Few patterns are as timeless as plaid, so saying it’s a trend for fall is a little misleading. “Trend” implies that this print comes and goes—but plaid is a perennial. It’s a wardrobe staple, especially where fall fashion is concerned, one that has been associated with everything from preppy to grunge to punk rock. Heck, yellow tartan even became Cher Horowitz’s signature look in Clueless.
So how exactly does a modern woman wear plaid this season without it looking like a school uniform or like you’re stuck in a ’90s time warp? Easy: Opt for checks in black and white. The sophisticated color combination gives the pattern a serious and stylish aesthetic—without being stuffy. Whether you wear it for work or out for cocktails (or both), plaid should make its way into your fall wardrobe. Check out six chic pieces you can incorporate with ease.
The plaid blazer is a fashion MVP. This tailored, double-breasted version can literally take you from desk to dinner, and double as lightweight outerwear when the weather is cool. In black and white, it perfectly completes an all-black ensemble (think turtleneck and leather pants), a tee and jeans, or a vibrant fall hue like red—and the list goes on.
Skirt the Issue
Plaid can get a reputation for looking a little stiff, likely due at least in part to its Saville Row past. But more and more, brands are finding ways to go feminine with their offerings. Case in point: this flouncy-hemmed trumpet-style skirt. The classic hues, the sleek shape, and the drapey jacquard knit make it a perfectly balanced base for many a top. Try it with a fitted knit and cropped jacket for an ultra-polished finish.
While it’s more commonly associated with ready-to-wear, plaid also makes for a fashionable footwear option. These velvet ankle boots are proof positive that the pattern works from head to toe—literally. Swap out your standard black booties for a printed pair and you’ll give your look an instant boost (that’s in addition to the stacked heel).
Plaid as an after-dark option? Most definitely. Classic black-and-white check tempers the overt sexiness of this slinky, waist-defining silk georgette cami, striking just the right balance between sophisticated and sultry. With slim pants and pumps, you’ve got a no-fail outfit for evening that layers easily under a blazer or a leather jacket.
The kick-flare silhouette and cropped length give a fashion forward update to the standard trouser, making these plaid pants perfect for wearing with pointy pumps or clean white sneakers. Feel free to go slouchy on top with a cozy textured sweater or keep it tailored with a crisp white button-down. Either way, you’ll have a leg up on fall style.
Rock the Tote
The essential carryall is anything but basic when done in slick plaid leather. Tote all your daily necessities in a streamlined printed style that—surprise!—is also reversible. Wear it with the pattern showing to add some extra interest to your outfit or switch to the solid side; whichever you choose, you’ve got a roomy, streamlined handbag that’s perfect for transporting your stuff to and from the office.
Now that you’ve found the plaid piece—or pieces—that work for you, go ahead and knock another fall must-have off your seasonal shopping list. As in, “a sophisticated print that works for day or night.” Check!