Long sleeved plaid button-down shirts (or “checked shirts”, as I call them) waft in and out of fashion. I remember the fitted and frilly variety in the early ‘80s complete with shoulder pads. Grunge brought back the oversized flannel plaid shirt in the ‘90s for both women and men. I don’t think plaid shirts were ever as big of a fashion statement as they were back then. 

The plaid shirt became a scarce commodity for about a decade after that, which I think was in part due to the market saturation of the item in the ‘90s. It began filtering through again as a fringe trend in 2009, gaining momentum each season after that. By 2012 the plaid shirt was back to being completely mainstream. 

The plaid shirt, which is available in almost any colour combination, is a very wearable mainstream trend in a fashionable fluid fit. That way it fits over the bust for any size. It’s is a slam dunk partially or fully tucked into a pair of boyfriend jeans with a belt and scrunched at the sleeves for structure. Add a great pair of booties and fun bag and you’re done. A lovely casual outfit for a mild Fall day. 

What I like best about the plaid shirt is that it’s become a very versatile piece. It has the potential to become what you want it to be, which is liberating, practical, and cost effective. Dressing it up with sequins is gorgeous, as is combining it with tougher elements like biker boots. It’s also an excellent tool for pattern mixing

Take a peek at how the plaid shirt has been styled in interesting ways in these street style shots.

It tickles my toes that the plaid shirt, a classic piece, can be manipulated to look fashionable and modern based on its support act. Wear it casual, dressy or somewhere in between, and have fun creating all sorts of outfit juxtapositions. It’s warmer than a crisp cotton shirt, so fab for chilly weather.

I encourage most of my clients to at least try a plaid shirt because it has the potential to be styled into such an assortment of vibes. Some enjoy the look, while others feel it’s too masculine, unflattering and overly grungy. 

I LOVE checks and tartan, which is one of the reasons I like plaid shirts. I have one in a lighter palette that I enjoyed wearing casually with jeans and tough boots, and layered under a turtleneck. These days I prefer to dress it up with white boyfriend jeans, belt and booties. Or pair it with my black lace skirt and heels. I am also open to adding another one to my wardrobe. 

Over to you. Do you wear plaid shirts? If so, how do you prefer styling them? Or do they look overly grungy and “lumberjack” no matter what. 

BY MALENE BIRGER Alfredah Embellished Plaid Cotton ShirtTHE ELDER STATESMAN Plaid Cashmere Shirt

Zara Oversized Checked ShirtZara Double Breasted Checked Shirt

Sam Edelman Julian Suede Bootie