Once a sought-after commodity, paisley has seen a rise and fall for centuries. A great deal of excitement was felt in the fashion & textile industry when the much-loved paisley pattern returned over ten years ago. 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.

Paisley patterns can be lush with dense swirls and intricate lines or comprised of sparse shapes set on a peaceful background. Elaborate or understated; paisley is recognizable for its unique figure at its core. People worldwide compare it to a teardrop, a flower, a pinecone, a tadpole, a seed, and half of the yin-yang symbol. 

paisley fabric

Paisley Pattern Meaning

The Oxford Dictionary defines the paisley pattern as “A distinctive intricate design of curved feather-like figures based on Indian pinecone designs.”

The iconic print is characterized by its bright, colorful curved abstract figures. Thanks to the design's versatility and flexibility - every colorway and pattern variation is entirely unique — it has been used in fashion for decades.

Many cultures have imitated Paisley because of its distinctive shape, most commonly likened to a mango or teardrop.

Paisley fabric often features a repeating pattern of paisley shapes, which may be scattered throughout the design or positioned next to each other in one section.

paisley print

Paisley Print History

There are contrasting theories about the beginnings of paisley, primarily because it's such an old pattern that it predates much documentation. In modern culture, paisley appears in both printed and woven goods. It decorates women's shawls, men's neckties, Female and male tattoos, and bandanas. 

One of the earliest examples of paisley is the decorative brickwork on a 9th-century mosque in Afghanistan (Noh Gunbad Mosque). Much of the building is in ruins, but the fluid paisley shapes are easily recognizable as the adaptable design we know today. 

paisley pattern meaning

The Persian word for paisley is Boteh. Traditionally, Boteh-Jegheh (roughly meaning paisley patterns) were woven into silk or wool cloths called Termeh. Marco Polo, in 1272, passed through some of the cities where Termeh was incorporated and wrote about "quantities of a certain silk tissue." His writing is thought to be about paisley fabric.

The English term for the motif is 'paisley,' though it is also known in the United States among quilt-makers as 'Persian pickles.'

paisley design

What does the paisley pattern Symbolise?

The history of the paisley pattern is genuinely fascinating. It's a print steeped in rich culture and symbolism and dates back to the Indo-European and Iran cultures of over 2,000 years ago.

The paisley design originated in India back in the 11th century, near Kashmir. 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.

In the mid-15th century, we see paintings of Persian royalty wearing paisley robes. By the 17th century, leaders in Persia wore one large paisley brooch centered on their headgear. This custom continued at least through the 18th century. Nader Shah Afshar, emperor of Iran (1688-1747), had a paisley pin encrusted with diamonds and emeralds. Fath-Ali Shah of Qajar (1797-1834) wore several different Boteh-Jegheh pins in painted portraits.

Nader Shah Afshar

The popularity of the paisley print became prevalent in the 16th century, famously associated with luxurious Kashmir shawls. A costly, sought-after item, the Kashmir shawls were hand woven from fine goat hair and embellished with the paisley print. 

This signaled 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 honor."

Kashmir shawls with paisley

So, How Did the Paisley Fabric Come to be So Popular?

Kashmir shawls originally made their way to Europe in the 16th century when they were offered gifts from Kashmiri princes to European officers. It wasn't long before they landed in the wardrobe of fashion icons and royalty.

From there, paisley shawls became the height of fashion, but they weren't affordable. Naturally, textile manufacturers sought ways to replicate the designs to sell on local markets.

It wasn't until the 19th century that the print gained its modern name, paisley. The Scottish town of Paisley became the leading producer of Kashmir-inspired shawls; therefore, the auto print became known as Paisley. Contrary to common belief, the design didn't originate in Scotland – though, if you visit the town, you won't be surprised to see that the shops and cafes are heavily draped in paisley.

paisley design

Even today, the paisley pattern has such a prominent place in fashion and design worldwide, especially in Iranian designs, and the Iranian fashion and clothing industry is astounding. We believe (and hope) it will be around for a long time.

paisley fabric

What is the best way to wear the paisley pattern now that you know all about it?

For any style-conscious gentleman or lady, a paisley-patterned item of clothing is a must-have. The options are endless, from bold and striking paisley shirts and suit jackets to simple accessories such as paisley-printed scarves and ties.

Paisley Shirt

The Men’s and Women’s Paisley Shirt is an essential wardrobe staple for any fashionable man and Woman. Featuring a high-quality and beautiful fabric, the Paisley shirt offers breathability, softness, and an unbeatable fit. With Paisley's monumental design, you can easily match it with dress pants, slacks, chinos, or jeans for a wide variety of occasions, such as work functions, everyday activities, and beach days. These Paisley shirts are perfect for any kind of casual occasion, be it a casual night out, a festival, or just a day at the park or a date. Paisley patterns add a touch of color and flare to this traditional look. Before buying Paisley shirts, you should consider factors such as the material, the cut, and the pattern.

Paisley Shirt

Paisley Dress

The Paisley Dress is fabricated from a lightweight sheer chiffon that features illustrative and digitalized pattern work of floral paisleys. Paisley is one of those evergreen prints that are timeless, and dresses are always a must-have in every woman’s wardrobe. The two melt together to create the Paisley Dress – the forever dress that stays in style forever.

Paisley Dress

If you wish to wear paisley pridefully, you should be aware of the don'ts and don'ts when making your outfit. To style paisley, follow these tips:

  • Choose your color palette wisely – paisley prints can comprise multiple different colors or one single colorway in varying shades. Pick the color palette that you'll easily incorporate into your wardrobe that matches your style. For example, you can avoid looking too loud by sticking to a subtle all-blue print.
  • Stick to muted colors – 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 colors – the print is a beautiful but busy design, so pairing it with solid colors is a safe option. When pairing too many patterns together, you'll risk the paisley element of your outfit getting lost. Wear contrasting colors or pick matching colors 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 or thin strips with larger paisley prints and vice versa.
  • Accessorise: If you're not quite ready to go all in with a full-print paisley shirt, why not try accessorizing instead? A paisley necktie or pocket square can offer the same stylish, chic look to compliment your outfit.

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