Mad For Plaid: How To Pull Off A Plaid Suit

If you haven’t already heard, let’s make it official...plaid is now the go-to move for elevating your suit game. Inspired by English and Italian tailoring traditions, these bold patterns are no longer relegated to fancypants old men and are on the backs of the most stylish men on the planet in all conceivable form. Feel like you’re ready to start making moves? Good, we’ve got you covered with all the need-to-know details so you can start rocking plaid suiting like the boss you are.

A Plaid State of Mind
Obviously, it takes some confidence and courage to make the move into plaid. The simple fact is, you CAN pull this off. Despite what you may think, they’re easier to wear (more on that later) and more versatile than it may seem. When styled properly, they can work in nearly every formal, work or social setting, so whether you’re looking to elevate your weekday suit rotation or looking for something special for an event or wedding, there’s never been a better time to dip into these patterns.

Know Your Patterns
Now that you’ve got your head right, let’s dive into the details. There’s a wealth of plaid out there for the taking, and it’s important to know your Glen Plaids from your Gunchecks so you know how to put it all together (not to mention further impress that person who, no doubt, just complimented your style). Here’s a quick primer on some basic plaid styles to look out for.

Windowpane - Once exclusively the realm of uppity British sartorialists, a windowpane consists of a square pattern (thin or thick stripes) arranged in a grid style that looks like, yep, you guessed it, a windowpane. Windowpanes can come subtle varieties so it’s a great first step into plaids if you’re a newbie.

Glen Plaid - A legendary pattern originally favored by royalty, glen plaid comes in many stylish types. It ups the pattern quotient and often incorporates a stripe or two of color for added impact. Like windowpanes, the pattern can come in many different sizes from small to brash, so there’s definitely a glen plaid out there for every style. Additionally, glen plaids can often incorporate a windowpane of color (sometimes called a Prince of Wales plaid) for those gents who really want to turn some heads. Then again, you could also go H.A.M. and make it a three-piece with a vest, just sayin’.

Guncheck - Originally descended from the shooting clubs and lodges in the 1800’s (hence the “gun” in “guncheck”), this plaid incorporates a smaller scale grid pattern and two colors to give it a gingham-like effect. That may sound aggressive but fear not, this unique pattern is easy to incorporate into your arsenal since the smaller scale makes it easy to treat it like a solid color.

Style It For Success
You’re mind’s right, you’ve got knowledge to drop, let’s bring it all together, shall we? Sure, you might be taking more of a fashion risk here but ultimately it’s easy to style these patterned suits if you start simply. For the beginners (and for the most versatility), let the suit do all the talking and pair it with a crisp, solid white or blue shirt and a solid or very subtly patterned tie (solid knit ties work exceptionally well also). If you’re ready for more of an advanced move (you’re damn right you are), you can definitely go pattern-on-pattern for a look that really lets ‘em know you’ve got this game on lock. Just be sure to keep the patterns in different scales (read: no matching-size plaids) and balance out the boldness of the plaid in your suit with smaller scale patterns in your shirt and tie. So, something like a micro windowpane shirt paired with a thinly-striped or foulard-patterned tie are ideal places to start.

One final piece of advice (warning?), an increase in confidence and attitude comes with nailing the plaid suit strategy, so plan accordingly. Get ready for compliments, shrugs of envy, and probably a high-five or two.

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