You really feel out of it if you're not wearing something plaid in Milan these days. Children have always worn plaids, but last Sunday in the Milan zoo there were more toddler girls in mid-calf-length plaid skirts with bulky sweaters, and little boys in plaid shorts than there have been in years. Teens are wearing plaids with more plaids -- never matching -- and women wear plaid kilts of all lengths with blazers or plaid jackets and coats with solid pleated long skirts or narrow shorter ones.

Not since the color red took over the streets of Milan three years back has one look been so pervasive, touching every age group in this stylish city. It is difficult to know which came first -- the customers finding the plaid items or the plaid items in the window. Whatever, almost every window in the superchic six-block enclave in the center of Milan has plaid in the window.

There are splashy mixed plaids in Kenzo's window on the Via Sant Andrea. There is a fuchsia plaid dress/robe -- it is hard to tell what it is -- in the striking window of the new Jean-Paul Gaultier boutique on the Via della Spiga. (Gaultier mixes his men's and women's clothes so all mannequins are sexless with a huge milky globe as a head. In the Luciano Soprani shop the spotlighted suit has a plaid skirt and at Chanel a plaid suit gets all the attention.

At Raggazeria there are plaid umbrellas and plaid socks for kids and in a number of the men's shops plaid pocket squares and plaid ties are featured.

Credit Gaultier for starting the plaid rush with all his tartan combinations, but you also must count Kenzo, Valentino and Yves Saint Laurent as part of the clan.

For all the plaid on the street, there is surprisingly little being shown here for next spring. Missoni had a few plaids for its knits, but for the moment, at least, plaid is a street fashion, not a designer inspiration.