Playful printed patterns show humanity’s fun side throughout history

Humans often show their playful, fun side through the clothes they wear. One bold fashion statement is to wear something with a bright, vibrant pattern. It seems that people have been adding patterns using block printing techniques since at least the 4th century BCE in India and Upper Egypt. In the modern world, diverse printing methods are used and countless pattern designs are available, from geometric ones, to ones inspired by nature, to the completely abstract. Let’s look at some textile printed patterns that can be seen in the wild this spring/summer season.

Persistently paisley

One of the most enduring patterns of all time is paisley. The repeated teardrop or seed shapes depicted in various angles, colors, and degrees of intricacy can be traced back to Persia around 2,000 years ago, where they were originally a fertility symbol. From the Middle East paisley spread throughout the world, gleefully adopted by various cultures as a sign of nobility or luxury. In the last century, paisley was popularized anew by rockstars like The Beatles, David Bowie, and Prince; even the late Queen Elizabeth wore it. Now it is enjoying a revival again, and not just in clothing paisley wallpaper and other interior decorating is big, too.

Left, Right : Galaxy

Floral femininity

Ladies’ clothing is often dominated by floral prints, but the variety is thankfully so broad that they never become boring. While small, delicate, and colorful flowers repeated across a fabric are a frequent staple of blouses and dresses, that is by no means a rule. Two-tone leaf patterns are popular, too, and there are some more abstract prints that seem to straddle the boundary between floral and a ink-blot test. Moving away from nature-inspired prints, some designers playfully incorporate pictures into their designs that look as if they have come from long-ago children’s books.

Left: LEBEIGE / Right: 8 seconds

Modernism in menswear

Some men’s shirts, like women’s blouses and skirts, also feature nature-inspired patterns such as palm trees or big leaves from tropical trees, particularly in summer wear. There is a greater tendency towards the abstract. You can find patterns that resemble absent-minded doodles or graffiti, and others that conjure up fireworks explosions or a cluster of dry bones. Perhaps unsurprisingly, one bold example has been spotted this season that combines both a paisley pattern and palm fronds, with some abstract splashes in between.

Left: BEAKER ORIGINAL / Center: 8 seconds / Right: 8 seconds

Tie-dyeing together

Technically, tie-dyeing is not a pattern that is printed, but one created through the random swirls of color in water on a tied or bunched piece of fabric. Made popular by the hippies in the 1960s, the method has been used in diverse lands such as China, South America, and Africa for well over a thousand years. It is still a summer favorite today with men and women, as seen on beaches the world over.

Whatever your style, if you enjoy cutting loose and being playful now and then, your wardrobe is incomplete without at least a few items with bright, bold printed patterns. Choose something that suits your temperament and personal taste, then find an opportunity to unleash your wild child.
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