Check You Out: How to Wear Heritage Patterns This Season

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how to wear tartan
Photo: Courtesy of Burberry

When it comes to fall dressing, chilly weather and check patterns are a match made in heaven. Whether it’s plaid, houndstooth, tartan, or Prince of Wales, there are plenty of different types of checks – any pattern made up of horizontal and vertical interlocking lines will do. And there’s a good reason it’s such an enduring feature in fashion, as it can be easily tailored to your personal style and the current trends. Check patterns have a storied history and bring with them a reputation of heritage and Britishness. Tartan is one of the oldest manifestations of the material; its origins date back as far as 2000 BCE, with the earliest mention of Highland tartan coming in 1538. In the many years since, there have been countless incarnations – from the gingham dress in The Wizard Of Oz to the rebellious tartan of 1970s punks – showing just how adaptable it truly is. So, in 2020, how is the check print trend being worn?

Mix and Match

Pattern clashing is a daunting look to try out, but it’s actually easier to pull off than you might think. If classic plaid patterns feel a bit stale for you, one way to modernize wearing check is by mixing and matching – and you can take the vibe as far as you want.

At Burberry, it was all about combining different types of checks. This isn’t exactly an everyday look – although it is incredibly cool – so if you want a more wearable take on the trend, take inspiration from Preen by Thornton Bregazzi, where unexpected clashing materials were thrown together. Pick out one check item – maybe a coat or pair of trousers – and mix it with lots of other different fabrics, focusing on varying textures and colors, like velvet or thick wool. If you want to have a bit of fun with the heritage look, this is a good way to do it.

 

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Tailoring, Tailoring, Tailoring

Pick out one check item – maybe a coat or pair of trousers – and mix it with lots of other different fabrics, focusing on varying textures and colors, like velvet or thick wool. If you want to have a bit of fun with the heritage look, this is a good way to do it. Due to its heritage reputation, check patterns are incredibly well suited to sharp tailoring – be it a long coat or well-made suit. The Duchess of Cambridge recently dipped her toe into the trend in a slightly oversize – and yet still perfectly tailored – beige check wool coat from Massimo Dutti. You can’t go wrong with a sleek check coat – it matches everything and will never go out of style – but tailoring isn’t just for outerwear. This season, Alexander McQueen showed how plaid tailoring works in a full suit – perfect with a crisp white shirt underneath, or nothing at all, depending on the occasion.

Clueless Inspired

One of the undisputed winners of the Fall/Winter runways was something simple but classic: a check print miniskirt. It’s hard not to think of Cher’s iconic yellow plaid skirt suit from the cult 1995 film Clueless, a look that’s gone down in fashion history. To really channel the Clueless vibe, it’s all about matching the top and bottom – go all-in on the plaid in a skirt suit set, for a cool retro look. If matching seems a bit OTT for you though, it’s just as fashionable to keep things simple – as seen at Dior this season. Take inspiration from the tartan skirt trend of the 1950s – skirts were kept short, with plain tops in white or black. To make things more weather-appropriate, and to add a bit of edge, pair with thick tights, a turtleneck, and stompy black boots.

 

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Amp Up the Color

A lot of check patterns tend to be in neutral colors – black, grays, and browns – making them infinitely wearable. But who said your winter wardrobe had to be drab? This season, the runways were obsessed with injecting a bit of color into check – be it the fiery red tartan at Gucci, or the pink, orange, and green version at Shrimps. This is a great way of making your check pattern seem a little bit more punk – and designers all seemed to have the same idea this season, with colored material making its way into the Lanvin, Stella McCartney, and Saint Laurent shows.

 

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