Argyle clothing has evolved since its origins in the 16th or 17th century. Scottish men were the first to wear the argyle pattern, which is commonly known as a form of plaid. Centuries later, argyle clothing has become mainstream preppy. Argyle design is found on many articles of clothing, ranging from socks to sweaters to accessories. These patterns are typically found on woven garments for both men and women, though knit argyle clothing is also popular.
In modern times, argyle clothing is generally woven. The yarns or threads are interlaced to form a fabric, which is then manufactured into a garment. When knitted, the knitter uses a technique called intarsia, which is considered quite difficult, and therefore often reserved for master knitters.
Argyle clothing consists of diagonal diamonds in a checkerboard pattern. Lines — either dotted or solid — continuously pierce the center of the diamonds throughout the arrangement. Originally knitted with green and white or neutral shades of yarn, the modern argyle pattern showcases any combination of colors. Black and white is a popular combination due to the variety of colors it matches, though other combinations such as red and blue or blue and gray are also well liked.
Argyle socks have become increasingly popular throughout the 20th and 21st centuries, and fashion gurus think the seemingly timeless pattern is here to stay. With heightened popularity surges in the 1920s, 1940s, and 1980s, the argyle pattern has retained a classic charm.
Such patterned argyle socks are often seen in period films and vintage photographs. Golfers are also often depicted wearing argyle socks. The Scottish are stereotypically rendered wearing argyle socks, though in more of a traditional sense.
Next to argyle socks, one of the most popular argyle garments is the sweater vest. This article of clothing, historically worn by men but also worn by women in modern times, is quite versatile. One way to wear the sweater vest is with a pair of jeans or khaki pants and a collared shirt. The argyle designed vest may also be worn with a formal suit. Long-sleeved argyle shirts and sweaters may also be worn alone or paired with a suit or collared shirt.
Wearing more than one argyle clothing article at a time is not recommended. While it is difficult to coordinate patterns in general, argyle is meant to be worn with solids or faint stripes. It is generally the boldest part of the outfit. Argyle can successfully be paired with preppy, trendy, grungy, classic, or retro clothing motifs.