The plaid suit definitely brings up some certain visions. You might think of an old professor, or perhaps a Scottish man with a kilt. But plaid is coming back, thanks to some TV shows and celebrity cache.
Recently, the plaid suit has been featured on Mad Men, mostly by the actor John Slattery as Roger. Done right, it can look pretty good and not stodgy or old as we’ve come to expect. There’s actually three ways that plaid can be patterned.
Prince of Wales - A more detailed, smaller plaid pattern, but with strong lines.
Windowpane – It has both vertical pinstripes and horizontal to form its windowpane. Its generally the largest pattern.
Glen Plaid – A more fine pattern that sometimes takes a closer inspection to work.
While plaid may be making a comeback, its still a little bit daring for a use at a conservative office. It can work as long as you have a quieter, softer pattern. Big lines and contrast might draw a little too much attention. You can also mix it up and just were the suit coat or blazer out. Just like with a standard suit, make sure it fits. Otherwise, you’ll look like you are playing dress-up.
It can be tricky because the extra lines may complicate the matching in terms of suits and tie types. A basic rule is to only have two patterns out of shirt, tie, and suit, and it definitely fits here.
Many suitmakers have gotten out new plaid styles in the last couple of years. American suit brands, in particular, have quite a few. Check out Brooks Brothers or Joseph A. Banks for a cheaper line. Southwick, now part of Brooks Brothers, also had some nice patterns. If you’re looking for top end, consider Oxxford. Its not as widespread with Italian designers but you will occasionally find a Brioni plaid design. A few years back plaid was a hot look in the UK, but it seems to have cooled off a bit.