Check Mate


 By Michelle Crowe


Does any fabric say fresh like gingham? Some might make a case for madras or eyelet, but gingham stands apart for its singular ability to convey a sense of crispness, no matter how sweltering a day may be. It’s preppy, but subtly so, and it plays well with other prints and patterns.

Gingham suits men, women and children — truth be told, it looks wonderful on dog collars and beach house throw pillows. too.


Flower girls in gingham — why not?

The simple check can be found in cultures all over the world. The Maasai have a version, Germans and Italians each claim it comes from their country, the French call it Vichy, for the region of the same name, and, of course, what could be more American than a cowboy in a gingham shirt.

When worn boldly as a dress or suit, gingham conveys confidence and renders smiles — reach for it when motivation to leave the house is lacking, but the destination is sure to be delightful. A prettily printed frock and swipe of lipstick might be just the motivation needed to charm everyone from the doorman to the guest of honor.


Over-the-top gingham from Viennese designer Lena Hoschek’s Spring 2014 collection.

The same spirit-lifting technique may be employed when the office just doesn’t seem like the place to be. Slip into a gingham blazer or choose a pair of gingham shoes and head out the door. Especially on those sunny “summer Fridays” when most people have their head in the clouds and one foot out the door anyway, that previously mentioned inherent crispness of gingham telegraphs a business-ready attitude. Upon leaving the over-air-conditioned office, gingham looks perfectly wonderful as the wearer rides in a convertible, hops onto a boat or settles in at a sidewalk café.


The Elsie d’Orsay pump from J.Crew.

Indulge your love of this fresh favorite. Summer is short in Chicago — choose cheerful.


Vintage gingham from 1967.