Once upon a time, picking a suit was fairly straightforward. You had the choice of black, grey or navy, and the cuts were pretty basic. They were never particularly exciting or interesting, they were always safe and you could guarantee that there’d be 50 other men at the event wearing almost identical outfits. Now, however, men’s fashion has taken a huge step forward, and there are plenty of different colours, patterns and fabrics to choose from.
All these options can make choosing the perfect suit seem a little overwhelming, but take it as an opportunity to experiment and show off your personality. Opting for a bright colour or an unusual fabric might not suit (excuse the pun) everyone, but picking a pattern is a much more subtle way of showing you’re on trend and fashion forward, without standing out too much from the crowd. Check, plaid, tartan – whatever you call it, these suits have been hugely popular recently thanks to major style-savvy celebs such as Ryan Gosling and Eddie Redmayne, and there’s a never-ending range of different plaids, checks and tartans so you can keep things interesting with different size patterns and colours. Check out (sorry) our favourite plaid suits below and see just how to style them to make sure you’re the most dapper gent in the room.
Windowpane Check presented by Chadwick Boseman
Chadwick Boseman in a windowpane suit
The windowpane check is one of the most subtle ways to pull off this stylish trend. Stick with a dark, neutral colour such as navy to complement the lighter check pattern and make it really stand out. A classic fit will stop the suit from looking like you’ve tried too hard and will make sure you look simple and clean. A lighter coloured shirt, preferably in the same shade as the check, will make the pattern stand out perfectly, whilst a neutral coloured tie keeps the whole look effortless and sophisticated. If you’re feeling particularly daring, you could try a tie in a clashing pattern, like Chadwick Boseman did for his Late Show appearance, or go with a bold stand out colour to compliment the simplicity of the suit – a red tie against a navy suit is both timeless and stylish.
Copy the Look of David Letterman
Classic Plaid worn in a Tweed Suit Version by David Beckham
David Beckham wearing a beige checkered suit
There are very few ways you can go wrong with a beautiful classic plaid suit. The sharp detail of overlapping checks in various sizes makes any plaid piece look luxurious and expensive, and there’s always a huge range of colours to choose from. A light grey with blue check detail looks fresh and original, whilst a classic brown plaid is enough to make any guy look refined and confident. It’s always best to pair your plaid suit with neutral colours to allow the suit to do all the talking.
A simple shirt in a white or navy keeps the suit looking crisp, and can either be worn with a complimentary-coloured tie or with an open collar for a more relaxed style. Opting for a three-piece version like David Beckham is the perfect pick for a smart occasion such as a wedding, and you can accessorise with a matching crisp white pocket square. Match with a dark tie to keep it streamlined and sophisticated.
Copy the Look of David Beckham
Will Smith is also wearing it: The Dark Tartan Pattern
Will Smith in a checkered Suit
Opting for a simple tartan check in a dark colour allows you to play with the rest of your outfit to create a stylish and modern look. A deep burgundy is a fresh take on this trend, rather than sticking with a dark blue or green, and can be dressed up or down accordingly. Burgundy can be paired with almost any colour, so whether you’re opting for just the jacket, or going all out with a full three-piece suit like Will Smith did, you can team it up with almost any other items in your wardrobe. Choose a coloured shirt in forest green or navy blue to make the burgundy colour pop, and keep the rest of your look simple and classic for a chic evening look. If you’re attending something a little more casual, or you’re just sick of the same shirt and tie combo, a roll neck top is a high-end fashion alternative. Opt for an off white roll neck like Smith did for his red carpet look to keep your outfit appropriate for formal occasions, or go for a black or charcoal grey one for a more casual dinner or drinks situation.
Copy the Look of Will Smith
Check Vest combined with a Grey Suit by David Gandy
David Gandy in a checkered Vest
If you’re not quite ready to commit to a full-blown check suit, a patterned vest or waistcoat is the perfect way to dip your toe into the check trend without committing to an entire outfit. If you’re not ready to be the centre of attention, find a check that is fairly neutral in colour and print, such as a navy windowpane check, or a subtle grey plaid print. The more neutral the vest, the easier it is for you to mix and match with various simple suits and shirts, and you can brighten it up with some bold accessories – try a matching tie and pocket square in a bright colour, or an unexpected shirt colour such as pink or yellow. David Gandy does this perfectly with his simple, perfectly tailored grey suit, with grey check print vest underneath.
If you’re feeling a bit bolder, go all out with a bold check or colourway on your vest to make it a real statement piece. Build the rest of your outfit around it with some more subtle coloured suits such as navies, browns or greys to let your waistcoat do the talking. This is also a great way of wearing the vest section of a three-piece suit on its own when the weather is too hot for a jacket, or you’re going somewhere more casual.
Copy the Look of David Gandy