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How to wear plaid

Aly Walansky is a freelance writer and editor based in New York City. She lives with her two Shorkie-Tzus, Scarlette and Max, and a display of pink polka-dot-themed home decor -- not to mention a selection of flavored vodka. Check out he...

A must-have print

Word to the wise: No matter what they may tell you, most men never outgrew their naughty school girl fantasies. The key to getting yourself some action may just be tapping into their not-remotely-dormant passions. Lucky for us, plaid (and thus the ever-popular pleated mini) is bigger than ever this season. Fashion has never been so promising!

"Big, bold plaids are as popular as they've ever been – but choose wisely and don't overdose by dressing in plaid from head to toe. Instead, choose one interesting piece, whether it's a skirt, cropped fitted jacket, or a distinctive handbag or shoe and then pair it with basics like black, gray or denim. Tights are a great fashion piece to wear with plaid," says Shari Shakun, VP and General Merchandise Manager at fashion-forward SmartBargains.com. Their site is showing plaid styles across the runways, including a hot wool plaid belted coat by Coffee Shop for under $100.

Why is plaid a must-have? Nothing says fall more then the classic print that looks good on everyone and can easily be worked into almost every outfit. Barbour, a century-old classic British clothing company famous for wax cotton outerwear has been highlighting products with its signature tartan (read: plaid) pattern for years. This fall, Barbour tartan can be seen in cute and durable totes, cashmere and lambs wool scarves, or simply peeking out as the liner in many of their weatherproof jackets.

"Designers and manufacturers are mad for plaid," says Sara Rogers, trend specialist with the Mall of America. "I'm seeing it on jackets, tops, pants, shorts, belts, socks, shoes and headbands in everything from tartan to argyle. This ubiquitous trend is not relegated to girls; guys are getting in on the action with wardrobe staples -- such as button-up shirts, shorts and sneakers."

From plaid tunics being shown by teen e-tailers like Delia's and gorgeous wool houndstooth coats at Fred Flare, it is increasingly easy to use key additions to include this trend into your wardrobe.

Like everything else, plaid cycles in and out of the trend lists, says Linda Arroz of Makeover Media. Depending on where you live, plaid is a mainstay in winter fashion, and this season houndstooth in the form of big black and white checks is bigger than ever.

"It is fitting that with the resurfacing of the preppy look, plaid is making a come back as well," says Rachel Fauman of Ensemble Consulting (ensemble-consulting.com), a personal shopper in San Francisco. Diane Von Furstenburg has put out a vintage collection this season with her famous wrap dresses now showing in interesting plaids. You can also find plaids in dresses by Nanette Lepore and MARC by Marc Jacobs.

 

A bit beyond the basics

Plaids are making bold statements, and we're seeing the preppy pattern on all kinds of styles across the board, says Anne Crays, vice president of merchandising and fashion forecasting for Shoebuy.com. Plaid bootsFrom casual sneakers and retro slip-ons to fashion flats and rain boots, plaid is an excellent accent that makes a style more interesting as there are so many variations in pattern and colors.

Incorporating plaid patterns into bold designs is prevalent in hot shoe styles from companies like Sperry Top Sider, who is showing adorable Pelican Wedge Sadie boots with a plaid trim or the sexy Rockport Dayanara heel, which comes in burnished leather with plaid print trim.

"Plaid is a classic that is being reinterpreted in less traditional colors, making it very modern this year," says Kellie Brown, a representative of Avenue clothing stores. "It's a great way to add a punch of color to an outfit and nothing says 'fashion-forward' and 'polished' like a great plaid trench."

Keeping it in the family

For expectant moms who want to stay on trend, we love the 3/4-sleeve wool plaid swing coat at Motherhood Maternity, along with the retro-tailored look of Urban Belly's Momzee Hailey Plaid Pants.

 Suri Cruise was photographed in Berlin in the cutest Burberry baby plaid jumper, and suddenly, plaid is all the rage for moms and their non-celeb-spawn," says April Masini (askapril.com), a critically-acclaimed advice columnist and author. She says plaid is a natural for fall for all ages because private school and parochial school uniforms often contain plaid skirts.

Going for the sexy plaid

Ladies, remember the naughty school girl fantasy? Take it one step further by making the plaid a little extra personal. Popping up in Shirley of Hollywood's new line is an adorable stretch lace and plaid taffeta halter-style crop top and skirtini in classic red, white, and green plaid... giving a whole new look to your grade school ideas -- and putting added excitement in your grown-up ones.

 

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