As the fashion world plunges into the Spring and Summer months, the stuffy, flowzy tweeds and heavy silks that we all adored during Winter are tided over with lightweight, energetic designs; this year it’s prints. Suits have seen a renewed popularity in recent years, their ridgy designs have been updated, designers and stores have cast their eyes onto check pattern for inspiration.
Patterns have really started to creep into the stylish gentleman’s wardrobes as of late, with checked tailoring being the latest in more adventurous suiting. From floral patterns to short suits, tailoring has become a perennial part of a man’s wardrobe, and check suits acts as an edgy yet traditional alternative.
Louis Vuitton‘s key menswear brand designer Kim Jones sought to curate his Spring Summer 2014 collection by looking not towards simple pictures, but authentic experience. Travelling to the United States, Jones took inspirations from nearly all facets of American culture, with check suits echoing the Ivy League stylings of the 20s. Frat boy suits were kept energetic by applying them with the check motif. Alongside brash, colourful checks, subtle navy and chrome ones were also used. Showing how on one hand, check is preppy and youthful, on the other, it is sophisticated elegance.
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Vivienne Westwood, for her Autumn/Winter collection in 2013 for London Collections: MEN, plunged the check suit trend into grungy depths, showing how the check patters is not solely reserved for the dandy type. Instead, a darker gothicism approach was taken, imbuing the iconic Westwood asperity into the classic pieces. S
he featured the check print into the collection that dealt with the foreboding message of climate change, the aim of her collection was to show the hyper-consumerist culture that we occupy that investing into timeless, classic pieces is key to combating our wasteful society. This is what check is all about, Westwood’s 80s inspired interpretation of check is timeless, even with it’s cartoony proportions.
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The checkered pattern is unbridled in no matter how it is styled, it will make a statement. A check suit in a muted, tonal palette of navy or grey can be effortlessly incorporated into the colder months due to the classic semblance of the colour and pattern. Check is unique as, in contrast to say, floral, is a ubiquitous pattern, dipping in and out of trend popularity but chiseled into timelessness.
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The key to a pattern as potentially loud as check is to keep the rest of the outfit reserved, restraining from an excess of colour and other pattern clashes. Anchoring complimenting colours, such as blue and brown, ensure that the check does not overwhelm. The check acting as a stading out pattern paired with a small one and then a block colour is a go-to approach to checkered tailoring.
A tonal approach is also a well grounded alternative to contrasting the colours. Pairing monochrome check suits and shirts creates a minimal and refined look. Micro-check creates a similar aesthetic, that is, not one of brash loudness, but sophistication.
If you aren’t feeling bold enough to do a full check suit, splitting up the suits and wearing it as a standalone statement can make for a more gentle starting point. Checked separates infuse a touch of playful heritage into formal wear, but as it is a print not necessarily suited to formal occasions, it provides men with the freedom to experiment. A check/tartan blazer, waistcoat or trousers can be incorporated into a neutral look, meaning that the print pulls focus.
A checked suit should be considered an investment piece. The jacket and trousers can be worn as separates meaning that the use of a check suit can be fully maximized.A high-quality suit will last.Opt for a classic cut, such as Italian, with its sleek, dynamic contours will compliment the edginess of the check print.
The check suit is also a key trending item for the Spring and Summer months, meaning that brands such as Topman and ASOS have taken the basic structure of the check suits and given it their own twist. Implanting a more youthful take at a cheap price means that the suit can be bought and embraced for the months.
Menswear has been awash with opportunities to individualize your dress sense. Prints for both SS14 and AW15 have provided a vibrant vantage point to begin to redefine your wardrobe. The checked shirt has already seen a burst in popularity, so a suited version doesn’t seem so far off now.
The key to check is making sure you are comfortable wearing it; wearing a garish red and green check won’t look good unless you have the confidence to pull it off. Adding a touch of this kind of 20s/60s inspired tailoring means that keeping it subtle and neutral may, funnily enough, make the outfit more stylish. Keep check in check!