Q&A: What to Wear with Plaid Pants

March 19th, 2008

Q:  I just got plaid pants (straight cut), but I don’t know what to wear them with! Here’s what the fabric looks like. Please give me ideas about what to wear with these pants.

Brown Linen Suit. Photo Credit: The Sartorialist

A: We have good news and bad news about your plaid pants.  The good news is that you won’t really have to spend a lot of time putting an outfit together when you wear these pants.  The bad news is that it’s because you won’t have a lot of options.  When pairing shirts with these pants, stick to solid, simple colors.  As always, we would suggest a crisp, white shirt (tucked in).  Shoes should be casual, but don’t wear sneakers with these pants.  Try loafers or Tod’s drivers instead.  Oh, and avoid patterned shirts or jackets, or else you’ll end up looking like an optical illusion. 

Plaid like yours is bold, especially on a dressier piece of clothing.  Last season, Tom Ford had a three-piece plaid suit that was particularly eye catching (shown bottom right).  Then again, is there anything from Tom Ford that isn’t?  He probably could find some way to make what amounts to a Hanes white undershirt fashionable, price it at $400, and it would sell out. 

Tom Ford Suit Photo Credit: NYTimesWearing plaid pants with patterns can be done, as the gentleman in brown (pictured top left) proves, but it’s difficult to do, especially without a matching jacket.

Our advice for next time is to buy the entire suit, not just the pants.  If you want one piece of the suit, buy the jacket, as it’s more versatile (you can wear it over jeans, chinos or wool trousers, if you’d like).  When you have the whole suit, it can become a very chic piece; however, separating the jacket from the pants is much trickier.

Have a great tip about what to wear with plaid pants?  Share it with us in the comments!

Man in Brown Linen Suit by The Sartorialist and Tom Ford Suit by the New York Times.

Entry Filed under: Men,Men's,Q&A

4 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Meg from The Bargain Queens & All About Appearances  |  March 19th, 2008 at 8:23 am

    I agree that sticking to solid colors is smart in this case, but I disagree that they “won’t have a lot of options”! Solid colors alone offer a lot of options, especially when you start talking styles. My wardrobe revolves around solid colors (with a bit of plaid or polka dots here and there). And because of that, I always feel like I have plenty of options.

  • 2. Andrea  |  March 19th, 2008 at 9:17 am

    Ooh. Plaid pants are hard to pull off, even with a solid coloured top you may end up looking like a skeezy 70’s history teacher. On the other hand, you can play up that image for kicks and pair your pants with a blazer that has elbow patches.

    And while mixing patterns isn’t a good idea, what you could is mix textures. Another option is to wear blazer/jacket made of tweed or velvet with your pants.

  • 3. Trisha  |  March 20th, 2008 at 9:10 am

    Nice tip about mixing textures, Andrea!

  • 4. Nicky Spur  |  May 11th, 2011 at 5:47 pm

    Plaid pants are sick — solid colors for sure, add a scarf in and your golden.

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