Good ol’ gingham. The origin of this punchy, woven cotton or linen fabric dates back to the 17th century. The first ginghams were originally exported to Europe via Dutch-colonized Malaysia, and they were striped; not checked (“gingham” is borrowed from the Malay adjective for “striped”). When the Brits started manufacturing fabrics in the 18th century, they translated the weave into the familiar “check” pattern we know today, typically crossing blue-dyed yarn with white before weaving. Gingham was a particularly economical fabric because it has the same appearance on both sides—making it a perfect fit for all manners of apparel. It could be said that in 19th century Britain and the early 20th century U.S., gingham became the fabric of the people: authentic, wholesome, versatile, and inexpensive enough to be available for all.
Whether you see gingham and think Dorothy or Annie Get Your Gun!, the fabric has re-emerged as a fresh fabrication on the spring/summer 2015 runways, carrying along with it youthful, nostalgic flair. I admit, I am new to gingham—at least as far back as I can remember. I think I’ve chosen to steer clear due to an implicit understanding of how much gingham would be required to cover me in either part or entirety—and how costumey it could potentially appear. But when tall girl staple Long Tall Sally introduced a classic trench this spring, done up in a navy and white gingham—I reasoned that if there was any brand that could make gingham work for the tall frame, it was LTS (and if there was any time to try it, it was now, with what has been a slow but very exciting shift to greener pastures and sunnier skies here in Boston).
Though I increasingly find myself drawn to solid colors, minimal shapes, and fewer embellishments on all that I wear, I was surprised by how comfortable and modern I felt in Long Tall Sally’s Check Trench. The benefit of buying a tall-dedicated trench is that the waist falls where it should; the shoulders are roomy in the way they should be; and the sleeve length—oh the sleeve length!—breaks perfectly over the wrists. For extra flattery, the proportions on the Check Trench have been resized to be especially enhancing to curvy frames (and tall women who normally steer clear of double-breasted or belted silhouettes). The double-breasted buttons are set wider, the notch collar is larger, and the belt is longer.
Replete with the coat’s jaunty pattern, navy satin piping, and glossy buttons and detailing, the entire effect is perfectly turned out—and though not so friendly to incognito jaunts under the cover of a classic camel or khaki trench, quite friendly to being noticed on day outings (and even warmer month evenings).
As a woman reformed, I can’t recommend a better and more modern way to wear gingham in the city. And whether your aesthetic tends to the urban or the urbane, this is truly a versatile coat for all tastes, occasions, and most seasons, too.
[I opted to pair the Check Trench with an ensemble that was a bit 90s, and a bit west coast inspired. The standout piece was the Organza Crop Shirt from the TTYA x Long Tall Sally spring/summer collection. The shirt—much like the Check Trench—comes in a fabrication (sheer organza), colorway (icy blue), and shape (boxy cropped) I had historically been too chicken to try. But yet again, and in another instance—the TTYA x LTS collection offers the tall girl the opportunity to wear on-trend styles with no compromise to fit or dignity. My only wish? That that shirt had a matching midi skirt—in fabulously sheer, full, baby blue organza, so that I could wear even more of it.]