Your cart
Close Alternative Icon
Save 10% on your First order | USE CODE: RELCO10 at checkout Save 10% on your First order | USE CODE: RELCO10 at checkout

History Of The Paisley Shirt

Arrow Thin Left Icon Arrow Thin Right Icon

Anyone who is interested in retro clothing will be well aware of the popularity and significance of the classic paisley shirt. In the current day, this pattern is often worn on shirts and ties, as a colourful but smart element to any outfit. Most often worn by men, they come in a range of shades and styles, some brighter and bolder than others.

You might be curious about how exactly this pattern came to be on a shirt, and why it became popular during a certain era, so let’s not waste any more time and delve into the history of the paisley shirt.

The origin of the paisley pattern

The paisley pattern dates back centuries, starting in the 11th century where it was first made in India near Kashmir. The pattern itself features a cypress tree with a floral spray that traditionally represents life and fertility, acting as a good luck token to anyone who wears it.

It became even more popular in the 16th century when kashmir shawls were made which had the print on fabric that was made with woven goats hair. These garments were often worn by people of importance, as they were very expensive to make. Often worn by royalty, these were considered as ‘robes of honour’ and following this, they slowly made their way into Europe.

They ended up in the wardrobes of the rich and famous in the 16th century after being given as gifts to European officers by those coming over from India, although for a long time these remained too expensive for the average person to afford.

In the 19th century, the pattern finally gained its name ‘paisley’ as these were mostly made in the town ‘Paisley’ located in Scotland, where the majority of Kashmir-inspired shawls were produced at the time. Many believe that the pattern originated in Scotland because of this, but in fact, it originated long before this in India.

When did it become popular?

In more recent years, the paisley pattern gained popularity during the 60’s and 70’s when loud, bright and bold colours were worn by anyone and everyone. This came following the influence of psychedelic style and a new genre of music that promoted love and peace.

This print was everywhere during this revolutionary time, on flared trousers, suits and womens dresses, as people wanted to make a statement about their identity and their beliefs.

After this, paisley’s popularity began to decline as the use of colours and patterns calmed down, but it did make a comeback during the 1990s when it was adapted by rock ‘n’ roll culture, and several celebrities made a point of wearing it to keep the pattern alive and in fashion.

Because of this, the pattern was frequently used as accents to an outfit, on bandanas, mens ties and handkerchiefs, and is even still used in high end designers pieces such as GUCCI who still produce their own versions of a paisley shirt today.

In the current day, paisley shirts are the most common item to feature this iconic pattern, however the original retro designs can be hard to come by. Our own paisley shirts are made with nostalgia in mind, keeping the design as bright and colourful as it would have been in India all those centuries ago.

Who wears paisley?

Paisley was made popular in the 1960s following the likes of Mick Jagger, The Beatles, David Bowie and Queen who would wear outrageous outfits often featuring this gregarious print during their shows.

The Beatles were so mad about Paisley that John Lennon even painted his car in the classic print, while the rest often sported paisley scarves and shirts that would be copied by the masses as a symbolic piece of 70s culture and the attitudes that governed that time.

Fast forward to the 1990s where bands such as Oasis revived the print and it became adopted as a part of modern rock ‘n’ roll culture.

What can it be worn with?

When wearing a paisley print, there are a few things to consider. The first are the elements of the outfit - will you wear it on the top or bottom, or simply accessorise with it?

If you are planning to wear it on the top, you should definitely opt for a paisley shirt, and perhaps consider the colour that you would like to wear. For a formal occasion, a dark blue print will help you to appear smart and elegant, with a nod to retro fashion.

If you are planning to wear it on the bottom, go you! Why not make a bold statement and go full on retro clothing style with some wide leg paisley print trousers to really take it back to the 60’s.

For a subtle and suave nod to the history of paisley, consider adding a paisley print handkerchief in the front pocket of your suit, or a paisley scarf to liven up a plain white shirt. For a look that can be worn while out with friends or into the office, a paisley tie is a popular choice for modern men who want to bring a touch of personality to their style.

Not many prints have become quite so symbolic as the paisley print, but even so, most who recognise it might not know where it came from or how it came to be so popular. After reading this blog, you should feel confident wearing your next paisley piece and maybe even motivated to buy some more. After all, it doesn’t look like it’s going out of fashion anytime soon!