Checks & Plaids Are Wild
November 15, 2010 4 Comments
Unless you’ve been living under a rock, or worse yet the suburbs – it’s hard not to have noticed the vast array of colourful check and plaid dress shirts on display everywhere from Saks to Target. Checks (larger more monotonous coloured squares) and plaids (smaller multi-coloured mix of squares and bands of Scottish heritage a.k.a Tartan) were big on the men’s fashion runways for FW09 and continue to go strong into FW10.
Made of cotton or flannel, the stylish check and plaid dress shirts are very appealing and available everywhere at a variety of prices. Land’s End Canvas and Macy’s both sell plaid shirts for under $40 a shirt. Alternatively, you can find ones made by Band of Outsiders and Dolce & Gabbana for anywhere between $200 to $500 a shirt. You could also try vintage clothing stores (see my post on vintage shopping here) where you may find shirts in great shape for anywhere between $20-$50 a shirt. The vintage 80’s plaids by Polo Ralph Lauren are particularly nice.
Casual check and plaid dress shirts work well with a rugged pair of jeans, relaxed khakis, or crisp skinny jeans with rolled cuffs. They look great on they’re own, but try layering over the top with a basic knit cardigan or underneath with a cool T-shirt, or on cold days with both at the same time. You can also dress them up with a sharp tie or full two or three piece suit (see photos of Jason Sudeikis and Ed Westwick above). Just keep the suit and tie simple so that it’s not competing with or clashing with your dress shirt.
A final word on fit. Regardless of your body type, look for slim-fit check and plaid (or any kind of) dress shirts. Ideally, the shoulder seams should hug your shoulders, the sleeves should not be too long or too short reaching just past your wrists, you shouldn’t have all of this excess fabric bunched at the waist or under the arms either. That being said, unless the dress shirt is bespoke, chances are it won’t fit right.
I need to have every single dress shirt I buy altered. I have the sides taken in and sometimes the arms as well. I would consider shortening the shirt if you choose to wear it out because some fit like Lenny Kravitz’s tunic. Insist that when the tailor takes in your shirt they do so at the seams and not by making darts. They’ll try to push the darts on you because it’s less work for them to get the same effect, at the same price. As I explained to my tailor, the problem with darts might not be so evident on a plain coloured shirt, but try them on a check or plaid and your pattern will look totally messed up from the back.
No longer the stalwart of only the Scots, lumberjacks, and construction workers, checks and plaids are wild and here to stay so have fun with them. Just remember, if you’re wearing a check or plaid dress shirt, please keep the pants or suit and tie simple. No plaid vs. plaid. Check out some of GQ’s check and plaid picks on my Facebook page.