Wednesday, July 30, 2014

'Know Your Patterns' - Argyle

Here we are with yet another episode of our 'Know Your Patterns' series. Moving on to another slightly eccentric but no less classic menswear pattern, this week we are taking a look at 'Argyle.'

The argyle pattern is characterized by a diamond shape, occasionally solitaire, but usually in a repeating pattern. Often, argyle patterns will involve two such diamond motifs overlayed, such as one in a windowpane diamond, laid over an offset pattern of solid diamond shapes. For example, the pattern below incorporates a blue/white diamond ‘stencil’ over solid diamonds in blue, grey and white:

Another way that argyle can vary in complexity is in the colors used. The most basic argyle patterns can be made out of just two colors, or even gradients of black and white, while bolder and brighter fabrics can be made using a wide variety of colors in one piece.

As seems to have been the trend for both patterns and fabrics, Argyle is named after a region of Scotland, Argyll, where the tartan patterns of Clan Campbell were transformed into the argyle patterns we know today. After the emergence of the pattern, argyle knitwear became very popular through Europe and America during and after World War I, when the style was embraced by the fashionable Duke of Windsor and mass produced by Pringle of Scotland (who are credited with branding the signature pattern as their own).

Throughout it’s history, argyle has been mainly used for gentlemanly sports attire - namely the high socks and ‘jerseys’ worn by golfers in the early 1900’s. Those jerseys developed over time into the frumpy sweater vests that many of us associate with the pattern, but argyle is still widely used as a sock pattern, and can be a stylish choice for a gentleman looking to inject a bit of pattern without going so bold as stripes or dots.  

Here are some picks to inject some argyle into your life:

For the best bang-for-your-buck, it’s hard to beat Target’s Merona socks, offered here in a nice light blue argyle pattern. These puppies don’t even break $5 a pop, and I’ve had great luck with Target socks holding up and being very comfortable.

Merona Argyle Socks | Target

If you’d rather aim for something a bit more high-end, try finding a pair in luxe cashmere, like these cozy-looking puppies by Pantherella:

Cashmere Argyle Socks | Pantherella

We mentioned that argyle was also a common pattern for golf jerseys. These days, that has translated into polo shirts, and of course sweaters, like this one by Lands End (on sale, bonus). Would I wear it personally? Maybe not (just not my style), but the quality should be solid, the pattern is unobtrusive, and the lambswool will keep you toasty this winter. In all honesty, this could look pretty sharp, in a kinda professorial way, layered under a grey flannel or tweed blazer. Old man style, all the way.

Men's Lambswool Argyle Crewneck Sweater | Land's End

Now, we really don’t recommend wearing argyle pants, especially off the golf course (although even on the course they’ll tend to be more garish than classic). However, if the mood really strikes you, or you need to dress up a la Bagger Vance for a costume party, check out the selection at your closest costume store, because chances are no self-respecting menswear store will carry any - although you never know, these trends are hard to predict!

Alright, before we sign off, we gotta be forthright and let you know we’re starting to run out of patterns to cover! We have plenty of fabrics left to run through (and a few more patterns in mind), but would love to start taking requests for anything you might be interested in that we have neglected to explore thus far.

Here is a list of the patterns we’ve covered by now (see all the fabrics here):
...and a short list of the patterns we still have on deck:
  • Tartan Plaid
  • Foulard
...and that's about it, at this point! 

If you’d like to see something added to the list, share it in the comments, or shoot me an email at if you’re shy.

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