Are you wondering how to look modern in paisley? This classic pattern even though it is a big trend right now is tricky to wear in midlife. The reason is that many people associate the beautiful print with being old-fashioned and very conservative.
This post educates about the origin of the print, and provides timeless styling ideas how to look modern in paisley.
- Paisley Is a Classic Ethnic Print
- What’s a Mandelbrot Pattern?
- The British Introduced Paisley into European Fashion
- Paisley Became an Element of Other Traditional Clothing
- How to Look Modern in Paisley – Outfit Ideas
- How to Mix Paisley with Other Prints
- Wrapping Up How to Look Modern in Paisley
Disclosure: There are affiliate links in this post.
Paisley Is a Classic Ethnic Print
Paisley is an eternal classic that pops up as a trend every couple of years. When not a trend, it’s there as a business casual style classic print for ties and scarves as well as blouses. It’s also a favorite print in high quality resort style. Like any traditional National pattern, it may be tricky to incorporate into a work outfit when your dress code is corporate style or plain casual. See this guide on how to look ageless in global pattern.
Fun fact: Did you know that paisley is often also called “Persian Pickles”?
Paisley is one of the nicest pattern of Indian/Persian origin. Paisley is a droplet-shaped vegetable motif. Like Calico prints, traditionally, the pattern was applied onto the fabric with wooden blocks. The fascinating thing about paisley is that the motif seems to repeat the pattern in itself over and over again like the Mandelbrot set. Read more on who put the vegetables and fruits on the garments.
What’s a Mandelbrot Pattern?
The Mandelbrot set images rely on sampling complex numbers. The complex quadratic polynomial z(n+1)=z(n)*z(n)+c is iterated. Here c is a complex number of the Mandelbrot set if, when starting with z(0)=0 and repeating the iteration n+1 times, the absolute value of |z(n)| stays bounded even if n gets large, i.e. towards infinity. For instance, for c=2 you get 0, 2, 6, 38, 1446, 2090918, etc. which runs to infinity, i.e. is not bounded and does not deliver a Mandelbrot image. If you take c=-1 you get 0, -1, 0, -1, etc., i.e. a Mandelbrot image. These Mandelbrot images display elaborated boundaries that show progressively smaller and smaller repeating details as one zooms in. The “style” of the repeated detail depends on where you look – like with paisley to a certain degree.
The British Introduced Paisley into European Fashion
Men who worked for the Trading Companies in India and Persia adopted the paisley shawls. These shawls became a high fashion accessory between the end of the 18th century to the 1870s. They shawls were perfect to add some insulation over the thin muslins of the Empire silhouette dresses that were in fashion at the end for the 18th century. They remained in fashion after the empire style as it was difficult to wear a coat over the crinoline skirts and dresses that became fashionable thereafter during the Romantic Style era. The original paisley shawls were hand-made and extremely expensive. Thus, European manufacturers produced cheap copies for the masses. Scotland became the center for these reproduced shawls.
Still today, the British really show how to integrate the pattern into the western culture with their paisley ties or vests. The print works well with solid colors, but also with plaid, Prince of Wales check or stripes.
How to Look Modern in Paisley – Outfit Ideas
The photos below show a classic cut tunic dress with this eternal pattern.
The next paisley outfit idea feature the above cardigan worn as top with a red suede skirt.
Paisley Became an Element of Other Traditional Clothing
Alpine clothing has the pattern in their aprons of dirndls as shown below. Read why I regret that I bought this beautiful dirndl.
Well, dirndls are very expensive. Thus, wearing them only for parties would be a high cost per wear. Here I am wearing the dirndl as a skirt and paired it with a GNW cardigan as a top. The cardigan has a paisley print. To add some shape I belted the cardigan with a metal belt made by a Native American artist. To add a pop of color to the blue, beige, black and white outfit I added my Philip Lim 3.1 Pashli bag, a gift from my husband.
How to Mix Paisley with other Prints
You can easily mix paisley in a color scheme with other prints in the same color scheme like the following blue and white mixed print outfits show. The grounding then can be made with one of the colors or even both.
Wrapping Up How to Look Modern in Paisley
Paisley prints are an eternal classic. Paired with classic basics you can create Euro Chic or business casual style outfits. These are always work appropriate when in sober colors. To look modern make sure to add some trendy items or colors. Alternatively, mix the pattern with other prints when mixed prints are in fashion as well. Armed with these tips – when you love the print – now it’s a good time to invest and stock up.
Tip: Paisley ties and scarves are timeless (holiday) gifts.
Mandelbrot, B. (1982) The Fractal Geometry of Nature. W. H. Freeman and Co..
Brooklyn Museum Costume Collection at The Metropolitan Museum of Art (retrieved 2020)
Prakash, K. (2008). Paisley Designs. United States: Dover Publications.
Photos of me: G. Kramm
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