Fashion: Square route of high style

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Bring structure to your life and look with the help of deceptively simple pattern. Stephanie Smith appreciates the value of checks.

There’s something strange and wonderful happening with check for this autumn and winter.

Checks – as in repeating patterns of squares – have been taken up by international designers in a far more comprehensive and enthusiastic way than ever before, made-over, made-under, reinterpreted, revived and reinvented to the extent that an almost overwhelming variety of check now exists.

Sometimes it doesn’t even appear to be check, unless you look closely, more like squares of over-locking and blocking colour, as with the pink coat, featured here on the right. There’s an artistic and painterly appeal to this kind of use, blanket check blended with Pop Art, and it works well in saturated bright colour on bold, simple cuts and shapes.

At the other end of the scale, there are small checks, not gingham, but something more graphic and contemporary, and these work just as well with streamlined, working girl looks (see the People Tree top with black skirt on this page) as they do with more ethereal, folksy looks, where they add a naive yet age-old and knowing structure to a boho outfit, with the simple addition of a check top or scarf.

That’s the thing about checks – they are working across all the autumn/winter trends, transcending them, adding interest and depth and often more intelligence to a theme such as folk, or fairytale, or Sixties, or the current art exhibition theme, which sees shapes including squares repeated and clashed to bring colour and rebellion. This is fashion working at its very best, with art and form, and it allows each and every one of us to become a stylist or fashion interpreter.

So, what does all this mean in practice? Well, first of all, try seeking out deceptively simple check, as with the Tu at Sainsbury’s tunic dress, bottom right. If you choose a shape that suits you, a largish check such as this will not add pounds and inches, but will work with your own body lines to enhance and disguise where needed. An even better example of this is the Phase Eight dress, above left, where sleeves and borders of black have been used to contain the check and draw attention to the vertical central line, bringing a slimming effect.

So, checks combine pleasing artistry and pattern with some clever figure-enhancing. What’s not to like?

The new Gosha x Burberry collection makes great play of checks and reimagines iconic styles.

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