Plaid shirts and the creative environment


By Gary Rothstein, Director of Digital Accounts

I wear a plaid shirt to the office pretty much every day, which makes some of my coworkers ask, “Gary, why do you wear a plaid shirt to the office pretty much every day?”

Fair question, right? There’s always funny banter in the office, and my shirts are definitely included.

“Going to a picnic…as the table?”

“That’s the biggest Scotch tape dispenser I’ve ever seen.”

“Decided to wear a plaid shirt today, huh?”
(Solid burn, Todd.)

So, why do I do it? I could tell you I’m following the fashion lead of film and TV icons: Redford. Clooney. Costanza. But I’ve never been the kind of guy to dress like someone else. Except for 2 weeks in 6th grade when I parted my hair in the middle and wore a vest to look like Han Solo. If Han Solo was an overweight 12-year-old with braces, I might have pulled that one off. But I learned pretty quickly that Halloween is once a year for guys like me. The rest of the time we struggle to find our own look.

I could tell you about a study that demonstrates people wearing plaid are 42% more likable. This is proven regardless of gender, age, education, or species (except cats, who didn’t show a preference. Strange, right?).

I could tell you that my mother misheard the lyrics, wanted her children to grow up to be cowboys, dressed me western…you get the picture.

But none of these reasons is true, and none really addresses what’s most interesting about the plaid shirt: the mystique, the methodology, the art. And there’s a unique appropriateness of a plaid shirt at a creative agency.

We’re all creative thinkers here no matter which department we’re in. We have creative thinkers in art, finance, copy, digital, operations, editorial, production, and human resources. And we have a belief at Cult that a good idea is a good idea, no matter where it comes from. No one thinks in the same way. We all approach opportunities and problems from different directions, following different patterns, intersecting, crossing, overlapping, and moving on. Our ideas are a mix of colors and shades. In the end, all the lines, all the colors, all the right angles and the wrong ones–they all get painted onto one canvas. And it all ends up strangely organized, incredibly smart, and uniquely beautiful.

The plaid shirt represents the patterned result of what started in chaos. In the beginning, there’s no form. There’s emptiness, void, and darkness. But with a little creative intervention, the chaos is shaped into perpendicular lines. There’s light, color, and form. In other words, plaid!

What does a solid shirt say? One option. One way. One thought. I’m not one to judge, but if I were, I’d judge the hell out of that. A solid can’t ever hope to compare with the creative output of plaid.

So if your closet is packed with hanger after hanger of monochrome, I suggest you squeeze out a few solids. OK, I’m gonna re-think that phrasing and update this later. In the meantime, open your browsers, visit the Lands’ End website, and plaid on, my brothers and sisters. Plaid on.