Best gingham dresses, trousers and shirts to buy in 2021

It’s spring, the trees are blooming, lockdown is easing and seeing people outside your own household is back on the agenda. It couldn’t be a more glorious and exciting time, but the question on everyone’s lips is: what are you gonna wear?

The celebratory feeling of lockdown beginning to lift might tempt some to go all out in glitter and glitz – and why not? By all means! But if you want something more pared down but equally joyous, gingham could be just the trick for your post-lockdown wardrobe.

Gingham really is synonymous with spring, bringing to mind images of picnic blankets and daisies and the young green leaves of the season. While it might seem an old-fashioned print, designers have recently elevated the classic gingham with bright colour combinations and interesting silhouettes that are far, far away from dreary.

The name of the fabric gingham may originate from the Malay word “genggang”, or it may come from the French town of Guingamp. Although its origins are unclear, its popularity is undeniable and enduring. It was ported into Europe in the 17th century and remains a staple print throughout fashion cycles until today.

We sifted through an avalanche of gingham clothing to bring you the best of the season. We searched high and low for a dazzling array of colours and prioritised fit and quality over fast fashion wherever possible.

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Our selection of the best gingham clothing includes pieces that can be mixed and matched with what you already have in your closet, and standout pieces that speak for themselves.

You can trust our independent reviews. We may earn commission from some of the retailers, but we never allow this to influence selections, which are formed from real-world testing and expert advice. This revenue helps to fund journalism across The Independent.

Molby the Label Tilda dress

You’ve likely seen this dress at some point on Instagram, and for good reason – our reviewers are declaring it the It Dress of the season. Made-to-order by an independent slow fashion label headed by Karina Molby, the Tilda midi dress is our absolute favourite. The cut is flattering on every body shape and because it’s made to order, you can let the team at Molby The Label know if you require the dress to be made according to specific measurements. But even the standard sizing is excellent and fits true to size, something that even high street brands often don’t get right.

The original Tilda dress comes in a lovely red and pink combo, but there are other iterations of the dress in pink and orange or a pastel combo – or you can request a custom-made dress in your favourite colours. However, the label only opens for orders on Sunday afternoons and you have to be lightning quick, as it’s been known to sell out completely within minutes! Follow Molby The Label on Instagram for shop updates and regular new design drops.

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Nobody’s Child green textured gingham esme midi dress

Our reviewers love how light this dress is, and the slightly crinkled fabric means you’ll never have to worry about ironing it (yep, this dress is about as stress-free as they come). It’s a great option if you’re looking for something more modest, with its high neckline, and the puff sleeves are ample and comfortable, with no squeezing involved.

The back of the dress is ruched, giving the wearer a more defined waistline but is forgiving if you have a few too many fizzy drinks. What’s not to like? Just throw it on and waltz out the door.

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Asos Design cotton smock vest in blue gingham

Not quite ready to commit to body-hugging clothing yet? We feel you. This lightweight smock vest is the one if you can’t stand the thought of anything that might cling. Floaty and made from skin-cooling cotton, it’s perfect for warmer spring and summer days ahead. It looks tidy with its crew neckline, but our reviewers love how loose and airy the tiered and A-line shape is.

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Pink City Prints cornflower gingham rah rah midi dress

This beautiful pale blue number gives us big Judy Garland in The Wizard of Oz vibes, but makes it grown-up. Although dreamily soft, this hand-loomed gingham sourced from Kolkata is structured really well in this dress. The elasticated waist creates a really defined shape and the sleeves can be worn on or off-shoulder – our reviewers think it looks fantastic with the latter.

Pink City Prints, founded by Glasgow School of Art graduate Molly Russell, supports craftspeople in India who specialise in embroidery, block printing and hand looming. The brand prides itself in paying employees at least double the minimum wage for their labour and fostering ethical production as well as sustainable practices. It’s a win-win.

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Lazy Oaf orange juice gingham jumpsuit

Bright orange gingham brings a sense of whimsy to this otherwise utilitarian jumpsuit. Featuring a partially-elasticated waistband, front and back pockets and a wide leg, it ticks all the boxes for style and practicality. Lazy Oaf is well-known for their vibrant, quirky designs, and this definitely fits the bill if you’re looking for a standout piece that is low-fuss and high impact.

