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Four ways to wear: A check shirt

Four ways to wear: A check shirt

"Check shirts are one of those essential pieces: everyone feels comfortable in them, they're an easy way to wear a bit of pattern, and there's an option for everyone, from preppy to neutral," says Thread style director, Shaunie Brett. 

You've probably got a few already, but if you're in the market for a new check shirt, there are a few things to look out for:

  • Colour: Choose a neutral colour (navy, green, white) and it will work with everything.
  • Pattern: A small check can look quite smart, while a large one is more casual. Somewhere in the middle will make for the most versatility. 
  • Fabric: Pick something soft—this helps the shirt look as good on you when it’s all the way unbuttoned as when it's done up. Cotton or flannel are perfect. 

Though there are endless ways to style one, Shaunie talks us through four of the occasions when a check shirt works particularly well.

1. When it's not quite cold enough for a jacket

Outfit: Check shirt, navy crew-neck t-shirt, jeans, sneakers

Why this works: "Check shirts are great as an easy outer layer instead of a jacket. It's a very relaxed look that's perfect for the weekend. This outfit works particularly well because the colours in the t-shirt and jeans pick up on the colours in the shirt – it's a nice way to tie it all together. You could also take the shirt off and the outfit would still work."

Photographed: Research Garments navy-blue t-shirt (£15), Acne grey jeans (£160), Converse white trainers (£50) 

2. When you want to look smart but not stuffy

Outfit: Casual blazer, check shirt, chinos, suede shoes

Why this works: "The blazer is in a nice matte fabric and a fairly relaxed shape. Chinos are a bit smarter than jeans, but dark denim would also work here. The check shirt adds a heritage feel—this is tailoring, but not for the city. A more relaxed look all round."

Photographed: Jigsaw navy-blue blazer (£119), Acne grey jeans (£160) 

3. When you're sick of your summer clothes

Outfit: Check shirt, chino shorts, boat shoes

Why this works: "In warm weather we often stick to wearing jeans and throw on a t-shirt to cool down. This outfit inverts that—keeping a long-sleeved top and going for shorts instead of trousers—which can look a bit more mature and smart. Also, boat shoes are the best footwear for summer, but they can sometimes look a bit preppy. The check shirt makes them feel a bit more low-key."

Photographed: Several maroon boat shoes (£87.50) 

4. When you think it's smart casual, but you're not 100 percent sure

Outfit: Harrington jacket, check shirt, chinos, suede shoes

Why this works: "Office, pub, weekend days out: this is an easy, no-nonsense outfit that will work pretty much anywhere. The check shirt adds pattern to the outfit, and can be seen as smart or casual. The Harrington here is a classic choice, but the whole outfit is easy to adapt: use a bomber or field jacket, or swap the chinos for dark jeans."

Photographed: Selected Homme navy-blue Harrington jacket (£32), Paul Smith green chinos (£73)