Gingham is a timeless summer classic, but it is certainly having a big moment in 2021.
From dresses to pants to swimsuits, there’s no shortage of attire on the market right now to help you channel your inner Dorothy Gale ― or as we like to think of it, “picnic blanket chic.”
Indeed, both high-end designers and fast fashion brands have been featuring the iconic motif in their summer styles. Public figures like Tina Fey and Queen Letizia of Spain have worn gingham for recent red carpet events or just everyday life.
Before we go any further, an important clarification: While we use the word “gingham” to mean that classic checked pattern (usually involving white and another color like blue or red), the term technically refers to a light- or medium-weight, woven fabric rather than a print. “Checked gingham” is likely what you’re imagining.
Imported from Asia, gingham became popular in England and the Netherlands around the 18th century. Earlier examples of the material featured striped patterns, but over time, gingham became associated with the criss-cross check print we think of today.
In the early 20th century, gingham became fashionable with Americans in the plains region ― hence its selection for Kansas native Dorothy Gale’s costume in the 1939 film “The Wizard of Oz” (which, in turn, further fueled the hype around the material).
In 1959, Brigitte Bardot wore a gingham print dress for her wedding to Jacques Charrier, and Princess Diana was photographed in a stylish pair of cropped gingham pants at her country home in Highgrove in 1986. On our side of the pond, gingham got the endorsement of American icons like Jackie Kennedy.
As these glamorous examples indicate, gingham evolved from its rural, working-class roots to a look with a more preppy connotation. In recent years, we’ve seen the gingham button-down shirt become a symbol of finance bro-dom, even spawning funny Instagram accounts.
In 2021, the gingham trend feels fitting for our pandemic times. After all, until quite recently, social gatherings were limited to outdoor activities like picnics.
And as we get back into the habit of wearing real clothes instead of nonstop sweatpants, gingham gives us many sartorial options.
You can dress up in a summery gingham dress, keep it casual with gingham shorts/leggings, or just add a little pop with gingham purses. Runways and street-style photos of late show models and influencers pairing their checked outfits with sneakers, sandals, heels and even boots ― further underscoring the print’s versatility.
However you style your “picnic basket chic,” the most important thing is to wear it with the confidence of the many gingham-wearers who came before us. If you’re looking to try out the gingham trend in 2021, we’ve rounded up some fun options below.
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