Fashion: How to play with plaid

  • Photos by Will Shilling
From the December 15, 2011 edition

Sure, it’s the sartorial standby for private schoolchildren and Scottish kings, but when styled right, plaid and tartan patterns provide a unique fashion-savvy touch to any outfit.

To help you earn your stripes, we enlisted Felicia Jimenez, owner of Royal Factory boutique in the Short North. She took two plaid accoutrements and styled them both as a casual outfit and a dressy outfit. Read on for her tips on how to make this pattern work for you.

Models: Julia Rondeau and Peter Bonk, sophomores at Columbus College of Art and Design

On Julia: Vintage plaid dress, $38

On Peter: Plaid slacks, $36

Dress it up:

Stick to neutral colors and patterns so the plaid doesn’t compete too much with the rest of the outfit, but add texture. For example, Jimenez paired the dress with a lace undershirt and a chunky see-through necklace. Long pleated plaid skirts look glam over a sequined little black dress and topped with a leather belt, a “chic faux chic,” Jimenez said.

Guys, feel free to mix patterns but keep the colors subtle to avoid looking like Rodney Dangerfield in “Caddyshack.” A suited silhouette and a blazer with military detailing add dressy, masculine touches.

Dress it down:

Loose hanging plaid with denim can be very sexy — just ask ’90s grunge goddesses. Instead of sticking to complementary blacks, though, pair it with bold colors that are the same as the secondary hues in the plaid, like this yellow cardigan and blue infinity scarf.

“Neutrals with plaid gives the outfit a crisper look,” Jimenez said, “but don’t be afraid to play with color or even other patterns when you’re going casual.”

Fellas, try the pants with a loose, comfy sweater and worn boots to create a cool laissez-faire effect. A gray and white striped infinity scarf adds another visual highpoint but doesn’t detract from the trousers.