Grids, Plaids and Windowpanes: Checked Patterns in Menswear and How to Wear Them
Welcome back to the Gentleman's Gazette In today's video we'll be discussing a number of classic menswear patterns that are all based around the geometry of the square, like checks and plaids, and how you can incorporate them into your outfits. Check patterns in menswear have a long history and they're still popular at present. Today's video will walk through a number of different square and rectangular patterns in tailored clothes and teach you how to check yourself without wrecking yourself. Typically, men want to project a serious and businesslike demeanor when wearing tailored clothes. As such, those clothes that are patterned are usually based around the simple geometry of a line.
A perfect example of this would be striped patterns. We've done multiple videos on those, and you can find them here and something slightly more ornate would be checked. Patterns which we'll be discussing today. Basic patterns can create a bit of visual interest without looking overly complicated or bold, but there is the risk of making them too showy if you wear them improperly. So, in order to determine how to wear the various types of check patterns tastefully, we probably should determine first what exactly a check pattern is.
Checks are most technically defined by a series of horizontal and vertical lines that meet each other at right angles:
This intersection of lines will form squares or rectangles on the cloth and depending on the weaving or color of yarns used to create these geometric patterns. Different types of checks will be formed. There are, of course, other types of patterns that are also formed from intersecting lines. Such as Argyle, for instance, but not all of these lines, are directly perpendicular to one another, so might not technically qualify as checks, even though they are closely related. Now that we know what a check pattern is. Here's a brief overview of a few of the most common types of check patterns you'll, find in menswear.
First, up today is a graph check which is formed by a simple intersection of horizontal and vertical lines, typically in the same color and density, it's evenly spaced and called a graph check or a box check because of its resemblance to graph paper.
Usually, the boxes in a graph check are relatively small about a quarter of an inch or smaller and, as a general rule, the larger the pattern, the more informal the garment. This pattern is commonly seen in shirts, and it can also be easily accommodating to ties as well. If you do happen to see a shirt or tie in a box, check fabric. One easy way to check the overall quality of the garment is to see whether or not the box check pattern meets up neatly where the garment is stitched together at its seams When a graph check contains larger squares. The pattern may also be referred to as windowpane, and it's listed as our second pattern here. This is because the larger squares will resemble, of course, a window with divided panes.
And although it's similar to a graph check, a windowpane can be slightly different, not only by virtue of the squares being larger, but also because they often won't be squares, but rather rectangles. This is to say, the rectangles are often longer in the vertical dimension than they are wide, giving a subtle perception of added height to the wearer of a windowpane pattern. The lines forming a windowpane pattern can be softly or strongly defined, broken up or even doubled over the color of the panes, and the line definition overall will determine how formal or not the pattern may be Bolder and more colorful windowpanes will be less formal and more subdued and lighter windowpanes will be more formal,
The density also has an impact here, meaning if the windowpane is wider, it will probably be more conservative.
If the pattern is more densely packed, it will probably be bolder and therefore less formal Next up is Tattersall, which is a graph check that involves two or more complementary colors of lines. The lines here can be of different thickness solidity or intensity, but a Tattersall always creates boxes that are uniform. Tattersall is actually named for Richard Tattersall groomed to the last duke of Kingston, who founded a London horse market in 1766. That is still the leading auctioneer of horses in Europe today.
Specifically, fabric in this Tattersall pattern was used for horse blankets in the late 18th century before going on to see more widespread use.
Tattersall is a staple of British country style, and it can also be worn for rural pursuits like shooting or fishing, perhaps accompanied by a horse or bird print tie flat cap and a tweed sport coat by the way. If you'd like to learn more about the history of tweed fabric, you can do so using our video here, despite these more traditionally rustic associations, Tattersall shirts have translated easily to office settings in both North America and the UK. This may be because the lines of two colors add to the versatility in combining Tattersall shirts, with ties and other accessories.
Next up is gingham, sometimes also called Vichy in Europe. It's the simplest of the checks involving thicker lines, in this case generally, a single color that crosses over itself on a white background. The distance between the lines in a gingham pattern is always regular and the resulting pattern is somewhat reminiscent of a checkerboard. You'll, typically see gingham featured on shirts, although it can be incorporated into other garments as well.
