Checkmate: Checks and Plaids are Officially Back In for Autumn

With checks and plaids back in favour this autumn, Roe McDermott gives the lowdown on this exciting new trend.

For the sophisticated fashionista, houndstooth and wool fabrics denote an air of sophistication and wealth; they're most commonly associated with the wealthy elite when they slum it in the countryside. But if pheasant shooting isn't really your game, houndstooth also looks incredible on body-con silhouettes, bringing a slightly more interesting texture to work and evening wear. If you want to haul the look even further into the 21st century, pieces with sequinned houndstooth patterns add a nice sparkle.

We, however, prefer houndstooth's rebellious cousin; the ever-faithful check of tartan. A favourite of designers with edgy, punk sensibilities like Vivienne Westwood, checks evoke the grungy glamour and defiant spirit of punk. It's no wonder that checks, flannel and tartan are beloved by women who dare to be different, like rock chanteuse Debbie Harry and beloved eccentric Helena Bonham Carter. Once associated with authority and gentility, tartan became a symbol of defiance against modern society when punks began to wear it in the late '70s. Though it's become a fashion staple, it still manages to convey a spirit of individualism, a love of the unconventional, and an anti-establishment philosophy.

Checks and plaids are incorporating a more feminine edge this season, with a softer palette taking over from grunge-style red and black. Jenny Packham placed soft blue, green and mustard hues on ruffled check dresses, while Coach showcased check jumpsuits and shearling coats. Mara Hoffman went for black and white maxi dresses, while Claudia Li's high-waisted pants and tailored trenchcoats transformed office wear into high fashion. Yves Saint Laurent played with textile and era, using checks on their '50s dresses, bringing some modernity to the classic silhouette.

To bring this style into your wardrobe, look for vintage-style plaid skirts with ruffle embellishments, which look incredible when paired with leather boots and chunky knits. Check corsets and crop-tops, meanwhile, can be layered over simple white t-shirts for a punky yet feminine vibe. The high-waisted check trousers that designers have been showcasing all season make for an interesting twist on workwear, particularly when paired with this season's other trend, a crisp white shirt with ruffled embellishments. High-waisted check pants also look fantastic when paired with a glam crop top in a contrasting textile like sequins of pleather, and some killer heels to make your legs look endless.

After working this trend, you can go ahead and check 'become a style icon' off your autumn to-do list.


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