Checks are one of the most easily found and easily worn patterns in all of menswear. Essentially a pattern of repeating squares or rectangles woven or printed onto a given fabric, checks have a unique story behind them.

This page will discuss check patterns in menswear generally. You’ll learn how to wear checks, the garments on which we typically find them as well as the best check suits to buy online. You may also jump to any section you prefer by clicking one of the links found below:

Indochino Wide Banner V3

Indochino Wide Banner V3

Best Check Suits That You Can Buy Online

Before we wrap up this guide, you’ll have the opportunity read about the best check suits that we’ve found online. Each one of them are sold through our favourite online custom suit makers. They’re featured in no particular order of preference.

  1. Black Lapel Windowpane Shadow Check Suit
  2. Indochino Darwen Windowpane Navy Suit
  3. Indochino Burgundy Check Cotton Suit
  4. Black Lapel Santorini Check Custom Suit
  5. Black Lapel Navy Micro Check Custom Suit

You can use the menu above to jump ahead directly to the best suits or scroll down first and learn more about the fabric.

Indochino Link Block

See All Of Our Suit Guides

Read Now

What Is A Check Pattern?

A check (also referred to as “checker” or “chequer”) is a pattern of horizontal and vertical lines crossed over each other each other to form squares on a fabric. Checks are seen in various scales ranging from incredibly small to quite large, and certain styles of checks -plaids- have associations with Scottish clans that go back centuries.

Etymologically, the word comes from ancient Persian. The word shah, meaning “king,” is actually the basis of the word. When considering the game of chess, which is played on a checked board, the expression shah mat was used when a player won. It means “the king is dead,” which would translate to “check mate” in modern times.

The French corrupted the word around the 11th century and used échec, and the word was adopted into English from there.

Types Of Check Patterns

The word “check” refers to a simple square-on-square pattern, but encompasses a wide variety of sub-checks as well. Below are the most common ones you’ll see.

Windowpane

Indochino Made to Measure SuitWhen checks go large scale we call them windowpanes due to their resemblance of, well, windowpanes. This check works particularly well on sport coats and is absolutely divine on flannels with a chalky look to it, similar to a chalk stripe.

It’s also found on certain suits, though these tend to be quite loud and are more geared towards dandies wearing them about town as opposed to a conservative businessman.

Plaids & Tartans

Plaids (also known as tartans) are, in fact, a style of check. There are quite a few tartans, and their color and size permutation possibilities means that new ones can be created ad nauseum.

Due to the depth of the subject we’ve created a guide to plaid, which we cordially invite you to read.

Burberry Check

Burberry Macintosh Vintage Style GentlemanBurberry’s check, technically a tartan, is known the world over. The Scottish Register Of Tartans even says that this particular tartan has “…become so much part of the Burberry image that it has been trademarked and can now be regarded as a Corporate tartan.”

The company used to feature its tartan much more prominently until its use became widespread within chav culture. Regardless of one’s feelings on the term (which is pejorative but considered by some to be a manifestation of classism), Burberry attributed this trend to easily acquired counterfeit merchandise.

Tattersall

Typically reserved for shirts and, to a lesser extent, waistcoats, tattersall refers to a check that’s done in two or more colors, often on a light background. This could be, for example, black vertical lines crossed with blue horizontal lines on a white background. Tattersall is more often than not found on cotton and makes for an excellent business casual shirt.

If you’d like to learn more about the business casual wardrobe, see our business casual guide.

Gingham

If you ever see an article of clothing that resembles a picnic tablecloth, it’s gingham. A pattern mostly seen on shirts and pocket squares, it’s almost always done on cotton. Blue and white is the classic color scheme, but theoretically any color combination will work, especially if white is one of the colors.

How & When To Wear Checks

Generally, the answer to the question of when to wear checks is directly linked to how you wear them. From a high level though, know that checks can be worn any time of year and work particularly well during the day. We’ll go over some key check garments below.

Suits

Indochino Custom Suit & Wold & Shepherd BotosChecked suits are typically found as customer creations from custom suit shops. As they don’t fit the sartorial needs of the average businessman, few ready-to-wear companies will make it because the production costs are simply too high.

With that said, a checked suit makes for an incredibly bold look. If you’re a man who simply likes wearing suits or has a reputation for being a clothes guy, a checked suit is for you. Also, if you’re attending a celebratory occasion such as a daytime wedding, definitely look into the possibilities of a checked suit.

If you need more information on what to wear to a wedding (no matter what your role in the wedding is, if any), we highly suggest you take a look at our wedding guide.

Alternatively, we’ve gathered a selection of excellent custom check suits, which you can read about below.

Sport Coats

A checked sport coat is a key item for any man who wants to have a well-stocked closet. They pair beautifully with solid trousers be they simple cotton chinos, denim, or dressy flannels.

Sport jackets are available in a wide range of colors and often fall into the windowpane and plaid groups. For more on sport coats, see our sport jacket guide.

Shirts

Checked shirts are one of the easiest ays for a man to put some pattern into his life because the pattern is widely accepted in most offices and always works when out on the town (unless you’re wearing a tuxedo, of course). Shirts are often made in tattersalls and ginghams, though simple one-color checks are also extremely common.

For plenty of information on how to wear shirts, our guide to men’s shirtings is a great resource.

