Men’s Distressed Plaid Cotton Shirt


These are exciting times for menswear, with a lot of innovative designs that really push the envelope. Still, most men continue to wear primarily traditional shirts and pants. Most of the time, I follow this tradition.  But I do like quirky touches.

That’s why I was so excited to find a very unusual shirting fabric at Mood Fabrics recently, an Alexander Wang cotton blend plaid with a distressed effect I’d never seen before. It looks like the fabric has been eaten away by acid or eroded by nature. It was both traditional and avant-garde and I loved it.


I decided that the best way to use the shirting would be to make a traditional, somewhat preppy shirt with it. I decided to use a vintage Sixties pattern from my stash, Simplicity 6955 (below, Version 4).  My shirt is short sleeved, loose fitting, with a button-down collar, front-button placket, and shaped hem.  (This shirt style would look good in any traditional cotton plaid shirting, and you can check out what Mood Fabrics has available online here.)


I made a few alterations to the pattern, adding a sloping shoulder adjustment to the back, narrowing the sleeve a tad, and shortening the torso roughly one inch. Otherwise, I followed the pattern as printed. I added genuine mother of pearl buttons to front placket and collar tips. I made my buttonholes with my vintage Singer buttonhole attachment.


I really love my new shirt, and I think it looks good both with a white undershirt on underneath (which contrasts more dramatically with the blue fabric and provides more modest coverage) as well as without (which will be welcome come the summer for extra coolness). Either way, it’s a preppy classic with a twist!

Undershirt or no undershirt — which do you prefer (if you can tell the difference)?







What’s your take on the “distressed” look in clothing? Do you like it or would you prefer your new clothes look new?

See you next month!




  • sallie
    March 17, 2016

    Wow! What cool fabric! I love that you paired it with a traditional design, making it a wearable basic with a quirk!

  • Sarah Gunn
    March 17, 2016

    I just showed your shirt to my husband – a very picky traditional dresser. He gave it two thumbs up and I do too 🙂 Very clever use of distressed fabric on a traditional pattern.

  • Tasha
    March 17, 2016

    I think it looks great both with the undershirt and without. Very interesting and will probably be a great conversation starter.

  • Mary Beth
    March 17, 2016

    Love that fabric…too bad it’s not on the Mood Fabrics website? Colored garments underneath would also look cool.

  • LoisAnn
    March 17, 2016

    I like it with the white undershirt. It mutes the blue and makes it appear softer.

  • Amy
    March 17, 2016

    When I first saw that fabric (maybe on your Instagram account?), I had no idea it was distressed – what a fun surprise to see it here. I really like how you made it into a traditional short sleeved shirt. I can imagine it being worn a lot as the weather warms up!

  • Amanda S.
    March 18, 2016

    Ooh, that fabric is really cool! I would have snapped some up too. I like the pairing of it with a traditional shirt pattern.

  • The Mahogany Stylist
    March 18, 2016

    Great looking shirt, Peter. You always find the most interesting fabric. Two snaps up!

  • Alice Elliot (ustabahippie
    March 18, 2016

    I love the shirt. And I like it best without the T. Maybe a contrasting T like same color value coral would be interesting.

  • Fiona
    March 21, 2016

    Oo what a stunning fabric! You always manage to find fantastic wearable uses for the unusual fabrics I am drawn to in store but never know what to do with Peter. This is lovely