Patterns aren’t an easy thing to master. Quite the contrary, designs can be a very tricky beast when it comes to quantify and qualify their properties if you aren’t used to wearing them all that much. If you have trouble identifying anything trickier than a stripe, then this handy ‘how to’ should help fill you in on some of the older, more conservative prints you’re likely to find on the high street.

Take in mind this is by no means a comprehensive list; there are lots of other intricate designs out there, however, these are the ones you’re going to find that turn up time after time:

houndstoothHoundstooth – it’s not a surprise to learn that this pattern is so-called because, at a distant glance, it vaguely resembles angular canine dentures. Commonly found on jackets and blazers, the pattern is often printed in matching tones for menswear, unlike the traditional monotone look favored by women’s retailers.

herringboneHerringbone – a tight pattern that’s easily identifiable by its trademark chevrons that, in the right light, slightly resemble cartoon fish bones. Often found on suits, scarves and socks, not to mention jackets and blazers. Monotone by design, this black and white classic has been given a fresh twist with greys, browns and charcols.

pinstripePinstripe – Identifiable through its evenly spaced, yet tightly packed dotted stripes. Usually the stripes are fine, light, and uniform while the backing remains solid and dull. Modern variations tend to modify the shade of color utilized in the stripes, e.g. olive and pistachio, navy blue and aquamarine, burgundy and tan.

paisleyPaisley – Perhaps the boldest pattern of them all, paisley is categorized by its distinctive twisting, droplet shape. Originating from Persia, the design came into vogue during the latter stages of the seventeenth century. Once a commonplace design, paisley’s highly ornate pattern is a rarer sight in modern times; now most often found on neckties!

“How should I wear these patterns?”

In a word: Carefully!

Patterns can become too much of a good thing if you don’t use caution. If you’re not very confident wearing these ornate designs, or are new to patterned clothing, start by lightly accessorizing with them; a pair of herringbone socks or a pinstriped tie is a good place to start.

Try to keep your patterns in colors that match your other clothing; use larger garments for your base color (e.g. shirts, blazers, etc) and then use an accenting hue for the pattern on your smaller items (e.g. necktie, scarf, etc).

If you do decide to be bold with your usage, ensure that you proportion the weight of the pattern over your garments. Offset busier, smaller repeating patterns with larger chunkier ones to tone things down a notch.

About The Author

Johnathan Bell is the founder, owner and main author of Guy Style Guide, a website dedicated to everyday male fashion, style and grooming. The primary mission? To guide clueless men through the tricky mindfield that is the growing world of male couture. Find him on , Twitter and Tumblr.

4 Responses

  1. Johnathan

    Very true.

    These are just some basic designs for guys to identify when starting out with buying patterns. As they become more confident, they can start experimenting with more sophisticated designs.

    I may, one day, create a more advanced guide to patterns.

    Thanks for the comment!