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Front view of Euro Chic outfit with faux unmatched twinset made of Sofie cardigan and Moda International sweater worn with Burberry plaid skirt, studded pointy toe flats (all own) and jade-onyx necklace c/o Almo Jewellery

How to wear plaid has no one sentence answer despite the wave is an evergreen classic. This guide provides inspirations and tips how to wear plaid in a sophisticated way at any age. Read what to consider, and which pattern works best for your personal style.

Contents
  1. What to Look for When Buying Plaid Items
  2. How Is the Pattern Created
  3. How to Wear Plaid Depends on Your Personal Style
  4. The Easiest Way How to Wear Plaid to Look Sophisticated …
  5. Which Plaid Looks Sophisticated with Your Personal Style
    • East European Classic
    • The Romantic Gal
    • Euro Chic
    • Gamine Style
    • Casual Styles
    • Rock’n Roll and Punk
    • Mod
    • Bombshell and Plaid
    • Arty Slick
    • Posh Eclectic
  6. How to Wear Plaid the Alaska Street Style Way
  7. Wrapping Up How to Wear Plaid in a Sophisticated Way

Disclosure: This post has affiliate links.

Updated: 11/14/2021

Note: You can find a definition of terms indicated with * in the High Latitude Style Glossary.

 

What to Look for When Buying Plaid Items

Plaid is one of the woven pattern that has made its way into every style. The most important thing when buying a plaid item is to look for a great cut. Furthermore, the pattern should match at the seams. Otherwise every plaid item looks cheap as if you picked it up in the youth or children department. This fact is especially true for all of us who are wearing less than a US size 10. See here for a size converter when you are one of my international readers (opens in a new tab).

 

How Is the Pattern Created?

The original plaid isn’t a print, but a pattern. When weaving the fabric different colors are put in both directions, which creates the pattern. Depending on the width of the stripes in the weave the pattern has different names. In gingham, the classic version has two colors – typically white and a crayon-like color. The crossing stripes are about half a centimeter (~0.2 inch) wide. In the Alpine region, a one centimeter wide version is traditionally used for both men and women.

Buffalo plaid also uses stripes of equal width in the weave, but they are about two inch or so (5 cm) in width. The traditional color combination is red and black. In America, this pattern is made either of cotton for shirts or wool for jackets, trapper hats.

Tartan uses different width and more than two colors. In Scotland, the colors and arrangement indicate different clans.

 

 

how to look your best in plaid post logo

 

 

How to Wear Plaid Depends on Your Personal Style

There is a variation of the pattern that looks awesome with the key elements of a given style, no matter of your what your your personal style may be. If you don’y know your personal primary style find out with this free online style finder,

Since the pattern works with every style, but Black Tie or White Tie, plaid is perennial. The trend is just which of the weave’s varieties is the most It in a season.

The Easiest Way How to Wear Plaid to Look Sophisticated …

… is to pick solids in the colors of the pattern. It’s a fool proof look. However, when the fabric has only two or three colors, you may fast feel bored. Despite the look is stylish and incredibly posh.

 

blogger in window panel pleated midi skirt with top and accessories in solid colors of the pattern
Pendleton wool window panel pleated midi skirt, GNW cashmer merino wool sweater, Halftee layering top, Ruby statement belt, L.K. Bennett suede tall boots, unbranded mask, Hermes collier de chien bangle

 

Now, how to switch things up?

 

Which Plaid Looks Sophisticated with Your Personal Style?

Depending on your personal style, you will have a preference for one or the other variety of the weave. This preference is related to what looks best with the other pieces of the personal style. Don’t know your primary personal style? Use this free online style finder to determine it before you read on. Opens in a new tab.

 

East European Classic

A Russian floral print wool scarf with silk fringes is a Must-have for every fashionista east of the Odra River. It works well with all kind of heavy wool skirts and window panel-like weaves as this pleated midi skirt. The look works because the scarf ties the colors of the skirt together with the gray turtleneck sweater. You can see why these floral wool scarves are favorites. They permit wearing all kinds of sweaters with one-and-the-same plaid skirt. More on East European style.