An interesting feature of gingham is that when the colored lines cross each other, they create darker versions of that color. Adding some richness to the pattern for many. The gingham pattern may evoke thoughts of picnic, blankets or red and white tablecloths at Italian restaurants. For these men who wear gingham can sometimes be looked upon a little bit mockingly by these stuffy upper crust types.
Nonetheless, the association of gingham with casual dining, speaks to its nature as a casual fabric. It can also be identified with rural simplicity, as exemplified by the fictional characters of Dorothy Gale in The Wizard of Oz or Mary Ann in Gilligan's Island
Next up is another pattern with rural origins, the shepherds check. It was originally worn by Scottish shepherds on the English border. It looks somewhat like a gingham, but it's distinguished by the visibility of a twill pattern. At the same time, that is to say, you can see diagonal lines intersecting the squares, which gives the pattern a bit more visual interest, like gingham shepherd's check, is often seen as a single color on a white ground and because of its simplicity, it's most often seen on ties, but it can also feature on jackets and other garments as well.
For example, we've got a two-tone red and blue Shepherd's check tie in the Fort Belvedere shop, and you can find that here Also shepherd's check is a close relative of the houndstooth pattern. If you'd like to learn more about that pattern, its history and how to wear it, we've also done a video on that subject here. Next up is the gun club check, A close association to the sport of shooting is embodied here, though, this time it's more distinctly. American, this is a check of Scottish derivation, a type of district checks typical to a particular area in the West Highlands. However, it was adopted by the American gun club for their overcoats and sport coats in 1874.
Originally, a gun club check meant four colors of crossing lines in black rust, gold and green designed as both an ohmage to the colors presents in the landscape of the Highlands similar to the nature of tweed and also as a kind of hunter's camouflage These days. However, it's equally common, if not more so, to find gun club checks in just two colors. Typically, brown and blue
Like a gingham and shepherd's check, the lines in a gun club check are even and fairly thick and also like shepherd's check. The twill pattern is again visible. The difference in the gun club check, of course, is the presence of two or more colors. It can sometimes be labeled as a shepherd's check, though so, keep an eye out to determine which one it really is.
Next on our list is the most complex check pattern in menswear tartan.
It's formed by intersecting lines of varying thicknesses and any number of colors Tartan is particularly associated with Scotland, where different clans have a long history of wearing specific tartan patterns of their own In the United States. Tartan shirts can be particularly associated with cowboys and lumberjacks, especially when they're made of flannel reinforcing their rustic origins. However, in the United Kingdom and in Scotland, proper tartans can be worn in more formal settings, depending on exactly what colors are making them up.
We've given tartan its own video guide as well, which you can find here that goes more into the history and details of specific types of tartans. Also, it will clear up the misconceptions around the differences between tartan and plaid As a general overview, while Americans will typically refer to specifically tartan patterns as being plaids. The term plaid in the United Kingdom and elsewhere is often synonymous with the broader check. In other words, while all tartans are plaids, not all plaids are tartans Case-in-point, our next plaid fabric of non-Scottish origin, Madras
It's often intense and bright and adorns warm weather fabrics. It's for men who don't want to recede into the background Named after the city in India, where it was originally woven. Modern-Day Chennai madras is typically a hand-woven density but cotton. It can resemble Scottish Tartans in terms of its pattern density but differs from it in that it will often feature brighter and more summery colors, like pink, orange and yellow. It became popular in the mid 20th century in the United States for summer wear and, as you might have guessed, madras also has its own video on the channel, which you can find here.
Finally, here we will mention Glen check, which is also sometimes referred to as Glen plaid, we're mentioning it last because, strictly speaking, it isn't totally a check pattern. Given the definitions we laid out earlier, it can sometimes incorporate subtle hints of other patterns such as houndstooth
Still given its names and the fact that a repeating pattern of rectangles is definitely visible, it deserves a mention here, as it's been one of the most popular patterns in menswear since its inception, The pattern was first developed in Scotland by Elizabeth MacDougall as her estate check Before the future Edward, the seventh noticed it and fell in love with it immediately.
