it, and still fall short. It has been derided as too common and rural. It has been showcased and highlighted by royals. It has been thrown aside for being (un)stylish.
And then, just as quickly, it has been declared the toast of all things fashionable.

What is it about this gorgeous checkered pattern that brings out such varied emotions? That's probably a question that will never get answered, and since we are no Freud, we will let it pass. We are just happy to let it get its due in the spotlight.
All we want is to ensure that while it's there, it remains so in style and all its glory. So, we bring to you simple, yet gorgeous ways in which you can wear this print.

Plaid: Checking the Right Boxes

It's bold. It's colorful. And it's right on trend. Girls! Here's how you can wear plaid.
Bring in a little menswear inspiration by wearing your plaid shirt with a pair of shorts.
Raid your boyfriend's closet for an oversized shirt, and then knot it over a tank top.
Feeling the chill a little? Wear a warm knit or T-shirt in a complementary color over your shirt.
Make it a little feminine by cinching it with a broad belt and wearing it with a mini skirt.
Whoever said you can't work it with a feminine silhouette? The versatile pattern trumps it all.
Looking for something edgier? Opt for a corset-inspired top made girly with a lace cummberbund.
Take plaid to work by wearing a more feminine version of the shirt. Add details like a satin ribbon.
Be fashion forward with a cape in plaid in bright, bold colors.
A simple plaid dress can be the perfect way to start out. Add a scarf in a solid color to perk the look.
Love vintage fashion? Who doesn't? Channel your inner school girl with this little number.
A cute plaid skirt, colorful stockings, knit top, and boys-inspired shoes; need we say more?
It's been a staple in your wardrobe. Guys, it's time to make plaid more interesting.
Keep it casual and team a colorful shirt with a pair of khaki pants.
For a semi-formal look, wear your shirt with a pair of chinos, and add a dinner jacket.
Plaid is the perfect print to layer with. Wear it over a tee, and see how the magic happens.
The weather caught you unaware? Warm yourself with a full-sleeved shirt and a sleeveless sweater.
Is your inner biker boy calling out to you? Well, tend to the desire by wearing a leather jacket.
A check shirt, a plaid tie, trousers with suspenders; and you thought plaid was all about casual.
Go old school by wearing your plaid shirt with a pair of overalls. The farms are calling!
Did you think plaid couldn't be versatile? Tell that to a pair of plaid shorts. Perfect for chilling in.
Be your sporty best with a sleeveless zippered vest. Wear it with a plain tee for maximum effect.
Mix prints and go a little crazy. Wear a formal plaid jacket over denims and a printed T-shirt.
Plaid is one of universally loved patterns that always manages to look comfortable, yet fashionable. The key to wearing this trend well, though, is to use your judgment and not overwhelm your outfit. A bold print like this can often become an eyesore if not used minimally.
Too much from the tartan family, and you will go down in history for committing a major fashion faux pas.

Understand what will work for you and what won't. While larger prints can overwhelm a petite person, smaller ones work beautifully on them. But this is not a rule by any means.
It depends, ultimately, on what appeals to you. Learn the difference between woven and western styles. The former has larger squares and uses multiple colors, while the latter usually uses two colors and tends to have smaller squares.
Conventional wisdom would say that you should avoid mixing other prints with plaid, but we say, take a call on that. Mixed prints is a trend that works beautifully with the checks family.
If you are unsure of wearing plaid clothes, you can always dip your toes by wearing accessories with plaid prints; a scarf, a headband, a bow tie, try whatever catches your fancy. While plaid was considered synonymous with the Highlands and Texan cowboys, today you can dress up or dress down the print, depending on your mood.