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Beyond grunge: We’re mad for plaid

DesignAlison Baitz, Gap Inc. bloggerComment

Step up your seasonal wear with the preferred pattern of seemingly disparate cultural forces — from Celts to punk rockers to the Pacific Northwest grunge scene.

Clearly beyond versatile, plaid — Gaelic for "blanket" — is a cold-weather no-brainer. And its ability to modernize with the decades is a testament to that endurance.

While it featured prominently in some goofy ensembles of the past, plaid needn't ever feel ho-hum or ironic. New applications of the print and exciting silhouettes bring the look straight to 2015. Whether it's a prim tartan or bold buffalo check, rest assured there's a plaid to be had among the Gap Inc. brands.

Classic plaid's most familiar form may be the button-down shirt.

Gap's plaid relaxed boyfriend shirt has a generous cut and slightly oversized fit for the perfect grab-and-go winter look. This classic buffalo plaid, in either white and black or green and black, is ideal with relaxed jeans and a shawl-neck cardigan if you're going for casual cool.

Banana Republic's soft-wash multi-plaid shirt also has a generous cut, but its smaller plaid pattern blurs the lines between workwear and preppy cool. It would look great with jeans, but tuck it into a wool midi-skirt for a fun take on the classic styling.

Not everyone is a button-down kind of person, though. Enter Old Navy's plaid mock-neck sweater, featured in the November issue of Glamour, which brings the classic graphic back to its '60s appeal. A deceptively simple plaid and its zoomed-in quality make a classic approach look very now. While it can really go with anything from slacks to jeans to skirts, consider some seriously winged eyeliner and a subtle bouffant as your beauty cues for this sweater.

What if you take the familiar look and feel of the button-down and modernize it a bit? That's where the shirtdress comes in.

We've seen the shirtdress in denim, but it's high time to heat things up for the cool weather. Old Navy's plaid linen-blend tunic, an oversized plaid in classic color combos and slightly longer body, screams autumn in the country. Wear it with black leggings, scrunched-down sweater socks and a cozy knit topper for the ultimate weekend-chic look.

Gap's flannel western shirtdress drives the idea of feminine home even more with a waist-defining fabric belt. Pointed chest pockets and a medium-size plaid give it a country-western sensibility.

Meanwhile, Banana Republic's plaid shirtdress takes the expected silhouette and turns it on its head. Instead of simply elongating the body, a slight nip at the waist and a shirttail hem make this undeniably feminine. Whether you style it with tights and boots or flats, it's a piece that perfectly brings together grunge sensibilities with preppy vibes. Accessorize accordingly to make it tough or femme — either way totally works.

While the button-up and its cousin, the shirtdress, are undeniably classic, there are other ways to get your plaid fix when it comes to wardrobe staples.

Take, for example, Gap's wool plaid zip mini-skirt, in either blue or pink. The silhouette says biker babe — note its diagonally placed zippers, super-short hemline — but the zoomed-in plaid takes it to entirely new, punky, preppy territory. Pair it with a fuzzy, solid-color sweater for a look you'll love all winter long.

Similarly, Gap's plaid wool tailored shorts are an unexpected, but fun take on the classic. Formal shorts in an eye-catching plaid make all the difference. Private school grows up with Banana Republic's Harris Tweed mini; rock it for plaid authenticity points, as Harris Tweed is made exclusively in Scotland.

Like these ideas but aren't quite ready to take the plunge? Banana Republic's plaid tweed mini features just a front panel of plaid.

While plaid makes perfect sense for a cozy button-down or elegant bottoms — like Old Navy's popular mid-rise Harper suit pant — it needn't be relegated to hiding under winter coats. See Banana Republic's plaid three-button tailored coat and Old Navy's quilted plaid bomber for why. These classic outerwear silhouettes enter new, yet vintage-inspired territory with their eye-catching simple plaid patterns.

Want just a pop of plaid? There's an accessory for that.

There's no easier way to jazz up a winter look than with a patterned scarf. Gap's cozy vintage plaid scarf feels plucked from a mid-century novel from English class, while the cozy buffalo plaid scarf is slightly more rugged, but with plenty of colorful charm.

Take a chance beyond scarves with Gap's wool slip-on sneakers — the red-and-black large plaid will look great with dark jeans and a black sweater all winter long, as do Old Navy's no-fuss plaid sneaker. Or, step things up with Old Navy's plaid loafer.

Finally, it wouldn't be November without tights; style Old Navy's simple, stylish plaid tights with a solid mini and a chunky sweater.

How will you channel your madness for plaid?