A Brief Guide to Traditional Suit Patterns

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The patterned suit is by no means a modern phenomenon. Our gentlemen friends have been wearing patterns such as pinstripes, checks houndstooth and herringbone for many generations.

If you’re thinking about investing in a bespoke suit, here’s our brief guide to four of the most traditional British patterns. Why not talk to your tailor about which one would be the best fit for you?


Pintripes are one of the easiest patterns to wear, and many gentlemen opt for them as a non-daunting route into patterned suits. The colour and width varies greatly, which means you can create many different looks from this same simple pattern.

Nowadays pinstripes are a firm favourite with businessmen. This is a huge departure from the early days of the pinstripe! When the pattern first fell into favour in the 1920s, they were considered to be flashy and rather anti-establishment. 


Checks and plaids hail from the 18th century. They have royal links as they were popularised by the Duke of Windsor when he was the Prince of Wales. 

Jackets with checks or plaids were historically associated with weekend and country attire and were typically worn by the upper classes. 


Houndstooth fabrics originated in Scotland in the 17th century where they were first worn by shepherds. The pattern became popular as an alternative to tartans and quickly became a common choice for jackets and coats.

The pattern became particularly fashionable during the 1930s when it was adopted by the style-conscious upper classes as a symbol of wealth. 


Herringbone is made up of a small repeated arrow that forms a zig zag. It has ancient roots and fabric decorated in this pattern was actually seen in both Ancient Egypt and Celtic Ireland. 

The versatility of herringbone means that it’s long been a popular choice for suits. It tends to be particularly popular during the autumn and winter months due to it’s close relation with tweed. 

Interested in reading more about the history of gentlemen’s fashions? Take a look at our previous posts on the history of scarves, waistcoats, underwear, dinner jackets, blazers and brogues