By: Max Bonem
This is where I start off with an inspiring or humorous quote covering the merit of wearing this often-misunderstood fashion. Most likely there’ll be a pun or some other sort of play on words that shows how plaid can be funny and worthwhile, cleansing and full of grace. Well guess what, we’re not talking about houndstooth or herringbone. We’re talking about what lumberjacks, grunge icons, and one of the most badass movie characters of all-time (Mel Gibson’s William Wallace of Braveheart glory (Yes, Mel is a double D douchebag, but you can’t knock the kilt))! We’re talking about motha f*ckin plaid y’all!
See plaid has gone in and out of fashion for years and years, but before we start talking about plaid and the modern day bro, we must first have a history lesson. By revving our time machine up to 88 mph and blasting back to the 1700s, we see that the Scottish wore plaid, or to be exact, tartan, as part of their normal Highland dress. However, in 1746 the bloody English passed what they called “The Dress Act,” attempting to bring the warrior clans under government control by banning the tartan and other aspects of Gaelic culture (Stupid Britain, thinking they can hold the man down). Well eventually Scotland got their shit together and at the Great Britain Drinking Hullabaloo of 1782, Scotland was able to repeal the wretched law after a fierce showdown between Sir William Williams and Angus McGregor in a game I like to call “Irish Conversation” or drink a barrel of ale and challenge the closest piece of livestock you can find to a staring contest. Sadly though by the time McGregor won back his country’s right to free dress, Tartan had gone out of style and it was instead adopted as the national dress of Scotland and catholic schoolgirls everywhere (Thanks Angus).
Now who does the modern day man owe a debt to when it comes to the popularity of plaid? I’ll give you a hint; it’s not that smiley guy (that once adorned a mustache with pride) on the paper towel role. It’s Paul “yeah I got a blue ox, so what?” Bunyan. Sure, Paul (as fellow beard-sporting and plaid-wearing dudes everywhere call him) might’ve been more fiction than fact, but he represented the restless American spirit that became so highly romanticized during the early 1900s. Interestingly enough, that same spirit has returned to make an impact in modern day culture and especially fashion. Think about trends you’ve seen in the past few years with clothing and marketing. Levi’s, probably the most popular jean maker for men between the ages of 18 and 35, has been banking on their “Go Forth” campaign, emphasizing aspects of freedom and exploration. Boat shoes, boots, and BEARDS for heaven’s sake have all become fixtures at any party or bar you go to. All of a sudden, the blue-collar worker has arrived as a style icon and plaid is the only thing covering his heart of gold. Sure, Kurt Cobain and Eddie Vedder poured gallons of sweat into closets full of plaid during the late 80s/early 90s and likewise Robin Pecknold (of Fleet Foxes) and the Avett Brothers are carrying the torch now, but all of this goes back to that sense of doing something simple and rewarding with your life – what every lost/overwhelmed young guy thinks would solve his problems; the “if only I could be a blacksmith or brewer or carpenter, my life would be so much simpler and fulfilling” theory.
Plaid is versatile, lightweight, comfortable, and most important, it sends a message. The guy wearing plaid might not know how to change a tire or start a fire without telekinetic powers/lazer beems, but you’ll surely assume he does. Is this lying, deception, false advertising? Well, maybe, but what about the push-up bra? Real men wear plaid because it projects the message that you’re ready for anything, from fixing a bike or a cabinet, to saving an entire flock of orphan ducklings from a baby pool in a landmine-covered meadow swarming with man eating pterodactyl – vulture hybrids. When you snap on a plaid shirt, you’re ready to order an aged scotch, talk to any girl at the bar, or even rock a moustache. You’re bulletproof, you’re Superman, you’re liquid cool in solidified form. And THAT is why real men wear plaid. OH and although most flannel is plaid, most plaid isn’t flannel, get that sh*t right! Feel me?