How to Wear Checkered Shirts Without Looking Like You Stole the Tablecloth

Gingham can be cool.
ILLUSTRATOR Jasrelle Serrano

The gingham shirt is a classic. You know it. You love it. You own it, maybe in multiple versions if your love for gingham runs deep. And there's a reason it's such a staple: The color combination looks good with every pair of pants, and the repeated pattern is particularly camouflaging. No on can really tell if you forgot to steam out the wrinkles—or if those happy hour deals have been sticking around your midsection.

The problem? Everyone has the same shirt, including the table and windows. But it doesn't have to be like that—not if you do it right, at least. Here are three ways to get you started.

The Shirt

The first step: Be conscious of your color choice. Gray is a cool, easy swap. It's still neutral enough to mix with other colors in your wardrobe, but looks less standard. The brushed cotton fabric makes it easy to dress up or down.


The In-Law Brunch

For a polished look, let the gingham be the most casual part of your outfit. Pair it with slim navy trousers and a herringbone blazer to complement the shirt pattern without overwhelming it. The oxblood shoes and belt will look especially sharp against the deep blue of the trousers.

The Cool Dinner

A black suit doesn't have to be synonymous with funerals. Make it feel sleek and modern by opting for a skinny fit over a wider one. Black chelsea boots are a great way to make the suit feel polished without looking too buttoned-up.

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The Concert

Gingham print is traditionally preppy; take it in an unexpected direction by wearing it with light wash jeans and a black denim jacket. Complete the look with clean white sneakers and simple sunglasses.

This story originally appeared on

* Minor edits have been made by the editors.

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Christine Flammia
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