A Grown Man’s Style Primer: Getting to Know Your Suiting Patterns

A Grown Man’s Style Primer: Getting to Know Your Suiting Patterns

By Megan Collins | Last Updated: Jun 23 2022 | 3 min read

There’s certain words I realize I’ve only ever written or typed until I go to pronounce them out loud and realize…wait, how do you actually say that? Like acai, for instance, and gif (I’ve come down firmly on the side of not pronouncing it like the peanut butter. But I realize that’s still hotly in debate).

It takes a self-assured person to admit what you don’t know, and ask someone smarter than yourself (though these days, you can also take your query to the internet and save some face, if that’s your prerogative).

Which is why today we’re doing talking suiting fabrics. By now, you’ve probably got a navy or a grey suit hanging in your closet, and maybe a sportcoat or two. If you’ve tread into patterned waters, I salute you and your bold sartorial choices…and suggest you get familiar with what you’ve got on your back. In case one of those self-assured folks comes up and says, “Y’know, I’ve always loved that pattern, but I have no idea what it’s called. What are you wearing?” Now, you’ll be ready.

Below, the breakdown on the suiting patterns we know by sight, but not, perhaps, by name:


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Glen plaid is made of wool fabric designed with different sizes of checks. The pattern mixes muted colors such as black, grey and white to create an elegant and instantly familiar design. The textile gets its name from the Glenurquhart valley in Scotland, where it’s been produced since the 19th century. You may also know this pattern as the “Prince of Wales” check, after the nattily-dressed Prince of Wales, Sir Edward VIII, who often chose the fabric for his bespoke suits. While the pattern has been worn by men for many centuries, there’s nothing old-fashioned about it.


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This type of plaid is a little bolder than you may be used to. The pattern consists of intersecting lines and looks like…yep, windowpanes. It’s bigger and it is very apparent that you are wearing plaid. This isn’t a bad thing though- try pairing this pattern with a thin striped shirt for a modern, professional look.


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You probably are the most familiar with this suit pattern, favored in corporate America and cartoonists’ vision of Wall Street. Suggesting elegance and good breeding, pinstripes are very narrow stripes and are still one of the most commonly used textiles for men’s suits. Go for a darker color like black or navy with a gray stripe to be timeless and elegant. Or strip away any “fat cat” connotations with a colorful pinstripe for a modern twist.


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A herringbone suit is made up of a subtle pattern of woven v’s arranged geometrically. This particular suit is usually made out of woolen fabric. From far away this fabric can look plain, but get closer and you will see the unique texture it brings. While it may feel overwhelming as a full suit, it makes for a great sportcoat.


grown man's style

Houndstooth is a traditional pattern, originating in Scotland in the 1800s, made up of jagged checks. The checks are woven into wool cloth one threads up and two threads down and is most commonly seen in black and white, though it does come in more subtle patterns, like the light grey suit above. In its traditional black and white, it can look a bit vintage, so experiment with different shades to make it feel more modern and accessible in your own wardrobe.


       grown man's stylegrown man's style

Checked plaid is made up of small scale checks that look like little squares. This is a look that you probably are familiar with and is commonly associated with sports clubs. Wear this pattern with a plain shirt or spice it up a little with a shirt with a larger scale of checks.

Tell us:

What is your favorite pattern? Are you experimental when it comes to trying new patterns or do you play it safe?

{All suits: Suit Supply}

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I started Style Girlfriend to help guys look, feel, and act their best.