The Paisley pattern: One of the fashion industry’s oldest and most iconic patterns to date.
The revival of the much-loved paisley pattern just over 10 years ago was one of the most welcomed comebacks to the fashion & textile industry.
A timeless classic, the print has played a defining role in fashion for over 2,000 years. Still to this day, we’re seeing paisley designs incorporated into high-end collections from brands such as Saint Laurent, Burberry, Gucci and Dolce & Gabbana.
From the early days of paisley shawls, to today’s suit jacket linings and neckties in men’s luxury accessories, there are many reasons why the print continues to line the catwalks and will do for some time to come.
It’s a fun, retro and vintage-inspired pattern that we would all benefit from injecting into our wardrobe. The paisley pattern isn’t going anywhere, so let’s take a look into what it’s all about, and why it may never go out of fashion.
What is a paisley pattern?
The Oxford Dictionary defines the paisley pattern as “A distinctive intricate pattern of curved feather-shaped figures based on an Indian pine-cone design.”
The iconic print is characterised by its bright and colourful, curved abstract figures. The design has been used in contemporary fashion and modern textiles for decades, thanks to its versatility and flexibility – every colourway and variation of the pattern is entirely unique.
The distinctive shape of paisley is often likened to that of a kidney, a comma, a mango, or a teardrop. This specific type of shape is known as ‘boteh’ or ‘buto’ – the Persian word for ‘flower’.
Various intricate details are often incorporated into the droplet shape itself to create the iconic design – such as floral prints, abstract swirls and smaller tear drop shapes to create the traditional paisley print used in fashion and textiles.
The paisley symbol is typically repeatedly printed throughout a length of fabric, usually interspersed with other design elements and patterns to create a beautiful, all-over floral paisley print.
Where does the paisley pattern come from?
The history of the paisley pattern is truly fascinating. It’s a print steeped in rich culture and symbolism, and dates back to the Indo-European cultures of over 2,000 years ago.
The design originated in India back in the 11th century, near Kashmir. Whilst there’s no concrete evidence, it’s believed that the pattern was derived from the Zoroastrian symbol of a cypress tree combined with a floral spray, to represent life and fertility.
The popularity of the paisley print became prevalent in the 16th century, famously associated with luxurious Kashmir shawls. An incredibly expensive, sought-after item, the Kashmir shawls were hand woven from fine goat hair, embellished with the paisley print.
This signalled the pattern’s first break into the fashion industry – with the Kashmir shawls becoming incredibly coveted garments, often worn with pride by Persian royalty and perceived as a “robe of honour”.
So, how did the paisley pattern make its way across the globe?
Kashmir shawls originally made their way to Europe in the 16th century, when they were offered as gifts from Kashmiri princes to European officers. It wasn’t long before they landed in the wardrobe of fashion icon and royalty, Empress Josephine.
From there, paisley shawls became the height of European fashion, but they weren’t affordable. Naturally, European textile manufacturers sought ways to replicate the designs to sell on local markets.
It wasn’t until the 19th century when the print gained its modern name, paisley. The Scottish town of Paisley became the leading producer of the Kashmir-inspired shawls, and therefore the buto print became known as paisley. Contrary to common belief, the design didn’t originate in Scotland – though, if you were to visit the town you won’t be surprised to see that the shops and cafes are heavily draped in paisley.
To think that still to this day, the paisley pattern has such a prominent place in fashion and design across the world is astounding. We believe (and hope) it will be around for a long time to come.
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Paisley pattern in fashion
Famously worn by everyone from The Beatles, Queen and David Bowie to Victoria Beckham, the paisley print is a fashion staple.
The design hit its peak during the 60s and 70s, when psychedelic art and fashion was all the rage. It was a time where vivid colours, swirling patterns and Eastern-influenced fashion was thriving – and the paisley pattern reflected just that.
Mad about paisley, it was hard to ignore The Beatles’ love for the print. The band members frequently donned bright and bold paisley shirts and scarves, securing it as their unique style. Not one to do things by halves, John Lennon even painted a paisley print on his Rolls-Royce, too.
The popularity of paisley in fashion slowly declined following the 70s, until a short-lived comeback in the 1990s thanks to the music of Oasis and Kula Shaker. Elevating the design more recently, Oasis’ Liam Gallagher even founded his thriving clothing brand, Pretty Green, solely dedicated to keeping the print alive.
A firm favourite in rock ‘n’ roll, the paisley print has been revived many times since. Whilst the print has always been popular for men’s ties, paisley embellishments have been incorporated into many ladies fashion pieces by high-end designers including Dolce & Gabbana, Raf Simons and Jil Sander in recent years.
How to wear paisley
So, now you know all about the paisley pattern, how do you wear it?
For any style conscious gentleman or lady, a paisley patterned item of clothing is a wardrobe must-have. From bold and flamboyant paisley shirts or suit jackets, to simply accessorising with a paisley printed scarf or tie, the options are endless.
Wearing paisley with pride is all about knowing the do’s and don’ts when it comes to planning your outfit. Here are our top tips on how to style paisley:
- Choose your colour palette wisely – paisley prints can comprise of multiple different colours or one single colourway in varying shades. Pick the colour palette that you’ll easily be able to incorporate into your wardrobe and matches your style. You can avoid looking too loud by sticking to a subtle all-blue print, for example.
- Stick to muted colours – wearing paisley can be seen as bold and daring, but it doesn’t always have to be. Picking out a pattern that consists of more muted, neutral tones can be the perfect way to spruce up an outfit for those of us who are a little more reserved with fashion.
- Pair paisley with solid colours – the print is a beautiful but busy design, so pairing it with solid colours is a safe option. When pairing too many patterns together, you’ll risk the paisley element of your outfit getting lost. Wear contrasting colours or pick out matching colours from your paisley fabric and you’ll be good to go.
- Team it with striped or checked patterns – don’t want to play it safe? Paisley can be paired beautifully with other items of clothing that are patterned with checks or stripes. Try to match small checks or thin stripes with larger paisley prints, and vica versa.
- Accessorise – If you’re not quite ready to go all in with a full-print paisley shirt, why not try accessorising instead? A paisley necktie or pocket square can offer the same stylish chic look to compliment your outfit.
Luxury paisley printed accessories
Looking for unique and stylish paisley printed garments? Adamley Textiles are a UK silk printer, specialising in the design and creation of luxury men’s accessories.
We offer traditional screen printing and state-of-the-art digital printing of bespoke designs, on the finest quality silk. We also manufacture custom-made silk pocket squares and printed silk scarves in any design of your choice.
Our team of designers are experts in creating unique paisley designs, and can work with any colour scheme or design requirements submitted. Clients can browse our historical print archive for design inspiration – which comprises hundreds of vintage paisley designs.
To enquire more about our silk printing or bespoke accessories services, please get in touch with us.