Paisley Fabric Definition — What is Paisley Fabric
Paisley is an ornamental design which consists of curved teardrop shapes. It is also known as buta or boteh, and is believed to have originated in Persia. At first it was hand printed or embroidered on fabrics, and you can still find lots of paisley woven with silver and gold threads on wedding attire in Iran.
Traditional and modern at the same time, paisley fabric has found its way into fashion, architecture, jewelry, interior design, and art. In terms of clothing, this timeless pattern has been seen on men’s ties, shirts, dresses, pants, skirts, bandanas and more.
Why Is Such Pattern Called Paisley?
The term ‘paisley’ comes from the name of the town of Paisley in West Scotland. In the 19 th century, this Scottish town became the leading producer of paisley shawls, as well as cotton and wool fabrics with the paisley print. However, the traditional design has a couple of other names. In the US it is often referred to as ‘Persian pickles’, in Wales – ‘Welsh pears’, and in Russia – ‘Turkish cucumbers’.
Science Behind Paisley
Legend has it that paisley is a stylized floral spray combined with a bent cypress tree – a Zoroastrian symbol of life and strength. No wonder it was used to decorate royal clothing and crowns.
Types and Uses
Paisley prints and patterns can be found on any type of fabric imaginable, from sheer to thick. The most common natural sorts include:
- Paisley silk fabric – chiffon, organza, georgette, crepe de chine, taffeta, satin
- Paisley cotton fabric – batiste, muslin, voile, poplin, lawn, twill, denim
- Paisley wool fabric – suiting wool, mohair, tweed, gabardine
Paisley is a versatile trend that lends itself well to many designs. You can make clothes for men, women and kids, or incorporate it into your home décor in the form of blankets, rugs, napkins and pillow cases. Paisleys can be rich and juicy, pastel or monochrome, and each colorway gives inspiration.
So, what can you use paisley fabric for?
- Women’s clothes
From maxi dresses and summer blouses to bohemian pants and skirts, paisleys look good on anything. Choose cotton and linen print fabrics for the warm season and go for denser materials in the colder months. Paisley jacquard is ideal for eye-catching jackets and dresses because it is textural and has this sensual quality to it. By the way, black paisley fabric offers the same slimming effect as solid black!
- Men’s clothes
Considered a touchstone in menswear, paisley has been peppering men’s ties and shirts for many decades. It is a perfect option for summer apparel, including swim trunks, shorts and casual shirts. Some men find this pattern a bit too bold, but you can always remain within your comfort zone with a modest accessory like paisley socks and pocket squares. Another way to stay low-key is to use a paisley lining.
Paisley is ideal for children, because it’s fun and vibrant. There are lots of ways to adopt this print: strappy jumpsuits and shorts, cute pinafores and dandy shirts, jersey tops and sweatshirts. Small-scale paisleys look gorgeous in kidswear – just like every small-scale print, from ditsy flowers to tiny dots.
How to Wear
How do you mix and match paisley without ruining your look? Here are a couple of tips that’ll help you stay on top no matter what.
- Pair it with solid fabrics. That’s an easy one. Wear your paisley print top with a monochromatic bottom, and vice versa. You can use contrasting colors (a blouse in pink paisley fabric and a skirt in solid green) or matching shades (a white-and-grey paisley tie and a white shirt).
- Stay within one color. If you’re not up to flamboyant outfits, choose one color. E.g., blue paisley fabric which combines several shades of blue tints will look modest compared to multicolored paisley material.
- Opt for muted fabrics. Another way to play it safe is to use muted or washed down colors. Such paisley fabrics are easier to mix and match with your wardrobe pieces, and you’ll never get tired of wearing them.
- Try stripes or checks. Paisley looks fantastic when combined with stripes or checks. The only rule here would be to use patterns of different sizes. E.g., a wide-striped sweatshirt paired with small-scale paisley pants.
- Choose your size. Large-scale paisley tends to look busier and demand attention. If this is what you’re aiming for, go for it 100%. Mind that small-scale designs are easier to mix with other patterns.
Fabrics in Fashion
The paisley pattern has hit many highs and lows. It became hugely popular in the 1960s thanks to the Beatles (John Lennon even painted his Rolls-Royce in paisley!). David Bowie, Prince, Bobby Gillespie and Florence Welch have been accused of paisley madness, too. The droplet-shaped pattern was chosen for the sports uniform of the Azerbaijan team during the Winter Olympic Games of 2010, which marked the beginning of another fashion comeback.
Many eminent designers such as Saint Laurent, Burberry, Gucci, Dolce & Gabbana and Jil Sander have been adopting this beautiful motif for years, integrating it both into men’s and women’s wear. The 2018-2019 fashion shows provide lots of ideas on how to get this versatile design to work for you. Here’s our top 5 paisley items worth having:
- A longline paisley coat from ETRO Resort 2019
- A strappy summer dress from Roberto Cavalli Resort 2019
- A paisley patterned long sleeve shirt from J.W. Anderson Ready-to-Wear Fall/Winter 2018-2019
- A stained-glass colored paisley dress from Ports 1961 Fall 2018
- A paisley bomber jacket from Paria Farzaneh Spring/Summer 2019
Where to Buy
There are two fabric brands closely associated with the paisley pattern: Etro (Italy) and Liberty (Great Britain). The Italian fashion house specializes in paisley print fabrics made of 100% silk, while Liberty of London applies it onto cotton fabrics like lawn and poplin.
“Etro, the Italian brand, has also long-used the design in its menswear, especially in suit and jacket linings.” Jeremy Langmead, Mr Porter luxury menswear
Velvet devore fabric, 79 € (97 US$) per one running metre;
Cotton lawn fabric, 32 € (40 US$) per one running metre;
Stretch jersey knit fabric, 90 € (111 US$) per one running metre;
Stretch jersey knit fabric, 90 € (111 US$) per one running metre.