Check mate – how to create winning cloth pattern combinations

18 August 2017
Check mate – how to create winning cloth pattern combinations
When it comes to our suits there’s plenty of advice on how to pair up colours – whether it be ensuring your tie is of a lighter shade to your shirt, or that your shoes and belt match. However far less time is given to cloth patterns and what factors should be taken into consideration in terms combinations and how they can be brought together to complete your look.

This week we’re touching on both of these issues to help ensure you can comfortably put together your cloth patterns.

An overview of fabric patterns

There are a whole host of fabric patterns and we could spend ages going into great detail about the construction of each, however that isn’t the purpose of this blog. So instead you can take a quick look at this diagram of the more commonly seen fabrics which displays their unique makeup and appearances.

When to wear patterns

With so many fabric patterns for shirts and suits being made available, choosing one can make for a daunting task for those that aren’t confident in experimenting with their attire. This can often lead to people playing it safe with plain fabrics. While there’s nothing wrong with this, as some of the sharpest looks can be created with plain fabrics, it can limit your options when you want to add a touch of character so it’s often worthwhile to get a little creative.

When it comes to formal events such as business meetings you ideally want to keep your looks as muted as possible. Your suit fabric makes up a large portion of your look, therefore in most cases you’ll be best served keeping it plain. Pin striped suits have become a staple for many business outfits so this is one option of adding some pattern into your look. As for your shirt, you have a little more leeway here. Once more stripes can work well for formal events and you can feel free to opt for something thicker than pin stripes. Your tie will grant you the greatest amount of freedom to express yourself. The fabric pattern can range from pin spots to paisley, as long the pattern remains somewhat standard it’ll be deemed acceptable. Just be wary of novelty prints or those featuring personal interests such as animals or sports teams, while they might be okay for every day wear, they could come off as being a touch too casual for some formal settings.

For more informal events you can get really creative with your attire, and these occasions really allow you to add a plethora of personal touches to your getup.

How to match up patterns

Now that we’ve established when to wear patterned attire, we have the small matter of addressing how you should team them up. We’ve broken it down into 3 key factors that you should consider:
  1. the size of the pattern
  2. the style of pattern
  3. and colour of the fabric.
Size – The size of the pattern is important as it’ll impact how striking the look is on the eye. Having too many pieces of clothing which feature large patterns is a recipe for disaster and will no doubt create a garish look. If you find yourself wearing a suit that features rather prominent patterns then ensure the likes of your shirt and you tie are more muted.

Fabric patterns can vary greatly in size and the likes of houndstooth and graph check can be so small that they’re barely distinguishable from a distance. In these cases the pattern is likely to give the fabric a somewhat subtle textures appearance which will allow it to be teamed up with bolder patterns.

Pattern style – Teaming up different styles of patterns is a subject that often divides opinion. In most cases it’s a matter of personal preference that prevails, however there are a couple of things you should steer clear of. Try not to match 2 patterns that are identical. This can make the pattern over powering and will prevent the elements of clothing standing apart. Instead, look to complement them – so if you want to wear stripes then you can pair up a pin striped shirt with a tie that has thicker diagonal stripes.

Colour – The colour of the patterned fabric will also dictate how you piece together your look. As we’ve mentioned in previous blogs, you’ll want to compliment your colours to ensure your outfit isn’t left looking disjointed. Another thing to keep in mind is that if a particular pattern is made up of a bold colour then you’ll most likely want to tone the rest of your look down. For example, a bright tie and pocket square will look best accompanied by subtler (both in colour and pattern) fabrics for the shirt and suit. Finally, look to implement a colour (or a shade from the same colour family) from a predominant pattern in multiple areas of your outfit to help bring it all together.

Patterns on suit lining

The lining of the suit is an area which is often forgotten about. This is in part because it isn’t always on show, and also because those who regularly buy off-the-rack suits simply have to accept the lining as it is so little thought is given to it. This is where part of the beauty of bespoke suits comes into play, as it allows the wearer to customise every aspect of the suit, including the lining.

The lining is a great area to really get creative. Since it’ll only ever be on show in glimpses, you can afford to go as bold as you please for most occasions. When deciding on your lining, you have a few ways of going about making your decision. On one hand, you can go for a bold pattern (such as a floral) which will give your suit a punch of character whenever you wear it. Alternatively you can use a little foresight and opt for a pattern that you have a preference for. For example, if you commonly wear paisley ties then having paisley lining in your suit will make for a nice way complementing your favourite ties. Finally, if you’re buying the suit for a given occasion, such as your wedding, you can ensure the lining matches the theme of the wedding which will make a nice little touch on your big day.

Final words

With the help of the above pointers, you should now see yourself comfortably implementing patterned fabrics into your looks. We’d recommend conservatively bringing patterned fabrics into your looks and then trying bolder designs as you get more comfortable with the way they look.
Abbas Mahmood
Abbas Mahmood
As a lifelong purveyor of fashion, Abbas has been writing for Hemingway Tailors for 2 years, keeping readers up to date with style trends and delivering a regular insight into the world of tailoring.
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