Plaid / tartan patterns have seen many an adaption since we first penned guides to it in 2009 and 2010. Like so many trends from that period, the pattern gets a whole new lease of life amongst fall 2013’s fashion trends, stemming on from the trend it was in spring and evolving further to embrace bold new styling choices.

To find out how to wear plaid, in the most fashion-approved manner, continue reading after the break.

Don’t forget that if you’d like to keep up to date with all of the fashion trends and inspiration on how to wear them, to subscribe to Fashionising.com’s newsletter or follow us on Facebook.

Click the thumbnails for full pictures
Keeping you in check: F/W '13
Keeping you in check: F/W '13
Keeping you in check: F/W '13
Keeping you in check: F/W '13
Keeping you in check: F/W '13
Keeping you in check: F/W '13
Keeping you in check: F/W '13
Keeping you in check: F/W '13
Keeping you in check: F/W '13
Keeping you in check: F/W '13
Keeping you in check: F/W '13
Keeping you in check: F/W '13
Keeping you in check: F/W '13
Keeping you in check: F/W '13
Keeping you in check: F/W '13
Keeping you in check: F/W '13
Keeping you in check: F/W '13
Keeping you in check: F/W '13
Keeping you in check: F/W '13
Keeping you in check: F/W '13
Keeping you in check: F/W '13
Keeping you in check: F/W '13
Keeping you in check: F/W '13
Keeping you in check: F/W '13
Keeping you in check: F/W '13
Keeping you in check: F/W '13
Keeping you in check: F/W '13
Keeping you in check: F/W '13
Keeping you in check: F/W '13
Keeping you in check: F/W '13
Keeping you in check: F/W '13
Keeping you in check: F/W '13
Keeping you in check: F/W '13
Keeping you in check: F/W '13
Keeping you in check: F/W '13
Keeping you in check: F/W '13
Keeping you in check: F/W '13
Keeping you in check: F/W '13
Keeping you in check: F/W '13
Keeping you in check: F/W '13

Plaid in fall 2013: what’s new.

Plaids have been carrying on as a trend for several years running, through both the cold seasons and spring / summer. So where have the patterns evolved to for the rest of this year?

The laundry bag check.

Louis Vuitton ventured into sending a laminated check-print laundry bag down the runway back in 2007, and while that fact is largely forgotten, Celine’s repurposing of the woven plaid into skirts, funnel-neck tops and outerwear won’t be. At least, not until well after the season ends. Vuitton’s bag was a little too literal (read: too much like the ones you could pick up at a dollar store) but Celine’s fabric oozes minimalistic luxury.

plaid fashion trend
Plaid at Celine, F/W ’13.

Grungy plaids.

The revival of grunge as a fashion trend hasn’t left plaid unaccounted for. In spring it was all about plaid or checked shirts layered over or tied around the waist. While that’ll hold true for fall / winter 2013, on the runway it was more of a refined, wintery take with a grungy twist. Plaid shirts or coats paired wither leather and slouchy sweaters aught to do it.

tartan plaid fashion trend
Grungy plaids at 3.1 Phillip Lim & Saint Laurent, F/W ’13.

Cosy plaids.

Stella McCartney’s autumn / winter collection epitomised another key way of wearing tartan this fall: cosy and blanket-like. Oversized coats and fluffy knitted wool and mohair sweaters couldn’t feel more right for staying warm on winter days.

plaid tartan fashion trend
Plaid knits at Stella McCartney & Jil Sander, F/W ’13.

Head to toe plaids.

Another evolution of tartan patterns for fall / winter 2013 is the willingness to go all out. Head-to-toe plaids were spotted on a number of runways, and the strongest looks were always the ones incorporating blocks of different yet complimentary patterns. Go for plaids in different size checks but in a similar colour palette for a harmonious overall look.

plaid print fashion trend
All over plaids at Emilia Wickstead & Tommy Hilfiger, F/W ’13.

Plaid mix: expect the unexpected.

Other than the overriding themes above, the key to wearing plaids in fall 2013 is to wear them in unexpected ways. A school girl skirt still works wonders, for example, but doubly so when paired with something entirely contrasting. Try:

  • Experimenting with print mixing, like tartan mixed with floral (see Emilia Wickstead below) or tartan clashed against leopard print (as seen at Blugirl – you’ll find examples in the gallery above.)
  • Contrasting a classic, sophisticated check-print tailored piece with a neon bright colour or loud graphic print. As seen at Karen Walker.
  • Clashing soft plaids with contrasting textures like sequins, metallics or embellishments.

clashing plaid prints
Plaid contrasts at Emilia Wickstead, No. 21, and Karen Walker, F/W ’13.

Tartan & plaid: more inspiration.

For more ideas and inspiration of how to style plaid in fall 2013 (and beyond), click on the thumbnails and peruse the gallery. You’ll find looks from various designers who used tartan on the runway this season.

