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NEW DELHI :

If you are the kind of person who likes big, small and tiny squares, Friday dressing is just getting more interesting.

At the 2013 and 2014 Lakmé Fashion Weeks, for instance, new-age designers like New Delhi-based Pratima Pandey, Nagpur-based Shruti Sancheti and Pune-based Karishma Shahani gave the geometric pattern an “in season" tag.

Pandey used Madras cotton checks; Sancheti, Andhra Pradesh’s Pochampally check weave; and Shahani played with diagonal checks. Although these creators showcased checks for women, ready-to-wear brands like Corneliani, TM Lewin and American Swan, as well as e-commerce portals like Zovi.com, Koovs.com and Myntra.com, are pushing checks into the mass market through semi-formal and casual-sport collections for both women and men.

Mohini Boparai Guleria, general manager (fashion and lifestyle) at the e-commerce portal Exclusively.in, says: “Checks are one of the biggest trends for spring/summer and one can incorporate different types into the summer wardrobe."

Narinder Kaur, head of fashion and textile design at men’s lifestyle brand Turtle Ltd, which does apparel and accessories as well, says, “We have used cotton, slub (slightly lumpy) cotton, linen and Khadi with variations in check sizes and colour combinations." Around 50% of Turtle’s Sports Club line has casual checks like gingham, mélange, space-dyed and dobby (a kind of weave), while 40% of the Tailor Smart formal line comprises small gingham checks in a limited colour palette, adds Kaur.

Some designers, of course, believe checks are such classics that they can never be “in" or “out" of fashion. New Delhi-based Brijesh Dahiya of Cheapsex, a quirky menswear label by design and lifestyle company Gulabo Chhap Design Works, is one of them. So is Stockholm, Sweden, based Anuj Sharma. Sharma, who generally uses checks to achieve precision in stitching and draping, says, “Checks are not going to become a very big trend anytime soon, but they have been around and will stay so forever."

Getting checked

Whether checks are in or out is not as important as knowing how to wear them to work, and when. Most experts feel this classic can look jarring if the checks are in bold and multicolour.

Mumbai-based Punit Chokhani, founder of 16 Stitches, a fashion e-commerce venture that makes custom shirts, suggests beginning small by trying safe constructional details like checked inner-lining fabric. “Bright contrast fabric (inside collars, cuffs or plackets) on a basic solid (coloured) shirt is an old-school trend that is back in vogue," he says.

In contrast, Salesh Grover, business head, OSL Luxury Collections Pvt. Ltd—Corneliani, goads you to experiment. “Every man owns gingham, plaid, tartan or Prince of Wales checks. But (internationally) checked tailoring (has) made its way into several collections through elegantly cut jackets, trousers and outer wear," he says. You could invest in one or try a wire-thin, windowpane checks blazer to take your style quotient higher—windowpane checks look like panes on a window formed by solid, thin, single colour stripes that cross each other. Grover’s other style tips: try print clash (checks and stripes in light shades); wear a full suit (tartan-plaid patterns), with check trouser and jacket.

Mumbai-based Manisha Kadagathur, co-founder of e-commerce brand Nord51, pops checks into weekday dressing as well. “Checks are not restricted to Friday dressing any more. Corporate men wear micro, gingham checks and plaids (from our New Age Banker shirts with double-button collar bands and contrast inner cuffs) even on weekdays as formal, which was not common in India in the past. Although Madras checks are not very formal, they can be worn to work (on Fridays). Also, have argyle (diagonal-check) ties that can be worn with plain shirts," says Kadagathur. She suggests pairing checks with dark chinos or a formal suit, and loosening the tie a bit for a client presentation.

Most designers believe your choice of checks should be decided by your body type. Pandey says: “Straight lines give you length, horizontal lines give you width, and diagonal lines give you a neutral look, which is safe for everyone." Sancheti believes big checks can never really look very formal, and (men with) large body types should avoid them.

Kaur adds: “Checks are dependent on the place where you are and the industry you are working for (for example, bright checks can work as formal wear in the advertising and media industries, but not in the information technology and banking sectors). Large or stout people require small checks like gingham and should avoid wearing big plaids, while those who are lean and tall can experiment with gingham and windowpanes.

“For office wear, one should go for a limited colour palette with small to medium-sized checks," says Kaur.

New Delhi-based Resham Karamchandani, co-founder of The Pot Plant clothing brand, keeps it simple: “I believe checks are timeless and versatile, and there are grids for every body type. You should choose them right—a safe way is to go minimalistic, and sometimes, peppy."

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