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It's a plaid, plaid world The perennial favorite shows up in updated scales, unexpected styles and some fun new color combinations

Plaids with plaids. Plaids with stripes. Plaids done up all ruffly on a blouse or stitched into a handsome runner for your dinner table.

It's no surprise that plaid is back for fall, but you may just want to check out the latest patterns and colors.

Women can choose anything from plaid hosiery and rain boots to plaid boyfriend jackets and dresses.

"I think this season, plaids are for everyone. There are many varieties of them including softer, large plaid patterns in warmer colors of tan and chocolate brown," said Deborah Tangelder, owner of Get Heeled, a women's shoe boutique, and the Perfect Gift, 6000 Goodrich Road, Clarence Center.

"And for a bolder look, the classic black with the crimson red and a cream undertone pulls together a very crisp, classy look. This also ties into a touch of the menswear look with the accessories and the shoes," she said.

There is plenty of plaid clothing for women, but so much more.

"Even if plaid is not something you are typically drawn to or accustomed to wearing, you can introduce the look in subtle ways by looking for accents of plaid with your wardrobe or accessories selection -- a small plaid scarf, a plaid lining inside a handbag," Tangelder said.

And for guys, plaids go far beyond weekend wear.

"This classic is no longer the domain of the lumberjack or the country gentleman. Plaids now contemporize the wardrobe and can be dressed up (pattern on pattern) or dressed down (with denim)," said industry expert Tom Julian, author of "Nordstrom Guide to Men's Style," in a recent trend report.

Plaid also is popular for the home -- with timeless patterns that can look country, cottage-y or quite elegant.

"Plaid is such a classic. It's always there. It's a nice pattern to mix in any room," said Kim Hazelet, a local interior designer and owner of Accentric, a home accent specialty shop at 1424 Hertel Ave.

"It really can go with anything," said Hazelet, who likes to mix plaids with florals and stripes.

Sure, plaid may remind you of a certain jumper you wore in elementary school. And it can easily be overdone on the body or in a room.

But it's also a pattern to embrace this fall, whether you hang a scarf around your neck or hang draperies at your window.

And don't miss the use of plaids on collars and cuffs.

Here are 10 ways to add some plaid to your life this fall.

*Add a plaid scarf to your wardrobe. Plaid scarves this season come in so many patterns and colors. If you love wearing black and fuchsia, you are sure to find a plaid scarf with those colors. Ditto for brown and camel, navy and green, red and black.

*Put plaid at your feet. Plaid shoes are everywhere -- on pumps, flats, sneakers and even booties.

White House/Black Market offers a plaid, peep-toe bootie with black patent trim and adjustable strap, for example.

With a neutral plaid bootie, "you can wear it with skinny jeans, you can wear it with tights and you can wear it with a dress. It is very, very versatile and a great way to incorporate the trend of plaid into your wardrobe," said Noelle Higgins, assistant manager of the local White House/Black Market, 4005 N. Buffalo Road, Orchard Park.

*Try a plaid on something a little unexpected. A plaid sleeveless dress (Ann Taylor Loft is just one that shows a plaid sheath). A plaid bra (Aerie and elsewhere). A plaid ruffle shirt or tiered skirt. Or a plaid handbag -- great with your favorite solids.

Or try a plaid in a new color combination, such as orange, yellow and purple.

*Raid your favorite guy's closet and borrow his plaid flannel shirt. Belt it over a pair of leggings or wear it as a nightshirt.

*For guys: Go for a plaid tie. Local retailer John Huber is talking about nice silks in classic tartans -- and not just black-watch but also lesser-known Lindsay tartans or Stewart plaids.

"Men are wearing them with a solid shirt and navy blazer," said Huber, of O'Connell's clothing, 3240 Main St.

Or how about a glen plaid cashmere tie?

"These ties look smart under, say, a shawl-collar cardigan or a suede shirt-jacket or some solid sport coat such as camel hair or the ilk," Huber said.

For the home, if custom plaid draperies or new upholstery are not in the budget, consider a plaid tablecloth, napkins or accent pillows, suggested Susan Reedy Jackson, an East Aurora interior designer.

Even if you pick a trendier color combination -- or grow tired of a more traditional one -- it's not that expensive to change later on.

*Re-cover a stool, bench or accent chair in a fresh new plaid.

"There are so many colors in plaids that it is easy to find one that will match your existing color scheme," said Jackson, who runs Reedysign Interiors.

*Frame a photograph in plaid. "Take some plaid fabric, and use it to mat your pictures," Jackson said.

It's easy: "Take spray adhesive, spray the cardboard mat, lay down your fabric and then just cut out the squares," she said.

*Dress up a vase of flowers with a plaid ribbon, matching the plaid colors to the flowers of course. Or use plaid ribbons to decorate baskets filled with gourds, corn husks or last year's silk fall wreath.

This year, finally go for a set of flannel sheets. Go all plaid or mix plaids with solids.


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