It’s safe to say that when we think of printed clothing for women, we automatically think of florals and stripes. Meryl Streep’s character in the Devil Wears Prada said it best “Florals? For spring? Groundbreaking.” Another floral print is always pretty but it won’t necessarily breathe new life into your wardrobe. Instead of going for the safe and the usual, why not step out of the sartorial comfort zone and try a fabulous checkered pattern. Blake Lively will show us.
Consider checkered patterns and the first images that may come to mind are the red and green Tartan plaid, a black and white checkerboard or even the iconic beige, black and red Burberry Nova check. However, there are many other checkered options to choose from that will surely take your style up a notch.
It can sometimes be really great to borrow from the boys. Just ask Blake Lively. The well-dressed actress, who is known to style herself without the help of a stylist, chose a plethora of suits and menswear inspired outfits during a previous press tour. So much so that fashion watchers took great notice of all the colors, prints, and styles she donned. Not only did she take inspiration from menswear, she wore an actual men’s runway look. While fit is always of utmost importance and we’re not suggesting to wear an actual men’s suit, we’re giving you a quick guide on some popular patterns to add to your wardrobe and give your suits, blazers and trousers an updated look.
The Plaid Pattern Look
The plaid pattern originates from Scottish culture. It’s associated with a clan’s identity and comes in countless color and pattern combinations. The term plaid is widely used to describe types of fabric that feature different colored horizontal and vertical lines that intersect and create varying sizes of squares and checks throughout the fabric. Plaid is almost like an umbrella term used when one isn’t quite sure what kind of checkered pattern is being referred to. Regardless of the specifics, plaid is a popular pattern that you’ll find in suits, trousers, kilts, scarves, as well as flannel tops and even uniforms.
While it’s easy to wear a white button up top with a plaid suit and trousers, you can also pick a color that’s present in the plaid print you’re wearing, whether it’s blue, grey, green or perhaps red, and compliment it with a top and accessories in that color. For the daring and fashion-forward, take a cue from Blake Lively, seen in a Roland Mouret pantsuit featuring a large plaid print in bold, striking colors, and accessorized with a coordinating necktie, brooch, earrings and clutch. Now clearly, you don’t have to go quite so all out. A simple plaid wool suit with wide leg trousers can do just the trick for your everyday attire.
The Prince of Wales or Glen Check Look
The Prince of Wales check, also known as the Glen check, is made up of two dark and two light stripes alternating with four dark and four light stripes. The cross pattern of irregular checks is a very distinguished look that was made popular by – you guessed it, the then Prince of Wales, Edward VII. Blake Lively made a striking impression in this look with a full three-piece overcoat, double breasted suit and trousers ensemble by Ralph Lauren. If you’re not quite up to wearing the pattern from head to toe, you can easily wear a Prince of Wales blazer with plain trousers or even denim, for a more casual feel. Alternately, wear trousers or a skirt in the Prince of Wales check with a solid colored top for a subtle approach. While the pattern is commonly seen in black, grey, and blue with white, a lighter interpretation in a sand color gives a softer, feminine touch.
Pinstripes are another great way to update a plain pantsuit. A black, navy or grey pantsuit can suddenly look a lot more interesting with the thin vertical pinstripes. If you’re not too sure about wearing the various checkered patterns, wearing a pinstripe blazer or trousers is a good place to start. Dip your toe into the world of patterned suits, blazers and trousers by starting with a single pinstripe item. While light pinstripes against a dark background are the most common style, you can also wear dark pinstripes against a white fabric, as seen on our pantsuit pro, Blake Lively. Pair your pinstripes with heels for professional settings and loafers or sneakers for casual affairs.
A Gingham pattern features white and colored even-sized horizontal and vertical stripes, that cross each other and create squares of lighter and darker shades. The size of the squares can vary, with smaller checks more commonly seen in clothing than larger checks that create a louder, bolder pattern. This pattern is really versatile and can work well for office attire pantsuits or for blazers, trousers or even shorts in your weekend wardrobe. If you want to take this pattern further, do a print on print with a pair gingham trousers worn with a striped top. While mixing prints and patterns can look really stylish, don’t go overboard and mix colors. Stick to the same colors for a well-polished look.
The Window-Pane Look
As the name suggests, the window-pane pattern resembles window panes with its thin, symmetric vertical and horizontal lines against a contrasting color. The window-pane pattern is a bit subtler yet still stylish. While this pattern looks great on suits, it also has a more casual feel that’s great to mix and match with and wear outside of the office. Compliment the white stripes of a window-pane blazer or trousers with a crisp, white button up top. Switch up the trousers with a pair of shorts for a chic weekend outfit.
Blake is not wearing a window pane suit but in case you want to wear this pattern:
With all the different patterns, color combinations and fabrics to choose from, there are endless ways to update your wardrobe with a checkered pattern. You can even mix different patterns with the same color tones and wear them together, as seen on the recent Dior runway. So, the next time you’re tempted to wear your usual floral print, why not go for a check that will surely give you an A+ in style.