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

BBC

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

BBC

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

... or, with a puffer vest!

Showtime

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

Go for laid-back cool

ABC

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

ABC Family

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

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.

Fox

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!

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