Plaid skirts continue to adapt and update with each new season

JoAnne Klimovich Harrop
| Thursday, Oct. 24, 2013, 8:55 p.m.

Get mad for a plaid skirt this fall.

And, the style you choose doesn't have to resemble the one you wore in high school.

Go for a more grown-up, mature take on this schoolgirl weave.

“A plaid skirt is a great addition to a woman's wardrobe,” says Gregg Andrews, Nordstrom fashion director. “Plaid has returned because of an interest in punk-inspired fashion. It goes back to the Highland plaid of the past. But the color patterns are different. Instead of the reds, blacks and greens and blues, you might see turquoise and emerald or chartreuse. You also might see red and black with gold or yellow running through it to give it a more modern look.”

You can never go wrong with a classic pattern, says Amy Moore, L.L. Bean women's merchant manager. But, she says, if you want to try something new, a twist on the standard pattern is really on trend this fall and winter.

“The plaid skirt is always in style,” Moore says. “A fun way to wear it so it doesn't look school-girlish is with a pair of high leather boots and a great chunky-knit turtleneck sweater.”

Silhouettes are more modern, experts say. You can always choose the standard mini, but there are variations, such as a pencil-skirt length or longer. Andrews suggests if you are going to wear a plaid skirt, keep it the focal point of the outfit.

“A little plaid goes a long way,” he says. “So I wouldn't try plaid on plaid. Let the plaid skirt make the statement.”

The plaid skirt is a definite must-have for fall, says Marissa Rubin, senior market editor for People Style Watch.

“You can pair it with a leather jacket and T-shirt, but you can also pair a plaid pencil-skirt silhouette and solid cropped sweater,” she says. “And that cropped sweater looks best when it hits at the top of the skirt and doesn't reveal a lot of skin.”

The red-tartan and navy-tartan pattern feel the most schoolgirl like, Rubin says, so up the sophistication with a trendy black-and-white combination.

Plaid is a pattern that gives an all-American feel, Rubin says. It's a print that can fit into all wardrobes.

InStyle magazine says there is something irresistibly naughty about tartan separates that skim the body in a quietly seductive way. Plaid can seem too prim, so hair should be a little wild. Swipe on dark lipstick or eyeliner to give this look some bite, the editors suggest.

Choose the pattern or print that catches your eye, says Gwendolyn Covington, a style editor for

The plaid skirt never goes out of style, she says. It just gets updated each season by changing the way you style it. For instance, one season may be all about a preppy look, so the plaid skirt is paired with a white blouse, boyfriend cardigan, tights and oxfords. The next season could be totally different, like punk-focused, so pair the skirt with a great T-shirt, leather jacket, bare legs and motorcycle boots. Almost anything can be in style as long as you adapt for the new season.

“We are seeing traditional plaids in the blue/green family, but also in unexpected, nontraditional color combinations,” Covington says. “Some plaid skirts even have prints overlaid on top of the plaid. Although plaid is traditionally a fall staple trend, it's best to select pieces that you'll love forever.”

JoAnne Klimovich Harrop is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at or 412-320-7889.

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