How I Style: Plaid (for Fall)

Wednesday, October 02, 2013

H2S Plaid
Styling can be difficult, especially when it comes to trendy pieces. How to style, also known as how I style, is a chance for me to pick a trend and style it using Polyvore to help you.

Fall is now officially upon us and one of the biggest trends for fall is the use of plaid.
Plaid is pattern that consists of horizontal bands of two or more colors overlapping vertical bands of two or more colors. The bands can vary in size and color, making plaid a pattern that is versatile.

First and foremost, plaid is a really generic term. There tons of types of plaid out there, but there are two major ones that people wear: gingham and tartan.

                                                 Gingham                                  Tartan

Plaid is one of those patterns that is really easy to style once you realize the color scheme. But, it's also really easy to go wrong with styling, because of all the colors. Plaid is a pattern than needs balance--where all of the colors are equally distributed through out the look--otherwise, plaid overpowers the outfit and can be an eyesore.

There are three ways to style plaid: playing peek-a-boo, playing with the generalizations, and channeling the colors within.

1) Playing peek-a-boo.

Subtlety goes a long way when it comes to a loud and busy print like plaid. So, you don't have to go head-to-toe plaid to delve into this trend, all you need is one basic item.
Tartan Scarf
You don't have to let it be known that you're wearing tartan. My favorite way to wear tartan is by adding a tartan scarf to my outfit. I love wearing it with dresses layered under a jacket. It makes it prominent but not too overbearing. Tartan screams kilt, and if you aren't going for a Scottish inspired look, keep tartan to a minimal, and you'll be okay.

The feminine cream smock dress is gorgeous on it's own, but adding black tights, cream socks, and black oxford booties really give it an edge. The tartan stands out on the cream and holds it own even when under the jacket, but isn't too out there. The red bag ties in the red in the tartan and looks gorgeous with the ensemble. You can see the tartan, but isn't too overpowering. 

Flannel Shirt--1

I love to wear plaid flannels under sweaters, so you can see the pop of color around the collar and bottom sleeves. This is especially good in the colder months because, even if this is under a coat, once you pop off your coat, you still have those layers of dimensions. Plus, flannels are soft and comfortable, so you won't be itching under all those clothes. This kind of plaid is still considered tartan, but it's a more toned down version of tartan. It's very lumberjack and 90s grunge; I call it "flannel plaid". Pairing the plaid shirt and sweater combo with jeans keeps the look comfortable and warm, as well as casual and cute. The boots and bag really go well with the red, and the boot's inner lining exposed brings a pop of color to even out the pop of plaid up top.

2) Play with the generalizations.

When I think of "flannel" plaid, I think of cowboys. When I think of tartan, I think of kilts. And, when I think of gingham, I think of children and the 60s. So, why not play up those generalizations?
 Layering a plaid top under a simple black skirt and brown faux leather jacket is cowboy-esque. Adding the rugged boots and the big hat really bring that style without making it truly western.

Wearing a tartan skirt over a plain white top is very Scot inspired--It almost looks like a kilt. Adding over the knee socks and brogue boots along with a cardigan make the skirt look like less as a kilt and more as a skirt. You still get that Scottish inspired look without looking like you're at the Highland Games.


I don't know why I associate gingham with both children and the 60s, but I do. So, with a gingham dress, you can do the plaid trend a little more subtlety. Since gingham is almost always white and black checkered, it's great to add some pops of color where you can. Adding an oxblood hat and oxfords brings in the colors and the camel cape screams 60s. Adding interesting tights can tie this look together, making it both 60s and childlike without the sexism and naivety.

3) Channel the colors within.

I think the easiest way to wear plaid is by accentuating the colors in it. If the plaid is the typical red and yellow, cream with green and blue, then use colors that accentuate that. And, those colors may very well be red and yellow, cream with green and blue. My favorite pairing is black with plaid, but if you're sick of black--or want to be more adventurous, try white, brown and even red. It really depends on the color of plaid and type of plaid you're wearing.


