Working Tartan Into A Man’s Wardrobe

Tartans are a hot trend in men’s Fall styling this year, but they can be tricky to work in. It’s a fine line to walk; you want to avoid looking like a hipster lumberjack, yet still get in a good visual of the Scottish check into your look.

If you’re taking up this whole plaid concept as a new idea, listen in. The pattern may seem a little garish or tacky at times, but as long as proper color combinations are observed (no yellows, please!), then you can be a successful, modern Tartanite (yes, I just made that up) who invokes neither images of a pre-gunshot Kurt Cobain or every twenty-something working at Urban Outfitters.


From left to right: Plaid Theory scarf ($125; Barneys), Red check scarf ($25; Topman), Merona plaid tie ($20; Target), D&G Skinny tartan tie($165; eLuxury), Plaid check holdall ($70; Topman, Mike & Chris plaid tie ($39; Active Endeavors)

The plaid accessory is perfect for the maximum effect with minimal effort. Having a check tie, scarf or bag will illustrate that you are a keen style observer, yet prefer to keep things contained. If you’re new to the concept of a bold pattern, this may be the best way to work a tartan into your wardrobe without going overboard.



From left to right: Park plaid shirt ($32; Lucky Brand), Fitted red plaid shirt ($40; The Gap), Joseph Abboud pocket dress shirt($89; Bluefly), Mason’s plaid shirt ($115; Barneys), Fitted long sleeve classic plaid ($25; The Gap)

Top bits to keep in mind while searching for the perfect check shirt should be a smart fit (baggy plaid indicates grunge; vehemently avoid!), and above all; color. There is something about a yellow tartan shirt that screams “Scotch tape” to me, and that’s not a good thing. Red can be done, if layered tastefully; but proceed with caution.



From left to right: Oak parka ($375; Oak), Worker’s coat ($720; Opening Ceremony), Windowpane denim jacket($135; eLuxury), Valentino R.E.D. jacket($368; Yoox)

A straight up tartan jacket can warm life into even the dullest of shirt-and-slacks combos. Try to stick with a less complicated check as seen with the three rightmost images (a low-key tartan jacket won’t necessarily steal the visual show, but you will be distinct); though I would consider the “Oak” parka on the left to be the exception with its well matched vibrant berry tones. If you choose very overbearing outerwear in this pattern, you run the risk of looking the part of a chav (and nobody in or out of England wants that!)



From left to right: Ralph Lauren V-neck cardie($425; Macys), Viktor & Rolf plaid waistcoat ($368; Yoox), Moschino plaid/stripe sweater ($450; Saks)

Ok, ok. For those who wish to remain a shade subtle in their visuals, the tartan sweater family or a waistcoat is your best bet. This way, your layering can be consisting of more demure block colors, or more subtle patterns so you don’t have to stress out that you’re screaming “look at me!” at the top of your mental lungs. This way, you can also work in bright visual assistors such as a tie, oxford and belt and not be too visually overbearing.



From left to right: Shipley & Halmos “Salinger” trouser ($260; Barneys), Rag & Bone “Eden” pant ($315; Tobi), Ted Baker “Munroe” pants ($159; Bluefly), D&G plaint pants ($345; Barneys)

Tartan trousers are a tricky thing; historically when one brings up a plaid pant, we think immediately of something garish in the Burberry “Nova” check. Strong contrasting tartans are generally a must-avoid for all pants since there is so much fabric being seen, and body being covered. Think of it this way: you don’t layer on your legs, so a more subtle pattern is the way to go. We don’t want any Don Cherry Jr.’s running about.


3 Comments so far
Leave a comment

The Gap has some nice tartan shirts this season except, like all Gap clothes, they are far from smart fit. 😦

Comment by Jared

Grunge is BACK baby! sale of plaid haven’t been this high since the mid 90s. Time to go up my parent’s attic and get out my plaid shirts. As for all you hipsters the thrift store got you cover.

Comment by Hung

To all Burberry lovers I personally recommand the nice prices from this french online shop for Burberry (also have few Dior accessories).
Everyhting is authentic there directly from factory outlet.


Comment by Claire Northrough

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: