Checks have always been around, but the usage has evolved over a period of time. They are for everyone, but there are just a few basic rules to follow. When picking checks, always remember that they help in adding size; they make you look broader if you are small-framed. Big checks will make you look bigger, so if you want to look leaner, try a medium-sized or a small print. Checkered accessories, just like prints, can inject life into any solid outfit. Think pocket squares, scarves, socks for a formal look or even sneakers or a backpack for a casual look.
Checks in formals
Formal checkered shirts have always been around. If you are dressing for a night out after work, there are no rules to follow in terms of colour or size. But if you are dressing for work, or a more serious occasion, bigger checks should be kept tonal.
Checkered suits will never go out of style. Clear checks (or windowpane checks) should be your go-to for suits. A lot of designers and brands are playing with the Prince of Wales checks as it adds a touch of sophistication. Opt for a clear check three-piece suit (you can even go for a micro-check pocket square) with a solid dress shirt and monkstrap shoes.
If you think a suit is a bit too much for you, checkered blazers are a good way to add the print to your wardrobe; pair it either with a solid shirt or a collared tee with chinos. Personally, a checkered waistcoat is one of my favourite fashion pieces. Wear it over a classic black or white shirt for a weather-friendly look on a night out. Or over a V-neck tee and chinos for a more laid-back feel. For the experimental few, Prince of Wales checks or tartan trousers will definitely help make a statement.
Keeping it casual
In casual wear, checks show up almost everywhere. Summer checks like bright block checks, gingham checks, tom tom checks (slightly bigger than gingham checks) and clear windowpane checks will work this season. For men, these combinations will work best if combined with bright colours or black. For instance, red and black is a classic combination. The same in yellow (taxi checks) is a sure-shot hit. Checkered shirts work well with solid crew necks/ganjis with denims and sneakers. It is a great way to make print-on- print work, because checks rarely clash with a print.
If you are not confident about mixing prints, paste prints (printed motifs on checks) are the way to go. However, stay away from printed checkered tees. In my opinion, that’s too much of a fashion manipulation. Checks also work well for casual bottom wear like shorts (preppy or cargo) and even innerwear. Wear checks under a leather jacket for a slightly more rock-ish look or over a white tee for a lumberjack vibe.
I think a checkered shirt worn with fashion joggers and clean pair of sneakers make for a fresh-yet-comfortable summer look. And if you are going to a formal event, replace joggers with chinos. For me, a checkered western shirt with yokes, piping and press buttons will never go out of style. However, just ensure that everything else in your look is classic or solid because you are definitely looking to set a bold trend. Feeling experimental? Yoke embroidery looks good too, but only if you can pull it off.
Kunal Rawal is a leading men’s fashion designer. He tweets as @kunalrawalvibe.