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Jan 12, 2020

Mismatched Plaid -- YEA or NAY?


Readers, last week while I was walking my dogs I captured the back of what I thought was a very unusual plaid coat. 

I posted the photo on Instagram and lo and behold it elicited nearly 350 comments.  The vast majority were not only bothered but also bewildered.  I've heard the phrase "mad about plaid" but never apoplectic about it.  There was a lot of "It hurts my eyes!" "Drives me nuts!" and the ever-popular "I just can't."

Mostly there was the question WHY.  Was this mis-match intentional or done simply to save fabric--or both?  Could the design possibly have been a mistake, not in the fashion faux-pas sense of the word, but rather in the "I thought everything was fine till I saw my photo on Instagram" sense?

A lot of commenters opined that something that awful must be extravagantly expensive--or totally cheap.  There were a number of people who liked the coat and a few who claimed even to love it.  But they were oh-so-vastly outnumbered.

It seems that as sewers, we are easily triggered by mismatching plaids.  Could it be that we live in such unbalanced times that we simply can't bear a bit of sartorial asymmetry?  Or do we resent the fact that someone didn't take the pains we feel we must take when we sew plaid fabrics?

How do you feel about this Yohji Yamamoto blazer?  To me it looks just awful, but it is eye-catching!


Frankly it resembles the infamous brown plaid coat.  Obviously this was intentional.  It's saying something but I'm not sure what.  Any ideas?


Lest we think that that blazer was simply a Yamamoto one-off, there's this.  Maybe I'm biased (little joke there), but this one stirs me up and not in a good way.


There's quite a bit of mismatched plaid to be found on the internet for anyone with the stomach to look.  Any thoughts about this unusual plaid top by the brand Public School?


 Even this jacket (by Monse) looks a little off to me though it is balanced.


Plaid doesn't have to be quite that avant-garde to cause eye strain.  This Woolrich-style vintage wool jacket is nice looking until you focus on the sleeves.  Or am I being too picky?


The wide brown vertical line on the back of the jacket below is off-center, but that sort of works.  Or would you center it?


Mixing plaids is hard.  These flannels do a pretty good job despite the scale of the horizontal stripes being different.



And then there's Jessica Simpson.  I'm not sure which I dislike more, the plaid combination or the shoes.  For her sake I hope there's a Cadillac Escalade waiting at the curb.


In closing, friends, your thoughts.  Do you find mismatched plaids to be pleasingly offbeat or annoyingly lopsided? 

Is there something offensively attention-seeking about them?

And about that brown coat: Could you see yourself making something like that intentionally?  Have you ever?  And if so, why?

Mismatched plaid -- YEA or NAY?

Apparently this LL Bean customer thinks like us!

53 comments:

  1. Brown coat: nope nope nope. It screams "I don't have the time/am not paid enough to care about doing a good job for you". The Yamamoto blazer, on the other hand, is painstakingly accurate in its placement of the plaids, so it's pleasingly off-beat to my eyes. I see a well-made and carefully planned jacket when I look at it.

    But for the sake of 1" of careful placement, the Public School top would be a fun one. The turquoise plaid jacket was fine until you mentioned the sleeves, and now that's all I see!

    Now, the vintage jacket below it--if you centered the back, would you feel compelled to center the collar as well? What if it was appealing to the guy who just wants to buck the whole straight-and-narrow, buttoned-down image? I could live with that one. I would probably only make like that intentionally if I couldn't center things no matter how hard I tried (lack of fabric to play with placement, for example).

    Thanks for a fun "poll"!

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    Replies
    1. Re the Yamamoto blazer (not jacket--shame on me): obviously not *really* well made (puckering, for example), but look at that collar from the front! Almost perfectly aligned to the plaid upon which it rests.

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    2. This new look asks that I review my "rules" about what SHOULD be. I remember during my youth ..late 60s early 70's I'd see "mismatched" ensembles. Plaid coat with striped pants as an extreme example. I don't know that I ever got "used" to that visual statement..but that didn't make it wrong for everyone...only wrong for me. I admire the art and craft of sewing...and am impressed when someone artfully matches fabric...cutting out patterns so the plaids match and so forth. In this case I also admire that some said Hey..I made a mistake so why not make it a fashion statement.

