Latest trend offers new twist on plaid

CorrespondentDecember 11, 2013 

Want to look chic this winter?

Wear your plaid. No, you don’t have to be Scottish. We’re not talking about the red-and-green Christmas tree skirt plaids or the Mrs. Claus-esque red and white plaids. And we’re not suggesting you do the red and black lumberjack thing either.

No, the new plaid trend is taking the traditional and giving it a twist with new colors and all sorts of crazy combinations of patterns and fabrics.

“Plaid is one of those welcomed holiday trends that always comes back because plaids give a visual sense of coziness and seasonality,” said Charlotte-based stylist Erica Hanks. “This season, plaid is bigger and bolder. We are also seeing it in coats, pants, sweaters and accessories, not just shirts. If it can have a print, it can be plaid.”

The new, bigger and bolder plaid trend means new or rarely seen color combinations for plaid such as purple with grey, turquoise with red, and teal with black. In some cases designers are taking traditional plaid combinations such as black with white and using them on items not usually featuring plaids, such as rubber boots.

Put-together look

“I think the thing I’ve noticed is that this plaid is part of a more polished, more put-together look. It’s less edgy and more polished,” said Michele Nidiffer, a Raleigh-based stylist whose business is called One Chic Mama. Nidiffer’s business will soon be known as Style Finder ID.

Nidiffer said the new plaid trend also offers more variety than say the ’90s grunge, which was primarily focused on plaid flannel shirts.

“The plaid trend is being interpreted in a lot of different ways, not just flannel shirts,” she said. “I’m seeing a lot of beautiful plaid blazers. I even saw some amazing plaid coats the other night. They almost had like a vintage feel to them. We’re really seeing plaid taken to a whole new level.”

Hanks agrees that this new plaid fad is different from the ’90s-grunge flannel shirts craze.

“Grunge was more of a movement, so people wore plaids in dark colors because the music, the times were more of a pop (music) protest in the ’90s. The fit was baggy and loose and it wasn’t about looking polished,” she said. “Wearing plaid in 2013 is more alive. You have bolder primary colors and people today wear plaid in a more trendy, creative way.”

Mix it up

Designers are also having fun mixing plaids together and with other fabrics not usually associated with plaid, such as leather.

“Traditionally, you associate (plaid) with the classic tartan skirt or flannel shirt but plaid is being incorporated in so many unexpected ways – from evening dresses and accessories, to the accent trim on solids,” said designer Shoshanna Gruss, founder and creative director of the popular womenswear label, Shoshanna.

Gruss said one of her favorite pieces in her holiday collection is a dress that combines plaid with leather.

“It’s a great modern take on a plaid print, and the leather bodice adds a fun edge,” she said.

Hanks noted that another great thing about the new plaid trend is its flexibility. Those wanting to go bold can do that, but there are also ways to enjoy the trend with a more subtle statement, she said.

“For the risk takers, try mixing two plaids in your outfit. Make sure your colors are the same and, to keep the look sophisticated, have one plaid print smaller than the other,” Hanks said. “If you are more conservative, you can try a pant or jacket instead of the expected plaid shirt. Pair it with a cozy sweater and you’ve got it.”

And it’s not just clothes that are featuring the new plaid trend. The beauty line Butter London recently introduced a do-it-yourself nail decorating kit that allows manicure fans to create plaid nails with the use of a special line drawing tool.

Consider body type

Nidiffer warned that plaid wearers need to consider body size when selecting which plaids to wear.

“You need to choose a plaid that matches your stature. If you’re on the bigger side, you can go with a bigger plaid. But if you’re more petite, consider choosing a more delicate (sized) plaid.”

If clothing is too much plaid for you to handle, Hanks said focusing on accessories can be another way to enjoy the plaid trend.

“An easy baby step into plaid is accessories,” she said. “A scarf, belt or even a cool plaid bangle can be an interesting finishing piece.”

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