Wild Style: Plaid Dress Shirts

Wild Style: Plaid Dress Shirts

Plaid, the family of patterns that Scotland invented and America fell in love with, has had a swell of popularity in the past decade.  It has ridden the workwear trend to new heights of ubiquity, and one can scarcely walk down the street of a major city without seeing men wearing coats in buffalo plaid, sport coats in Prince of Wales plaid, flannel shirts in traditional highland tartans.  At this point, you probably have at least one casual shirt in plaid, perhaps several.  There is a frontier that is not always explored in the world of plaid, however, one that still intimidates the average office worker: the plaid dress shirt.

It is not so wild an idea, if you think about it: plaid is a pattern, fundamentally no different than stripes or gingham- technically, gingham is a plaid.  A plaid can be imposed on any article of clothing you desire, including dress shirts.  A plaid dress shirt is a great way to add a note of adventure into your office attire.  It can enliven your presence at meetings, make you stand out among your peers, highlight you at job interviews.  Moreover, plaid can allow you to match colors in ways previously unheard of.  A color that appears in a few thin lines of your plaid dress shirt can be picked up by your tie to harmonize your work wardrobe.  You could even match a color in your shirt to your socks, if you’re feeling particularly bold.

The important thing is not to juggle too many patterns at once.  If you are wearing a plaid dress shirt, keep your suit plain, in a neutral color like gray or navy; the purple and blue plaid shirt from Barney’s shown here could also look nice with a brown suit.  A darker shirt, like the black plaid from Burberry, demands a contrasting lightness of color, a blue or even, in the summer, a white.  On the other hand, a dark plaid can work with a dark suit and dark tie, the pattern keeping the outfit from looking like a blackout.  A word of caution: when you wear a plaid dress shirt, you must be on top of your game.  With a look this daring, you’re sure to get attention.

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