Plaid is an interesting and versatile pattern.  On the one hand, you could say that plaid, which has Scottish roots, is very preppy, traditional, and classic (golf pants and parochial school uniforms, anyone?).  On the other hand, plaid has been a mainstay staple of the punk scene since the 70s.  

From the history I read, punk and plaid became a thing in England and the US  when the bright red Royal Stuart tartan was a symbol of upper-class, genteel England. Punks wanted to incite a reaction from those members of society, so they took that fabric and cut it, shredded it, and ruined it. This use of tartan was essentially a revolt against the establishment, and that is why red plaid is associated with punk fashion.  You can look back on punk designers, like Vivian Westwood, and see that she used plaid quite liberally.  In fact, she designed a registered tartan in 1993 called Westwood MacAndreas, named after the designer herself along with MacAndreas which was named after her husband, Andreas Kronthaler.  Additionally, she was also known for using the Bruce of Kinnaird tartan which has a base of green and pops of pink and red.


The point is, plaid transcends one particular style type.  It’s all in how you choose to style it.  In today’s post, I am styling some plaid pants for fall to give you some ideas on how to wear them to work.


plaid pants

I love the rich autumnal colors of these plaid pants from MM. Lafleur and I really love working in a shade like teal to add to the richness.  With these pants, I added a chestnut cardigan from J.Crew, a deep teal tank, light tan heeled loafers from M.gemi, and a simple link necklace.


plaid pants

There is a bit of a 70s vibe in this next look.  If you lived through this decade, there is a strong chance you wore an outfit like this.  I was born in 1974 and even I had an outfit like this, likely in some putrid colors.  Throwback aside, it’s a sleek, modern plaid pants look.  I styled the pants from Elie Tahari with a navy turtleneck from Hobbs, navy booties from Aquatalia, and silver square hoop earrings from Merjuri.


plaid pants

Have you noticed that there are brands showing tailored vests this season?  Talk about the 70s, although, we sure wore them in the 90s too.  What goes around eventually comes around.  I styled these plaid pants from Weekend Max Mara with my absolute favorite white tailored shirt from BOSS Hugo Boss, a corduroy vest from Alex Mill, brown boots from Blondo, and hoop earrings from Quince.


plaid pants

With a t-shirt and sneakers, plaid pants can look less retro and certainly less prim.  I styled these plaid pants from Banana Republic with my go-to v-neck tee from J.Crew, Rothys sneakers, and the Veronica Beard classic dickey jacket.  To keep it simple, I finished the look with a delicate silver chain.


plaid pants

I don’t know how accurate this is, but, apparently, houndstooth plaid, which has a similar but different history to the tartan originated in the Scottish lowlands.  Worn since the 1800s, those who were not allowed to wear tartans wore houndstooth, and the plaid was worn by those who had no noble or clan ties.  In 1934, the Prince of Wales, Edward VIII was photographed in houndstooth, and from there, royalty appropriated the pattern and started wearing it as countryside wear.  Despite its common origin, houndstooth went on to be a pattern of the wealthy.

I styled these wide-leg houndstooth plaid pants from Anine Bing with a relaxed Henley sweater from Rag & Bone.  Given the relaxed leg of the pants, the sweater would likely need a slight French tuck at the front. I finished the outfit with a pair of burgundy loafers from Margaux and open stud earrings from Bony Levy.


Feeling like plaid this fall?  Check out these additional styles.