I like to wear my flannel shirts unbuttoned, as an outer layer. I played the with reds in the plaid shirt by adding a red scarf and red socks, and I played with the cream by adding dainty cream shorts. Not only are the cream shorts a perfect match for the color in the plaid shirt, they have a print, so it's a subtle way of mixing patterns. I added a black tee with zipper detailing for a basic yet eye catching top, and finished it off with black chevron tights and black booties. This look is very texture heavy, with the plaid, the lace shorts, and the chevron tights, and it's great for the adventurous ones out there.

Coordination too

Goldenrod goes great with black and white because, since it is a much brighter color, it doesn't actually clash with the them, it truly accentuates them. And, it's also a fall staple color. Plaid skirts usually scream school girl and I tend to stay away from that look. So, instead of using a monochrome palette (which is an easy thing to fall into with gingham), I spiced it up with yellows and browns. The yellow cardigan on top looks gorgeous on top of the white blouse and gingham skirt. The yellow oxfords balance the yellow out at the bottom, while the tights keep the legs warm in the chilly Autumn air. Yellow and brown look natural with each other, but you could also swap brown for red or any other color that accentuates the black and white.

Coordinate 3

Now, tartan is a very easy pattern to get super-matchy with. But, you don't want to match everything with the colors, you just want to enhance those colors. That's why black goes so well with tartan. If you used red with tartan, it would be quite difficult to keep the outfit balanced. So, black is wonderful. Though, you could try a creamy white to lighten the outfit up.
Since the main focus of the outfit is the tartan, which is a busy print, you want to keep the rest of the outfit fairly simple. The black Mary-Janes in this outfit play with the femininity of the collar and shape of the dress, while the tights, though interesting, tie in the creamy white of the tartan. The coat is shorter than the dress, so when wearing it, the bottom of the sleeves and the bottom of the dress will peek-a-boo out, making this a two-in-one outfit.

Obviously these are my stylings, so if there is something that isn't quite your style, feel free to change it. This is a guide, not a set-in-stone rule book. If you'rs till having troubles with styling plaid, you should check out the rest of the contributors to the IFB Project #115: Attitude of Plaiditude for a little inspiration.

I hope you all enjoyed my stylings and my advice--feel free to comment down below with any items you'd like to see styled in another "How to Style".

Have a great day, lovelies!

This post is a contribution to the  IFB Project #115: Attitude of Plaiditude.


  1. This amazingly informative post puts my single look to shame :)

    Nice work!

  2. I love how you style the plaid skirt and dress, I think those are my favorite! :)

    The Lovely Memoir

    1. Thanks! I don't use Polyvore much for actually styling things, so this makes me so happy!

  3. its a perfect weight and great fitted outfits.... all dresses with complete matching accessories....great and quality fabric, with good weight fabric..... look and feel is superb i just want to order my size......

  4. Fantastic collages! I need a plaid shirt. Do you link back to products? I like the one in group 2 is my fave look, I love the idea do plaid tights w the gingham dress!

    1. They're all polyvore sets, so if you click on the image of the outfit, it will take you to the page with all the products listed!

  5. oh goodness I didn't realise I'd been saying it wrong! i thought plaid and tartan were interchangeable but apparently tartan is more like a subcategory of plaid. oops!
    anyway love the way you have styled plaid. you seem to have really analysed the different designs and colours of all types of plaid well!
    just discovered your blog via IFB, and love it! following you now! :)

    Metallic Paws

    1. Yep! Tartan is a type of plaid, but plaid isn't tartan. I used to do it, too, no worries!

      And, thanks for the follow, I really do appreciate it. :)

  6. Very nice selection of plaid inspirations,
    my choice is the one with flannel shirt and ivory sweater on top, turned to a bohemian style with fringed bag. I am always voting for bohemian:))

  7. Anonymous9/29/2015

    It's best to get all the information about insurance companies,
    get multiple quotes from different companies and also be updated about latest
    insurance news before going to any insurance agent.
    The ship owner could see that the captain had paid the on going rate and the merchants were
    all given the same opportunities to offer their services.
    The above information helps you to choose the better one that suits your requirements.

    Awesome article.

    Feel free to visit my website - page


Thank you for your comments! I try to reply to all comments, but if you want a faster response, tweet me! @katielikemeblog or find me on Insta @katielikemeblog!

Latest Instagrams

© Katie Like Me. Design by FCD.