How To Wear.... the latest fashions from Expert Style Consultant, Helen Reynolds

Fashion’s a funny thing, isn’t it?

When a particular style is out of favour you can’t imagine yourself wearing it, except during some torturous fancy dress experience.

You say things like: “Oh no, I wouldn’t be seen DEAD in platform shoes!” and “Remember those bellbottoms? Weren’t they ridiculous?!”

Then a few months go by and a fashion designer somewhere or other has the whimsical notion of putting one particular item back on the map. A couture house uses it as the cornerstone piece to launch its collection, and splashes its cash on a huge advertising campaign. Some magazines and fashion bloggers get behind this hot ‘new’ style. A few sexy young celebrities invest in it big time, then… BAM! everyone’s wearing it and saying things like: “Oh, yes, I’ve always LOVED shell suits, so comfortable!”

This year it’s gingham. And while I may not have always loved gingham, I suddenly do!

It’s a tricky one though, and no doubt. You are at risk of looking like either a) tablecloth or b) schoolgirl (in a non-Britney way).

There are, however, ways to wear it as a fully grown adult AND look stylish. Here’s my 3-step plan for sartorial success with gingham:

Step 1: Does it suit you?

As you probably know by now, in the (hypothetical) ‘Book of Style, According to Helen’, there are four different clothing ‘style’ types: Classic, Dramatic, Girly or Natural. When I create a personal style blueprint for a client, one aspect of this involves working out a percentage score for each of these four styles according to how well they suit them. Some people will be 100% one style; others will have one main style with a smattering of the others, adding up to 100% in total. Or, they might be split evenly in all four directions, or 50/50 between two styles, or any variation in between.

If you are a new reader and you don’t know what I’m talking about (where have you BEEN!?) here’s a link to an earlier post which explains what this means and how you figure out your best styles. 

Unfortunately, gingham is not for everyone, and if you don’t suit the Girly or Natural style you are going to struggle.

It also works better (though not a deal-breaker) on straighter figure types – as the straight lines of the check pair well with your bone structure, instead of fighting against it.

Having read this, if you still think it will suit you, continue to step 2. If you think it probably won’t suit you, get back to the drawing board.

Step 2: Get the right size of check

If your scale is small (and you suit dainty jewellery) – go for small checks like this simply gorgeous Miss Selfridge blouse.

Miss Selfridge Petite Gingham Blouse, Black – £35

If your scale is large (and you look good in statement jewellery) – chose a big check like the Warehouse dress below.

Warehouse Gingham Popper Dress, Black – £42

If you have no idea what your scale is, and think I might just be totally off my rocker, you need to trust me, and get this shizzle figured out. Go and sign up for my free video course. The course has five short videos all about how to work out which clothes will make you look your most gorgeous self. One of them is about ‘scale’ (the size of prints and accessories that match your body best). The videos will help you to identify your personal style blueprint (which clothes suit you best), including what ‘scale’ you are. And, this is critical for finding the clothes that love you back, so please don’t forget. Do it now!

Step 3: Pair it wisely

How you put together your outfit can make or break gingham. You do NOT want anything else too fancy in the mix.

For example, the dress above would be STUNNING with these, simple, plain shoes.

Chuck Taylor All Star Dainty Leather – £55.00

And the blouse above would work brilliantly over plain, wide leg trousers (such as the ones below) and a simple wedge heel.

Hobbs Anise Cropped Linen Trousers, Navy – £85


For a smarter look try a skirt like this and team it with a simple white shirt or silk blouse tucked in.

Marc Cain Gingham Pencil Skirt, Shell – £149


Pure Collection Pure Silk Blouse, Soft Opal – £99

Or, for a more classic look try a gingham shirt over jeans. White ones if you dare.

Pure Collection Cotton Shirt, Pale Blue Gingham £56.25

White Stuff Straight Cropped Jeans, White – £45


Do you see how I’m choosing only plain and simple partners for the gingham? This is not the time for pattern mixing people.

I have to admit that I’m a bit sad that my own, personal gingham dreams stalled at Step 1. Gingham is not something I can wear as I don’t suit the girly style at all! I am loving seeing it around on other people though.

My last tip, for this fabric, as with all flash-in-the-pan-trends, start with a lower cost brand and try it out. You may be ready to put the gingham straight into the dustbin (along with this year’s block heels) by next summer and I’d hate to see you waste good hard cash on something that you only want to wear for one season.

If it’s not for you, stick to tablecloths, jam pot lids and caravan curtains to get your fix.

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