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  2. Mismatched plaids are, in my opinion, a poor excuse for inattention, cheapness, laziness, poor quality. Nothing to do with fashion except all of the aforementioned. The beauty of the plaid is lost in all the jumble. Yes, plaids are hard to match and can be mismatched on side seams, but a center back seam? The front? No excuse. Nay I say!

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  3. Perhaps if one focuses on the mismatched plaid, one won't notice the inferior sewing? Perhaps the intent?

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  4. I don't mind the flannels shirts you have shown but the brown coat has to go. Maybe it would have been better if the plaids were intentionally flipped so that your eye was not working so hard to figure out the lines. The mismatched sleeves are really the annoying part!I have Woolrich flannel shirts that do not match at the side seams but I get so many compliments when I wear them, no one must be looking there.

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  5. Definitely a No from me. Mismatched plaids just make me think that the person who sewed the garment was careless or incompetent or both.

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  6. Hmmm. Are we supposed to expect more from RTW? Isn't it RTW / fast-fashion's mission to lower expectations and pass it off as something desirable?

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  7. Wow, a lot of hatred for some poorly matched plaid. Chill a bit. You don’t have to wear it, you didn’t buy it or make it, so let it be. The world is full of stuff I would never wear, but that’s what freedom to express oneself is all about. Make and wear what you want, and let others do the same.

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    1. I wasn't going to use the hate word, but it does hurt my brain. And if I am asked about it, well yeah, I probably hate it. Does it rise to the level of shaming people in public? No, that would be mean. But right here, for a minute, in a world of people who try really hard to get that plaid to match up, there's going to be some whining. I know from experience (my kids' closet) that those items don't get reached for a lot after a short period of time, which is a waste.

      BUT!!! I shudder to think what reception my Printsapalooza manner of dress would have. My mother would avert her eyes at the very least.
      I really have no shade to throw.

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  8. Guess I'm too OCD to go along with mismatched plaids. I see it a lot now and it drives me nuts. Sorry not sorry...this new trend may work for anti-establishment sewists and fashionistas-- I'm not a member of that club.

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  9. I didnt think I had strong feelings on mismatched plaid but when I scrolled down to read I actually gasped. That brown coat!!! He looks like a cool well put together guy and if the mismatch was pointed out to him I would bet that he never wore it again. On the plus side, HOW CUTE IS HIS DOG!!!!

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  10. I love the beauty of a skillfully matched plaid. But, if the not matched is intentional and it "works" I appreciate that, too.

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  11. I've sewn plaids (matching and balancing, including uneven plaids). HOWEVER, the plaid for the flannel shirt I just finished for a client just about did me in - not only an uneven plaid, but also an 8" repeat, and two very distinct eye-catching colors in the design. Whoa! I thought I had the recommended "extra fabric for matching plaids", but I still had to order 2 yards more. And I just about broke my brain balancing the design. (Turned out well, but it will be awhile before I tackle another large scale, uneven plaid!)

    So, in relation to your RTW examples, I'd say it has to depend on the price point. For anything but highest end RTW, a manufacturer would HAVE to make not matching the plaids a "design choice" or they could never make a profit. Having said that, to my eye, the more deliberate non-matching of the plaid blocking looks the best (and will still be relatively easy to manufacture). The in-between, is-it-matched-or-isn't-it? look, a la the brown jacket, is irritating to my eye...sort of like crumbs in the bedsheets.

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  12. Plaid is all about pattern. If the pattern appeals, then one should go to the bother to match the plaid so as to emphasize the pattern. Mismatched plaid looks cheap and lazy to me, although I suppose the designers are trying to send a defiant message in deliberately setting the plaids askew. For my money, if one wants to defy the constraints inherent in sewing with plaids, one should simply not use plaid fabric. But that’s me.

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  13. Just no. And the great thing is that as sewists we can choose but part of the pleasure for me is to match. It’s kind of like the fashion for different coloured tops and bottoms for bikinis - not sure if that happens in USA but sure is popular here in Sydney Australia. It just looks like the right top was lost. Or the right bottom is in the wash.

