What Is Herringbone?
Technically, herringbone is a type of twill weave, not a pattern or texture. Colloquially though, we understand the confusion. Herringbone can be so prominent that it looks like a pattern and has a distinctive texture.
Regardless, herringbone is also referred to as a “broken twill weave,” forming a unique V-shaped pattern that resembles the skeleton of a herring, hence the name. It is more often than not made of wool, and tweed fabrics quite often utilize herringbone as their weave.
It is one of the most omnipresent weaves in all of menswear. It’s found on just about any tailored men’s garment you can think of.
How & When To Wear Herringbone
Due to its widespread acceptance across various dress codes and garment styles, herringbone is extremely easy to find, buy, and wear. Below, we examine the various garments and places in which herringbone is commonly seen.
With regard to the scale of herringbone, that decision should be made primarily by your body type. Smaller men look best in small-scale herringbones while bigger guys wear larger-scale herringbones better.
If you’re unaware of your body type and would like to learn what it is, take a quick look at our body type guide.
Herringbone is a fantastic option for suit fabrics, especially for men who have to adhere to a business professional dress code. This is because when woven into a charcoal or navy worsted wool, the herringbone itself is extremely discreet and can only be seen when up very close, making it a bit of a “non-solid solid.”
In short, it allows a man with a restrictive dress code a little bit of style wiggle room, and it does so without sacrificing his ability to pair other patterns with it.
We’ve assembled a selection of the best herringbone suits, which you can peruse below. Alternatively, for more on these introductory business suits, we invite you to take a look at our page on the capsule wardrobe.
Sport coats are the garment where herringbone arguably shines the most, so to speak. Because sport jackets are more casual than suits, they can more safely display prominent herringbone weaves and get away with it.
Many classic sport coat fabrics, such as plain tweeds and donegals, are made with herringbone weaves.
The additional visual interest provided by the herringbone weave is very much at home on a more sporty garment and provides a dash of flair. These sport coats pair beautifully with denim, casual trousers, and sweaters.
Our guide to sport jackets has more information on coats in general if you need it.
Technically speaking, tuxedo fabric should be made of a plain weave, as the nature of the black tie ensemble is to minimize ornamentation in the name of (semi-) formality. We feel that this is more of a guideline as opposed to a rule; after all, if midnight blue tuxedos are acceptable, why not a subtle herringbone weave on a black fabric?
The key word here is subtle. If you choose to wear a tuxedo whose fabric is woven in herringbone, it’s imperative that it be basically unnoticeable unless someone is standing right next to you and staring at your tux. Past that, it’s simply too showy for semi-formal attire.
To The Office
There is no office in the world that would take issue with a man wearing herringbone garments, so long as he’s doing so within the confines of his dress code. Lawyers, financiers, and other suit-and-tie professionals should stick to subtle herringbone suits five days a week, while guys who live in the business casual world can opt for bolder herringbone sport coats and even trousers.
Note that the more prominent the herringbone weave, the more casual the garment is. Also, as the weave becomes more noticeable, pairing other patterns with it becomes more and more of a consideration.
This is not to dissuade you in any way from buying and wearing herringbone garments, but rather to best prepare you to wear herringbone to greatest effect.
Weddings are a funny thing for men, especially (but not only) grooms: it’s the perfect opportunity for you to show some personality and flair through your clothes, but you also don’t want to peacock so much that you upstage the bride. How does one handle this?
If your wedding is on the casual side (that is, we’re talking suits as opposed to tuxedos), then a herringbone suit is a perfect option. This is particularly true if you’re a groom having a suit made for yourself. This is often the only time in a man’s life he’ll indulge in such a treat, and though you want to shine on the big day, you also want to be sure that you buy something that’s wearable in the real world for years after you’ve been married.
Because you can wear it just as easily to work as you can to the bar, a herringbone suit is really the perfect option for this scenario.
For everything you could ever want to know about weddings regardless of whether you’re a groom, groomsman, guests, or father of the bride or groom, see our wedding guide.
Common Materials & Colors
Herringbone is, more often than not, made of wool. There’s anecdotal evidence that cotton fatigues in a herringbone weave were used by various militaries during and after the Second World War, but this is unconfirmed.
As far as color is concerned, herringbone is available in any color you can imagine, as modern dyeing technology allows us to do what we choose in terms of color. With that said, grey, navy, tan, and different earth tones such as brown and green are extremely common in herringbone garments.
Best Herringbone Suits To Buy Online
As mentioned earlier, we’ve gathered a variety of our favourite made-to-measure herringbone suits to buy online. They are featured in no particular order of preference but offer an insight into the pattern’s characteristics.
- Black Lapel Blue Herringbone Silk Blend Suit
- Indochino Prescot Herringbone Navy Suit
- Indochino Prescot Herringbone Brown Suit
- Black Lapel Light Gray Herringbone Suit
- Black Lapel Charcoal Herringbone Suit
You can use the menu above to jump ahead or scroll down to discover them all.