Know Your Checks

You know your plaids from your windowpanes, sure, but all things checkered have long past the point where your garden variety pattern will cut it. This season, upgrade to more advanced checks that’ll set you apart from the patchwork rabble.

For the office: tattersall

Developed for and by the English gentry, tattersall is achieved using evenly spaced bicolour lines. A tattersall shirt in bright, contrasting colours like red and blue makes a lively centrepiece for light cotton suit and can stand up to most wider necktie patterns. However, you can also consider earth tones like cream and brown, which appear summery on their own and fall-appropriate when teamed up with tweed later in the year.

For the summer wedding: Glen plaid

Also known as Prince of Wales check in tribute to one of its most famous fans, this woven check was once exclusive to woollen numbers before it became the go-to for rakish dressers looking to punch up their cotton suiting game. Its alternating thick and thin lines create a unique boxed motif that’s especially vibrant in hues of grey and practically made for pattern-matching—it appears solid at a distance, and only reveals its character up close. (At least, that’s what you can tell the bridesmaids.)

For the boardwalk: madras

When the warm weather hits, hit back with this colourful statement fabric style characterized by a mashup of uneven checks and stripes in myriad colours. Originating in India, Madras is considered a complement to casual summer looks and shouldn’t go anywhere near a suit. Keep your cool by grabbing a linen shirt in the pattern, or make an even bigger impact with an unstructured madras blazer.

For the patio: gingham

The gingham pattern is formed by crossing vertical and horizontal stripes of the same colour over a white background. The result? A fresh, light and casual shirting fabric that can add a pop of colour to any pint-fuelled proceedings you may have planned this summer. This modish classic looks great in red and blue.

For everything else: graph check

Gingham’s cool and collected cousin, the graph check, owes its versatility to thin lines and tight grid patterning. A black and white shirt in the architectural texture offers a structured look when layered under a khaki or navy suit, but looks equally at home with a pair of overdyed black jeans. Really, you can consider this check-of-all-trades your fresh go-to in any dressing situation that might call for a traditional white Oxford—and that’s almost all of them.

Put them together

As with any patterns, mixing checks is all about balance. Tighter checks belong closer to the body, creating a foundation for layering wider patterns over them. A more advanced move involves doubling down on micro prints by teaming tight checks with pin-dots of a similar density. As for statement checks like the aforementioned madras? That’s when we’d start considering toning things down with unpatterned accompaniments. Until then, experiment away.

Nicholas Mizera is a lover of menswear, craft beer and lifestyle mags. Some know him as The Gentleman Journalist.

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