The Plaid Revolution Is in Full Sway (Again)

Lucky plaid

You may have noticed that plaid is everywhere this autumn. It’s sitting next to you on the bus, strutting down the street, and sashaying down the runway. At the same time, plaid is out raking leaves and bailing hay — city chic meets country mouse. Once again, plaid has made its crisscross mark on mainstream men’s and women’s clothing.

It’s not limited to comfy flannel shirts and PJs — tartan is popping up on chairs, pillows, and wallpaper across the country. Heck, even baseball players are jumping on the plaidwagon. The Tampa Bay Rays pulled up to Game 5 of the playoffs in a blue-and-white striped car wearing plaid blazers. And during Fall Fashion Week 2010 in New York, every designer was seeing stripes. From classic button downs to shirt dresses, plaid was everywhere.

Retailers have definitely caught on — Lucky Brand, for example, is currently promoting a Country Plaids line. Flannels with names like “the Highlander” and “Badlands” give urban hipsters that scruffy, “I chop wood” look. For ladies, there’s the Lucky Maxi dress, a ruffled flirty frock that’s decidedly down-home, but still dressy enough for a night out.

So … why suddenly all the plaid? Like history, fashion is cyclical, and plaid has been around forever. Or, almost forever. The Scottish historically wore tartan to distinguish one clan from another –- their plaid dates back to 1560. In the early 1900s, British Royalty made plaid a symbol for the upper class. Seventy years later, plaid turned punk when Sid Vicious sent shock waves across the world in black-and-red plaid pants. Like a tee-shirt that has been washed one too many times, ’80s plaid faded as neon colors and geometric patterns came into play. But In the early ’90s, plaid was back again with the Grunge Movement, which brought about a resurgence of plaid, ripped jeans, and just-woke-up tresses. Retailers went wild for it, and flannels were spotted on catwalks across the country.

Here it is again. The hair is shorter and more gelled and jagged. The men’s jeans are definitely skinnier. The flannels have a lot less bulk but are still just as warm. Welcome back plaid!

[Disclosure: Lucky Brand is owned by Liz Claiborne Inc., the financial sponsor of this site]