Men's Gingham Shirts: The New Plaid?

Gingham shirts: they’re so versatile and ubiquitous that they could be considered essential for any man’s wardrobe. Not only are these popular button-downs becoming more and more prevalent in both casual and business casual settings, but the pattern itself is becoming something of a staple equivalent to plaid.

Gingham has something of a complicated history—but one fact remains: Gingham can be one of the most versatile and classic patterns in your wardrobe if you know how to use it.

A Brief History of Gingham

Gingham comes from the Malay word “genggang” which translates loosely as striped. And there’s no doubt that this translation is accurate: a Gingham shirt is essentially a striped shirt in which the checkers form small squares that blend two colors together. Gingham first gained popular attention when Sean Connery—playing a certain double-0 agent—wore a casual Gingham shirt on film. Since then, however, Gingham has been everywhere, from button-ups to tablecloths (earning it a somewhat-undeserved reputation for being a “cloth pattern.”)

Cloth pattern? We say: so what? Stripes, plaids, checkers—it’s all been on someone’s tablecloth. And it doesn’t mean that Gingham isn’t suitable to wear, especially in casual and business casual environments in which wearing a sharp shirt with buttons easily and quickly places you in the “best dressed” category.

Buying the Right Gingham Shirt for Your Wardrobe

You know you want a Gingham shirt because it’s smart, casual, yet elegant enough to take you to and from the office in style. But where do you start?

  • A Navy Gingham shirt is about as versatile as a classic white Oxford cloth button-down, which is to say: very versatile indeed. Wear these with just about any decent pair of trousers and you’ve got yourself a Sunday casual outfit. Hint: it’s not just for Sunday.
  • The Red Gingham shirt is something of a bolder choice, drawing a little more attention to the shirt itself—which is great if that’s exactly what you’re going for. And considering just how ubiquitous the Navy Gingham shirt can be, red is a tasteful and attractive alternative.
  • Or, you could go with an Orange Gingham shirt and throw everyone for a loop. It pairs well with solid colors like white and khaki, but a quick word of warning: you may have to fend of dozens of questions like “where did you get that?”

Like many attractive patterns, gingham has plenty of uses, both for casual and business situations.While plaid is still here (and likely here to stay), gingham offers an attractive alternative that’s fast becoming the craze. Procure one for yourself before you miss out.