Who doesn’t love the idea of a great paisley tie, herringbone sport coat, glen plaid suit or pinstriped shirt? But, how should you wear them, and do you dare mix and match all these patterns?
For a lot of guys, patterns can be intimidating, and their uncertainty over how to wear them, we find, can keep a lot of people in solid shirts and neutral suits, safely relegating any and all patterns to only their ties and pocket squares for fear of making a fashion faux pas.
In this article, we want to show you how utilizing patterns throughout your wardrobe can add so much more dimension, texture and visual interest to your overall look.
And to help you feel a little more confident when faced with pattern choices in the future, we've outlined a few of the most common patterns you will likely come across in your quest for the perfect look this season and then provide a few key notes on how best to incorporate them into your wardrobe and give you some helpful hints for how to go about mixing and matching them together.
Possibly the most common pattern found in menswear, checks are found not only in casual attire but also tailored clothing. Checkered patterns are symmetrical, consisting of crossed horizontal and vertical lines that form equal sized squares. There are several check patterns that are quite common such as ginghams and windowpanes.
Most found on: Shirts, Sport Coats
Wears best with: Larger scale plaids (paired with ginghams), microprints (paired more so with windowpanes), hairline stripes
Stripes come in many different scales from pinstripe most commonly found in suiting to a wide repp stripe you would see on a tie. Stripes are quite versatile and being utilized with more and more garment types (e.g. most recently seeing a trend in trousers).
Most found on: Suiting, shirts, ties, casual attire, trousers
Wears best with: Geometric microprints, solids, checks (think windowpane here), plaids
This is one pattern everyone around here should know whether you’re a Bama fan or not. However, we want to assure everyone that houndstooth is not for Bama fans only. There are varying scales, but most often you will find a smaller scale, which adds a nice texture to the garment. It’s this texture that makes it a great pattern to utilize when layering. But, given that it’s a busy pattern, it works best with simple, complementary patterns.
Most found on: Sport coats, overcoats, scarves, trousers
Wears best with: Simple patterns such as a hairline pinstripe or a tonal print
Because of their round shape, dots work best with straight-lined patterns such as checks and stripes; however, when in doubt pair with solids and let the pop of the dots do the talking for your look.
Most found on: Ties, socks, pocket squares, shirts (micro dot prints)
Wears best with: Solids, pinstripes, larger scale checks
This pattern is very common in wool fabrics, and it gets its unique pattern from the way the fabric is woven. You can find herringbone in varying scales; however, it is usually tonal and smaller in scale, which makes it easy to wear with other bold patterns and colors. Because of this, it’s one of our favorite patterns for a fall sport coat!
Most found on: Sport coats, suiting, ties, socks, scarves
Wears best with: Stripes, dots, microprints, paisley accessories, plaids
Many people think checks and plaids are one in the same, but they are quite different. With plaids, the pattern of the vertical stripe does not necessarily have to match the pattern of the horizontal stripe, and there are also many variations in band width.
Most found on: Sport Coats, Shirts, Scarves
Wears best with: Smaller scale checks, solids, tonal microprints, hairline stripes
Paisley is quite a busy and intense pattern. When used sparingly it can really spruce up a look. We always suggest using a paisley print sparingly; for instance, utilize a bold paisley tie to liven up a charcoal suit or even a pocket square to add a pop of color to a muted sport coat.
Most found on: Ties, pocket squares, casual attire such as summer shirting/swimwear
Wears best with: Solids, stripes, dots, smaller scale checks