Plaid can be tough. It is what we might call a strongly-typed symbol, as in, it’s very hard to wear without a nod to its meaning. No one is apt to say, or think, “I didn’t know plaid was traditional Scottish dress! I didn’t know a raincoat co-opted it into an instantly recognizable brand!” Highland clans and Burberry cast a long shadow. Strong and often garish patterns also make it easy to feel silly, or obvious, wearing plaid. But it’s not necessary. Here are five ways to wear plaid without feeling like a fool.
My aunt graduated from Vassar. Then she had three boys. She knows how to put up wallpaper. She’s thrifty. She’s comfortable in her skin. She wears plaid pants very well. And she looks good in red. If you wear plaid routinely, make sure the colors suit you. Otherwise plaid is a battlefield, and you lose.
For those classic types among us who like to walk just a little bit further out on the fashion runway, plaid dresses look great. Always have. Claire McCardell should be canonized for her full-skirted, shirt dress version. A dress gives the plaid enough room to spread out. If you go full vintage for a party, as above on the left, add some color so you don’t remind anyone of a sofa covering. If you opt for the modern Talbots number (via TP BTW), I’m thinking black fishnets, ankle boots, and a velvet and lace headband. Highlander anyone? Or just your black Ferragamo slingbacks. Not every day is a fishnet day. If you can wear vintage to the office, add a modern circle pin as a tongue-in-cheek reference to fashions of other eras, and a platform to your high-heeled pump to keep your feet firmly planted in 2009. After all, the 1950’s weren’t the best decade ever for working women.
Let’s face it. If you are someone who can wear avant-garde fashion you NEVER feel like a fool. These images are from nitro:licious and some notes on napkins. They are avant-garde young women. I’m going to trust them.
Burberry is a problem. I know. Either wear the classic raincoat with plaid showing only when you take the coat off and are not acting as an unpaid billboard, or, go completely, heart-stoppingly overboard. Make sure everything you put on your body is made by Burberry. Mix plaids and florals. Blow that strongly-typed symbol right out of the water. But I ask you, please, if you care about the High WASP creed, don’t just toss one of the bags over your arm and run out the door. Burberry did it to themselves. We have to help them if we care.