A Very Italian Check

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I’ve been daydreaming about what kind of sport coat I’d like to get next, and somewhere on the list is a Shepherd’s check, which I’ve long thought of as a very Italian pattern. It may have something to do with this old photo shot by The Sartorialist. That jacket isn’t technically a Shepherd’s check, but if you squint hard and use your imagination, it’s close enough. 

A true Shepherd’s check is a simple black-and-white pattern that looks something like it’s familiar cousin - gingham. It’s one of the oldest checks in existence, and it known to many as a Border tartan for its association with the Anglo-Scottish border. In its most primitive and traditional weave, it’s comprised of six black threads and six white threads, with the white threads being made up of untreated sheep’s wool, and the darker threads being the same, but taken from black sheep. 

The pattern is so old that it’s been the basis for a number of other Scottish patterns. The ever popular houndstooth, for example, was originally made in the Lowlands as a Shepherd’s check variant. There are also a number of Scottish estate tweeds, such as the Glenfeshie, which is essentially a Shepherd’s check decorated with a scarlet overcheck. That was made in 1840 to help distinguish men of the forest from shepherds, and there have been many other estate tweeds based on the simple Border tartan since. 

Despite the strong Scottish roots, I still think of the check as being very Italian. Maybe it’s because the few times I’ve seen it, it’s usually worn by Italian men or used in ready-to-wear Italian garments. Either way, I’d like to get my own one day - ideally in a mixture of a mid-brown and tan, or mid-brown and chocolate, like you see below. I think if I wore it, I’d have to talk to people like Luciano Barbera is doing above. With one hand up, in a pose that seems to say “I’m telling you about the handsomeness of Shepherd’s check, but will you listen?” 

(Photos via The Sartorialist, eBay, Da-i-Net, Sartoria Panico, and Project Mad House)


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    Love this cloth
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