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    Replies
    1. USA also has the swim separates vs. suits. Those bother me much less than mismatched plaid.

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  14. Out of all of those I only like the plaid shirts where they've mixed plaids; those work for me. The rest just look like they couldn't be bothered and in the case of the Yamomoto it looks like they not only didn't bother matching but they also forgot about using jacket weight fabric and pressing! There's puckering and the way the fabric hangs screams "wrong weight" to me. Maybe it was originally a toile and they just threw it in for sale by accident?

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  15. Wow! I was definitely irked by that coat photo. If it was “intentional”, I want to say to the maker, “who are you kidding?!” The intent seems to be avoiding the work and expense of matching the plaid.

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  16. Jessica Simpson does not deserve a fashion citation, but 7 to 10 years, and a little commissary money.

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  17. Funny, unlike most, I kind of like the brown coat, it looks intentional to me and balanced. Deeply dislike all the other examples, especially the one with the two different degrees of bias. I always find that asymmetrical use of bias plaid often creates an optical illusion that the person's body itself is asymmetrical, which is... usually not good.

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  18. I love the brown coat! It mismatches in a way that is somehow still pleasing to the eye. My eye at least and it has a subversive vibe to it. ON the sewing side of things if I have a plaid and want it to look matched but don't have oodles of material I just match either the main horizontal or the main vertical and leave the rest to take care of itself and 99% of people don't notice.

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  19. I like the shirts with the patchwork blocks, however the mismatched brown coat just looks like a mistake. The Yamamoto shirt is interesting in that it makes it hard to focus on the body of the wearer, if I wanted to distract someone from a "flaw" I'd wear them.
    Did you notice that the woman with the Woolrich jacket has on jeans with different colored pant legs?
    The other slightly off plaids aren't terrible and there are plenty of Victorian dresses online with slightly mismatched plaid. If I didn't notice it at once, I would assume most other people wouldn't either.

    If I was making the garment, I would do my best to match the plaids.

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    Replies
    1. I was so focused on the plaid that I didn't notice the pant legs: maybe I need to write a YEA or NAY post about that! ;)

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    2. Yes please
      It may be different for Summer pants or Tailored wool but I think in Denim it would work

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  20. Fascinating! Honestly, of all the pictures, I mind the original coat the least, it looks intentional to me. The only one I actually flinched at was the shirt with the different degrees of bias aaargh!
    I've been thinking about my own style a lot lately and have come to realise that I value symmetry and "putative thee news" more than most. So to me, it has become normal to see these things and think, I wouldn't wear that, but others love it precisely for its asymmetry and "off" look. I agree with the anonymous commenter who pointed out that not-matching suits or not matching your shoes to your handbag were once thought of as horrible. Pattern matching has been a thing in fashion for more than a decade. Maybe "off" plaid is the next thing? (And we'll all become visually accustomed)

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  21. 1.Do you find mismatched plaids to be pleasingly offbeat or annoyingly lopsided?

    Both. I think it was intentional with the brown plaid coat. It doesn't bother me, but as a sewist, it's lopsided and kinda funky lookin'.

    2.Is there something offensively attention-seeking about them?

    No more so than any other fashion trend like mis-matched prints.

    3.And about that brown coat: Could you see yourself making something like that intentionally? Have you ever? And if so, why?

    The only way I'd intentionally make something like that is if the person or client wanted it. Otherwise, no. And no, I've never done it.

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  22. If you compare the Yamamoto blazer and the Instagram picture, you notice that the blazer has an "even" mismatch
    The dominant stripe falls squarely in line with the "blank" space whereas the Instagram coat is makes no effort to balance light and dark ACROSS the mismatch.
    I noticed that on Instagram but did start sketching more deliberate looking mismatch ideas...Then went fabric shopping

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  23. Mismatched plaid in clothing is just as JARRING as missed notes in a piano concerto. Some claim it's deliberate "creativity", but in the end it is just screaming discord for the sake of trying to draw attention. Eight seconds of fame in a 15-Minute-World

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  24. I'm OCD. That stuff has got to match up or it'll drive me crazy.

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  25. I like the coat. I don't like all the other examples you showed ... .

