Design, Photography, & Fashion

What Is Gingham? Different Ways to Use and Wear Gingham

Written by MasterClass

Aug 23, 2019 • 2 min read

MasterClass Video Lessons

Marc Jacobs Teaches Fashion Design

Gingham fabric is almost synonymous with picnic tablecloths and was imprinted in the collective pop-culture memory via Dorothy’s blue gingham dress in The Wizard of Oz.

Whatever you associate with gingham, the quintessential checked pattern has a long legacy in the U.S. and Europe and is still popular on runways today.



Marc Jacobs Teaches Fashion DesignMarc Jacobs Teaches Fashion Design

In 18 lessons, iconic designer Marc Jacobs teaches you his process for creating innovative, award-winning fashion.

Learn More

What Is Gingham?

Gingham is a cotton fabric, or cotton blend fabric, made with dyed yarn woven using a plain weave to form a checked pattern.

Gingham is usually a two-color pattern, and popular combinations are red and white gingham or blue and white gingham. The checked pattern can come in a variety of sizes. The gingham pattern is reversible and appears the same on both sides. Gingham is a popular fabric due to its low cost and ease of production.

Gingham is used frequently for button-down shirts, dresses, and tablecloths.

Where Does the Word “Gingham” Come From?

There are a few theories as to word gingham’s etymology. One theory is that the word “gingham” came from the Malay word “genggang,” which means “striped,” which then moved to the Dutch language as “gingang” to evolve into “gingham” in English.

Another theory is that the material was made in the town of Guingamp in France and was named for the location. However, the French also call gingham “Vichy” and claim the design originated in the town of the same name.

Marc Jacobs Teaches Fashion Design
Frank Gehry Teaches Design and Architecture
Annie Leibovitz Teaches Photography
Diane von Furstenberg Teaches Building a Fashion Brand

5 Different Ways to Use and Wear Gingham

Gingham is a popular print for clothing and home decor, and there are several ways to incorporate gingham style into your daily life.

  1. Dress it up. If Brigitte Bardot’s wedding dress is any indication, gingham can be dressed up to the nines. The pattern is often seen on the runways, frequently used as gowns, capes, jackets, and more.
  2. In the workplace. Gingham button-down shirts and gingham dresses translate to the workplace. Gingham dress shirts go well with a pair of slacks or jeans. Gingham shirts come in short-sleeve or long-sleeve and are very versatile.
  3. At the beach. Gingham is also a popular pattern for bathing suits and beach towels, though both are usually made with a printed gingham pattern rather than being true, woven gingham.
  4. To accessorize. Gingham is great for accent pieces and accessorizing since the simple, checked pattern works well when pairing with other patterns. Pocket squares, scarves, and headbands are a great way to incorporate a subtle pop of gingham into any outfit.
  5. Home decorating. The classic gingham check looks great in any home, whether as chair upholstery, tablecloths, window treatments, and bed linens. The plaid pattern functions as a neutral so it can complement almost any home designs.

Become a better fashion designer with the MasterClass All Access Pass. Gain access to exclusive video lessons taught by fashion design masters including Marc Jacobs, Diane von Furstenberg, and more.


Suggested for You

Online classes taught by the world’s greatest minds. Extend your knowledge in these categories.

Marc Jacobs

Teaches Fashion Design

Learn More
Frank Gehry

Teaches Design And Architecture

Learn More
Annie Leibovitz

Teaches Photography

Learn More
Diane von Furstenberg

Teaches Building A Fashion Brand

Learn More



Want to continue learning?
Find out if MasterClass is right for you
4 quick questions that will take you less than 1 minute.
Take quiz