It’s All About the Plaid-itude

Karl Lagerfeld MacPherson Tartan Wool and Faux Leather Pants
3.1 Phillip Lim Sculpted Flare Skirt
Stella McCartney Plaid-intarsia Knitted Sweater
Wallace & Barnes Buffalo Check CPO Shirt
Marc by Marc Jacobs Scarlette Check Scarf

Blame it on my partial Scottish ancestry or on my joining this world in the ‘90s, when the pattern was all the rage, but I’ve always appreciated a well-executed plaid. After all, it's just as easily worn by subscribers of the all-black uniform as it is by lumberjacks (and all of us who attempt to emulate an urban tree-chopper)—even Cher and Dionne were fans [5]. And the iterations are almost endless: ‘90s grunge or preppy sophisticate; tartan or buffalo; classic Burberry plaid or the Brit-punk variation. With prominent placement in recent editorials, including Numéro Tokyo November 2013 [2-4] and Vogue UK August 2013 [6] (not to mention Hedi Slimane’s clear appreciation for the pattern, as seen in his recent Saint Laurent collections), it seems that there’s no better time to invest in plaid. It is fall, after all. So let's shop:

1. Karl Lagerfeld MacPherson Tartan Wool and Faux Leather Pants: Let’s begin with the 'real' and 'traditional' tartan plaid, used here by Kaiser Karl. The punk inspiration is loud and clear—grab some heavy black booties, a chunky black sweater or a crisp white button down, a leather jacket, and some kohl eyeliner and you’ll be ready to fight the aristocracy with the best of ‘em.

2. 3.1 Phillip Lim Sculpted Flare Skirt: Maybe you’re after the softer side of plaid. This feminine not-quite-kilt is the answer to your post-parochial-school prayers.

3. Stella McCartney Plaid-intarsia Knitted Sweater: Stella, in her everlasting wisdom, put a spin on plaid, enlarging the print to emphasize its clean lines, fine detail, and touches of color. Plus, the oversized mohair-and-virgin-wool sweater will keep you warm in cooler weather.

4. Wallace & Barnes Buffalo Check CPO Shirt: The Brawny Man was onto something. Oversize men’s button downs are a necessary addition to any lady’s closet, particularly shirts of the thick-wool variety. Whether tucked into jeans or used as a light jacket (perhaps under a puffy vest? to give it some shape? WHO KNOWS GO CRAZY!), the bright red-and-black checks will leave you ready for your Orvis and L.L. Bean close-up (hunting and wood-chopping: optional).

5. Marc by Marc Jacobs Scarlette Check Scarf: Not ready to commit wholeheartedly to a loud pattern? Marc’s check scarf will keep you on trend, warm, and comfortably adventurous.

Note: I’d recommend not wearing all of these items together. There’s mixing and matching, and then there’s insanity. But to each their own.

—Elizabeth Brockway

Photo via Celine.

Let’s Talk About It! JOIN IN
  • Leslie
  • Elise Mooijman

    Loving the skirt and the shirt but yeah would definietly not wear them all together hahaha!

  • Izzi

    Plaid is a classic! I'm forever a fan... Must be a grunge/90s thing. Find similar blouses for much LESS on Gilt and RueLaLa:

  • mlle p

    Despite eight years of a plaid uniform as a child, I still love the stuff! Many years ago, I had a plaid party where everyone wore as much plaid as possible and I stapled walls and hung clotheslines in the house with all the thrift store plaid I could find. The photos look oddly similar to some of the ones here.

  • Cat

    Oh. Elizabeth, I read you were born in the nineties and felt 10 years older! Geez, these kids today. I love plaid in small doses.


Karl Lagerfeld
Karl Lagerfeld MacPherson Tartan Wool and Faux Leather Pants
3.1 Phillip Lim
3.1 Phillip Lim Sculpted Flare Skirt
Stella McCartney
Stella McCartney Plaid-intarsia knitted sweater
Wallace & Barnes buffalo check CPO shirt
Marc by Marc Jacobs
Marc by Marc Jacobs Scarlette Check Scarf