How To Wear A Plaid Shirt: 13 Styling Options From Full-On Prep To Cool and Grungy

When I set out to write this article, I had no idea what I was in for. I mean, it's one piece: How many ways could you possibly style a plaid shirt? Near countless ways, it would turn out.

Okay, by "near countless" I really mean more like a dozen, give or take a few. But seriously — as a non-plaid shirt-wearer, I was shocked: the versatility is kind of off the charts! I mean, take the tomboy category alone — there's laid-back tomboy (oversized with jeans), polished tomboy (fitted, with skinny jeans tucked into riding boots), girly tomboy (an oxymoron, I know, but add some necklaces and high-heeled boots, and that's what you've got).

There's also a universal quality to the piece: Everyone from cultivators-of-cool like Gwen Stefani to twee masterminds like Zooey Deschanel has at least one. Same goes for pop culture — on one side of the spectrum, you've got orphan/hacker Skye on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D, and on the other, you've got the preppiest Pretty Little Liar Spencer Hastings. It would seem that everyone wants a piece of the plaid.

So, if you've got a plaid shirt you're not quite sure what to do with, read on for quite the handful of styling options, just in time for fall layering.

Try it with ankle-length jeans

Amy Pond was a great proponent of the plaid shirt, and she showed us rocking plaid is as simple as pulling on a pair of dark wash ankle jeans.

...or, with a leather jacket

Bonus: throw a leather jacket on top for a slightly more badass take on the look.

... or, with a puffer vest!

No one does charmingly laid-back better than Fiona Gallagher of Shameless .

Go for laid-back cool

Skye really had a lock on the whole cool-without-really-trying thing, and plaid shirts were key.

A twist on the classic

You can always do the basic plaid with a twist — here, Gwen Stefani (who may as well be the queen of plaid) wears a slightly elevated take on the standard plaid button-down.

Casual and Unbuttoned

Kate Bosworth has the je ne sais quoi-infused plaid shirt down to a science:

Sometimes, you just can't go cooler than a basic plaid shirt worn open over your standard T-shirt/skinnies combo.

Casual and Unbuttoned over a crop top

Look, I know Miley's not exactly someone we should be turning to for fashion advice (and I'm not saying I condone those acid-washed shorts), but I actually kind of like this look.

Around the waist

As long as we're looking with Disney starlet/pop stars with questionable fashion sense, let's take a look at Selena Gomez; here rocking the ol' '90s tied-around-the-waist fashion.

Try out a different color palette

We have a tendency to associate plaid with '90s grunge, but you can take it in the complete opposite direction if you make like Taylor Swift and go full pastel/prep:

Or, you could always go more traditional with a beanie, knee-high boots, and a long necklace.

Go Ultra prep

If you liked Taylor's preppy look, here it is on steroids. Button your shirt almost all the way up to the collar and pair with a sweater vest for geek chic stylings.

Also, Spencer Hastings/Troian Bellisario may have the best side-eye in the business.

Try it with shorts

StyleNanda can make anything look cool, and plaid shirts with bermuda shorts is no exception. Short-shorts are also a good bet!

...or with a skirt

Nick's probably the first person who comes to mind when you think New Girl + plaid; he's kind of got a lock on things. But guess what? Jess has her own spin on the trend, and it's one worth giving a look at, if plaid is your thang.

It's unexpected, and a welcome combination of prep, laid-back glam, and yes, adorkability.

And hey, if you're getting tired of the plaid shirts, you can always make like Zooey here and go for a full-length WGA gown!

Jason Merritt/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images

Images: StyleBistro; IMDb (5); Twitter; StyleNanda; Pretty Little Liars/Netflix; Getty Images,