Suit fabric patterns can be bold or subtle, daring or traditional—and menswear has incorporated patterns for as long as suits have existed. Each of the tartans, stripes, and checks you’ll find in suiting today has its own rich history. The glen check, for example, derives its name from the Glenurquhart valley near Inverness and was later popularized by—and renamed in honor of—the Prince of Wales.
But you don’t really need to know that.
While knowing the rich history of a fabric can add nuances to your relationship with style, what matters most is that you love the way a pattern looks. That’s the only thing standing between you and the head-turning patterned jacket of your dreams. From herringbone to windowpane and everything in between, patterned fabric is one of the best ways to include personality and uniqueness in your personal wardrobe. When you pair the right patterned suit with the right elements, you can elevate your style.
Pattern as Personalization
Custom menswear is the best place to start your search for the patterned suit fabric that works best for you. Menswear collections in stores generally feature one or two patterned suits each season; the selection is, by its nature, limited. In contrast, the Knot Standard collection includes thousands of fabrics from the world’s finest mills, including Loro Piana, Holland & Sherry, Zegna, and Dormeuil. This collection features hundreds of patterned fabrics that run the gamut from subtle to dramatic.
Men who are already familiar with the custom suit process will relish the additional benefits of purchasing a suit in a bold pattern. Our patterned fabrics are some of the most exclusive offerings in the menswear industry. Some are produced in such limited quantities that there may only be enough fabric woven to create thirty suits—in other words, by purchasing a handcrafted suit made from that material, you’d be one of only thirty men in the world to wear that particular fabric.
This is the very definition of limited edition.
Suit Fabric Pattern Options
Suiting patterns are created by weaving warp and weft yarns of different colors or thicknesses in ingenious ways. Each pattern earns its name by the way the yarns are woven. Here are some of the most well-known and easily identifiable patterns:
A pattern of slanted lines that form a series of repeating “V’ shapes resembling the bones of a fish, herringbone twill is one of the oldest known patterned fabrics. Formerly mostly found in a large black-and-white weave using heavy worsted wool yarn, herringbone suiting looks fresh and new today in a smaller weave and unique color combinations.
Tartans and Plaids
These iconic Scottish checks are as impressive today as they were in 1746 when the Dress Act banned clan tartans. Today, glen plaid and tartan are both popular among confident suit-wearers who can rock a statement jacket with the proper panache.
A plaid of choice for the 21st-century gentleman, windowpane fabric features widely-spaced horizontal and vertical lines that form a large grid. Illustrated beautifully by Tom Ford’s Fall 2009 collection, which sparked windowpane’s still-relevant comeback, this fabric is one way to craft the modern sprezzatura look.
Chalk Stripes and Pinstripes
Appropriate for both formal and informal occasions, narrow pinstripes are a great place for first-time buyers to start experimenting with patterns. Chalk stripes are often thicker and wider-spaced for a more contrasting look. While white stripes are traditional with both pinstripes and chalk stripes, feel free to branch out into more colorful options if you’re feeling adventurous.
Experiment Elsewhere With Patterns
Whether you’re purchasing a full patterned suit or opting for a single statement blazer, you don’t need to limit your use of patterns to a single garment. Old rules against mixing patterns are outdated and should be ignored. Pair a fantastic tan glen plaid suit with a shirt with broad stripes and a textured tie, or add a pair of funky argyle socks and a paisley pocket square for pops of color against a standard grey suit.
When mixing patterns, make sure your contrasting patterns don’t fight each other for attention. Multiple busy patterns layered on top of each other will create too much visual noise; instead, mix two or three discreet patterns in muted colors, or pair one attention-grabbing pattern like a large check or plaid with smaller, subtler designs. Experiment around, and if you’re not sure whether two patterns coordinate together, ask a fashion-forward friend for advice.
The Knot Standard Difference
When you buy custom-made clothing, you also have the freedom to add a statement lining in the color and pattern of your choosing inside any suit jacket. Many Knot Standard clients discover that choosing a colorful lining is their favorite part about buying custom for the first time—that, and having the option to have their own signature hand-stitched inside. Small details make all the difference.
When you order a custom suit from Knot Standard, you’ll have a personal stylist by your side to help you wade through the sea of fabric options. Not only can your stylist explain the difference between houndstooth and herringbone, they can also show you exactly how this fabric will look when made into a suit.
Thank you, Virtual Studio.
Before you purchase, you’ll get up close and personal with swatches of your chosen fabrics, you’ll personalize your colorways, stitching, lining, and other details, and you’ll see the finished product in full 3D. It’s the best way to experiment with pattern.
Secure an appointment with your personal stylist at a Knot Standard showroom and get down to the business of planning pattern in your wardrobe. Whether you’re looking for the classic appeal of pinstripe trousers or the bold drama of a blue-and-violet glen plaid suit, we’re ready to help you start living the more adventurous sartorial life.