When you think of gingham, the screen inside your head might bring up pictures of Dorothy in her blue gingham dress, flying off in a tornado with Toto, or a favorite frock that matched your mother’s when you were a little girl. Or gran’s picnic tablecloth. But there’s another side to gingham—one that’s adventurous and chic—and cool.
The 1960s brought us a new champion of gingham: Brigitte Bardot.
Gingham, a plain-woven cotton cloth–the color is on the warp (pre-dyed) yarns and always along the grain (weft)– began as an inexpensive fabric used for working class clothes and uniforms worn by primary school children in the United Kingdom. The name, some argue, comes from the Malayan word genggang, or “striped.”
But Bardot transformed the simple homely fabric—called vichy in France–into a ménage of sexy and innocent.
She modeled a scandalous gingham bikini on the French Riviera. She twirled in a dress with a full gingham skirt. She was married in a demure pink gingham dress edged in white cotton lace. She single-handedly started a gingham craze that captured the imagination of fashion designers on both sides of the Atlantic.
After a stint tucked away in the picnic basket, gingham roared back onto the fashion scene in 2015 on the runways of the spring fashion shows, and has filtered down to the ready-to-wear market ever since. Designers are still using the fabric to create artistic oeuvres, but fortunately there are plenty of styles women can wear in real life.
We found gingham hats, bags, shoes, dresses, skirts, and comfy summer tops that can help us stay (and be) cool during summers in the city and beyond.
Wrap yourself in gingham, slap on some red lipstick, and release your inner Brigitte Bardot.
The pieces shown here are available online; a wider selection may be available in stores. Prices are accurate as of June 16, 2018.
Slip on one of these cool dresses and you’re ready for any activity.
Left: ADRIANNA PAPELL Gingham Tie Front Midi Dress. Crisp gingham checks play up the classic charm of a smart fit-and-flare dress cut from smooth fabric woven with a touch of stretch. Hidden back-zip closure. Bateau neckline. Sleeveless. Side-seam pockets. Lined. Polyester, cotton, elastane. $149.00 at Nordstrom.com.
Right: J. JILL Linen Tie-Waist Dress. This sleeveless linen A-line dress has attached panels at the waist that can be tied in the front or back. Boat neckline. Back waist darts. Sleeveless; below-knee length. 100% linen woven. $59.99 at JJill.com.
Are you one of the many women who wilt when the thermometer hits 90 degrees? Who look at the calendar with dread when the page turns to July, and August? We hear you, because we are you. And for us, nothing makes the heat bearable like linen. This EILEEN FISHER Gingham Tunic is perfect for hot, steamy days. It’s sleeveless (we don’t care about batwings when it’s a steam bath outside) has a Mandarin collar, and buttons down the front. Relaxed fit. Organic linen. $148.00 at neimanmarcus.com.
Looking for more cover up? These tops have style and sleeves to keep away the chill and camouflage upper arms, yet are still flowy and unrestrictive.
From left: KAREN KANE Gingham Check Ruffle Hem Top. This fresh and fluttery look tells everyone you won’t keep your gingham aspirations in check. Slips on over your head. Bateau neck, three-quarter sleeves. 100% rayon. $99.00 at Nordstrom.com.
Middle: ANNE KLEIN New York Asymmetrical Hem Gingham Blouse. Perfectly picnic-ready, the only accessory needed for this perky top is a wicker basket packed and ready to go. In tomato and white. Front button closure. Mandarin collar. Long sleeves with button cuffs. 100% cotton. $99.00 at Nordstrom.com.
Right: EILEEN FISHER Organic Linen Gingham 3/4-Sleeve Top. Eileen Fisher top in gingham check. Bateau neckline. Three-quarter sleeves. Relaxed silhouette. Even hem. Organic linen. $178.00 at neimanmarcus.com.
An easy way to add some summery gingham to your look is with accessories.
Shoes like these can add a spark to a neutral outfit. From left: SAM EDELMAN ‘Felicia’ Flat. A delicate logo charm adorns the bow-trimmed toe of a charming ballet flat in yellow gingham print fabric. $69.96 at Nordstrom.com.
Middle: SAM EDELMAN Rodney Pointy Toe d’Orsay Flat. A d’Orsay profile makes this pointy-toe flat an impeccably polished go-to style. In navy gingham print fabric. $99.95–$119.95 at Nordstrom.com. Right: J. JILL Gingham D’Orsay Flats. An easy open-sided style in gingham with a leather cap toe. Leather lining. Lightly padded insole. Elastic inset in back for a secure fit. In black and cream. $69.99 at jjill.com.
Summer and gingham go together like a great tote and beach towels, gym gear, farmers’ market finds and loads of other things. If you tend to wear a lot of light neutrals in summer this SOLE SOCIETY Gingham Faux Leather Tote will add a bright accent to your summer look. $59.95 at Nordstrom.com.
Protect your face from the sun with this classic KATE SPADE NEW YORK Gingham Trilby. (What’s a trilby? This blogger passionately describes trilby vs. fedora.) Gingham checks, feathered edge, and a smart grosgrain band lend a jaunty panache. In black and fresh white. $88.00 at Nordstrom.com.
Don this ANN TAYLOR Gingham Ruffle Cuff Newbury Blazer to stay cool on those hot summer days when you need a more buttoned-down look. Made from crisp cotton with feminine ruffle cuffs, a notched lapel, and 3/4 button-open sleeves. Wear with a black or white or bright yellow skirt, or tailored trousers. A polka dot-top can add some fun. One-button front. Front besom pockets. Back vent. Lined. Available in black. $129.99 at anntaylor.com.
Skirts can be dressed up or down, making them the most versatile of summer wear. From left: J CREW Gingham Ruffle Wrap Skirt. The ultimate wrap skirt. This feminine yet easy silhouette makes the perfect statement for any occasion. $188.00 at jcrew.com.
You’ve worked hard for it so show off that yoga bod. This striking sheath woven in exploded gingham checks is perfect for a mid-summer cocktail party or Saturday night dinner al fresco. (Maybe with different shoes.)
The raw hem and cascading, asymmetrical side panel play up the ultra-modern style. High, straight neckline, single cap sleeve. 100% cotton. MARQUES’ALMEIDA Asymmetrical Gingham Sheath Dress. $301.98 (sale price) at Nordstrom.com.
It’s always a challenge to look cool as a cucumber when it feels like a steambath outside. Gingham—or is it “Gangnam”? —style might be the answer.
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Top photo of Brigitte Bardot in the pink gingham dress she wore to marry Jacques Charrier, from Pinterest.
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