Box off your spring/summer look with this check list...
OKAY, SO PERHAPS TABLECLOTH CHECKS and picnic ginghams are out of your comfort zone – but chintzy prints are having a moment. I know this because I arrived to a five-year-old’s birthday last Saturday wearing the same gingham cold shoulder blouse as another mother, alongside two toddlers wearing ruffled dresses in patterned grids.
The latter, I agree, isn’t revolutionary – little girls go hand-in-hand with sweet checkered prints – but this season designers are reinterpreting the iconic 1960s woven fabric synonymous with idealistic domesticity for grown-ups. Take Henry Holland, whose take on gingham has been the most pronounced on the high street, pictured far right. He served flamenco-inspired off-shoulder ruffle dresses, bellbottom trousers, 1980s ra-ra skirts and bomber jackets with gingham inserts and matching neckties. Joseph Altuzarra followed with tailored gingham trousers that he teamed with khaki military coats and crinkled aqua gingham shirt dresses that are already taking flight on the high street at Zara and H&M. And designer Molly Goddard prepped her her girl gang in tailored gingham party dresses on ruched mid-lengths. More recently Sienna Miler revved up the fabric’s popularity in a gingham Sonia Rykiel peasant dress while promoting her new movie The Lost City Of Z, pictured above, while Blake Lively piled on the contrasting colour combination for Marchesa’s show at New York Fashion Week.
The key to making them work off the catwalk? Choose form-fitting shapes from the waist up with asymmetric hems. Any excess of fabric sails too close to curtain territory. Airy blouses with statement sleeves and smart dresses are wise investments. Fluted and trumpet-sleeved blouses or crisp shirts are huge for spring with frayed jeans and loafers. Into summer, off-the-shoulder dresses, ruffled skirts and bardot-style tops are clever injections. Coats, bags, shoes or accessories can be worked into any look, just choose the right colour. Blush pink, navy and red are warm and work beautifully with khaki, charcoal or dark grey.
Remember gingham signifies wholesomeness. It conjures images of seaside holidays, bistro tablecloths and school uniforms. It’s perfect for stay-at-home, cake-making vibes or equally perfect for the playground. But worn right, it can be pushed into a sophisticated realm too. Jazzier, grown-up variations play on 1950s traditions, such as the cinched waist and long hemlines. Don’t be afraid to contrast embroideries or embellishment over a gingham dress. Costume jewellery works better than classic silver or gold. Those reluctant to get their legs out just yet, tuck a tailored gingham blouse into a pencil skirt or wide leg trouser but stick to dark blue, crisp proportions. Lighter reds and pinks channel a girly youthfulness that won’t work for hazy dancing-filled evenings.
Fluted and trumpet-sleeved blouses or shirts are huge for spring