A plaid shirt (checked or tartan if you’re not in the US) is a modern classic, and fun to wear at any time of year if you like geometric patterns. They make a traditional statement at Christmas time, which is in itself quite festive. They’re casual when brushed, made of flannel, and oversized, but look dressier when they aren’t flannel, and are a little more structured.

I recently bought J.Crew’s Perfect Shirt in Stewart Plaid because it’s dressier and not made of flannel. I love it, and can dress it up and down. I adore that it’s in a classic tartan and has a timeless integrity. I hope to also wear the shirt with the red tartan pants that J.Crew has styled it with. Plaid squared makes me smile.

You can style a plaid shirt in countless ways, and we’ll cover the casual options another time. Here are some fun ways to style a plaid shirt for holiday bashes. Any colour palette is fab. I’ve chosen traditional holiday colours because I’ve used my own plaid shirt as an example, but added in some pink and cream as unexpected accents.

Here are the components.

Plaid Shirt: Choose a plaid shirt, and flannel is fine if it’s in good nick and doesn’t look too grungy. A non-flannel plaid shirt is dressier though. A plaid top that is not a shirt is just as fab, as long as the silhouette works with the bottoms. Tuck, semi-tuck or leave the top out.

Festive Bottoms: NO BLUE JEANS OR LEGGINGS. Think festively with a lace skirt or pair of pants, velvet pants, a sequin skirt, or tulle skirt. Add in a fun pair of dressy shorts. And if you dare, mismatch your plaids by throwing in a pair of plaid pants or skirt — my favourite combination.

Footwear: Make sure the shoes work with the style of the bottoms. Think pumps, ankle strap pumps, loafers, ballet flats, slipper flats, or dressy boots.

Accessories: I like my plaid shirt with a pile of pearls that I wear on the inside of an unbuttoned collar, but feel free to go with bling that is more to your taste. Add sheer hose in barely black, a subtle polka dot, or nude-for-you. Complete the look with a party bag that works with the palette. Add jewellery, headgear, eyewear and watch as desired.

Wear a jacket, wrap or coat over the top to keep warm outside, and Bob’s your uncle. I’m busting out my plaid shirt today.

Ensemble: Festive Plaid Shirt