 

stylist in pleated multi-color skirt, floral wool scarf turtleneck and boots
Pendleton pleated midi skirt, Brooks Brothers turtleneck cashmere sweater, Gucci enamel belt, Hermes collier de chien cuff, Pavlova floral print wool scarf

 

The Romantic Gal

Remember when Brigit Bardot got married in a yellow white ghingham dress. Gingham is so feminine and with the right cut can be so romantic. Yellow, pink, light blue are perfect for summer dresses. In the cold season, darker colors make a bolder contrast to the white. Thus, when your skin tone can’t take this stark contrast look for gingham that substitutes the white with a different color. Read more on Romantic Style.

 

The shirts look awesome with capris and ballet flats, the dresses strappy, kitten or medium heel (2.5 inch, 5 cm) sandals.

 

style book author in gingham button-down shirt
Romantic style: Carhartt gingham-shirt under eShakti jumper, brooches instead of a belt, Liz Clairborne open-toe pumps, charm bracelet, and wooden watch c/o Jord

 

older woman standing at the Chena in white jeans and a plaid shirt
Posh casual: Gingham shirt c/o Whistle River with own London Jean bf, Hermes collier de chien leather wrap and bangle, hair jewelry, Modalu Pippa bag, and Madonna True or Dare pumps

 

In the cold season, any weave pattern wool skirt is her thing as long as the colors are feminine and the cut has feminine details like the overlaying wrap in the skirt below. A ruffled skirt in any variation of the weave works well too. The inspiration below works along the concept of

picking solids in colors of the fabric.

 

style influencer in orange skirt, purple top and tights
GNW tights, Harley Davidson booties, citrine and moonstone statement necklace, Hermes collier de chien bangle, unbranded recycled-cashmere sweater, Tracy Reese skirt

 

blogger in green top, orange tartan, black tights and booties
GNW tights, Harley Davidson booties, citrine and moonstone statement necklace, Hermes collier de chien bangle, unbranded recycled-cashmere sweater, Emerald belt Tracy Reese skirt

 

Euro Chic

Every Euro Chic fashionista associates the word plaid with Burberry (see photos above). Their classic pattern on bags, shoes, scarves or lining for traditional trench coats, their awesome signature scarf that we all want to have. Not to mention their plaid printed rubber boots. <3 Who doesn’t wish to own a pair?

Euro Chic embraces wool plaid for everything from blazers to skirts. Plaid in just two colors woven from cotton, i.e. gingham is a classic for summer button-down shirts and dresses to look sophisticated in vacation style.

 

over 50 years old style blogger in sophisticated plaid blazer with belt and dress look
Plaid in Euro Chic: Burberry plaid blazer with Kieselstein Cord belt, Hermes H-buckle, Ray Ban sunglasses, and winter white V-neck dress c/o Lookbook Store

 

Nicole of High Latitude Style in midi skirt, heels, updo and belted cashmere top
Tartan in Euro Chic: Brooks Brothers cashmere top, Kieselstein Cord belt and three horse heads buckle, Hermes collier de chien bangle, Pendleton midi skirt, and Ivanka Trump heels (all own)

 

sophisticated look with plaid pattern A-line skirt with matching cardigan
Back view of outfit described below

 

fashion over 50 woman in Euro Chic twinset with plaid skirt
Euro Chic outfit with faux unmatched twin set made of Sofie cardigan and Moda International sweater worn with Burberry plaid skirt, studded pointy toe flats (all own), and jade-onyx necklace c/o Almo Jewellery

 

You can find different looks with this pink skirt in the post at the link.

 

over 40 fashion woman with plaid bag
Southern Europe inspired chic: Jones New York silk shirt with eShakti lace skirt, Anne Klein slingback pumps, DIY bangle, Paloma Picasso sunglasses, and Burberry plaid signature bag (all own)

 

fashion blogger in plaid sheath with pink mockneck sweater
Ruby Belle plaid sheath dress, Brooks Brothers pink mock turtleneck cashmere sweater, Festina watch, H bracelet, GNW tight, and DIY brooch (all own)

 

You can find more outfit ideas for a plaid sheath in the linked guide.