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  26. Looking at mismatched plaid drives me nuts. I have the same thing with wallpaper, I am a fanatic about matching the pattern. If I see someone in a mismatched plaid garment it makes me go cross-eyed! It is just lazy not to match your plaids! All the best.

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  27. As Nikki said "Mismatched plaid looks cheap and lazy to me" It is like turning in a school paper that has been crumpled and halfway straightened out again - it says "I didn't really try and I don't care"

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  28. Hahahaha! I love this post so much.

    The top photo you posted looks awful, but to me, the Yohji Yamamoto blazer doesn't look bad -- maybe it's because the mismatched plaid "stripes" alternate back and forth and are sort of centered to each other (if that makes any sense). I had an art teacher who said that the rule of good composition is that it has to make the eye move. In the Yamamoto, it does. In the top photo, it just stops. (For me, anyway.) The Public School top almost works for me too -- except that much asymmetry in the sleeves drives me bonkers.

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    Replies
    1. And now you're making me want to go to Dover Street Market the next time I'm in NYC just to scope things out...

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    2. LOL, maybe we should add Dover Street Market to our MPB Day Winter Frolic!

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  29. For me it has to be intentional. I don't mind the bias vs. cross cut and I actually like some of the mixed plaids you show in the men's shirts. But I am too old school, when using one plaid, it has to be matched and perfect. I recently made a jacket for a wedding out of a very pale, one-way window pane plaid. I agonized over everything going in the same direction and matched. - The client never even realized it... Oh, well.

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  30. The Yamamoto jacket looks cheap to me, not just for the mismatching but seams look wonky, shoulders don't look right.

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  31. I think this is an attempt to hornswaggle us into thinking it's cool -- the producers of the pieces are getting full economy on the use of the material, and we're getting headache-inducing products. Let's hope this is not a new "trend," because it's an awful one.

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  32. I think plaid is a pattern most people have a definite opinion about - love it or hate it. I've been told that if a pattern does not match at the seams, it's been poorly constructed. Most sewists strive for the perfect fit and pattern matching whether it be stripes, chevrons even flowers. I happen to have a slight balance issue and when looking at some patterns, they make me dizzy. Finally, I happen to love plaids, so don't give it a bad rap by mismatching it.

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  33. I was one of the posters who like the jacket. I liked the cut and the plaid. I don't like the Yamamoto because I don't like the plaid or the jacket cut. I do like the Public school shirt. I like the plaid and the off beat matching. The rest, meh. The plaid has to be good and bold enough.

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  34. I like the brown coat. I think it looks a little more modern. I wouldn't sew something like that though. It's too much of a "trendy" idea, and I think it wouldn't stand the test of time. I want anything I sew to last. I do like the idea of using plaid with some other fabrics, like maybe denim, to makes something and use up scraps.

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  35. Maybe this is a good place to ask my question. Why should we work so hard to make our upper pockets on a woman's button down shirt blend in (i.e. match the main fabric of the shirt exactly)? They usually have no function other than style or embellishment, so why camouflage them? I would instead go for bias pockets on a plaid, or turned sideways pockets on a stripe. Or even colour block.

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    Replies
    1. This applies to a men's button down shirt too: I agree with you: usually not worth the effort unless it's really going to be a functional pocket.

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  36. I skimmed the text preceding the LL Bean review and at first thought the reviewer was a sewist saying they mismatched the plaid on the shirt they made themselves and was therefore leaving a bad review??!! No, no, nothing as bad as all that lol.

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  37. nay, nay, nay. Plaid only looks good when it is matched so you can see it. My opinion.

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  38. Nay Nay Nay. they look awful, and also make the bodies look bigger, for anyone other than a stick insect, it is not going to do you any favours.

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  39. The first thought through my mind when I see clothes where the pattern does not match is 'cheap'. Or second is poorly made. However, I am a traditionalist in a modern world. To each his own I suppose.

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  40. A big definite "nay." Looking at them makes me dizzy.

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  41. Nope!
    Detroit Pizza!!!

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  42. Hi please can I use one of your plaid mismatched photos for my Instagram page?

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    Replies
    1. Sure. Most of them came right off the internet.

      Delete

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