The closely associated Prince of Wales check actually fits more closely within our definitions of what a check pattern is, as it is essentially a Glen check with the addition of an over check or over plaid in a different color. This is a grid of a contrasting color. A windowpane pattern, superimposed on top of the Glen check, to give it even more depth Over plaids, are a popular manifestation of checks in tailored menswear and there. An illustration of just how rich and varied checks can be.
So, with that overview of different kinds of check patterns out of the way now we'll get to the main question of the video, how best to wear them. Ultimately, this will boil down to your own personality and how much you like to wear loud, bold patterns in your own wardrobe
As with many different kinds of patterns, a good place to start in incorporating checks into your wardrobe is, with accessories
This way, you can introduce a relatively small amount of the pattern into your wardrobe and give it a bit more visual interest, while at the same time not making the ensemble visually overwhelmed In ties, windowpanes, shepherd's checks and Glen checks are most common, along with the Prince Of Wales check, Meanwhile, tartans are nice for casual and particularly woolly winter ties, and if you wanted to go slightly more formal, you could introduce something like a Black Watch tartan And also in the realm of neckwear. Plaid scarves can be a nice choice in drab winter weather to introduce a bit of color and pattern into your outfit
You could, of course, introduce a check pattern into your pocket square as well, for an even smaller pop of pattern. Checked shirts are often a safe choice, and if you would like something that would pair well with a tie, a single-color graph check could do you. Well, an even safer option would be a mini or micro check, which is essentially a gingham pattern that is at a very small scale, so much so that it reads as a solid from a distance for a smart, casual or business casual look. You could try a Tattersall shirt with a tie and for a more completely casual look. You could go for gingham or Madras in the summer and tartan in the winter months. Checks on a jacket are always a somewhat bold statement, but exactly how much so is determined by the details of the pattern itself.
How intense a check pattern appears, especially in the case of a windowpane, is dependent upon the strength and intensity of the lines. For example, if a windowpane features solid and bright lines, it will come across as being bolder and more aggressive than a windowpane, featuring, muted or light tones in its lines. The windowpane pattern on the jacket I'm wearing in today's video, for instance, is relatively muted, featuring light. Blue and tan colors that don't stand out too much from the medium brown of the jacket itself. If there are bright, colors or many colors, the boldness of the jacket is increased and the same is true. If the density and overall quantity of the boxes is increased as well Tailored menswear has always sought to broaden the chest of the wearer visually by using things like the width of the lapels or the amount of shoulder padding.
Another way this can be accomplished is by the use of a check pattern. The horizontal lines across the chest created by the check pattern, draw the eye outward and therefore make the chest. Look broader,
As a general practice, a patterned jacket should be paired with solid trousers unless, of course, both garments are coming from a matching suit. If you're wearing a tie with your jacket, the safest option is also to go with a solid. Although you can go with pattern on pattern, so long as the densities of the two patterns are different enough, so as not to fight for the viewer's attention, Checked, trousers aren't often worn on their own and will still usually appear loud, even if you've paired them with A solid jacket
As such, many different types of check trousers will often fall into the subcategory of go-to-hell pants, and you can find our article on this curious category of garment here. A particularly smart option for introducing checks into your wardrobe is via the use of a waistcoat, often one that differs from the jacket and trousers. One is wearing and therefore qualifies as an odd waistcoat. Waistcoats, like these have traditionally been used to introduce a bit more of a bold color or pattern under a more subdued suit, whereas bold pants are often an in-your-face defiance of menswear traditions. Bold waistcoats are much more expected, and they can be used creatively, especially if some of the colors in the waistcoat echo other colors in your wardrobe
Because they are by nature, a stronger pattern than stripes checks will often be bold if they're worn in a two-piece suit, let alone three-piece. There can be exceptions to this, such as something like a brown tweed Glen check, but for the most part, check suits will be a bolder option. This is because, even if the lines are muted, the boxes are repeating over the entire surface of your body and therefore create a more striking overall effect.
Therefore, their acceptability can often depend on the dress code of your specific office environment and how bold you'd like to be A windowpane suit, for example, will be much less bold than something like a full plaid suit, which almost no man could reasonably pull off without looking Clownish, It's often said that things that can't be pulled off with a conventional jacket, like larger lapels or bolder patterns, can be gotten away with in an overcoat.