 

Gamine style

In gamine style, usually the pants have a glen-check pattern like in the next two examples.

midlife woman looking posh in men's wear inspired attire
Layering top under Anne Klein V-neck sweater, Pendleton high-waist front pleated trousers, GNW socks, pointy toe pumps, LeatherCoatsEtc beret, Kieselstein Cord belt and three horses buckle, Jord men’s bamboo watch and pendent necklace

 

 

Casual Styles

Every California Casual or American Southwest fashionista associates the classic plaid button-down shirt that looks great with jeans. The men’s department is welcome for high quality options with a more affordable price tag. The former has the high-waist, not too tight jeans with Birkenstock. The latter has the boot-cut jeans with cowboy boots. Both styles have in common to wear the shirt as a jacket over a graphic T-shirt or to knot the shirt around the waist for style.

 

midlife fashion blogger showing how to look sophisticated in plaid skirt
Casual posh style: Oliveo high-waisted linen pants with Oliveo plaid button-down shirt, Ray Ban Jackie O. sunglasses, Jaeger tote, Kieselstein Cord belt, H buckle, Anne Klein sling backs, and wooden watch c/o Jord

 

midife woman in posh office look
Riders by Lee button-down Buffalo shirt styled with dyed Moda International cardigan, G-III suede skirt, GNW tight, Manolo Blanik booties, Kieselstein Cord belt, snake-tail buckle, Jodie Gum brooch

 

babyboomer showing how to wear plaid with bootcut jeans
Boot-cut jeans and window panel top both c/o Ethyl Clothing with own Liz Claiborne pumps, and beaded necklace

 

stylist featuring how to wear plain in a preppy way
Weekend casual: Manolo Blahnik booties, Kieselstein Cord belt, garnet necklace, Ray Ban sunglasses Hermes collier de chien bangle, Festina watch, bf c/o Kut of the Kloth, and gingham-shirt c/o Whistle River

 

Using the shirt as a shacket makes a great style for open air concerts. Both styles ask for a hat. The Californian girl goes for a trilby hat, the Southwest gal prefers a felt or leather cowboy hat. Read more on ageless style with hats.

 

 

Rock’n Roll and Punk

Here plaid pants are a big thing. Make sure the plaid pattern continues perfectly at the seams over the crotch. Otherwise you look like a clown. Also go for neutrals rather than the classic Rock’n Roll/Punk red and black. You want to be able to wear your wool pants to work, right? 😉

mature woman wearing a plaid fit-and-flare dress
Rock’n Roll: Plaid fit-and-flare dress c/o Voodoo Vixen paired with own GNW Luxe sweater, GNW tight, Hermes collier de chien bangle, and Clarks booties for a Rock’n Roll vibe style

 

stylist in windy weather gear wearing leather joggers and a blazer
Moda International leather pants, Harley Davidson booties, Tahari glen check blazer, pendant necklace, and Hermes collier de chien bangle

 

Mod

Mod style is not just super-short mini dresses in A-line. Think argyle sweaters in three neutral colors. Alterntively, you can pick three colors of similar shade, or three neighbored colors on the color wheel. Style them with a corduroy neutral color A-line skirt, and patent leather sandals in a bright color. What about plaid blanket scarves? They are great to add an extra insulation* layer in winter or cover-up on a chilly evening.

Nicole of High Latitude Style wearing a argyle sweater over a sheath dress
Mod: L.L. Bean argyle sweater worn over Eli Tahari sheath with  Steven Mary Janes, Hermes collier de chien bangle, statement necklace, and Coach bag for a modern way to wear the Mod argyle

 

Argyle socks are a classic in work and casual style too in neutral colors under neutral color wool pants in winter or in bright colors under jeans with a solid neutral or bright sweater and sneakers on the weekend, respectively.

