How To Style Gingham — And Not Look Like a Picnic Blanket

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Whenever I wear gingham I experience a mild panic before I leave my home, worried that I look too much like a picnic blanket. The two-toned checkered pattern makes me think of grassy lunches and yellow brick roads and the fabric shops my grandma used to take me to as a child. But it’s this nostalgia, paired with its general versatility, that makes gingham such a timeless print. While I only own a handful of gingham pieces — a red Ganni maxi dress, a second-hand overshirt and headscarf, and an overnight Baggu tote — this is a spring trend that I’m definitely co-signing. 

These days, gingham has been adopted into micro-trends like the coquette aesthetic, often complemented by Peter Pan collars and bow details. Last year, Greta Gerwig’s Barbie featured Margot Robbie as the titular character in a baby pink gingham sundress; significant to the film’s depiction of girlhood innocence. On the spring/summer 2024 runways, designers used gingham in various formats, from handbags to dresses to head-to-toe separates.

This pattern isn’t just restricted to hyper-feminine (or thin and white) bodies either. It’s actually the kind of pattern that’s so versatile you can find it everywhere — from your favorite second-hand shop to your boyfriend’s wardrobe. Whether in the form of an oversized shirt, wide-leg pants, or a ridiculously-sized scrunchie, gingham’s superpower is that it doesn’t need to be the centre of any outfit.

French slow fashion brand MaisonCléo has long seen gingham as an everyday staple. “Whether it’s a trend or not, gingham fabrics have been part of our DNA since the beginning,” founder Marie Dewet tells Refinery29. MaisonCléo produces made-to-order pieces from leftover fabrics and has a spring lineup of gingham blouses, baby-doll dresses, lace embroidered co-ords and more. “Gingham has a fresh and natural vibe. It’s also very pleasant to wear in summer and can go with anything.”

To incorporate this summery pattern into your life this season, here are the styling tips you need to know.

Pair a gingham top with jeans.

Bring vintage-style gingham into the 21st century with any kind of denim. “To not get this Petite Maison dans la Prairie [Little House on the Prairie] vibe, style it with your favorite pair of denim jeans and a pair of boots or ballerina flats,” Dewet says.

Opt for gingham bags, headscarves and other accessories.

The power of the accessory shall never be underestimated. As seen in Anna Sui’s SS24 collection, gingham handbags, headscarves and scrunchie are subtle enough to make a bold fashion statement — without the impression you’re picnicking with a tin man and scarecrow.

Layer your gingham accordingly.

To style my red gingham maxi dress for busy (and chilly) London this spring, I’ll layer it with a more casual top or leather jacket, along with a pair of sneakers or boots. When I want my gingham to make a statement on its own (and the weather’s warm enough) I’ll wear it solo.

Gingham from head to toe.

This is a gingham endorsement if I’ve ever seen one. On holiday last summer, I paired my go-to checkered dress with some simple sliders for a full patterned look. A fashion rule of thumb? There’s always room for maximalists. Get your hands on a gingham co-ord, suit or separates.

Perhaps the best thing of all is that this pattern will always have a use in your home. When you’re eventually ready to move on, you can upcycle it into a chic headscarf, tablecloth or (dare I say it), picnic blanket.

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