Word of warning if you’re a short shopper – while this fits true to size, it does run a bit long in the legs for a size 14, 5’3” reviewer and might require some turning up at the hem.

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Cnstnce Boutique OZ blouse

Big collars are still bang on trend, and this made-to-order blouse does not disappoint. The fabric used for this blouse is slightly thicker and heavier compared to most of our picks here, and the long sleeves make it perfect for brisker temperatures. It can be made in several different colours and features Mother of Pearl buttons, which can be changed to cater to vegan shoppers.

The OZ blouse also has a slightly cropped length that hits just below the waistline, so high-waisted trousers are best if you prefer to tuck it in. Do note that this is created by a slow fashion brand, so it will take four weeks to make from the time you place an order. But if you’re looking to shift your shopping habits away from fast fashion, this is a great place to start.

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OST Inga gingham trousers

These pull-on trousers are highly popular among British influencers right now, and it’s no surprise when you see the bright colours they come in. From blue to emerald green to purple to yellow gingham, they can be paired with any mood and style. They are exceedingly simple – featuring an elasticated waistband with a straight leg – and are very lightweight, which makes them fun to create different outfits with.

However, they aren’t without their flaws. These trousers are not especially friendly for curvier shoppers and would likely suit narrower hips better. The fabric is also slightly see-through, despite the busy print, so nude underwear would be your best bet.

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Ganni ruffle-trimmed stretch-mesh midi wrap skirt

Despite comprising of mesh, this skirt is surprisingly weighty and falls really nicely to the middle of one’s shin. This is likely due to the fact it is fully lined, but is also weighted down by the ruffles, which go all the way around the skirt. The mesh is soft and stretchy and the thick waistband makes this skirt extremely comfortable to wear. We like that the lining is shorter than the mesh outer layer, which gives the wearer the illusion of a bit more height. According to the Outnet, this skirt is true to size but our reviewers found it actually runs quite large due to its stretchiness and would recommend buying a size down.

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Faith Rowan Leeves the painter’s shirt

This oversized linen shirt is so comfortable, our reviewers didn’t want to take it off. Made from 100 per cent Irish linen, it’s soft on the skin and we love the delicate frill that lines the bottom hem of the shirt. You can layer a t-shirt or thermal wear underneath when it’s chilly, or wear it alone and enjoy the breeziness of this shirt. The gathered cuff at the end of the sleeve does mean you can’t roll it up, but we didn’t feel this was a problem at all.

Faith Rowan Leeves opens her shop on Wednesdays at 8am, but can only take 20 to 25 orders at a time so you’ll have to be quick about ordering. You can also get in touch with her about specific sizing requirements, to ensure the clothes fit you just right.

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Tiny gingham cami top and pyjama shorts (purchased separately)

Get ahead of the warmer nights with this gingham pyjama set, which is super light and absolutely perfect for the summer. Both the cami top and the shorts (£25, Lesgirlslesboys.com) are loose, but not so loose that you wake up in a sweat with your clothes twisted around you – as some our reviewers are prone to – but they stay put all night long, suitable for even the most thrashing of sleepers. The lightweight cotton allows skin to breathe and stay cool, making these essential for hot summer nights.

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Signature gingham scoop one piece

Now that we can plan a swim or trip to the beach, we’re on the lookout for cute swimwear. This timeless scoop neck and back one-piece swimsuit from Free People should definitely be on your radar. The pale orange gingham looks extra summery and our reviewers especially love the flattering high-cut leg, which altogether removes the issue some swimsuits have with digging in between the hip and thigh. It’s a simple but classic swimsuit design that flatters most body types and offers fairly good coverage – however, it may not suit a larger bust as it doesn’t offer ample space in that area.

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IndyBest product reviews are unbiased, independent advice you can trust. On some occasions, we earn revenue if you click the links and buy the products, but we never allow this to bias our coverage. The reviews are compiled through a mix of expert opinion and real-world testing.

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