 

mature lady in blouse and skirt leaning backwards
Mod inspired outfit: Pendleton midi skirt, L.K. Bennett boots, Kieselstein Cord belt, and shirt c/o Ethyl Clothing

 

 

Bombshell and Plaid

Even a bombshell like Sophia Loren or Marilyn Monroe looks great in a sheer neutral color plaid blouse with tie-neck paired with high-waist jeans, solid pencil skirt or trousers. Don’t forget the high-waist pencil skirt in black-and-white diamond weave with a tucked-in sweater and stiletto pumps! Or Victoria Beckham‘s take on how to wear plaid. Recall her in her western shirt with black pencil skirt,  and sky-high heels. So sexy! <3

 

over 50 years old lady wearing a sophisticated plaid look for summer with leather skirt
Bombshell: Oliveo skirt, DIY belt, Hermes collier de chien bangle, arm party, Coach shearling chain bag, Christian Louboutain pointy-toe heels, and blouse c/o Ethyl Clothing

 

 

Arty Slick

A signature item in arty slick is the buttoned tailored plaid cape with pockets and collar. Go for brown with cream and black for ageless style. The plaid itself should look very wide with different widths from 2 to 8 inches (5 to 20 cm).

 

stylist showing how to wear plaid using a tartan sheath as exxample
Ruby Belle plaid dress with GNW Luxe wool cashmere sweater, GNW tights and Antonio Melani booties and DIY brooch worn on the waist

 

 

Posh Eclectic

The Posh Eclectic style is the trickiest of all how to wear plaid. To get this style right, you have to try out everything with everything. Then look for what looks the rightest way wrong. Think tartan and sequins, plaid button-down shirt with riding pants and wellies. You get the idea!

 

midlife style blogger in office holiday party attire
Eclectic Style: Moda International sequin skirt with Oliveo plaid button-down shirt, Moschino belt, GNW tights, Hermes collier de chien bangle, and pumps

 

mature woman in Irish blazer with cargo pants
Orvis Irish blazer with London Jean camouflage cargo pants, GNW Luxe cashmere sweater, smoky quartz statement belt, and Clark booties for a posh eclectic way of wearing plaid

 

over 50 years old woman in posh electric glen check skirt and vest look
Eclectic look: Shearling hat, Be by Blanc Noir vest, Kieselstein Cord belt, Banana Republic skirt, Brooks Brothers sweater, Hermes collier de chien cuff, GNW tight, and Harley Davidson booties.

 

midlife blogger in mixed pattern work outfit
Eclectic outfit: Pendleton pleated midi skirt, August Silk cardigan, GNW tight, silk neckerchief, Söfft shearling booties

 

woman in all navy outfit with some fashionable pops of color in red and white
When you go for a monochromatic look in a slimming dark color like navy add some pop of color like red or white so the look is friendly and is more spring/summer. Here again the belt gathers the volume. Kieselstein Cord belt, snake tail buckle, over-size cardigan, Pendleton pleated wool skirt, DIY statement necklace, L.K. Bennett boots, and shirt c/o Riders by Lee

 

 

How to Wear Plaid the Alaska Street Style Way

The Alaska version is the plaid wool jacket. It is cut like a straight button-down shirt, but from a coat-quality thick plaid fabric, two pockets on the breast, two diagonal pockets on the hips. No lining. It is worn with flannel lining jeans, duck boots, sweater, and trapper hat. While it is intended to be worn by men, women wear it too. Both genders prefer the red-black color combination with a little green.

 

style book author in fuchsia, brown, white and blue outfit
Winter outfit with fuchsia, brown, white, and blue. Pendleton wool skirt, GNW tight, Sofie cardigan, LV logo print scarf, beret

 

fashion blogger wearing a plaid cape over a shearling coat
Plaid cape worn over a shearling coat with gray GNW tights, Vince Camuto suede boots, hat, leather gloves, and 3.1 Phillip Lim bag

 

More on how to have Street Style.

 

 

Wrapping Up How to Wear Plaid in a Sophisticated Way

The most important thing how to wear plaid is finding pieces with perfect fit where the pattern lines up at the seams.

Otherwise, the look is cheap or trashy or both.

You will look your best in the pattern that matches you personal style. To switch things up, you may try to wear a variety of the pattern of your secondary personal style.

What is your preferred way how to wear plaid?

Photos: G. Kramm

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