I was at a startup festival event filled with VCs and geeky startup people last summer and one person’s shirt caught my eye. I saddled over to him and said, “Nice gingham!” He looked at me awkwardly.
Two things to note here: the startup world isn’t always hip on fashion AND the word gingham isn’t used in everyday language. I’m not sure what he thought I meant by the comment, but I quickly explained to him that I was referring to the checkered pattern of his shirt. He looked relieved.
Gingham is one of my favorite pattern terms. It’s not only fun to say, but it’s a fun pattern in general. Often associated with picnictablecloths, Wizard of Oz’s Dorothy and Daisy May characters, gingham’s most frequent color schemes are red and white or blue and white. It’s a sweet, innocent looking pattern, but can be played up in all sorts of fun ways.
The word itself originates from the Malay language: genggang, meaning striped and gingham itself was originally a striped weave. It was in the 18th century that the checkered pattern was popularized. Gingham is often related to summer clothing because if it’s lightweight nature – usually woven from fine cotton yarn – and is one of the few completely reversible patterns (same pattern on both sides of the fabric).
Just to show you how darn cute and versatile this pattern is, here are 8 fabulous examples: