Telegraph Men 3 Ways to Wear…AW/13’s Checks
When advising anyone to wear checks, there’s always that slight worry at the back of my mind that if they take me up wrong, they’ll end up looking like a dodgy Rod Stewart tribute act. These fears aside, I’m happy to say ‘checks’ are firmly back on the menswear agenda. What started as some fun flirting several seasons ago, developed into a delicate dalliance in SS13 and now the fashion world has flung itself into an all-out romance. The staple of Scottish sartorialism – checks, tartans & plaid – may be an unlikely muse for all this love-bombing but with fashion-houses from Moschino to Tiger of Sweden professing their devotion, it’s one of the most exciting new men’s trends.
With checks, and in particular tartans, featuring across such a wide array of men’s collection right now, it’s likely that the impact will be felt for several seasons to come but beware investing in a winter wardrobe which leaves you looking like a walking advertisement for the Scottish tourism board. There was a very good reason why Burberry divorced from its own twist on tartan some time ago. Simply put, it had become too much of a good thing. So to wear checks well this season, bear the Burberry debacle in mind and, instead, take a lead from celebs such as David Beckham, Ryan Gosling, James Franco and Harry Styles, who have all calculated their take on tartan just right. Think ‘hints of the Highland’ rather than seventies Punk.
Of course, it was Vivienne Westwood in the 1970’s who turned tartan on its head so it will come as little surprise that she is once again leading the vanguard with exaggerated checks replete across her AW13 collection. Tommy Hilfiger’s current offering while featuring a muted palette plays with scale in the form of enlarged houndstooth checks while London Collections Men’s star Lou Dalton sent her models down the catwalk in slim-cut tartan trousers and picked up rave reviews.
Why the return of tartan is so welcome to menswear is for the possibilities it now offers. My advice is to think along three strands – you can play with texture, plus colour and then add in pattern. This way the mash-up options become endless.
Take Tom Ford’s collection for example. What makes it work with relish is the masculine array of checks, full of the spirit of pioneering forefathers, thrown together with the most noble of plaid trousers to offer an overall air of disheveled cool in finely tailored pieces. I’d recommend exploring houndstooth too – as part of the extended family. Paul Smith premiered giant checks, in various hues and colours as early as 2001-2002 so there is plenty of early experimentation to draw inspiration from. For winter warmth this season, fabrics can be layered, so make the most of the opportunity to mix tones and textures and you’ll be bang up to date.
Hop over to Brit brand E. Tautz for a selection of dynamic, oversized futuristic checks which give the more traditional look a distinctly modern appeal. Or keep it highstreet with Topman who have a slim-cut navy and green tartan blazer.
As a base garment, I’ve gone for a bold black and red check shirt from Zara. In my first look, I’ve kept things casual wearing the shirt open, layered over a basic printed tee with jeans, a beanie hat and my favourite ox-blood Tommy Hilfiger loafers. Alternatively, don’t be afraid of mixing your patterns. For my second look, I’ve the shirt buttoned up, teamed with a camo parka from Marc By Marc Jacobs and subtle animal-print sunnies. Finally, I flip the picture and instead go for a more minimalist look with a sharp Reiss navy double-breasted blazer. Worn this way, with slick tailoring, tartan speaks of creativity and heritage, rather than all out north-of-the-border rebellion.
If a tartan shirt is a step too far for you in the fashion stakes, channel the vibe with tartan socks, a tartan tie or tartan-inspired cufflinks.