19 Tips for Looking Pretty in Plaid Year-Round
by Erin Clarkson
Can you find a fashion blogger who hasn’t posted at least one shot where she’s dressed in something plaid? Neither can we. It’s a perpetual favorite of the fashionistas, and for good reason: it can be dressed up or down, it’s cozy, and—best of all—it’s typically inexpensive. Whether you go bold and mix it with another pattern or simply wear a hint of it in your accessories, we’re sharing our top tips to help you look chic in plaid year-round.
Pair It with a Puffer Vest
Play up your favorite solid-colored vest with a pop of plaid underneath; it’s a great way to transition between the seasons in late fall and early spring. Toss on a pair of dark jeans and brown boots to add an autumnal touch, and then add pops of hot pink to accessorize once the weather warms up. Style tip: Head here to see the entire outfit, and get more of Daisy’s tips for styling plaid.
The Edgy Way to Wear Plaid
Fashion blogger Gabi Fresh shows that she’s the ultimate mix-master by pairing her plaid shirt with camo and a graphic tee. Style tip: The reason this look works so well is because she picked a neutral plaid and paired it with a tee in the same color scheme, then kept the rest of her outfit simple with distressed boyfriend jeans and solid black heels. The camo jacket is the real attention-getter here, while the plaid plays a background role.
The Perfect Casual (Yet Polished!) Fall Uniform
Show off your confidence by mixing plaid with a glam fur vest. Fashion blogger Kat Tanita ( With Love, From Kat) pairs a plaid button-down with chic booties, a black fur vest, and gray skinny jeans for a polished “just popping out for coffee” look. Style tip: Don’t be afraid to go for unexpected combos! The pairing of a casual flannel-style shirt with fur is a bold choice that shows you aren’t afraid to take fashion risks.
Transition from the Office to Happy Hour
The power of this blouse is its versatility. This look from actress Jaime Chung is perfect for the holiday season—and not just because it’s Christmas-colored! When you’re rushing from work to an after-hours holiday party, a chiffon blouse is a great transitional piece. Wear it with a classic black blazer to keep the look office-appropriate; then remove the jacket, and add a few sparkly accessories to step things up a notch in the evening. Style tip: Complete the look with a traditional red manicure, leaving no detail untouched.
Opt for Cutting-Edge Comfort
When comfort is key, layer a blanket scarf over a soft sweater jacket and a cozy pullover. The leather-trimmed jacket, leather booties, and black skinny jeans provide just the right element of edginess to keep this outfit interesting. Style tip: Add an unexpected accessory. Riley could have easily grabbed a black purse and walked out the door without thinking, but she upped the style factor with the addition of a brown clutch with subtle gold tones.
Preppy in Plaid
When you want to add a sophisticated spin to a plaid button-down, try covering it with a long cardigan and a sparkly statement necklace. Style tip: To pull off preppy the right way, go for matching elements as the key factor. This style blogger opted for neutral booties to match her sweater, and the color of her bag was pulled from the stripes in her shirt.
Casual But Polished
Blogger Aubrey Alley, from Hello Alley, styled a simple button-down dress from Target with a neutral leather bag and booties for a polished daytime look. The versatile shirtdress can be worn with flats or strappy sandals in the summertime and paired with leggings, riding boots, and a scarf in the fall. A casual shirtdress works best when you want to look sophisticated but not too dressy. Style tip: Swap out the fabric belt for a solid leather one to easily change up the look!
While this look may not go over well at the office, it’s a fun idea for a night out! The unexpected pairing of plaid with a tulle skirt is a great combo for parties. Blogger Jean from Extra Petite even includes a tutorial with it so you can re-create a similar look on a budget. Style tip: Stick to the classics for your makeup and hair so you won’t look like you’re trying too hard.
Peep Toe Plaid
When you want to finish off an outfit with a little pizazz, an interesting shoe is the way to go! Plaid pumps add the perfect touch of pattern needed to spark up an otherwise ordinary outfit. Style tip: In addition to the casual pattern on the shoe, ripped skinny jeans work well because they also lend a laid-back feel to the entire outfit.
Who says you can’t pair plaid with stripes? Not all stripes and plaids go together, but there are a few tips you can utilize to pair them successfully. Make sure the colors look good together, like the navy and white vest paired with a bright green button-down in this image from the Twenties Girl Style blog. Style tip: It helps to break up strong patterns with solids, so invest in a good pair of dark jeans to wear when you’re mixing bold prints.
When mixing plaid and stripes doesn’t provide enough pattern, toss in polka dots to spice things up! Blogger Jessica Sturdy from Bows & Sequins begins with a navy + white striped shirt and then tops it with a navy + green plaid vest. The gold polka dots on the gloves add the perfect amount of bling to brighten any winter day. Style tip: The easiest way to mix patterns is by sticking with similar hues from one or two coordinating colors.
The Double-Duty Scarf
Oh, the ubiquitous blanket scarf: it’s the winter staple seen on every fashion blogger. We personally like this option because it has the twist of being double-sided—with a colorful tartan print on one side and classic black-and-white on the flip side. Style tip: A colorful plaid like this allows for numerous ways to accessorize. The cream-toned background works well with the camel coat, while the B&W side provides the option to add a black or gray accessories.
Check It Out
If you’re curious about the history of the term “buffalo plaid,” you can educate yourself here. But how to wear it without looking like a lumberjack? Easy! Pair it with strappy heels and loads of jewelry. Style tip: Tie a plaid shirt around your waist for the ultimate Kate Moss/’90s grunge-style look.
Instead of wearing a plaid pattern loaded with colors, try a medium check in black and white (or navy and white) so you can add in pops of color with the rest of your outfit. Missy (Pop of Style blog) pairs her buffalo check with an olive green military vest and plum skinny jeans to create a colorful combination that’s perfect for fall! Style tip: Once summer rolls around, toss on a pair of jean shorts with a plain white tee, and tie the buffalo print around your waist!
This light blue button-down paired with a navy vest and dark jeans is giving us a case of the blues … but in a good way! It’s so easy to get ready in the morning when you don’t have to worry about matching your outfit to anything. Style tip: Brown pairs well with navy, so a pair of brown riding boots easily completes this outfit.
Even if you don’t want to put too much thought into the rest of your outfit, you can still look chic when it’s cold out by investing in a statement piece like this plaid jacket. Style tip: Top this look off with a beanie and turtleneck, and you’ll feel just as cozy as you look!
For those of you lucky enough to live where it’s always sunny and 75 degrees, you probably don’t need to invest very heavily in outerwear. Sometimes all you need is a cute flannel shirt to make a plain white tee and leggings look cohesive and to keep the chill bumps at bay. Style tip: This shirt is from one of our favorite manufacturers of plaid (Rails), but you could distress your own button-down with a few flicks of white paint from a paintbrush!
Try a twist on the classic plaid flannel shirt by wearing it in an unexpected color, such as electric blue. Style tip: Keep the rest of your look neutral with basics like a black bag and minimal accessories to maintain the timeless, effortless feel of your plaid print.
If you only want to dip your fingers in the trend, try your hand at plaid nail art. Head here to check out our tutorial, and learn how easy it is to get this fun look. Style tip: Plaid isn’t just for the holidays. Pick pastel shades for summer, or try navy once fall rolls around.