How to Rock a Plaid Shirt

Plaid shirts are a versatile wardrobe essential.
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The plaid shirt is a staple in any wardrobe due to its uniqueness and versatility. Originally, 17th-century Welsh farmers used plaid as a pattern on thick flannel, and railroad workers and others who worked outside further adopted the style for its warmth. The plaid shirt was also a true statement piece in '90s grunge and punk fashion -- and, despite its ultra-casual look and the pattern’s counter-culture roots, there are plenty of fashionable ways to rock your plaid that won’t leave you looking like a lumberjack.

1 Outdoor Chic

If you’re enjoying some cooler weather, layer up your outfit and stay outside. Pair your fitted, red plaid shirt with a neutral down vest, perhaps in tan or black, and add dark-wash jeans. For a flattering fit, women with apple or pear shapes should consider straight-leg jeans while women with hourglass shapes might try skinny jeans. For footwear, add dark or chestnut booties with a chunky heel. Put your hair in a high ponytail or high bun for a polished-yet-outdoorsy look and pair with a cozy infinity scarf.

2 Grunge It Up

Wear an oversized plaid shirt over a black tank dress -- or a black tank and black skinny jeans -- and style your hair into loose waves. Use a plaid shirt that is a size or two larger than your usual shirts. Channel the '90s by pairing this simple grunge outfit with black low-top sneakers. For accessories, reach for multiple rings and bangles. The key is to look effortlessly casual and chic.

3 Preppy Equestrian

Depending on the type of plaid and the cut of the shirt, plaids can be excellent picks for the woman who wants to pull off an equestrian-inspired outfit. Choose a fitted dark-navy or dark-green, subdued-plaid shirt and pair it with black or tan leggings. If you don’t own riding pants, regular thick leggings work just fine. Add equestrian-style, knee-high riding boots in a chestnut, dark brown or black color and accessorize with gold jewelry, pulling your hair into a low, messy bun.

4 Extra Tips

Pick your plaids carefully -- not all colors will complement your complexion. Also, make sure to pay attention to material, as not all plaid shirts are made from flannel fabric. For cooler weather, flannel is a great pick, but plaid patterns are also available on thinner cotton oxfords for warmer days.

Alexandra Early has a BA from Lake Forest College and works as "Haute Living" magazine's junior online editor. She has been writing professionally for three years and has previously worked for "Men's Fitness" magazine as a contributing editor and also as a social media editor and ghostwriter for nonprofits in CT.