The most iconic versions of gingham are looks worth avoiding: old-school picnic blankets, Dorothy’s signature pinafore dress, the uniform of Raggedy Andy. It’s not a fabric like, say, white cotton or denim, that goes wrong about .0001 percent of the time. No, you’ve got to carefully consider all the clichés (line dancers to milkmaids to cowgirls) and find a way to sidestep each one.
If that simply sounds like too much work, don’t give up yet: in the gallery above, I’m compiled five foolproof guidelines for always getting the cheerful checkered pattern right. Even better, along with each one, I’ve included a fresh spin on styling gingham that seem nothing like something Mary Ann Summer or Dolly Parton—or Miley Cyrus pretending to be Dolly Parton—would wear (unless that’s your thing, in which case I say own it!) to try on mornings you feel less than inspired. You’re going to have this look on lockdown all summer (and possibly winter, because, hey, Prada says you can)—I promise. Click through the slideshow to make it happen.