Does the small dot in the middle of a sideways square really look like a bird’s eye? It’s up for debate. Regardless, that visual association is the reasoning behind the name for birdseye, a complicated weave that creates a series of subtle diamonds, each with a central spot that resembles—according to some, at least—the peepers of our feathered friends.
Practically, the pattern creates a cloth that’s very absorbent, soft, and lightweight. That first characteristic has actually made cotton birdseye popular among the anti-Huggies set as the cloth of choice for infants’ diapers. Thankfully for those of us with a few more candles on our birthday cakes, the latter qualities make it particularly desirable for (grown) menswear staples like woolen suiting, overcoats, and socks. Well, those qualities, and the look of the stuff. Up close, the irregular surface that results from the repeating geometric motif creates a texture with a great depth of character. But because the pattern is rendered on a small scale, it doesn’t read much differently than a solid at a distance, which makes birdseye garments nearly as versatile as your standard versions, even when they incorporate multiple colors. It’s that ability to play both sides of the field—all the fun of a pattern, none of the worries about matching—that makes it worth incorporating into your wardrobe, no matter where you stand on the resemblance to avian oculi.