Our ‘Know Your Patterns’ and ‘Know Your Fabrics’ series are proving to be pretty darn popular, so we’re going to keep them rolling as long as we can keep thinking of more textiles to explore. This week, we’re back at it again with another edition of ‘Know Your Patterns’ and turn our eye to a classic; Tattersall. This is one that you surely see everywhere (it’s well loved for it’s versatility), but probably just never knew the technical name attached to it. No more!
A Tattersall pattern is made up of two thin, regularly spaced grids, traditionally placed against a lighter background (although some versions with light grids against a dark background can be found).
Beyond that, it’s easier to explain what Tattersall isn’t. First, it isn’t printed on fabric, but rather woven into it. Second, it is not a large-scale, windowpane pattern, but instead much smaller in scale (although some variation is definitely available). Third, Tattersall is not merely a graph-check (usually), and instead tends to be distinguished by the two, evenly alternating colors (although single-color patterns do exist, as you’ll see below). Also, unlike many other plaids, the spacing between the grids does not change, although the pattern will often be taller that it is wide.
The name itself comes from a famous race horse auction house, Tattersall’s London Horse Auction mart, established by Richard Tattersall in 1776. At that time, the pattern was commonly used by the auction house on their horse blankets, with the pattern being transitioned to men’s shirting towards the end of the 19th century.
Since then, the pattern has remained popular in men’s apparel through the ages, and as we mentioned, is favored for its versatility. Depending on the cut of the shirt, the pattern lends itself just as easily to casual wear as it does tailored suiting, and looks great with jeans or a solid-colored suit. Additionally, it is not a season-specific fabric, and a guy can wear it summer, fall, winter and spring. Lastly, the flexibility in the color and scale of the grids allows the pattern to be adapted to a variety of complexions and body types.
Recommending products here is a bit of a challenge. First off, the outright differences between Tattersall patterns are not that emphasized - each has a light background with some assortments of colors incorporated through the grids. The colors you pick will/should rely heavily on not just personal preference, but more-so what will work well with your current wardrobe. Also, the pattern is used pretty exclusively in shirting (you won’t really find Tattersall suits or trousers). That said, we listed a few personal favorites:
First, this shirt shows Tattersall at it’s simplest - one color, lightly printed on a white background:
|Washed Shirt in Thin Open Tattersall | J.Crew Factory|
As we mentioned, Tattersall usually comes with two colors, but at it’s most minimal will be monochrome.
If you are looking for something more interesting, the shirt below exhibits a more standard Tattersall with two colors over a light background:
|Grayson Tattersall Shirt | Spectre & Co.|
We reviewed Spectre a while back and loved their shirts, and this one looks like a sharp winner at just $45 (plus, blue and brown is one of my favorite color combinations).
On the more high-fashion end of the spectrum, Gant offers this classic:
|Tattersall Sport Shirt | Gant via East Dane|
Note the two colors (blue and red) alternating evenly on a white background. About as classic as it gets.
We wanted to show an example of Tattersall on a dark background, but those tend to be much more widespread in the cooler seasons, and we couldn’t find an option we liked right now. While we were hunting, though, we decided it was important to note that you will find a lot of ‘Tattersall’ shirts out there - note the quotations! These usually include more than two colors, irregular check patterns, or some other variation. Of course, these can be just as stylish, and this may not even make a difference to you, just know that they aren’t traditional Tattersall (and therefore we omitted for the sake of this article).
Do you have any Tattersall pieces in your wardrobe? Any favorites?