Pocket Squares

Handkerchiefs are made in just about any pattern and color imaginable, and checks are no exception. Equally as popular in cotton and silk, a checked pocket square can be paired with a tie, shirt, coat, or even a pair of socks.

Our pocket square series has coordination advice, different ways to fold, and plenty more on handkerchiefs if you’d like to see more.

Popular Colors Combinations & Materials

Purple gingham shirt with green tieAs far as color is concerned, checks are made in every color you can think of. Generally, checks tend to be colorful as opposed to subdued, but of course there are always exceptions.

Wool

On suits, sport coats, and odd vests, checks on a wool fabric are a very smart look. They work particularly well when the wool is a nubbier flannel as opposed to a smoother worsted, much in the same way a chalk stripe looks better in this way. Even when put onto a dressier garment, though, a check looks great on wool and most men benefit from having at least one such piece in their closets.

Cotton

Checks on cotton is generally reserved for shirts and pocket squares, which in turn means that most cotton checks tend to be tattersall and gingham. Every guy, regardless of his age, profession, or stature in life, should own a few such garments.

Best Check Suits To Buy Online

As mentioned above, we’ve sampled a selection of our favourite custom check suits to buy online. These are featured in no particular order of preference but each give an insight into the fabric’s properties.

  1. Black Lapel Windowpane Shadow Check Suit
  2. Indochino Darwen Windowpane Navy Suit
  3. Indochino Burgundy Check Cotton Suit
  4. Black Lapel Santorini Check Custom Suit
  5. Black Lapel Navy Micro Check Custom Suit

You can use the menu above to jump ahead or scroll down to discover them all.

1. Black Lapel Windowpane Shadow Check Suit

Black Lapel Windowpane Shadow Check Suit
  • Material: 100% Wool
  • Yarn Fineness: Super 130s
  • Fabric Weight: Not Listed
  • Lining: 100% Bemberg
  • Buttons: Not Listed
  • Price: $799* [Shop Now]

* With “FTOBESPOKEUNIT” $50 Discount Code

Shop Now

A fine and opulent suit crafted from Super 130s wool, Black Lapel’s shadow windowpane check is subtle and elegant. Ideal for wearing throughout the year, it’s a stylish garment that’s perfect for both professional and special occasions.

2. Indochino Darwen Windowpane Navy Suit

Indochino Custom Suit & Aviator Sunglasses
  • Material: 100% Wool
  • Yarn Fineness: Super 100s
  • Fabric Weight: 310 gsm
  • Lining: Not Listed
  • Buttons: Not Listed
  • Price: $299* [Shop Now]

* With “BESPOKEUNIT” $30 Discount Code

Shop Now

An elegant maroon windowpane check over a navy backdrop, this thick and luxurious fabric is ideal for winter wear. We’ve reviewed this particular suit in detail and find it to be an excellent choice to complement bolder wardrobes.

3. Indochino Burgundy Check Cotton Suit

Indochino Burgundy Check Cotton Suit
  • Material: 78% Wool, 21% Cotton, 1% Spandex
  • Yarn Fineness: Super 100s
  • Fabric Weight: 215 gsm
  • Lining: Not Listed
  • Buttons: Not Listed
  • Price: $269* [Shop Now]

* With “BESPOKEUNIT” $30 Discount Code

Shop Now

A summer alternative to the suit above, this check suit features a rich burgundy gingham, which is ideal to wear either casually or in more laid-back office environments. The blend is composed mostly of wool for an improved drape while the touch of cotton offers breathability for the heat.

4. Black Lapel Santorini Check Custom Suit

Black Lapel Santorini Check Custom Suit
  • Material: 38% Wool, 34% Silk, 28% Linen
  • Yarn Fineness: Not Listed
  • Fabric Weight: Not Listed
  • Lining: 100% Bemberg
  • Buttons: Brown Bull Horn
  • Price: $849* [Shop Now]

* With “FTOBESPOKEUNIT” $50 Discount Code

Shop Now

Another summer suit, we’re very fond of this addition to Black Lapel’s Savoy Line. Composed of a wool, silk, and linen blend, it’s lightweight and breathes well in the heat. The plaid-style check is rich and luxurious and the linen is sourced from E. Thomas.

5. Black Lapel Navy Micro Check Custom Suit

navy-micro-check-suit-hero
  • Material: 85% Wool, 15% Silk
  • Yarn Fineness: Not Listed
  • Fabric Weight: Not Listed
  • Lining: 100% Bemberg
  • Buttons: Brown Bull Horn
  • Price: $549* [Shop Now]

* With “FTOBESPOKEUNIT” $50 Discount Code

Shop Now

Thanks to an added 15% silk into the blend, this stylish yet understated checked suit is perfect for summers in the office. Its elegant and subtle check is perfect for serious business professional environments.

Additional Resources

We hope that you’ve learned enough about checks to feel confident shopping for garments in this pattern, let alone wearing them. If you’d like to learn more about patterns in general, our patterns home page will get you up to speed on all the most common patterns in menswear. Meanwhile, our fabrics page serves as a great complement.

Alternatively, consider perusing some of our related content:

Check Suit Fabric Guide
Reviewed by Jean M., on .
"Some stylish suits in this guide! Very handy, much appreciated for taking the time to write this detailed guide."
Rating: 5.0 ★★★★★

Black Lapel Sidebar Banner

Newsletter

Best Of Bespoke Unit & the Web