The differences between fabrics is apples and oranges. Much like calling boat shoes brogues, describing windowpane as ‘big checks’, or seersucker ‘striped with creases’ is enough to have you laughed out of any store.
As a result, it’s important to possess a sartorial vernacular sufficient enough to drop these key fabric patterns into play at ease.
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The distinctive chevron pattern of Herringbone is created during the weaving process, when the diagonal direction of the twill is reversed at regular intervals.
While the size and visibility of the pattern can vary widely, it’s generally one of the more understated motifs, making it one of the easiest to wear.
Herringbone is most commonly found on blazers, coats, shirts and knitwear.
Incotex Red Slim-Fit Herringbone Wool-Blend Blazer, available at Mr Porter, priced £585.
GANT Weekender Herringbone Trousers, available at GANT, priced £150.
ASOS Slim Blazer In Herringbone, available at ASOS, priced £75.
Gingham is a success story in itself, having endured association with school uniforms, picnic blankets and tablecloths to remain one of the most popular spring/summer fabrics, particularly on shirts.
Many countries claim to have come up with the plain-woven fabric, which makes use of alternating checks (dyed in the yarn), traditionally consisting of white and a colour.
We don’t mind who invented it, so long as shirtmakers such as Drake’s, Ben Sherman and Ralph Lauren continue using it.
Balenciaga Gingham-Check Seersucker Bomber Jacket, available at Matches, priced £695.
Ralph Lauren Gingham Slim-fit Cotton Shirt, available at Selfridges, priced £85.
Sunspel Gingham Boxers, available at Selfridges, priced £32.
3. Prince Of Wales Check
Despite being popularised by the natty Duke of Windsor when he was the Prince of Wales, Sir Edward VIII, this design actually takes it cues from the much older Glen Urquhart check that originated in Scotland in the 19th century.
The small and large checks have a coloured windowpane check over the top. The result? A staple suit fabric that’s fit for the everyday royal in us all.
Saint Laurent Prince of Wales Overcoat, available at Farfetch, priced £1,180.
Brown Check Skinny Fit Suit, available at Topman, priced £160.
Hackett Jeremy Prince of Wales Check Bow Tie, available at Hackett, priced £40.
Tartan, or ‘plaid’ in the states, was once the everyday garb of the Scottish Highlander. The name comes from the Gaelic word ‘breacan’, meaning chequered.
As such, its appearance, which has gained international popularity since it began to be exported in the 16th century, features interlocking horizontal and vertical stripes in multiple colours.
Traditionally the pattern was found on kilts made from wool, but today appears on everything from clothing to accessories, which will help bring a heritage feel to any ensemble.
Giuseppe Zanotti Design Tasselled Tartan Loafers, available at Farfetch, priced £450.
Noose and Monkey Ginsberg Trouser Tartan, available at Noose and Monkey, priced £65.
Black MiPac Tartan Backpack, available at River Island, priced £30.
Pinstripes, which refers to narrow, crisp lines running in parallel, have appeared on everyone from the New York Yankees baseball team to silver screen icon Clark Gable.
Despite taking a beating in the nineties when it became the choice of flamboyant city workers in ill-fitting suits, the fabric is back on form, championed by the likes of Savile Row tailor Richard James, British menswear brand Hackett and Dutch retailer Suitsupply.
Kingsman Navy Slim-Fit Single-Breasted Pinstriped Wool Suit, available at Mr Porter, priced £1,495.
Napoli Navy Pinstripe Jacket, available at Suitsupply, priced £199.
BOSS Pinstripe Socks, Black/White, available at John Lewis, priced £11.
Lanvin, Hardy Amies and Brunello Cucinelli – not to mention Sherlock Holmes – are all fans of houndstooth, another fabric hailing from Scotland.
The pattern, which resembles a dog’s incisor, is made up of distinctive broken checks traditionally in black and white. Smaller scale versions are often referred to as puppytooth, but in any size the look carries a mean bark.
Richard James Houndstooth Wool Jacket, available at Selfridges, priced £710.
Incotex Houndstooth Slim Trousers, available at Farfetch, priced £192.08.
Brenta Houndstooth Check Socks Navy, available at Reiss, priced £12.
Windowpane, much like pinstripe, fell out of favour until recently. Having waited quietly in the wings for its encore, the large rectangular ‘window-like’ pattern is back.
While the classic black/white combination never fails, colours represent an opportunity to be a bit more playful. Use the rest of your outfit and accessories to pick out either the base or box line hue.
Canali Windowpane-patterned Wool Jacket, available at Selfridges, priced £830.
J.Crew Pleated Trouser In Windowpane Cotton, available at J Crew, priced £98.
Another Influence Longline Windowpane Check T-Shirt, available at ASOS, priced £25.
When it comes to summer, it’s time to pucker up. Because of the slightly scrunched nature of this cotton fabric, it is held away from the skin, aiding air circulation and making it instantly cooler (in every way).
The subtle, textured stripes usually appear in variations of white and a single colour and are most common on tailoring, shirts and shorts.
Hackett Red Seersucker Jacket, available at Hackett, priced £265.
Browns Luxury Mens Striped Seersucker Chinos, available at Browns, priced £185.
Banana Republic Seersucker Tie, available at Banana Republic, priced £35.
Move over fish fingers, the real birdseye takes its form as this soft, lightweight and absorbent fabric.
The cotton and linen blend features a series of very small, uniform spots, resulting in a textured pattern that looks like hundreds of bird’s eyes.
While that may sounds like something from an Alfred Hitchcock film, there’s no denying the style credentials when it’s used by the likes of Burberry.
Burberry Slim-Fit Travel Tailoring Virgin Wool Birdseye Suit, available at Burberry, priced £1,295.
Collezione Birdseye Short Sleeve Knitted Polo Shirt, available at
Birdseye Socks, available at Jaeger, priced £8.