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The History of Paisley Ties


The history of the paisley pattern is an interesting one. So far as radical tie patterns go, this one has persisted and maintained a high level of acceptable conservativism-which just goes to show that anybody can fit in anywhere. That's true for you, too. You just need the right tie-and believe it or not, the paisley still can be the right tie.

The paisley pattern itself dates back to sometime in ancient Persia. Variably described as a teardrop, comma, kidney, leech, mango leaf, or half Yin Yang pattern, the paisley likely began to make its way into the western world in the 17th century through British trade with India. The pattern had taken hold there from Persia due to the shape's resemblance to the leaf of the bodhi tree and of course found its way onto merchant ships heading back to Europe. As always, exoticism brought allure. Demand for paisley skyrocketed until some textile companies in Europe began to manufacture it on their own. With this complicated and lengthy history for the pattern, other nicknames have been coined. Paisley became popular in Wales, earning the term "Welsh pears." Another common term, especially among the older or more dedicated of paisley connoisseurs is that of the "Persian pickle." Whether pear, paisley, or pickle, though, the pattern has made its place in history and is not likely to leave.

In modern times, the paisley is still widely popular in Iran and easily found throughout the rest of the Middle East. Often, the paisley spreads itself over Persian rugs with wild abandon or creeps carefully into shawls and scarves. So far as the Western use is concerned, paisley ties exploded in popularity in the 60's and '70's with the connection to the psychedelic tone of the times. Indeed, paisleys from that time explode with colors, sizes, and sub-paisley patterns. Most of these ties are three notches beyond garish by today's standards, but paisley has not yet died. In fact, paisley bandanas sit strongly in some parts of society, carrying an element of the gangsta when they come in red or blue.

So far as the paisley pattern for ties is concerned, it will never die. It will grow, change, and evolve, to be sure, but no great novelty has yet been completely tossed from the fashion world. Paisley is often ridiculed as never matching well; indeed, it would not do to wear a paisley shirt except to make a very, very loud statement. However, paisley ties have their place. '70's-era paisley ties-often made in polyester-are not all bad. Many, because of coordinated and matching colors and styles, allow the wearer to add a little flair to an otherwise ordinary outfit. There are, of course, the psychedelic paisleys whose continued existence is owed solely to rebellious teens and quirky adults, but the conservative paisley continues to make its appearance. Single-color paisleys on solid backgrounds of a complimentary color (or even the same color) allow a regular solid tie to explode with life. Another popular variation on the paisley is to cut it up in stripes across the length of the tie. When such a tie is compared to one that boasts stripes alone, the striped tie ought to walk away in shame in the face of the paisley. Paisley can still be particularly pleasing in an appropriate place. While society's lemming-like tendencies can account for some fashion blunders, paisley only falls in there if used to excess. As a garnish to trendiness, Persian pickles, Welsh pears, or whatever you call your paisley pattern will stay a long time.

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