Know Your Terms: Argyle

Because dropping the lingo is half the fun of dressing well.

Though they certainly stand up just fine on their own—and did so for hundreds of years—classic Scottish tartans can also be credited with the creation of another popular pattern: Argyle. That diagonal checkerboard arrangement of solid diamonds, often overlaid with intercrossing diagonal lines, is actually an adaptation of the traditional tartan of Clan Campbell.

The pattern first rose to international prominence in postwar England, when the Duke of Windsor became enamored of the particular intarsia design woven by Pringle of Scotland, and decided to employ it in his golfing attire. The look caught on, becoming standard on the links in Britain, and eventually making the leap across the pond in 1949, when Brooks Brothers president John Clark Wood noticed a pair of argyle socks on a golf outing and began manufacturing them stateside. In the years since, the pattern has become a staple of preppy attire and designer threads alike, though it’s been eclipsed by tech fabrics and an unfortunate predilection for white belts in the sporting world. Oh, and a note on the name: Clan Campbell hails from the Argyll region of western Scotland. We’re thinking you won’t need any help with the etymology on that one.

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