Friday 31 October 2014

Paul Galvin: Square up to the pattern du jour

Paul Galvin

Published 21/10/2012 | 06:00

Paul Galvin.

Paul Galvin on the return of the check shirt

Check this. I have a checkered past. Yes, I've done bold. And I admit there have been plenty times when I've tried argyle.

I even went through a period of experimenting with gingham. That was a dark period in my life.

I'm glad to say, though, that, for all my experimentation, at least I never went hard on tartan. It has ruined many a man's life. Just look at Billy Connolly.

No, I left tartan to the real heavy-duty wild boys, the Scots.

Bold was the real deal for me. Dirty bold. I eventually grew out of using it, but lately I feel my bold, checkered past is creeping up on me again.

It seems to be everywhere. They're shipping even more of it in from overseas today.

Dunnes and Penneys were bad enough. I could handle a little Cedarwood State. Now you've got all these other dealers: Debenhams, Marks & Spencers, Urban Outfitters, H&M, Topman, All Saints, not to mention all the secondhand dealers, such as Eager Beaver, pushing check again.

As you probably guessed from the outset, I'm talking about check shirting, not narcotics. It was a feature of my younger days and it's making a return to my wardrobe.

It's ubiquitous, or at least it appeared to be in the 1990s, which is why I turned my back on it. Everyone wore check shirts, be they from Levis, Wrangler, Tommy or Ben Sherman.

As a school-going boy, check shirts became outerwear. That is, I wore mine as a jacket over my uniform. That I first saw the girls in my year do so is testament to my early ability to spot trends in womenswear.

Soon, the check epidemic had spread to the boys and it became so contagious that walking the corridors at break time was like Hogmanay.

The arrival of the check padded jacket was a good time for all of us. Our shirts could go back to being shirts again.

While we are on the subject of school, we may as well do the science bit. Check pattern is a design technique whereby two or more colours of horizontal and vertical lines are crossed forming squares of woven cloth.

There are varying types of check.

Late summer/early autumn is always a good time for shirting. Always a regular on the music festival scene, it's very versatile. I'm prone to wearing my shirts buttoned up at the top and open at the bottom, but you can always go down the James Dean route and wear a Western-style shirt open over a white vest.

Because I'm in a skort and cape-wearing phase at the moment (I'm not wearing them, just thinking about wearing them), I really like shirts tied around my waist. To get back in the game, I headed for Urban Outfitters. Cheap Mondays is a label I love and I had my eye on a particular shirt for a few weeks.

I do find check a tricky trend, though. I don't like it too bold, too dark or with too much colour.

Gingham is interesting. I really like it on girls, but has anyone spotted this season's Manchester United jersey? That's gingham for you, infiltrating the Premier League.

Fashion knows no bounds, nor does gingham, it seems. Normally seen on tablecloths and aprons it's now on the backs of the Rooney, Giggs and Ferdinand.

Now we're really talking bold check.

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