Tailored Suits: 8 Patterns You Should Know

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When deciding on a tailored suit, patterns that work well with a man’s body type can either enhance or soften his features. So in hindsight, when picking a tailored suit, it’s best to take note of this. In the world of bespoke and made-to-measure, it can seem as though there are endless amounts of patterns to choose from — each with its own unique detailing that ranges from colour, sizes of the patterns, and styles. Garrison Bespoke offers timeless patterns and is well versed to help men determine a pattern that is right for them.

For a formal setting, it’s ideal to wear plain fabrics in either navy blue, black, or dark grey. As a general rule, striped patterns are more relaxed and therefore should be reserved for less formal occasions. The same goes with bold, multi-colored, and large-scaled patterns. Comparing to smaller scaled and reserved monochromatic patterns, big patterns are less formal. The exception, however, are the pinstripes.


Stripes are the most accepted of patterns. Wearing a pinstriped suit, particularly navy, can showcase a very traditional look. It is a great pattern for both shorter and larger men.

Pinstripes are very narrow and are most often white or grey. Wearing coloured pinstripes yields a more casual look so the wearer should take caution when deciding which occasion to wear the coloured pinstripe.

These and all stripes allow the wearer to extend his body frame to create an elongated and taller look. The continuous flow from these single lines creates cleaner and longer contours along the body. Hence, if the wearer is a shorter man then he will want to opt for stripes for his tailored suit.patterns 1

The other main style of stripe is the chalk stripe. These are stripes that are spread farther apart in contrast to the narrower pin stripe. The chalk stripe is worn as a more casual pattern and allows the wearer to create height. But, unlike the pinstripe, it can emphasize girth on larger men. Larger men should avoid chalk stripes.

Formal, professional, semi-formal, and even casual — stripes can be worn in any one of these environments. Just make sure to take note of the type of stripes to wear and how to accessorize it. (Chalk stripe suit, image source: Etsy.com)


A much more informal pattern and great for both the thinner and taller man.

Adding horizontal lines to stripes creates checks. Checks, plaid, or tartan are probably amongst the most recognizable patterns. They are a type of more informal pattern and should be worn as such. These patterns are great for taller men as horizontal lines help to break up the body and add more depth.

Plaid vs Check: Don’t get confused with these two options. Plaid (or tartan) is the crisscrossing of multiple bands to create a square and multi-coloured pattern. On the other hand, checks are usually single bands crisscrossing to create squares on the fabric.   (Plaid, image source: Ethnicchic.com Check, image source: Alexpress.com)

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Glen check (or Prince of Wales check) resembles a tartan in a monochromatic scheme and is usually the most common for suits. It contains bands of horizontal and vertical stripes, and when viewed as a unit, it creates a thick weaved pattern.

This type of pattern is great for slender bodies as the texture creates bulk for the thinner man. (Glen check suit, image source: Imagegurukul.com)



The other main type of check pattern is the windowpane. This is a much bolder pattern similar to a chalk stripe, but it incorporates horizontal lines. Mostly seen through sports jackets rather than full suits, this pattern is for the man with an extra dose of confidence who wants to shine amongst his peers. (Windowpane, image source: Garrison Bespoke)

Herringbone, Houndstooth, and Sharkskin:

As textured fabrics, herringbone, houndstooth, and sharkskin are great for thinner men as the busyness adds bulk. These patterns also work well with taller men as the textures help to break up their vertical lines.

Herringbone, in particular, is another good choice for shorter men as the vertical arrows help to create a smooth vertical contour.

Alternatively, the houndstooth is another option for taller men as the bolder and busier pattern help to break down his lengthy lines. (Image source: Textilesmithing.com)

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The main elements of herringbone are the up and down arrow effect it entails. (Herringbone, image source: Etsy.com)

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Herringbone is usually made of heavier fabrics–like tweed–and similar to glen check, it is an excellent choice for almost any occasion. Due to its makeup of heavier fabrics, it is usually made for cooler months and is often found on winter and country suits.

The houndstooth pattern is another fabric for the bolder man. Mostly seen in darker colours (browns, tans, blacks, and whites), it is usually found on sport jackets rather than full suits, and can potentially turn the man into a fashion icon. (Houndstooth in plaid, image source: Tailor4less.com)

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Lastly, there is sharkskin (or pick-and-pick in the UK). With its lightweight feel, it makes an excellent fabric for summer. It tends to produce a glimmering effect when seen from abroad. This is due to fine yarn being combined with other yarn pieces. (Sharkskin Pattern, Image from Textilesmithing.com)

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Birdseye and Nailhead:

A pattern that works for everyone.

Birdseye fabric and nailhead are two fun patterns. Both possess little dots of texture that are similar to the little specs that can be viewed upon while flying hundreds of feet in the air. The fabrics contain little dots upon a darker background, and when looking at them together, they resemble somewhat of a solid finish. There is a subtle difference between the two though: the birdseye incorporates more rounded specs whereas the nailhead contains more squared specs.

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Because of their simple patterns, both birdseye and nailhead would work well in almost any occasion when paired with the right colours — except when pairing with the most formal dress code.

In the end, it’s these different patterns that make up the majority of men’s tailored suits. There are a number of other patterns–such as paisley and argyle–however those tend to be too bold for most occasions and are better suited for accessories, such as socks and ties.

Speak to one of our expert stylists on the differences between these patterns. Download our latest eBook, a free 50-page guide on the 11 suits every man should know..