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Perfect Fabric Patterns to Know

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A follow-up from the previous article about suitable fabrics for winter, we look into patterns which I believe most of us are familiar with but may not know the names or the difference. 

Herringbone 

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This pattern is quite popular with tweed fabrics. It has a distinctive “V” shaped weaving pattern, more like a zigzag formation. This was and still is a popular concrete paving style for tarred roads and walkways. The name came from the skeleton of a fish called Herring. 

Houndstooth 

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Also known as dog’s tooth as the shape of the pattern resembles the dog’s teeth. Some even call it “pied-ed-poule”, a French phrase for chicken feet. This is another classic pattern that was traditionally in black and white but now founds in multiple colors. Houndstooth comes in big, bold shape and also subtle patterns which the latter is known as puppytooth. The classic Ayers & Smith newsboy hat is always made in Houndstooth, both bold and subtle shapes. 

Birdseye  

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This is one of the intricate patterns, it is so subtle that you cannot see its distinctiveness from a distance. Birdseye has minimal diamond shapes and some with a dot in the center of each shape. This pattern is woven in two different weaves or yarns to give it character. Some summer fabrics of this pattern have a look a feel of a net making the fabric very much breathable and wrinkle free. 

Windowpane 

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A set of lines intersecting perpendicular to form shapes that resemble a square windowpane, some call it box squares. This pattern is quite versatile as you can find fabric for both suiting and shirting, from the bold-doubled lines to the thin and fine lines. 

Pinstripe vs. Chalkstripe 

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These two patterns have erupted debates amongst sartorialists due to the distinct differences. These patterns have been as confusing as an Oxford and a derby shoe. Well, let’s clear it out in simple terms like we always do. These two patterns are characterized by multiple, equally spaced vertical lines throughout the fabric. The former is characterized with thin; fine and uniformed lines, whereas the latter has lines that are thicker and looking like they were hand-drawn using a chalk. That’s why it’s called chalkstripe and this particular pattern is found in flannel woolen fabrics. Note that a pinstripe pattern can be in both narrow and wider gaps. 

Gingham 

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This is another fabric pattern that is found in both suiting and shirting, but recently it is quite popular in shirting. The characteristics of this pattern is made up of evenly sized square shaped blocks with either two or more colors. There will be the main color which serves as the base then two more colors in most cases it’s the same color, yet the other one is solid and the other is faded. There is a multitude of designs in terms of colors and these types of shirt patterns gives a fresh life to the classic plain solid colored suits such as navy or grey. 

Glenplaid vs. Glenurquhart vs. Prince of Wales 

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When you thought differentiating pinstripe and chalkstripe patterns was tricky, these three check siblings share the trophy. From a distance they all look the same that’s why I decided to put them together and give my perspective. I am certain that somewhere somehow you did hear someone or even yourselves calling a check jacket by the phrase “scotch”. Well, the fabric originates in Scotland as it was first used for the Scottish Nobleman, James Ogilvie-Grant in 1888. The word Glen which is synonymous with a lot of Scottish whiskies, comes from the Scottish Gaelic language meaning “a deep valley in the highlands”. Because of the trickiness in spotting the difference between the three, they’re all known as Prince of Wales checks, named after Edward VIII.  

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However, there’s those subtle distinct differences that one can spot. From a closer range, this pattern has been weaved in four different blocks with each having its own unique pattern. The uniqueness of this pattern is that from those blocks one can spot a houndstoothnailhead and something similar to birdseye patterns. Just like the striped brothers, the Glenplaid is the rough and bolder and the Glenurquhart is the refined and polished, both pictured above. The Prince of Wales (pictured below) is more like the flamboyant of the three, as you can spot the difference with a subtly bright color lines making windowpane pattern within this checked pattern. 

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This last but not least conversation about fabrics has given light into the intricacies of sartorial menswear and as well as the history and evolution of fashion at large, because these fabrics are used to create garments for both genders. It may have looked and even sounded too technical, but it was necessary and most certainly in the best interest of sharing knowledge since we all wear clothes. Maybe we may even have a sequel of this conversation. Apart from that, I hope the next time you shopping especially now that we rearranging our winter wardrobe, you can spot the differences. There are more fabric patterns which I didn’t include and it would be great to continue this conversation by sharing some which you think are suitable to be known on the comment box below. 

Until next time. 

Suitably Yours  

Brian Lehang 

SUITABLE MAN  

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12 thoughts on “Perfect Fabric Patterns to Know

  1. Loved learning the right words i thought had the same name as the Prince of Wales and learning about the Birdseye aswell.

    1. It was quite fascinating for me as well when I learnt about them. It gives one a different look when buying clothes and even how you look at clothes.

  2. We learn everyday, I learnt more about the fabrics including their rich heritage, insightful indeed.

    1. It’s amazing to see and learn how far menswear and fashion at large, comes from. What’s even more amazing was that the older generation are so clued up with such topics. They still call garments by patterns names.

  3. Thank you for sharing
    The older generation been teaching indirectly & most of us not being aware… calling fabrics by their names, era & the famous brand that used the fabric successfully

    Keep sharing brother
    Looking forward to an article about how to differentiate between two fabrics i.e velvet & suede

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