If you’re like us, wherever in the world from where you’re reading this, you are almost certainly working from home and going a bit stir crazy. I know I am, and am longing for a bit of normality to return to day-to-day life. And, for me that would include leaving the house, besuited, booted and banana-knotted, to take on the day at my office!
As I long for this to become part of my daily routine again, I’ve been thinking about shirts (honestly, my fave sartorial subject), and what is appropriate with a business suit. We all know that you should have a stable of classic light blue, eggshell and pink (don’t forget pink!) pinpoints and poplins. But, in my spare time, I’ve been specifically thinking about checked shirts — are they incredibly smexy, or a non-starter?
My answer to this is that the are definitely a smexy and most appropriate option, although I have one personal ground rule that I follow (which you can, of course, break to suit your own needs). I’ll get to that in a few minutes.
First, in the interest of full disclosure, I need to tell you that I absolutely fell in love with the look of checked shirts with a business suit when I moved to London in the mid ‘90s. Before that, growing up in North America, I’d never really seen checked shirts as a part of the daily “uniform.” But, from my first day within the Square Mile, I couldn’t believe the number of my new colleagues wearing all manner of checked shirts — gingham (both big and bold or small and discreet), little puppy tooth checks, Prince of Wales checks, checks that looked like graph paper — you name a style, and I saw it! And, I loved them all!
Now, it must be said, the mid to late ‘90s in London were the heyday for checked shirts. They were all the rage, and the window displays of the ready to wear (Pinks, Lewins) and bespoke (T&A, H&K, H&H) shops were chock full of gorgeous checked shirts. So, my bias towards them is very much informed by that era. Also, the woman I fell in love with at that time was mad about checked shirts. So, you know … 😉
So, about my rule. I only every pair a checked shirt either with a solid-coloured or with a checked suit (I pair mine most with a lovely grey windowpane wool flannel suit). I never wear a checked shirt with a striped suit. Others do (eg, Max Mogg himself), and I think the look is very strong and on point but, for me, pattern mixing is not an adventure I undertake. A checked shirt with suits look brilliant — very elegant, always appropriate, and it really allows the wearer to make a strong, stylish statement. Whether you think my rule is sensible or daft, you’re going to look smashing with your checked shirts in any business setting. They’ll set you apart from the crowd, but at the same time you’ll feel like you belong. But, most importantly, you’ll be the best-dressed man in the room.