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Resurrecting Plaid: How to give Plaid a High-Fashion Facelift this Fall

Photographed by Maddison Hill of Anna Malonson, Ashley Chase, and Emily Stable
Styled by Haedyn Moore
Directed by Joelle Beauchamp

By Allison Miller and Jessica Morgan

Plaid is omnipresent in fall fashion and finds its way to creep into the trend pool every single year. The classic pattern is undeniably timeless in so many ways, as well as a staple in the months of September through December. We have seen plaid used in garments from underwear up to outerwear, and your favorite retailer is trying to sell you everything in between this fall. Yet, the existence of a lot of plaid does not mean each outfit that features plaid is completely new and thrilling. This is what we like about the classics: they do not need to be constantly reinvented. However, after about a million autumn seasons of plaid everywhere, all of the time, the lack of creativity is showing through.

There are many ways to interpret plaid, i.e., lumberjack, Cher’s Clueless yellow suit, the iconic Burberry print, and the list goes on. But, when I see someone walking down the street in plaid the predominant colors often resort back to red, brown, black, and dull, dull, dull. I am fascinated when I see a red plaid miniskirt styled with a leather jacket and juxtaposed with a pop of color. I am not as thrilled when I see a red and black flannel worn over a black sweatshirt. I’m sorry, it is so comfortable, and I cannot say I am immune to the appeal, but we can do better than this. Styling plaid does not always have to be bare bones and simple. Do not be mistaken, styling a pattern in a new way is not always about pairing it with the most outrageous pieces you can think of. Many people mistake adding too many moving parts into an outfit for styling instead of carefully and thoughtfully choosing the pieces that go into the outfit.

I believe that we can do more with our classic pattern choices. Plaid has an inherently casual nature, and I hardly see the boundaries being pushed when styling. It is often used as an accessory to an outfit in the form of a scarf or outerwear, but the only people who seem to use plaid as a focal point are lumberjacks. Plaid already is available on the market in every single type of garment you can think of. Why not reach your styling boundaries past a simple hand-me-down flannel from your grandpa? Plaid can certainly be utilized as a statement piece, but have we considered adding it into a look in combination with other patterns and textures? A plaid and leather combination can be exciting and edgy, a plaid and wool combination can feel soft and welcoming, and so on. I challenge you this season to think of plaid as an opportunity, rather than an accessory. How often do we mix plaids or incorporate bright pinks and purples into our outfits featuring plaid?

The form of plaid we wear each season comes in and out of trend. Maybe last season it was skirts, and this season it is jackets. Yet, when we think about timeless plaid, what has been doing plaid right since essentially the dawn of time? An iconic Chanel suit. We see them use bright, feminine colors, which brings drab plaid into the high fashion scene. Chanel also styles their suits on the runway with unexpected accessories season after season, like their utilization of low-hanging chains and necklaces in the Fall/Winter 2023 ready-to-wear show. Plaid has a casual connotation inherently, but nothing is stopping it from becoming a chic wardrobe staple. Chanel has seen this potential in plaid all along. So, why do the rest of us banish plaid into the casual parts of our closet that do not excite us?

The next time you reach for your red-and-black flannel shirt to go over your black hoodie with a pair of jeans, think about how you can revamp that tired look. Can you add jewelry? A jacket? Another unique pattern? A pop of color? I could go on and on. Fashion is more fun when we get creative, and breathing new life into classic wardrobe staples by styling them in new ways is a fantastic way to do that.

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