Here is a brief overview of six of the most common, and classic, patterns found in clothing and accessories. Learn how to distinguish between different patterns. Solids look great but patterns can add dimension and texture into your ever day wear.
Stripes are one of the most common and well recognized patterns. Whether you are looking at pin striping, fat stripes or diagonals, you're sure to see stripes everywhere. The most classic striping pattern for shirts is thinner, even stripes. Pin stripes are typically reserved for suits because they have a larger scale band between the striping. Look for even sized stripes to create a balanced look. Stripes go well with other stripes and solids. They can be easily worn by anyone and there are many different options. Grab a striped Carolina Blue Oxford to add a staple piece of clothing into your wardrobe.
Checks (and Gingham)
This is neither your typical check mark from school nor is it a written check to cash printed all over your clothing. This is the checked pattern consisting of horizontal and vertical stripes (think chess board). Gingham is typically a bold color checked with white. Checks can be any combination of colors that create the horizontal and vertical striping. They create even sized squares when they overlap. You can find checks in small tight sizes and in larger sizes. A classic Grey Gingham is the perfect shirt to build great looks around.
Plaid (and Tartan)
Plaids can go by many different names such as Glenn Plaid and Tartan. They all have essentially the same idea in their pattern. Typically consisting of two or more colors, they are woven in horizontal and vertical bands. In Scotland and the British Isles, Tartans are a symbol of different families. While plaids are most common in woven wools, the pattern can be found in everything from shirts to accessories. Plaids are most common with a thick stripe surrounded by thinner stripes to create a large repeating pattern. They are typically a louder print due to the multiple colors. If you want a more subtle plaid, look for darker colors or plaids with one color in multiple values. You can also find plaids in small tight patterns and in larger scale patterns. Look for plaids in shirts and fun ties.
Another common pattern in suits, shirts and accessories, herringbone gets its name from the way the fabric is woven, making it look like the bones of the Herring Fish. The two colors woven together create a chevron pattern in thin bands or a zig zag design depending on how you look at it. Typically used in wool cloths in neutral colors. You can also find it in dress shirts. These herringbone patterns are typically made with similar colors to create a subtle look from the distance but shows a touch of detail when close up.
A bold pattern to be used carefully and in moderation is Paisley. This tear-drop snapped design has influences from the Middle East dating back centuries. This a loud print, created with bright colors playing off of each other. You will also be able to see the floral influences in the shape and surrounding additional shapes used in the pattern. It is possible to find tonal paisley patterns, make out of different variations of the same color. If you decide to venture into paisley, pair with other colors found in your wardrobe and stick to mostly solids. Paisley is a bold print and will demand all the attention in your outfit. You can find it in shirts and accessories, sometimes in a small scale and sometimes much larger.
This pattern is a different take on the classic check design. Instead of featuring clean crisp squares, houndstooth has broken corners and is typically looks more diagonal than horizontal. It is a dual tone pattern that is woven in a particular way to create the shapes mimicking a hound's tooth. You will be able to find this pattern in outerwear and plaids but it is also available in accessories and shirts.
Points to Remember
When you're adding patterns into your wardrobe, be careful how many you wear at one time. Mixing patterns is encouraged to create fun looks but only in moderation. Be sure to wear only a few mixed together. Wearing six patterns at a time can look tacky and tasteless.
Balancing patterns is also very important when wearing or mixing. If the pattern is larger, try wearing a different smaller pattern to create contrast. Avoid wearing multiple large patterns together. Let one pattern be your focal point in any outfit and build around it.
If you're new to wearing patterns, starting simple is the best way to go. Layer a simple pattern over a striped shirt for a classic look. If you've found a patterned shirt, try looking for a subtle pattern to wear with it. Incorporate similar colors to bring the pieces together but stay away from completely matching patterns. Remember to have fun and experiment! Wearing patterns will become second nature in no time!