15 Common Types of Checkered Patterns

As popular as checked patterns are (especially during the fall), it boggles our minds when we encounter a tattersall-clad individual who confuses the pattern with, say, gingham.

Part of dressing well is being knowledgeable of what you’re wearing. Just as you would easily differentiate between wool and cashmere, bootcut and straight, or moss and hunter green, you should know the difference between your beloved patterns.

If you’re guilty of making a minor mistake then continue reading. We’ll forgive you…just this once.

1. Gingham

Worn by the mods of the 1960’s, Brigitte Bardot on her wedding day, and Dorothy as she traversed the yellow brick road, this pattern is often referred to as the “tablecloth pattern”. With its square checks of two contrasting colors and its fabrication, this pattern has no right or wrong side being the same from front to back.

Depending on the colors used, Gingham is seasonless and an often welcome addition to both the male and female wardrobe.

2. Shepherd’s Check

This bucolic pattern finds its roots in the pastoral landscapes of the British countryside, where it was originally donned by shepherds, hence its name. The Shepherd’s Check is akin to gingham but distinguished by its twill weave, which imbues the fabric with a subtle texture that adds depth and character.

Traditionally rendered in black and white, this pattern exudes a rustic charm that has transcended its humble origins to find favor in contemporary fashion. From casual flannel shirts to refined wool scarves, the Shepherd’s Check remains a testament to the enduring appeal of rural-inspired fashion.

3. Pin Check

The Pin Check pattern is the epitome of understated elegance in the world of checks. With checks so diminutive they resemble the head of a pin, this pattern is a favorite in the realm of formal business attire.

The precision and subtlety of the Pin Check make it an ideal background for the sophisticated dress shirt, offering a hint of texture and visual interest without overwhelming. It’s a pattern that whispers rather than shouts, perfect for the boardroom or any setting where refined subtlety is the order of the day.

4. Graph Check

Precision and order define the Graph Check, a pattern that mimics the clear, clean lines of graph paper. This pattern is characterized by its fine grid of evenly spaced lines, creating small, uniform squares that offer a crisp, mathematical neatness.

The Graph Check is a popular choice for business attire, particularly in dress shirts, where its orderly appearance conveys a sense of meticulousness and sharp attention to detail. It’s a pattern that speaks to the modern professional, blending seamlessly with the structured forms of suits and blazers.

5. Windowpane

Popular with men’s suiting, this pattern is aptly named for its resemblance to a series of window panes. Typically the fine lines are seen in a lighter, contrasting color upon a darker colored background.

The look is quite distinguished, especially on a double-breasted, wool suit.

6. Tattersall

This pattern’s name has a rather unglamorous provenance. In the 1700’s, Tattersall’s Horse Market of London created a cloth composed of regularly-spaced, thin, even stripes of two alternating, darker colors that were placed upon a light background.

The cloth was used to keep the equine companion warm (read: horse blankets). Despite its beginnings, the pattern is fashionably used on shirts, flannels, and waistcoats.

7. Madras

Known colloquially as “Madrasi checks”, this summertime favorite takes its name from the Indian city now known as Chennai. Similar to that of plaid, this fabric consists of checks and stripes in muted, yet soft and vibrant colors.

Unlike the symmetric patterns of other checks, those of Madras tend to be uneven, which creates a sense of dimension and depth. Perfectly paired on light cottons and seersucker, this pattern keeps you looking cool when the weather isn’t.

8. Plaid/Tartan

There is often confusion between these two. Plaid actually comes from the Gaelic word for blanket and in Scotland refers to a piece of fabric that is belted, worn, or slung over the body.

Where plaid refers to the fabric or garment itself, tartan refers to the pattern. However, in America, the two have become synonymous. This pattern is widely used from fashion to homeware and is easily distinguished by the crossing of vertical and horizontal bands of two or more colors.

9. Dress Stewart

Dress Stewart tartan, though traditionally not classified among checks, deserves a mention for its sartorial flair and vibrant hues. This pattern, with its bright, crisp interplay of red, blue, green, and white, brings a touch of Scottish heritage into the realm of high fashion.

It’s a pattern that has found its way onto everything

from elegant dresses and skirts to chic accessories, offering a dash of regal charm and vivacity. The Dress Stewart tartan, with its rich history and bright, inviting colors, serves as a bridge between tradition and contemporary style, lending a touch of aristocratic elegance to modern fashion ensembles.

10. Argyle (Argyll)

Probably one of the most well-known checks, it is an autumn essential for knitwear and socks. This three-dimensional pattern is distinguished by its overlay of diagonal lines upon solid diamonds.

The name is derived from the tartan of the Campbell Clan of Argyll, Scotland, used for kilts and Highlander socks that were generally known as “tartan hose”.

11. Glen Plaid

Made renown by the Duke of Windsor, and thus nicknamed “Prince of Wales check”, this pattern is not often seen in the States. It is a handsome woven pattern typically made of black/grey and white, or with more muted colors, particularly with two dark and two light stripes that alternate with four dark and four light stripes which creates a crossing pattern of irregular checks.

The name Glen plaid does not appear before 1926 where, until then, it was formally known as Glen Urquhart check, after the valley in Inverness-shire, Scotland, where it was first used.

12. Houndstooth

Probably the least subtle of the checks, this pattern is often found in both mens- and womenswear, gracing the likes of coats, jackets, neckwear, and hats. Originating from woven wool cloth from the Scottish Lowlands, this textile pattern is characterized by broken checks or abstract four-pointed shapes, often in black and white, although other colors are used.

Despite its inability to be worn incognito, it is the perfect complement to classic ensembles in need of a lift.

13. Pepita

A close relative of the bold houndstooth, the Pepita pattern scales down the drama to offer a more understated elegance. This miniaturized version carries the same broken checks but in a more subtle, refined form, making it an ideal choice for those who lean towards a classic but nuanced aesthetic.

The pattern often appears in a monochromatic palette, lending itself beautifully to professional attire and sophisticated evening wear. Its versatility bridges the gap between bold statement pieces and minimalist designs, offering a geometric yet graceful option for those with a penchant for nuanced patterns.

14. Herringbone

Often mistaken for a mere texture rather than a pattern, the herringbone is reminiscent of the skeletal structure of the herring fish, from which it derives its name. This pattern boasts a distinctive V-shape weave that sets it apart from its checkered cousins.

Commonly found in classic tailoring materials, herringbone is a staple in men’s suiting and woolen outerwear. Its intricate weave adds depth and sophistication to garments, making it a preferred choice for those who appreciate subtlety in their sartorial selections. Whether adorning a tweed blazer or a fine cashmere scarf, herringbone’s timeless elegance ensures its place in the pantheon of classic patterns.

15. Buffalo Check

The Buffalo Check roars with a rugged, bold spirit that traces back to the outdoor gear of lumberjacks. This pattern is most recognized in its classic red and black iteration, featuring large, bold squares that command attention.

It has transcended its workwear origins to become a beloved motif in casual and home décor, embodying a spirit of adventure and outdoor life. The Buffalo Check is at home on a cozy flannel shirt as it is on a rustic cabin throw, bringing warmth and character wherever it appears.