Plaid: the trend in the past

Here’s what we said about the plaid clothing trend last season:

Changing the way the Scottish staple is worn, plaid / tartan in spring / summer 2012 comes with a huge dose of the vintage along with sensuality, layering and colour. Forget the red and black checks of 2009 / 2010, as this spring tartan / plaid is all about testing the waters with new fabrics and colour palettes all the while paying homage to femininity.

marc jacobs plaid
Plaid from Marc Jacobs

Take a look how it was presented across the runways. First up in New York, Marc Jacobs showed his love for the Scottish kilt and drop-waist via his spring / summer collection, where plaid-printed sheers with a modernist shine layered over chemise and crop tops. The play between a traditionally winter pattern and a summer weight is to be expected – there’s a large winter-cum-summer motif playing through fashion this season – and so it comes as no surprise that Rachel Comey’s also continued the see-through meets plaid by way of kaftans. For Comey it was less about the vintage, 1950s appeal of Jacobs and more about loosely fitted maxis which give you options should you wish to approach the plaid / tartan trend with a relaxed twist.

jil sander plaid
Plaid from Jil Sander

Jil Sanders’ collection was another to play to 2012’s love of all things vintage, introducing a figurative Grace Kelly to plaid in a modern world where feminism meets quintessential sophistication. Sheer and crisp chiffon in summery shades of lilac, blue and mint green plaid became the highlight of the collection.

house of holland plaid
Tartan clothing from House of Holland

For those of you not wanting to wear the trend with a strictly vintage twist you still have options. An overdose of pastel-hued tartan was seen in House of Holland’s spring / summer 2012 collection, adding a rock heritage to a label still relatively young and with the attitude to prove it. But here the real symphony of spring trends was seen on a single outfit. The cheeky layering of A-line skirts over tapered pants was all in tartan. Elsewhere it was teamed with a see-through mesh top and a visible metallic bra with animal print collars. You see what’s happening here – plaid / tartan is being styled through a whole mix of trends. It doesn’t have to be vintage and some interpretations might not translate 100 per cent across your wardrobe, but there are certainly elements you can still adapt.

The tartan / plaid trend for your spring / summer 2012 wardrobe is more to do with the fabrics and how you layer it, as opposed to the cuts. You want something light, verging on sheer, for the summer months. Colour wise, look for pastel shades and steer away from the clichéd red and black checked combination.

Plaid for autumn / fall 2012

When the days get shorter and the mercury drops, tartan / plaid will remain dominated by one idea: vintage revivalism.

Looking at the autumn (fall) / winter 2012 collections, Corrie Nielson presented plaid by way of midi-length tartan skirts and pyjama pants in a collection of shades of red, green, black and white. There’s definitely an air of the vintage to it, but Nielson’s collection sits differently to those of spring / summer 2012. In spring / summer 2012 tartan has a 50s / 60s air, Nielson instead gives it a much earlier vibe. And she’s not alone.

ruffian plaid
Plaid dress from Ruffian

Ruffian also made a statement with their countryside adaptation of plaid. Wide-legged trousers, A-line coats and immaculately tailored wide-legged pants highlight the collection, but the use of plaid is discreet. It has been panelled with plain-woven fabrics and strips of red, copper and military green performing a ‘peek-a-boo’ with the otherwise repetitive prints.

With tartan / plaid for autumn / fall 2012 , the change in fabric is a given alteration, but the change in the silhouette for the season is what is most prominent. As 2012 closes and 2013 opens, tartan / plaid moves away from its mid-20th century overtones, looks to an earlier period, and weaves in a spark of femininity and the season’s soft androgynous silhouette.

This pattern trend is most viable here, as plaid is essentially an adaptation from the men’s wardrobe. For fall 2012, don’t just wear a thick plaid button shirt with skinny jeans and a trench coat. Reinvent with the way you include plaid in your wardrobe. Go bold with plaid print pants or accessorise with tartan scarfs, shoes, collars or bags. Layer with heavier tartan items and don’t be afraid to wear print on print.

One plaid for all seasons

The curated wardrobe allows for trend pieces to be carried from one season to the next. So how to do that with tartan / plaid?

The tartan pantsuit, see Jil Sander for an example, can be an ideal for both summer and winter; wear it in solidarity for summer and layer with heavier plaid overcoats, capes or wraps in winters.

While the plaid / tartan silhouette evolves away from 50s / 60s vintage, that’s not to say that you can’t continue to wear the look into 2012 – it mightn’t dominate the trend, but the appeal of all things vintage will remain. For example, plaid high-waist skirts, ‘60s-style dresses and tapered pants are the amongst the looks that can travel with you for the next 12 months.

Some tips then;

  • When buying plaid for your wardrobe, keep in mind the fabric you’re choosing and its wearability. Sheer silk, chiffon and other transparent fabrics are great for the heat, but if you spend the majority of your time in wet and cold regions, you might consider looking at heavier cloths as an option.
  • Layering, be it in spring or fall, is a huge supplement to this trend. See our guide to summer layering for more ideas.
  • Plaid pencil skirts are worth an investment, irrespective of what season you’re in. The look can always be updated by pairing it with other trends from that particular season.
  • Experiment with colours and don’t just stick in the safe zone of Britain-approved red and black plaid.

For more inspiration on how to style plaid/tartan direct from the 2012 runways, head to the gallery above and click on the thumbnails.

Share some style:

Want to keep up with fashion?

Once a week, we send out an update with the latest fashion trends, styles and collections.
Get yours direct in your inbox and keep ahead of fashion.

Our newsletter is spam free and your email address will never be shared or sold.
Share